Archive for the 'Area Attractions' Category
Saturday, May 18, 2013, boasts a springtime festival at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello—Wine & Roses. Wine & Roses is part of the Center for Historic Plants’ open house and will feature wine tasting, workshops, a tour of the gardens, plant sales, and a family activities table.
The Center for Historic Plants has its roots in Thomas Jefferson’s horticulture interests. The center was established at Monticello in 1987 and its members “collect, preserve, and distribute historic plant varieties and strives to promote greater appreciation for the origins and evolution of garden plants.” While Jefferson’s interest spanned a number of North American plants, this particular event will explore the history of rose cultivation, demonstrated at the picturesque Tufton Farm.
Tufton Farm “was one of Thomas Jefferson’s quarter farms and borders the Monticello plantation…Tufton served as important agricultural land, providing large amounts of crops and food sources for the Monticello plantation.” Today, Tufton houses the Center for Historic Plants, flourishing in a display of brightly colored flora.
Now that you know a bit about the history of Monticello’s plant life, you may be wondering what specific activities the Wine & Roses festival will entail:
10 a.m. – 11 a.m: A discussion with Doug Seidel about the “various types of old roses and their myriad virtues.”
11:15 a.m. – 12 p.m.: A garden tour led by Peggy Cornett, Curator of Plants at Monticello, “focusing on the antique rose collection.”
12:30 p.m. – 1:15 p.m.: The “Antique Rose Show” workshop with Doug Seidel.
1:30 p.m. – 3 p.m.: Wine tasting with Gabriele Rausse, the Director of Gardens and Grounds at Monticello
1:30 p.m. – 2 p.m.: A rose propagation and culture workshop with Briar Hartsock, the Nursery Manager
2:15 p.m. – 3 p.m.: A garden tour with Peggy Cornett
Be sure to book your room at the Iris Inn, where you can return to comfort after a day of stopping to smell the roses!
“Flowers seem intended for the solace of ordinary humanity.” — John Ruskin
The reawakening of the natural world is one of the most welcomed parts of spring, particularly in regards to the vivid splash of color of newly bloomed flowers. While the progression of springtime greenery is a slower process, flowers seem to leap forward in their urgency towards warm weather.
Coming up on May 4-5, the Shenandoah National Park will be celebrating the flora of the area with its 27th Annual Wildflower Weekend: “Take a day or two to appreciate the diversity of wildflowers growing here in the Blue Ridge. More than 1,300 species of plants thrive in Shenandoah National Park, a mountain island surrounded by farmland, towns, and expanding developed areas.” (NPS). Because Wildflower Weekend is held in early May, you can expect to see wildflowers like hepatica, violets, wild geranium, jack-in-the-pulpit, wild azaleas, and numerous other floral wonders.
If you’d like to learn as well as look, the park is offering programs led by biologists, park rangers, guest naturalists, and professional photographers, and topics will include everything from wildflower identification to bird-watching. (Click here for a full list of the scheduled programs.)
Reminders from the Park:
- “Wear sturdy shoes and bring water on all hikes.” (We’re sure they don’t want any half-dehydrated, high-heel wearing participants…)
- “Evaluate your personal fitness and health to choose an appropriate program.” (We’re pretty sure none of the park rangers will carry you if you get tired while hiking.)
- “Come prepared for wet weather. Walks may be conducted in light rain, but will be canceled in case of thunderstorms.” (After all, no one wants to get struck by lightning.)
This is a great opportunity to explore the native and exotic wildflowers that take root among our mountains, so go out on an adventure, then return to relaxation at the Iris Inn!
Photo Credit: Stolz Gary M, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
We here at the Iris Inn purchase cheese from Simply Cheddar, owned and run by Linda Tucker Weaver, a former high school teacher turned cheese wiz (get it? Cheese wiz? Cheese Whiz?). Linda began cooking as a hobby and eventually went into catering, discovering that her cheddar cheese hors d’oeuvres were becoming increasingly popular. Eventually, Simply Cheddar was born. Linda states, “I called it Simply Cheddar because in essence it is a cheese ball, and the term cheese ball creates a vision of lots of cream cheese with many added flavorings like fruits and bacon, etc. But the main ingredients in my product is only Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese. This is not your mother’s cheese ball. As one fan said…I have brought the cheese ball into the 21st century” (Simply Cheddar).
So, what is it about Linda’s cheese that makes it so delicious? The Simply Cheddar website describes its product as a “cheese ball made with only the finest aged extra sharp cheddar cheeses without using any processed or cream cheese. It has a little onion for bite and fresh chopped pecans on the outside for crunch.” Not only that, but it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a month and in the freezer for up to six months. It can be served in various, delicious ways, and we have to say that we’re quite fond of it!
