Hidden landscape gems in Culpeper

There’s a lot to love about Culpeper. Our downtown has terrific shops and restaurants and a great little museum. Speaking of the museum, every year they organize a day where families can get up close and personal with preserved dinosaur tracks right here in the county. We have the Library of Congress film archives and a state of the art soapbox derby track. Most importantly, however (in my opinion), are some of our kinda-secret landscape and garden spots! 

Old House Vineyards

Now I’ll admit that I’m biased, because we are responsible for pretty much all of the landscape design that’s happened out at Old House Vineyards. That doesn’t change the fact that there’s a lot of cool stuff out there for plant lovers. If you visit, you can see several varieties of boxwood and hydrangeas, full shade gardens, full sun gardens, wet soil gardens, and more. MJ and I got married at a gorgeous farm in Vermont, and I’ve tried to capture some of that magic with the plantings. 

Looking at plants is fun, but what if you want to know what you’re looking at? We’re working on getting our catalogue of plants at Old House Vineyards updated and complete on Plantsmap. What’s Plantsmap? You can learn a little about it here, and you can see the collection here. Bring your phone or tablet and explore (but remember that it *is* a business, so do the right thing and buy something if you go!)

The sports complex at Eastern View High School

Since we don’t have kids I never knew what was out there at the sports complex. Then last year I learned about the Bright Spot Park, a fully accessible playground that the county was building out there. Through our work at Old House Vineyards I knew John Barrett, the director of the county parks and rec department, so I gave him a call and offered to donate the landscaping. Getting involved in that project led me to learn more about other projects at the sports complex. 

Bright Spot Park – Like I said, I designed and donated the landscaping. The county has made a big push to start integrating more native plants in their various sites, so I made natives a key part of the design. 

The five senses garden – A few hundred yards from the playground sits a five senses garden. Several years ago some volunteers got together to create this garden. Because this was a 100% volunteer garden it’s not managed by the county, so it fell into a little disrepair when the original volunteers moved on to other things. Last year a local Girl Scout troop decided to rehab the garden as their service project. I helped with plant selection and got them going, which was a blast. It could use a little help this year, so if you’re interested let me know and I’ll connect you with the right people. 

Labyrinth – Next door to the five senses garden is a labyrinth. For those who don’t know, a labyrinth is not a maze. Rather, it’s a path that one follows from the outside to the center, allowing the user to meditate and ponder as they make their way to the middle. Mike Skelton, a facilities manager with parks and rec, did a fabulous job (and showed how you can create something very cool without spending hardly any money). 

Turf trials – This one blew me away. I’m not a lawn/turfgrass person, so I suppose I just took that part of what the parks and rec crew does for granted. They’ve created test plots for [QUANTITY] different types of grass to see what varieties will do well. If you want some ideas for what to use at your property, check it out! 

Pollinator garden at Yowell Meadow Park

While I wasn’t involved in this garden, I get to enjoy it when we walk landscape dawg and landscape dawg deux through Yowell Meadow Park. The Star Exponent has a good writeup about it here. The garden is one more example of how our little community values nature, and it’s another wonderful resource for homeowners looking for inspiration. 

I feel like our adopted hometown is doing a lot of things right when it comes to plants and gardens. If you’re a fellow plant nerd, check out my suggestions above, and let me know about anything I should see!

leave a comment