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Style · April 17, 2017

Eastwood gardener getting ready for flurry of visitors

It’s a deadline, something to get excited about. I think it makes a better garden. I think it will be a real treat for people.
— Karen Rexrode on the garden tour
Historic Garden Week
• Local Tour: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, April 26-27.

• Featured: 4 homes — Eastwood, Hopefield, Huntley Hall, Loretta — and Airlie House and Gardens.

• Host: Warrenton Garden Club.

• Tickets: $25 in advance (through April 19), $35 thereafter, or $15 per tour stop.

• Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

• Facebook page: Click here

• Website: Click here
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
Hands covered in fresh soil, she works in the flower garden on a 75-degree spring afternoon.

Karen Rexrode for two years has maintained the gardens at Eastwood, a historic home and events center just east of Warrenton.

On Friday afternoon, Ms. Rexrode plants Catmint and Centaurea flowers during some of the final preparations for Historic Garden Week.

Across Old Auburn Road from the Fauquier County Fairgrounds, Eastwood will open to the public for the tour April 26-27.

Surrounding the home, Eastwood’s gardens feature boxwood “rooms” with sculptures and borders of perennial flowers in peak bloom.

“We are already looking at late blooms because it was such a warm February,” Ms. Rexrode says.

More than a year and a half ago, she and garden designer Donna Hackman planted 8,000 tulip, daffodil, lily and other bulbs in preparation for this month’s event.

“We want everything to look fresh,” says Ms. Rexrode, who lives near Aldie. “If it’s more than halfway done, we might cut it back earlier, remove a spent flower.”

Overall, however, Historic Garden Week requires little more than the typical maintenance.

“Because it’s an event center, we always want to put in things that bloom,” Ms. Rexrode says. “It has to look good pretty much all the time.

“We have a little more of a critical eye than usual because so many people will be looking at it,” she adds.

Just before next week’s garden tour, Ms. Rexrode will place flowers in window baskets and other planters around the house and take down deer fencing that protects tender plants.

“It’s a deadline, something to get excited about,” she notes. “I think it makes a better garden. I think it will be a real treat for people.”

Ms. Rexrode works in the garden about six hours one day a week from March to November, planting, pruning and mulching the flowerbeds.

The garden is “so tight I make sure the plants aren’t killing each other. I have to edit (prune) all the time,” she says.

Deer and Japanese beetles present challenges, which she handles with organic pest control and fencing.

Ms. Rexrode also works three days a week at Oak Hill mansion near Leesburg and weekends at Merrifield Garden Center in Fairfax.

She previously owned Windy Hill Plant Farm, a garden center near Aldie, for 25 years.

“I could never have an indoor job,” Ms. Rexrode says. “For me it was the growing, the nurturing. I look at a plant and want it to grow better.”

The Warrenton Garden Club will host the local tour from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, April 26-27.

Besides Eastwood, the tour will feature three other homes — Hopefield, Huntley Hall, Loretta — and Airlie House and Gardens.

“It’s a fun way to grab a friend and come out for the day and visit a couple houses you’ve driven by and not had the chance to go to,” says Kathleen Nevill, chairman of the Warrenton Garden Club tour.

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