Thursday, July 25th, 2024 to Friday, July 26th, 2024

Virginia’s Northern Neck

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Join us July 25 – 26 to tour Conservation Landscaping and Shoreline Projects in some of the most spectacular private and public spaces on the Northern Neck. There is a very cool site reserved for a meetup the evening of the 24th. We promise good people, great ideas, and amazing food! 

There is not a block of rooms reserved (we’re rural, ya’ll) but we are rich in other accommodations. Lodging recommendations are: Airbnbs around Kilmarnock and Irvington, Refuel (tiny houses) in Irvington, Back Inn Time B&B, Flowering Fields B&B, The Kilmarnock Inn, Hope and Glory Inn, and Tides Inn. We’ll be meeting at Town Centre Park in Kilmarnock each morning to start the days’ tours.



Cost is $175/person, Register by July 3rd here!

Itinerary and Sponsors

Wednesday, July 24

We are honored to have this venue sponsored by Wetlands Watch!

Wetlands Watch works where land, communities, and water meet to conserve nature in a changing climate.

6pm    Meet at Refuel 73 Seafood Lane, Irvington.

Hear the story of Refuel, a former “brownfield” site that has been converted into a thoughtful and inspiring multi-use venue by Albert Pollard, a former VA state legislator and the former director of the VA Chapter of the Sierra Club. Local musicians Mercy Creek will further inspire us with their original Aggressive Folk Rock / Earthy Edge Music. You have not lived until you’ve seen Jim Ball work his drum set.

We’ll have plenty to eat and a cash bar!

Thursday, July 25

8am    Leave Kilmarnock Town
Centre Park 150 N Main St, Kilmarnock in CARPOOLS!  (30 mins to 1st stop)


8:30    Northern Neck Master Gardeners Shoreline Demonstration GardenFishermen’s Museum, 504 Main Street, Reedville 

This shoreline garden was designed to stabilize the bank, and absorb the runoff, sediment, and pollutants from the adjacent parking lot. We’ll hear the history of the project from Master Gardener Deborah Marl. (10 mins to next stop)


9:30    Deborah Marl’s home 2398 Fairport Rd., Reedville.  

This shoreline is faced with a gorgeous broad view and the accompanying fetch that can make erosion a huge problem. Her gardens are full of whimsy and many native species that tolerate the exposed site. (35 mins to next stop)


10:30  Tide’s Inn 480 King Carter Drive, Irvington.

Horticulturist Matt Little will take us on a tour of the $3.6 million Living Shoreline restoration project and talk about how he is bringing Conservation Landscaping practices into the rest of the gardens as the Inn continues to strive towards increased sustainability. 

We are grateful to Friends of the Rappahannock and CBLP for sponsoring this event!

OUR MISSION: To be the voice and active force for a healthy and scenic Rappahannock River.

CBLP promotes sustainable landscape practices in the Chesapeake Bay region

Lunch in The Cove Room of Tide’s Inn, leaving at 1:30pm to drive for 20 mins


2pm    Betsy Washington and Kevin Howe’s home 379 Waterbury Road, Kilmarnock. 


Betsy taught landscape design at George Washington University. Now she and Kevin stay extremely active with VA Native Plant Society, Master Naturalists, and many other ‘earth first’

organizations. Her gardens and shorelines incorporate tried and true as well as newer design elements such as using Fragaria virginiana as a ‘green mulch’ in her planting beds.


3pm    Denise and Wesley Greene’s home 360 Pine Reach Drive, Kilmarnock.

This shoreline is an example of letting the existing natural plant species do the work. The gardens are all the chaos you would expect from the retired Garden Historian for Colonial Wiiliamsburg and the former owner of a native plant nursery.


4pm    Leave to get ready for dinner.       


6pm    Carpools leave from Kilmarnock Town Centre Park for Merroir in Topping, Va. which is 20 minutes away



6:30    Reservation at Merroir for dinner, 784 Locklies Creek Rd, Topping, Va.

Friday, July 26

8am    Leave Kilmarnock Town Centre Park in CARPOOLS!  (30 mins to 1st stop)


8:30    Margaret and Bill Klein home,10 Potomac Dr., Heathsville

This living shoreline was planted last fall. Lowery Becker the Education Conservation Specialist for the Northern Neck Soil & Water Conservation District will talk us through the process of how the VA Conservation Assistance Program (VCAP) works with homeowners. Looking across the water to the opposite bank you can see a collapsing cliff face that is the same as this site before shoreline construction. 30 minutes next stop.


9:30    Cynthia Hudson’s home The Point, 536 Mill Creek View Lane, Callao

Cynthia and her late husband Jim Lake built this home to evoke beloved Italian villas built and added to over generations. Jim was an extraordinary plantsman and created extensive gardens and terraces. As he became unable to oversee the maintenance of the gardens, Denise Greene and Jeff St. George were hired to increase the garden’s accessibility and cohesion and to reduce maintenance.

Sarah Huff’s home next door at 133 Mill Creek View Lane had serious erosion issues on the water side of the home which Jeff has addressed with hardscape and grasses. She’s considering a living shoreline next.


Lunch at Jeff St. George’s home, 196 Millcrest Lane, Callao, 10 mins. away

Jeff’s love of plants and the river become self-evident as you enter ‘Pearly Gates’, his piece of paradise. As we enjoy lunch we’ll be able to look across the creek to the next 2 properties we’ll visit. Leave by 1pm


1:10    Susan and Monty Lake’s home, Warwick Banks, 1452 Mundy Point Rd., Callao

The late nineteenth century farmhouse/guesthouse and barn/artist’s studio and informal gardens flank your entry to the main house. When I was redesigning the plantings for the raised beds at the house’s main entry, Susan and I agreed that one bed “needed something”. I volunteered that a nice piece of sculpture could be one solution. Susan served as the Chief Conservator and Director of Collection Management at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. She said it would have to be something special. ‘Special’ doesn’t begin to do it justice. Contritum, which means broken, is by Jim Sanborn. It contains the wording of broken Treaties with Native American tribes. They are written in code and the letters are backwards so that they can be read on the adjacent brick wall at night when illuminated by the light within the sculpture. It is surrounded, fittingly, by Prairie Dropseed (Sporabilis) Krytos, another work by Sanborn, is located on the grounds of the CIA in Langley, VA. It is also in code and has not yet been completely deciphered. The house sits on steep banks which are maintained mostly with native grasses down to the water.

(next stop 5 mins away)



2pm    Brenda and Jim Gianiny’s home, Willow Oak, 302 Ferlazzo Ln, Callao

A 150-year-old Willow Oak and award-winning residence serve as the focus of this property. Jeff used his savvy Japanese landscape design skills to add interest elsewhere on the property without competing with its main elements.


3pm    Roger and Tonya Flynn, Point Lane, Kinsale.

The Flynns are avid students of nature and native plants and are constantly trying new native species in the plantings around this impressive property. Their successful living shoreline is several years old. Roger works to continue its success by moving his mowing up from the water’s edge. He’s taken that on as an art form, creating new shapes and lines every year. Future projects will include a formal Potager Garden which will form an intersection of walks from the pool and tennis court to the driveway and shed.



Leave for home. From here, you are about 90 minutes from Richmond.