Monday, March 30, 2015

Coming soon: Festival of Spring - Holland in Haymarket

Now this is a great event, especially if you like flowers and photography. I discovered Burnside Farms tulip festival in 2013 and last year attended its Summer of Sunflowers event. This year I plan to get back to the tulip festival.

Highlights of 2015 Festival of Spring – Holland in Haymarket

Burnside Farms says its 2015 Festival of Spring – Holland in Haymarket event will feature 5 acres full of daffodils, tulips and Dutch iris. This year’s event is being advertised as being in a new location (2617 B Logmill Rd., Haymarket, Va.), and from the sounds of it, the field will be bigger than in years past. The farm says, with its new location, is one of the largest pick-your-own flower events in the world.

pick your own flowers at Burnside Farms
Photo taken in Burnside Farms' previous tulip location. I look forward to seeing the new site!

Visitors can pick their own flowers. We came home with about a dozen tulips in 2013 and some of them still had the bulbs, which we planted (last year one or two came up). So far 2 are coming up this year in my yard and I’m hoping a few others pop through too.


Entry to the Festival of Spring is $4 for a 1-day pass, or you can buy an unlimited re-entry pass for $7 (babies under 1 year are free). Daffodils are 2 for $1, tulips - $1 each, Dutch iris - .75 per stem. The farm is a bit of a ride for me, but I am thinking I might buy the pass this year and make at least 2 trips being so many more flowers are being planted this year. The views will continuously change with different varieties blooming at different times, would be really fun to photograph and see the different types of flowers.

pick your own flowers at Burnside Farms
A closer view of the tulips


As of right now, Burnside Farms does not have specific dates listed. We've had a pretty cold February and March here in Northern Virginia, but in my own yard the hyacinth, daffodils and tulips are beginning to show through, so it shouldn't be too long now. You can follow Burnside Farms on Facebook to get the latest updates on when the festival will run. I suspect they'll be posting dates in the near future.   

UPDATE APRIL 9, 2015: The fun is almost here! According to Burnside Farms,  the festival opens on Thurs., April 16. 

As I mentioned earlier in this post, if you enjoy flowers or love to take photos, this is a terrific event to do it. Great memory-making opportunities with the kids too. I can't wait! 

Two more photos from 2013. The kids (and adults) loved trying all on the wooden clogs.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Photos on Friday: Gardens at Oatlands Plantation

Oatlands Plantation is a historic property which highlights 200 years of American history (I wrote a much more detailed post about this grand historic home in June 2014). The house itself is gorgeous and the tour is interesting, however, in the spring and summer months, the gardens are also a must-see.

Today's Photos on Friday post highlights a few photos I took in the Oatlands Plantation gardens during a 2010 visit. I believe this particular visit was in May so many of the flowers were in full bloom. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

'Braddock Day' to be held at Carlyle House in Alexandria

Carlyle House, located in the Old Town area of Alexandria, has a rich history. Built in the early 1750s the home has stood the test of time, although it almost didn’t make it. For years it stood in its majestic state, but over time became dilapidated and then was blocked by another structure. Thanks to efforts by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, since the 1970s, the home has been brought back to its original state. And it is gorgeous.

Front of Carlyle House
In between its build and its restoration, a lot of history has occurred. According to the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, Carlyle House was used by the British as headquarters during the spring of 1755. NVRPA writes:

From March 26 through April 20, 1755 Major General Edward Braddock, the Commander-in-Chief of His Majesty’s Forces in North America, made Colonel John Carlyle’s elegant Alexandria mansion his headquarters.”

On March 28, 2015 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. visitors are invited to come to Carlyle House to learn more about this historic period of time. General Braddock “himself” will be present as well.

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to make it to this event, but have attended other events at Carlyle House over the years and wanted to share as I always find these of interest and to be a good experience in learning new things. Costumed interpreters will also be present to answer any questions.

