Many house and garden enthusiasts will flock toward Virginia this week, where the Garden Club of Virginia will host its 58th Historic Garden Week, called the oldest and largest house and garden tour in the country. This year's tour visits more than 200 private houses and gardens in 33 areas of the state from Saturday through April 28. Block tickets range in price from $5 to $15 per tour.
Homes in Old Town Alexandria will be featured during one of the tours on opening day. Five privately owned homes, three gardens, a residence adapted to a business and five museums can be seen from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tea will be served at the Athenaeum. Call (703) 838-4200.
Other tours on Saturday are on the Eastern Shore, in Hanover and Orange counties, and in Portsmouth and Winchester.
A mix of old and new homes may be seen on the tour of Northern Neck on April 24. Styles range from a Colonial plantation home, built more than 200 years ago, to houses built in the 1980s. The tour also includes such historic sites as Stratford Hall, home of the Lees, and George Washington's Birthplace National Monument. Call (804) 472-3145.
More than 50 Virginia Historic Landmarks will be also be open, such as the magnificent James River plantations, which will be open on different days from April 23-27. A champagne candlelight tour is scheduled April 24 from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Ash Lawn-Highland, one of the homes of President James Monroe. Musicians will provide period music in the lighted boxwood gardens during the tour. In addition to Monroe's home, there will be visits to the homes of five other presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, William Henry Harrison and Woodrow Wilson.
Detailed information on the various tours is included in a 180-page guidebook, available free of charge from Historic Garden Week Headquarters, 12 E. Franklin St., Richmond, Va. 23219. A $1 fee for postage and handling is requested. For information, call (804) 644-7776 or (804) 643-7141.
The 200th anniversary of the birthday of James Buchanan, the only president born in Pennsylvania, is being recognized during 1991. Mercersburg, birthplace of the 15th president, will host a week of festivities April 21-27. It kicks off with a parade next Sunday at 2:30 p.m. on Main Street. The parade will be made up of living history groups, horses and carriages, old fire apparatus, period costumes, a bagpipe band and school bands. A birthday party will be held in Mercerburg's Center Square April 23 at 6:30 p.m. (Buchanan was born April 23, 1791.) A proclamation from the governor of Pennsylvania will be read and an actor portraying Buchanan will speak from the balcony of historic Mansion House. Festivities include musical entertainment, a community sing-along and birthday cake for all.
The week continues with "A Personal Portrayal of James Buchanan," presented at Mercersburg Academy's Boone Hall April 24 and 25 at 7 p.m. The academy will also be the site of a costume ball on April 26 in Ford Hall. A dancing master will come from the Smithsonian Institution to lead the festivities and music and refreshments will relate to the Buchanan era. The James Buchanan Monument at Stony Batter will be rededicated on April 27 at 1 p.m. with a wreath-laying ceremony featuring a color guard and a Civil War Fife and Drum Corps.
Other activities throughout the week include recitals on the 43-bell carillon in the Mercersburg Academy chapel, area tours, Civil War exhibits and garden tours. For information, call (717) 328-3116 between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.
A Children's Spring Festival will be held on Saturday at Rose Hill Manor in Frederick, home of Maryland's first governor.
Fun for children is planned from noon to 3 p.m., including games, pony rides, hayrides, clowns, fortunetelling, button-making, face painting and balloon animals. There will be Colonial craft demonstrations in the mansion and vendors will be selling food on the grounds. The scheduled entertainment includes storytelling at noon, a puppet show at 1 p.m. and a magic show at 2 p.m. There is a $1 admission charge for the three performances and a charge for pony rides and hayrides. Otherwise activities and admission are free.
Rose Hill is at 1611 N. Market St. For information, call (301) 694-1648.
Winterthur Museum and Gardens in Winterthur, Del., will host its second annual Winterthur 5k Run and Walk for all ages next Sunday at 10 a.m. A day of family fun is scheduled following the race. There will be picnicking, children's activities in the museum's "Touch-It" Room, and bluegrass music. Race participants will be admitted to the museum's spring tour and activities free of charge; others may purchase tour tickets at a discount. Registration for the race is $10 until April 18 and $13 on race day.
The museum is on Route 52 off Interstate 95 near Wilmington. For information, call (302) 888-4892.
The Delaware Agricultural Museum in Dover will present "Springtime on the Farm" Saturday and next Sunday.