JARS v42n1 - Lisburne, A Garden In The Middle Atlantic Region

Lisburne, A Garden In The Middle Atlantic Region
From Virginia Plantation Manor to Show Garden
Sandra McDonald, Hampton, Virginia

Lisburne garden will be featured on one of the garden tours at the 1988 Convention at Williamsburg, Virginia.

A Georgian style plantation manor was completed in 1810 by William Backhouse in Gloucester County, Virginia. This property, now in Ordinary, Virginia, was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. David Peebles in 1958. The property consists of 150 acres surrounding the manor house. At the time the Peebles purchased the property in 1958, the house had no electricity, no central heating and no plumbing except for a hand water pump in the basement kitchen.

Mr. and Mrs. Peebles began restoring the house in 1964 and finished in 1965, at which time they moved into it. They retained many of the original features and woodwork, but added wings to both sides of the house and turned a screened porch into a sunroom. They also restored the old stables and built a swimming pool and tennis courts. The estate is now a working farm with barns, horses, sheep, smokehouses, ice house and caretakers' residence.

The Peebles named their home Lisburne after a Massachusetts land grant given to one of their ancestors. Lisburne has been featured on Virginia Garden Week tours several times since 1967.

Gardens surrounded the plantation house in the days of William Backhouse. The Peebles set about making a garden of the 20 overgrown acres surrounding their home. An inviting entrance gate and planting of evergreen azaleas greets visitors approaching the long driveway.

Lisburne entrance gate
Entrance gate with azalea beds

Four English gardens were originally planned for rhododendrons, azaleas, boxwoods and wildflowers. There are now several smaller gardens with various themes including a perennial garden, cutting garden, herb garden, water garden and of course the azalea and rhododendron gardens with brick walks and terraces and many beautiful vistas. The ruin of a brick ice house, probably predating the house, has been left intact and makes a unique focal point. Views across marshland and Vaughn's Creek, a branch of the Severn River, are lovely. Gazebos, garden houses, white painted fences and a Chinese Chippendale garden gate are picturesque. A pond is bordered with the yellow and pale yellow forms of Iris pseudacorus .

Azalea garden with river in background
Azalea garden with river in background
Patio with gazebo in background
Patio with gazebo in background

The shade gardens contain many trees including live oak, magnolia and holly with many flowering trees added more recently. Formal parts of the garden contain boxwood which lends a colonial feeling to the garden. Boxwood lines the formal entrance walk to the house.

In the rhododendron garden a large mature planting of the rhododendron 'Anna Rose Whitney' is especially spectacular. A planting of 'Scintillation' is attaining substantial size. Various other of the hardy rhododendrons are also planted. One of the specialties of the garden is thousands of evergreen azaleas. They are planted in large groups for a park-like effect. Many Pericat azaleas are there as is one of Mr. Peebles favorites, 'Clemson'. Some deciduous azaleas are added here and there for accent.

R. 'Scintillation'

This beautifully laid out and maintained garden is something to look forward to seeing in '88. Lisburne has been the subject of articles in the June, 1987, issue of Colonial Homes and in Port Folio Magazine , May 27, 1986, as well as other publications.

Sandra McDonald is President of the Middle Atlantic Chapter and an active member of the 1988 Convention Committee.