The Simply Cheddar has recently been revamped, and it’s now possible to order online. If you’d like to visit them, however, check out one of their retail stores. Several of their stores are located near the Iris Inn, so add a visit to your getaway itinerary! http://simplycheddar.com/
Copyright Simply Cheddar
The weather may still be reminiscent of winter, but spring has arrived, and Virginia’s Historic Garden Week is fast approaching: “Every April, visitors are welcomed to more than 250 of Virginia’s most beautiful gardens, homes and historic landmarks during “America’s Largest Open House.’”
The first garden tour nearby the Iris Inn is on April 20, 2013 at Morven Estate in Charlottesville: “Morven, a three-story brick manor house built in the late-Georgian/Federal Style, dates to 1820. The land on which it sits was part of the original Carter family land grant and was known to Thomas Jefferson as ‘Indian Camp.’” The estate was passed from Jefferson to his adoptive son William Short. It was then passed on to others until it was finally owned by John Kluge, who generously gifted the estate to the University of Virginia.
Another tour destination that takes place on April 20, 2013 is the Staunton-Augusta Tour, which explores five properties, including two 18th century homes and gardens. “Another home showcases new construction based on historical design and is the site of Mount Airy Vineyard which is included on the tour. The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum showcases a Garden Club of Virginia restored garden, and will also be included. The Spring Hill Presbyterian Church, which began as a Chapel in 1895, will be open and serve as the lunch venue for this tour.” On April 24, 2013, one can partake in an “intimate house and garden tour” in Harrisonburg, VA: “Highlights of these properties include: a home with black wood floors, a working artist’s studio, heirloom antiques to salvaged architectural details, and a property owned by a Master Gardener.”
Click here for a complete list of 2013’s 80th Historic Garden Week tours and locations.
“What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.” — Anne Lamott
There is no better time to indulge in a good book than when you’re on vacation, and if you’re a bit of a book-buying fiend, then you know the cost can quickly add up. The Iris Inn is lucky to be near an affordable bookstore alternative—the Green Valley Book Fair.
“Located just south of Harrisonburg, Virginia, in the heart of the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, the Green Valley Book Fair is a discount book outlet store featuring over 500,000 new books at incredible bargain prices. Save up to 90% off retail on over 30,000 different titles in more than 60 different categories” (Green Valley).
Check out the book fair, then bring your newly purchased reading material back to the Iris Inn and treat yourself to peaceful relaxation in your room, in our library, or on a porch chair. Book your room or cabin now!
2013 Book Fair Dates:
June 29-July 14
August 17-September 2
November 29- December 15
Monday-Thursday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Friday-Saturday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sunday 12 noon – 5 p.m.
While Virginia’s wineries and breweries have received a good deal of attention recently, there’s one more beverage that has also been growing in popularity around this area– hard cider. Virginia Living states, “These ciders are a good start to fighting off those winter doldrums and experiment with what’s being grown and fermented all around us.” If you are a fan of hard cider, or you would like to try it for the first time, then you’re in luck since we have a couple excellent cideries nearby:
“Originally built in 1764, in Keswick, Virginia, Castle Hill was the home of Colonel Thomas Walker, guardian and mentor to Thomas Jefferson. Today, Castle Hill reclaims its glory as a cidery” (Castle Hill).
Castle Hill boasts four blends of ciders named Gravity, Levity, Terrestrial, and Celestial: “Terrestrial, and Celestial, like Gravity and Levity, or the volatile and the fixed, are a complementary pair of concepts. The soil and the sunshine together give rise to the apple and thus the cider. We strive to express the harmony and balance of these principles in the ciders.”
Sample these ciders for yourself in the Castle Hill Tasting Room, a display of warmth and elegance with a Mahogany bar, white oak paneling, French doors, and a fieldstone fireplace. Click here if you’d like to explore their online shop.
Albemarle CiderWorks is “a family-run Cidery and Tasting Room that produces hard cider from heritage varieties of apples that can thrive in Albemarle County, Virginia.” Try out their delicious variety of ciders: Jupiter’s Legacy, Old Virginia Winesap, Royal Pippin, and Ragged Mountain. Visit the tasting room for yourself to thoroughly appreciate Albemarle CiderWorks. The tasting room is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. “Tastings are available for patrons 21 years of age or older at $5.00 per person.”
Click here to book your Iris Inn room or cabin for your getaway.
