Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Local Color: The Gardens of Mirador

Over the summer, I sealed myself up in the AC and read Five Sisters: The Langhornes of Virginia. I couldn't put it down. The main cast of characters in this non-fiction read included Mirador (a still-standing 19th century Southern estate within minutes of my house) and sisters Nancy Astor (yes, of 'those' Astors) and Irene Gibson - a muse for (and wife of) Charles Gibson of the Gibson Girl-fame.

Nancy Lancaster, a niece of Nancy Astor, also lived at Mirador. I'm not completely clear on her contribution to the landscape of Mirador, but years of living in England left its imprint. A well-known interior designer of the time was quoted as saying she was "the most influential English gardener since Gertrude Jekyll." Whoa. How could she not have tinkered with her Virginia gardens?

I curse the country roads that corner off the estate. No room for dawdling, gawking or rubber-necking. So, I get my glimpses in blurred, drive-by snippets. Corey has even manned the wheel whilst I craned my neck. I still left feeling empty.

Luckily, the Charlottesville Albemarle Historical Society gave me the okay to reprint these photos. Their librarian also said that the estate's gardens have been included in our area's Garden Week in recent years.

What constitutes stalking? Lurking? Can you stalk a place? A garden?

If anyone could, it would be me. And, and, I'm cool with that.

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