Garden Photo of the Day

READER PHOTO! A memorial garden in Virginia

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Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Eben Richards

Today’s photo is from Eben Richards in Orange, Virginia. Eben says, “I am an 80 year old who now lives in Orange, Virginia, having moved from Mclean, Virginia, a bit over six years ago. I was at an age when most of my friends were moving into retirement homes. I bought (against their advice) 42 acres, including an old house on what was once a much larger plantation. I have never regretted the decision. My aunt who lived to be 102 used to say, “When you quit doing, you’re done!” I was not ready to quit doing. It has taken several years to enlarge the house and bring it up to more modern standards while trying not to compromise it’s historic quality. Originally the land sloped down to the house from the garage area, causing bad drainage problems and dry rot to the foundations of the main building. In order to stop this I had the area excavated. A company that builds the walls at the University of Virginia constructed the retaining walls for the partially sunken garden. In the past I have raised Basset hounds and now I use this white garden as a memorial garden. My dog’s ashes are in the urn and there is a bronze plaque commemorating each one on the plinth. The garden is off the master bedroom, which has French doors leading out into it. On warm sunny days during the winter I enjoy sitting on the bench and dreaming of spring! My house and garden were open to the public last April on the Virginia Garden Club annual tour. On one day alone 1,364 people were counted touring this property! Not a single thing was broken or stolen and I was able to raise several thousand dollars for the restoration of historic Virginia gardens.” Beautiful, Eben! Thanks so much for sharing this garden with us. Send more pictures, please!

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  1. epeavey1 02/11/2011

    That is really a beautiful garden, really an accomplishment for any one. My question is we live on a small acreage that is sloped from the house down into the valley. So the question is can we add dirt to stop every thing from running down? Do we have to put up a retaining wall? I'm going to use straw bales to have some raised beds to garden in because of soil problems. We have hard red clay here in north west Georgia so raised garden beds are a must here, so I'm trying wheat straw bales and compost and good soil.

  2. MzSweetpea 02/11/2011

    Oh what a beautiful garden! I'm going to grow up and live and garden just like you....I'm only 62! Thanks for sharing!

  3. hariwalt 02/11/2011

    Your garden is exactly like the one I have been dreaming about. The fence especially is what I have been longing for. You are only 4 years older than I so I applaud your courage and I'm also not ready for a retirement home. I take care of about 2 acres, including perennial gardens, both sunny and shady and most of it on a hill side.
    Currently I'm facing a huge clean up project because of the recent ice storm we experienced. An old elm tree shed a mess of limbs. I am so looking forward to spring!!

  4. oldsquaw 02/11/2011

    "When you quit, you're done!" Thank you. At 78 that's Just what I need to keep going.

    And I love your garden. I'm going to show it to my dog lovin' neighbor.

  5. maggie08 02/11/2011

    What an inspiration!!!! Beautiful garden and how loving of you to honor your beloved Basset hounds. I'm only 45 and I'm just getting started! Gardending is my true passion and I plan on doing until I'm well into and past my 80's. As long as we are on this beautiful earth that God gave us, why not enjoy it every moment of it! Thanks for sharing!

  6. wGardens 02/11/2011

    What an inspiration. Wish I could visit. I admire what you have done and hope to accomplish and enjoy as much as you do! Thank you for sharing.

  7. aluckring 02/11/2011

    What an inspiration you are at 80 years young. The memorial garden is beautiful, and I share your love of gardening and Basset hounds.

  8. priscilla_zone5 02/11/2011

    You certainly had a wonderful vision! This must be a dream come true for you. Congratulations on creating such a beautiful garden + sharing it with other gardeners to support a worthy cause. Just wish I were nearby to view it. Thanks for sharing. And thanks for passing on your aunt's words of wisdom, too.

  9. Vespasia 02/11/2011

    What an inspiration, love your "when you quit you're done" approach to life. My grandfather was the same, he was still a life time gardener right up to when he died at 97!

    Beautiful garden, can't wait till spring!

  10. sheilaschultz 02/11/2011

    Eben, what an amazing vision you had with extraordinary results. I agree with Michelle... more photos please!!! Thank you.

  11. Bean51 02/12/2011

    Lovely garden. However, I enjoy gardens created by your readers more than gardens created by the professionals. I could be 101 and hire someone to create a garden. That doesn't make me a gardener,it makes me "rich."

  12. paiya 02/12/2011

    You are an amazing inspiration to us youngsters (I am 70 years young. I am going to make some big banners with your aunt's quotation "When you quit doing, you're done!" and put it up in several places. Looking at your garden, so beautiful, peaceful and tranquil, sooths my jaded nerves on a very cold, icy day in the North-east

  13. HRgrdnr 02/15/2011

    Thank you for sharing the photo of your lovely garden, your advice for staying young and your experience of opening your property for Historic Garden Week in Virginia! This year's HIstoric Garden Week will run April 16-23 with tours throughout the state on various days. For anyone interested in more information go to for schedules and tickets. As you mentioned, Historic Garden Week raises funds for the Garden Club of Virginia's restorations of historic sites across our beautiful state. Since 1929, it has restored more than 40 gardens and landscape features! The member clubs of the Garden Club of Virginia work diligently every year to showcase unique private homes, gardens and flower arrangements in large urban areas such as Virginia Beach and Richmond, quaint towns like Chatham and Warrenton and quintessential Virginian rural estates lovingly maintained such as Eben's property in Orange County. It's a wonderful way to tour Virginia!

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