The kitchen garden at Andua. Photo by Diane Ginsberg.

An Insider’s Tour of Historic Homes and Gardens in Virginia’s Eastern Shore 

Have you ever caught a glimpse of a historic home down a tree-lined shell driveway or across an expanse of calm water and wished you could be invited to look around? On Saturday, April 22, you have the opportunity to take a leisurely look behind the well-maintained hedges of five magnificent homes and their gardens on the Eastern Shore of Virginia as part of the 90th annual Historic Garden Week across the entire state.

“It’s a wonderful day that lets visitors explore the Eastern Shore of Virginia and see gardens, houses, and interiors of creekside, waterfront homes they would not normally be able to access,” says Megan Ames, publicity chairperson for The Garden Club of the Eastern Shore.

The Eastern Shore of Virginia—the two counties that comprise the farthest southern reaches of the Delmarva Peninsula—conceals a treasure trove of lovingly maintained historic houses. The five homes on the tour, several dating to the 1700s, lie like a string of pearls between the Chesapeake and the Atlantic and can be visited in any order between 9:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. the day of the tour. The tour is an ideal way to explore the backroads of this historic, unspoiled, and often overlooked part of the Chesapeake Bay landscape.

Plus, the monumental and absolutely gorgeous flower arrangements created and placed by the Garden Club in many of the rooms of the participating homes are worth the trip by themselves. Docents are on hand to explain the history and distinctive architectural features and furnishings of each home.

Eyre Hall. Photo by Diane Ginsberg.

A centerpiece of the tour is Eyre Hall, which overlooks Cherrystone Creek near the town of Cheriton. Construction began in 1758 and now the home is listed as a National Historic Landmark. Eyre Hall has been home to eight generations of the same family. Original furniture and ceramics from the colonial era and period woodwork are complemented by some of the oldest continuously maintained gardens in the United States featuring enormous crepe myrtles and ancient boxwoods. 

Andua on Hacks Neck is believed to be named after a Native American queen who lived on the property. It was constructed in phases between 1730 and 1820 in the traditional Eastern Shore home style, sometimes called “big house-little house-colonnade-kitchen.” Restoration in 2000 revealed the use of wooden pegs rather than iron nails in the original construction. Andua’s formal gardens are bordered by oyster shell paths and river birch trees and have views of Nandua Creek.

Two homes on the tour are in the charming bayside town of Onancock. The Minton House, the only modern home on the tour, lies near the wharf and includes a hand-painted botanical mural in the front hall and both formal and unstructured gardens with a view of Onancock Creek. Ker Place, an outstanding Federal-period mansion, was built between 1799 and 1803. It has been lovingly restored to its 1806 appearance and features tablescapes of antique porcelain, tableware, and elaborate flower arrangements.

Wharton Place. Photo by Diane Ginsberg.

Wharton Place in Hallwood was built in the early 1800s by reputed privateer John Wharton and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The two-story brick house features fanlights above the front and back doors and faces the Atlantic with bonus views of Assawoman Creek. The garden features formal brick paths and casual shell traces, terraced hillsides, and the lovely fragrance of mock orange, quince and lilac. 

“These gardens look different every week of the year and they always seem to look the most spectacular over Historic Garden Week,” says Megan Ames.

Details and tickets ($40 per person) at, click “Tickets” and select Eastern Shore. Learn more on Instagram @historicgardenweekeasternshore or on Facebook Historic Garden Week on the Eastern Shore.