“Fishing is much more than fish. It is the great occasion when we may return to the fine simplicity of our forefathers.” –Herbert Hoover
There’s still a bitter chill in the air here in Waynesboro, Virginia, but the warm weather is soon to come, bringing with it the 13th Annual Virginia Fly Fishing Festival: “Held on the banks of the South River in Downtown Waynesboro, this festival is the largest outdoor fly fishing event in the Mid-Atlantic. Casting class with instructors, over 40 exhibitors with the latest gear, children’s fishing pond and some of Virginia’s finest vintners are just some of the activities offered over the weekend!” –Visit Waynesboro
Take classes for beginners, chat with fellow sportsman, taste Virginia wine, and visit the many different vendors. Also, if you are interested in obtaining a fishing license, you’ll be able to purchase one right onsite: “[The festival is] proud to announce that attendees will be able to purchase their fishing licenses and check on their driver’s licenses at the festival this year! That’s right: A partnership between Virginia’s Department of Motor Vehicles and Department of Game and Inland Fisheries means one-stop shopping for anglers.”
This year, we here at the Iris Inn are offering a Fly Fishing Festival Package for our guests. This includes tickets to either day of the event as well as lunch at a fantastic nearby restaurant, the Greenleaf Grill. Pricing includes the cost of your room plus $75. If you’re interested in booking a room for this fun, warm-weather package, click here.
One of Charlottesville, Virginia’s most well-known entertainment venues is the John Paul Jones Arena. The Arena was built in 1976 by a University of Virginia (UVA) graduate named Paul Tudor Jones II, and it was constructed and named in honor of Jones’ father John Paul: “Mr. Jones has described his father’s life as being dedicated to four things: his faith, his family, the University of Virginia and basketball.”
While the John Paul Jones Arena does host both UVA men’s and women’s basketball games, athletics is not the only thing you’ll find there. A huge number of entertainers have performed there as well: “The arena is…host to a myriad of attractions including concerts, family shows, exhibits, trade shows, and community events. John Paul Jones Arena has hosted many of the biggest acts in live entertainment, including Dave Matthews Band, The Police, Eric Clapton, The Eagles, Lady Gaga, Kenny Chesney, Jimmy Buffett, Justin Timberlake, Jay-Z, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, Keith Urban, George Strait, The Dead, Phish, Jason Aldean, and The Red Hot Chili Peppers.”
Check out the John Paul Jones Arena calendar for upcoming events featuring the Harlem Globetrotters, Third Day, and WWE’s Wrestlemania. Also coming up soon is the world famous Cirque du Soleil in a performance of “Quidam.” If you would like to contact the arena, give them a call at (434) 243-4960, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t forget to book your room or cabin at the Iris Inn!
Many people explore the Blue Ridge Parkway for the flora, but let’s not forget about the fauna, as well! The parkway is home to some absolutely amazing creatures, each beautiful in his or her uniqueness.
One can find 42 different species of amphibians along the trails, and of course, this includes the salamander. According to the National Park Service, the Southern Appalachians are the “center of salamander diversity on earth.” Not only that, but the Blue Ridge Parkway is at the “heart of this zone.” One can also find more than 250 species of birds along the parkway, including bobolinks, eastern meadowlarks, American kestrels, great blue herons, kingfishers, and peregrine falcons. This is an ideal setting for the avid bird-watcher! Along with amphibians and birds, the Blue Ridge Parkway is also home to 50 different species of fish, 22 species of snakes, and 7 species of turtles.
Spring is still a couple months away, so many of these animals are most likely staying warm in a deep hibernation,. This, however, doesn’t mean that the forests are entirely devoid of wildlife! The white-tailed deer are as active as ever, and you may even catch a glimpse of them right outside your room at the Iris Inn. Gray squirrels also remain prevalent throughout the year, scampering across the woods with impish drive.
Photo by Richard Seaman
Just remember, though, if you’re planning to visit the Blue Ridge Parkway during the winter months, be sure to stay up-to-date with weather related closures: “The most up to date closing information about the Blue Ridge Parkway can be accessed by calling (828) 298-0398, 24 hours a day. You may also find some closing information on the National Park Service website: http://www.nps.gov/blri/planyourvisit/roadclosures.htm.”
“Masquerades disclose the reality of souls. As long as no one sees who we are, we can tell the most intimate details of our life.” –Fernando Pessoa
Masquerade. The word itself holds many connotations from fictional characters in lavish disguises to mysterious figures waltzing away in Regency Era ball rooms. And what do you get when you combine the extravagance of a masquerade with the energy of a New Year’s celebration? You get the chance to participate in your own Masked Ball at Veritas Vineyard & Winery in Afton, Virginia on December 31, 2012. The evening will include “wine and hors d’oeuvers followed by a five-course winemaker’s dinner at 8 p.m. in Saddleback Hall” as well as “dancing until midnight,” which is when the “masks come off and the champagne flows!” Perhaps you think the party ends there, in which case, you would be incorrect. At 12:30 am, breakfast will be served!
Black tie is optional, so dust off your fancy jackets and formal dresses, and make a grand appearance in style. Also, remember to book your room at the Iris Inn so that when you’re finally done celebrating a masked New Year, you can return to the comfort of your own bed and rest your tired dancing feet.
We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!