History Blooms

History Blooms at the VMHC

History Blooms at the VMHC

A garden with a small white outbuilding and picket fence, brick walkway, hedges, and purple flowers, with tress in the background.

History Meets Horticulture

October 6-8, 2023

The Virginia Museum of History & Culture (VMHC) is excited to partner with the Garden Club of Virginia (GCV) for a special event that will highlight history and horticulture and enliven the VMHC with amazing floral creations representing the diverse regions and landscapes of the Commonwealth. 

History Blooms is a three-day program presented by Atlantic Union Bank featuring special lectures, workshops and demonstrations, and other engaging activities focused on Virginia history, gardening, and landscape preservation. Also, several dozen stunning floral displays prepared by the Garden Club of Virginia’s member clubs will be presented throughout the museum—themed for the regions and historic landscapes of the Commonwealth—allowing guests to immerse themselves in a unique statewide storytelling experience.

Tickets are required for special programs, but all sessions are open to the public with accesss to floral displays throughout the museum included with regular daily admission!

A Longstanding Partnership

The VMHC and GCV have collaborated over many decades. For years, the VMHC has helped steward GCV’s archives. Most recently, the VMHC and GCV teamed up to spotlight the GCV’s 2020 centennial through a special exhibition at the museum and with a variety of special programs and floral displays. History Blooms, rooted in the partnership formed around GCV’s centennial, will weave together the missions of the two organizations with the addition of a new public-facing opportunity for engagement.

Program Highlights

Presentations & Workshops

Lectures, demonstrations, and workshops focused on historic preservation, landscape design, and gardening topics both past and present will take place on Friday, October 6, and Saturday, October 7. Guest presenters include:

  • P. Allen Smith, author and TV personality from P. Allen Smith's Garden Home and P. Allen Smith's Garden to Table, will deliver the keynote about "Living in the Garden Home."
  • Abra Lee, author of Conquer the Soil: Black America and the Untold Stories of Our Country's Gardeners, Farmers, and Growers, will bring to life a history of black women in floriculture.
  • Christin Geall, author of Cultivated: Elements of Floral Style, will lead a floral demonstration about "Color Theory for Designers & Gardeners."
  • Nancy Ross Hugo, author of Remarkable Trees of Virginia, and Kate Hugo Vernon, owner of The Arranger's Market, will lead a hands-on floral design workshop about "Virginia's Harvest."
  • Thomas Lloyd and Bryan Huffman, authors of Garden Secrets of Bunny Mellon and Bunny Mellon Garden Journal, will host an armchair journey of the life and style philosophies of Bunny Mellon.
  • J. Dean Norton, Director of Horticulture at George Washington’s Mount Vernon, will give a presentation about his four-decade career caring for and restoring Washington’s iconic landscape.
  • Libbey Oliver, former manager of Colonial Williamsburg's Flower Arrangement Department, will lead a demonstration about "Floral Mechanics: The Old is New Again."
  • Margot Shaw, editor-in-chief of Flower magazine and author of Living Floral, and Sybil Sylvester, owner of Wildflower Designs and author of Fresh, will lead a demonstration about the life and creations of pioneering floral maven Constance Spry.

Floral Displays & Experiences

  • Dozens of floral creations prepared by the GCV’s statewide clubs representing Virginia’s distinct regions, landscapes, and parks will be on display from 10 am to 5 pm on Saturday, October 7, and Sunday, October 8.
  • Gardening and flower-related archival treasures from the VMHC historical collection will be on display in the VMHC library from 11 am to 3 pm on Saturday, October 7, and Sunday, October 8.

Special Events

  • First Fridays at the VMHC: A special edition of First Fridays at the VMHC will take place on October 6 from 5pm to 8 pm with garden-related activities planned for young visitors, including demonstrations related to trees, flowers, and beekeeping.
  • History Blooms Luncheon: Enjoy lunch with friends and experience the unintentional influence of Bunny Mellon on Saturday, October 7. Mrs. Mellon’s grandson, Thomas Lloyd, and Bryan Huffman, an interior designer and dear friend of Bunny Mellon, will host an armchair journey of her life, style philosophies, and renowned interest in gardening and horticulture. A book signing will follow.
  • History Blooms Dinner: Relish in festive cocktails and then gather around the garden table the evening of Saturday, October 7. Enjoy a presentation by Director of Horticulture at George Washington’s Mount Vernon, J. Dean Norton, speaking on his storied career caring for and restoring Washington’s iconic gardens and landscape.   

Tickets for lectures, workshops, and other events and programs are on sale now. Access to flower displays on October 7 and 8 is included with VMHC general admission. First Fridays at the VMHC is free!

Presenting Sponsor
Session Sponsors
Bartlett Tree Service
Potomac Floral Wholesale
Barbara Basl Stokey

Robbins Landscaping

Three photos, one of two hands tie a bouquet of wildflowers with ribbon; another of a small white house with a brick walkway, hedge and purple flowers; and another of P Allen Smith holding a straw hat and leaning against a white picket garden gate.