Garden tour reveals Colonial secrets


How many of you were able to get out for Historic Garden Week in Virginia? Our landscape architect Phillip Merritt helped out this year by leading a tour through three gardens in Colonial Williamsburg.

St. George Tucker House

Henry St. George Tucker was a celebrated lawyer and judge in Williamsburg, but there was more to him than is generally known. For one thing, St. George Tucker was an avid gardener, and his garden designs include walkways, drainage paths, and plants that were unusual for the time. St. George Tucker was known, by the way, for several firsts in Williamsburg. He built the town’s first bathroom, installing a copper bathtub (with a drain) into a dairy barn behind the house and piping heated water into it. In his home, he invented what’s called an “earth closet” that used a steam engine-driven water pump.

Modern archeological techniques were used to reconstruct the layout and plant species of the original garden behind the house. Surprisingly, the evidence revealed that St. George Tucker even grew palm trees in the garden! It makes sense when you consider that he came to Williamsburg via the Bahamas.

The current plantings in the garden include columbine, tulips, and dame’s rocket, which were in bloom on our visit there. A bit later in the season you can find blooming swamp roses.) In the front of the house there were German irises, Spanish bluebells, and apple mint. This house is generally not open to the public, so you’ll want to sign up for a tour there in the future.

Brush-Everard House
Close by the St. George Tucker House is the Brush-Everard House, built by Williamsburg’s first keeper of the Magazine. The Brush-Everard is known for harboring the city’s oldest boxwood. Even since the restoration of Colonial Williamsburg began in the 1930s, experts have tried to maintain the health of this and surrounding boxwoods. A new challenge came in 2003 with Hurricane Isabelle, long recognized as the costliest and deadliest hurricane to date. Isabelle took out several of the ironwoods that had been planted to help shade the boxwoods.

Colonial Williamsburg horticulturalists are deliberating ways to preserve the boxwood. Current plans call for a lattice screen that would gradually allow the shrubs to adapt to their now sunnier spot.

The boxwoods are of the English variety (Buxus sempervirens ‘Suffruiticosa’) and originally lined an old garden path. As sometimes happens, they were left untrimmed and overtook the original garden beds, making the center gate obsolete. Plants that were in bloom for the tour included daffodils, Spanish bluebells, Carolina cherry laurel, nannyberry viburnum, and medlar, a popular Colonial fruit.

Custis Tenement
John Custis was an avid plantsman who corresponded with Peter Collinson, a very important nurseryman in London. He was known throughout the colony for the impressive garden he kept around his house on Francis street. For the tour we visited the Custis Tenement, a reconstruction of one of his rental properties.

Though not immediately apparent, the diamond-patterned garden at the side of the Custis Tenement is a modified version of a British Flag. Like many of the Colonial Revival gardens that are scattered around Colonial Williamsburg, its inspiration came from old garden plans like those of Claude Joseph Sauthier, who sketched garden layouts in North Carolina during the 18th century.

At the Custis Tenement, the beds were filled with a mix of annuals and perennials including germander edging, tulips, garden pinks, and foxgloves. The dark leaves of smoketree also added some oomph to the beds. And if you looked carefully you could see two small bulbs that grow throughout CW, star of Bethlehem, and spring star flower.

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Brian came out last week to try to assess a problem we are having in our yard.  He arrived on time, was extremely courteous and took a considerable amount of time analyzing our situation.  While he was unable to reach a solution, he did take the time to research and recommend another business that might be able to help us.  That kind of customer service will make us more likely to call on Hertzler & George if other issues arise.  Thanks, Brian!


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We hired H&G to help us re-do our landscaping after a different local landscaping company did a sub par job with plant selections and installations. That company also was very hard to deal with. H&G stepped right up with Jennifer creating a new planting scheme comprising of native plants with some we had never seen before and which we love! She is extremely knowledgeable and pleasant to work with – a true landscaping charm! Jon did the installations and also did a fantastic job. He was very meticulous on planting and finishing the job neatly with mulch. Unlike that other company’s installer, Jon left us extremely happy with the job done. Customer service on the phone – pleasant, patient and helpful. The only, and ever so minor aspect of their work, is they don’t offer a guarantee on the plants or install. I suppose that’s becoming industry standard. However, now looking over all the plantings with a bit of time passing, I am confident that there won’t need to be any replacements. Watering is of course the key element. Thank you H&G, the country cottage landscaping we’ve wanted is now ours – FIVE STARS!

Chris Dombrowski
Ford's Colony | Homeowner

True professionals

Had these guys build a surface-grade patio in May 2023. They looked at the project, sent me a proposed scope of work and contract via email, took a deposit of 1/2 the total via bank transfer. They set a date weeks later to start the job. They showed up on time, worked professionally and cleaned up at the end of the day. Whole job took 3 days, and they even replaced all the patio furniture on the last day. The final product was precisely what I asked for, done in a high-quality, workmanlike way.

H&G are not the cheapest guys out there, but for the extra money you get a professional product, professionally executed, on time, on budget. Honestly: I don’t think it gets any better than that.


Ken Blakely

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We had an ugly uneven weedy patio and a driveway that needed reshaping and gravel. The transformation is stunning. Your representative Brian was patient and helpful in designing repairs to our satisfaction and your work crew was exceptional. Edwardo the work site foreman was extremely knowledgeable and professional and created a beautiful patio. His crew was superior.

Tim & Cynthia Porter

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Hertzler and George were contracted to perform some landscaping for a seller of mine to get the home ready to show. They had just finished an extensive re-landscaping of the next door neighbors entire yard. I was very impressed by their attention to detail and their desire to satisfy their client. Joe Hertzler goes the extra mile to achieve complete client satisfaction. They provide a complete mix of landscaping design services and maintenance of existing landscaping

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Liz Moore Real Estate