While in Old Town, there are plenty of other things to see and do!

To learn more about Carlyle House, I have several additional photos in my much more detailed post about this historic property. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

15 fun facts about Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon, the majestic home of George and Martha Washington, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Washington D.C. area. Every year one million people visit this historic property.

Today the grand home stands as a reminder of Early American history and a man who played a pivotal role in the formation of a new country. While much is known about the man, how much is known about the U.S. first president's beloved home?

Front view of Mount Vernon

1fun facts about Mount Vernon


1. The land Mount Vernon sits on was patented in the late 1660s when Thomas Lord Culpeper granted 5,000 acres of the then-wilderness region bordering the western side of the Potomac River to Colonel Nicholas Spencer and Lieutenant Colonel John Washington.

2. This land was originally called "Little Hunting Creek". The name was later changed to "Mount Vernon" after Lawrence Washington (George's older half-brother) was deeded the land. Lawrence had named the land after his former commanding officer, Admiral Edward Vernon.

3. For almost three centuries, Mount Vernon has consistently had a home on the land. The original structure was built in 1735 by Augustine Washington, George Washington's father. Washington himself was just three years old at the time. The home was a modest 1.5 story farmhouse with six rooms.

4. George Washington first leased Mount Vernon in 1754, he did not inherit the property until 1761 when Lawrence's widow passed away.

5. Despite being "on the road" much of his life, Washington worked tirelessly to build and expand Mount Vernon to become the grand house visitors see today. At the time of his death on Dec. 14, 1799, the property had grown from 2,000 acres to 8,000 acres. The house itself had grown to 21 rooms and was enlarged to 2.5 stories tall.

6. After Washington's death, Martha Washington closed up the marital bedroom on the second floor and moved to a modest room located on the third floor.

7. Did you know if you visit Mount Vernon during the  the period between Thanksgiving and New Year's (usually until January 6th), you can tour the mansion's third floor? It's tight quarters and is only opened for a brief time each year.

8. There are two family tombs located on the property. The "old tomb" was the original family crypt, however, in his will Washington designated a new larger burial vault be built and family members were to be moved to the new crypt. This move occurred in 1831.

The original Washington family vault

9.  After Washington's retirement in 1798 after serving 2 terms as President, George and Martha hosted more than 600 overnight guests at Mount Vernon; they barely had any time alone at all. It is said some of these guests stayed for weeks or months at a time!

10. While he was a surveyor, soldier and president, Washington actually considered himself foremost as a farmer. This is evident throughout his home. The "new room" (the "fancy" large room in the mansion, the last addition made) ceiling highlights farming tools in its elaborate design.

11. The "new room" has several paintings hanging in it that feature some of the rivers located in the United States, including the famous Hudson River.

12. The Mount Vernon Ladies Association purchased a very much dilapidated Mount Vernon in 1858. The organization has steadily restored the mansion and preserved its interior to its original glory.

13. Washington had built a unique 16-sided wheat treading barn. Horse would walk over the wheat, taking the grain out of the husks and drop to an area below the barn's floor where it could be retrieved and shucked. This barn has been reproduced and is open to the public down near the river at the "Pioneer Farm".

14. Several trees from Washington's day still survive on the property's bowling green. These are marked with plaques designating their historic significance.

15. The presidential chair, the trunk Washington carried during the Revolutionary War and the key to the Bastille (a gift from the Marquis de Lafayette) can all be viewed inside Mount Vernon during a tour.

Mount Vernon is open for visitors 365 days a year, hours do vary depending on the season. Throughout the year there are different events and fun things to see and do. We usually try to visit during the different times of year.

I hope you've enjoyed these fun facts. Visiting Mount Vernon is truly an experience. 

[Related post with more details and photos about visiting Mount Vernon: A trip to George Washington’s Mount Vernon is a visit to remember

View of Mount Vernon from the Potomac River. This shows the rear of the grand mansion, you can see the lovely porch.