Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

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The Not so Secret Gardens of UVA - Part II

Sunday May 3, 2014
Charlottesville, Virginia



This is the second part of a post on my Sunday Morning at the University of Virginia’s Pavilion Gardens.  It will make little sense other than the pretty pictures if you haven’t read part I about the Rotunda and the Lawn and the Map of this wonderful place.  So go on back there and read it if you didn’t.  Grab a drink, some snacks, click here and then come back for Part II.

For those of you who already saw the map, the pavilions, the fabulous flowers,  and the artistic gates, just a reminder, that this is not chronological walk with me as I often do, it’s a mish mash of all 10 pavilion gardens highlighting their variety.  They are all SO different.  Ok then, now, as I was saying……..


The Paths

When you go through the gates, you find yourself in a magical land of paths winding through the beauty. I usually spent my lunch time in a different garden each day and in all seasons and weathers.








In the lower right hand picture you can catch a glimpse of the famous serpentine walls. More on them in a bit.



I certainly never had a spot like this to study when I was in college.
















The Benches.

Like the gates, the benches are in all different designs although all are white and tucked in and among little alcoves. Few folks are out this morning but during lunch on week-days you can often find people stretched out on them taking a nap. Guilty as charged.





The Pavilions.

The professors who live in the pavilions are used to having people walking around in their gardens. I hope they didn’t mind me taking some pictures. I didn’t see anyone out or I would have asked.

None of these is the same home.






There are other sorts of other rooms and accomodations tucked away here and there as well.










The picture below was taken from the lower garden area looking up the steps to the upper garden area. You can barely see the Pavilion at the top at the end of the walk.




The unknown.

Not sure what these little doors were. Perhaps servants quarters originally. UVA was a school for southern gentlemen most of whom brought their man servants with them. FINALLY in 1972 it became a co-ed school and now women outnumber men in the undergraduate college and in many of the highly ranked professional schools such as Medical, Law and Architecture.
Or maybe these were out houses of the time.  Now garden sheds.  Pretty cute if they were.





The famous Serpentine walls

And now for the serpentine walls which separate the gardens. Jefferson’s ingenuity here is rightly famous. The walls are called "serpentine" because they run a sinusoidal course like that of a snake or a wave which lends strength to the wall and allows for it to be only one brick thick. It is one of many innovations by which Jefferson attempted to combine aesthetics with utility and in this case frugality. Jefferson realized that by building a wall that curves, one uses 25% fewer bricks as compared to a straight wall. The curved wall can support itself while being only one brick thick instead of two.

But they are really hard to get photographs of from anywhere but above. And even that is tricky with all the beautiful old trees in the gardens.














It’s hard to say which is my favorite.

These last pictures are of one that I really love.  I like it especially because the lower part is not really landscaped. it is wild, filled with early ephemeral wildflowers. Today the Virginia Blue Bells, the may apple, the blood root, giant trillium and the wild columbine are simply lovely and make a great environment for these two students who were studying as I walked around taking pictures near the end of my morning
































If you are driving up 95 through Virginia, take route 64 West to Charlottesville, or if you are driving north on I 81, take Route 64 East to Charlottesville and be sure to take the tour of the University of Virginia. After that, walk through the beautiful gardens. But be sure to allow enough time. It’s another world you are entering.




If you live here and have never done this or haven’t done it in years.  What are you waiting for? 


Time is up here in Virginia.   I’ll be writing to you from Greenbelt National Park next time.


  1. So, so very beautiful.. LOVE all the flowers and serenity of the place!!

  2. Even if gardens are not my favorite place, it sure does look peaceful:))

  3. I went to college at night so having such a beautiful place to study wouldn't have done me any good! ;c)

    Ok, I admit I had to look up sinusoidal, you must have attended a better school than I did...or came from a bricklayer's family. :cD

  4. These gardens are just FAB-ulous! I can only imagine the number of hours that are spent on them. They must have a huge fulltime staff for just the landscaping.

    Virtual hugs,


  5. Wow! How on earth were you even able to retire and leave all that beauty behind? I loved that "wavy" wall. I felt like I was walking through the garden with you.

  6. On the list for when we at last get the MoHo to Virginia, one of the 8 United States we have yet to visit as RVr's. So gorgeous, Sherry, loved all the flowers.

  7. You sure know how to find the prettiest places. :)

  8. That is a beautiful place. Very interesting about the wavy wall. You really do take the time to smell the roses. It's a shame so many others don't.

  9. You sure capture the Springtime beauty of the gardens. Definitely have to see them some day!!

  10. Wow what a beautiful place, love the serpentine wall.

  11. That's interesting about a serpentine wall ... good to know since one might in our future ... a small retaining wall, but serpentine in nature.

  12. It is another world there. Glad to see students actually do go there for a quiet space. Beautiful flowers! I thought the serpentine wall pictures were good :) So glad you're in Greenbelt now ;)

  13. Our back wall was serpentine used brick when we lived in Woodbridge, CA. I loved the beauty of it and now can appreciate that it was also smart building :-). Large gardens are lovely, but these are especially magical and I look forward to seeing them when we get east. Looks like you found a great hiding spot in Maryland!

  14. Thanks for the tour! I hope the beauty of the place helps students cope with the stress of classes, and of finals right around this time of year. The serpentine wall is very cool.

  15. You did a beautiful job of photographing the serpentine wall. The gardens certainly have a magical quality.

  16. I need to go there sometime... my daughter and her family live in Winchester
    maybe I can talk them into going with me... great pics!

  17. My ex-brother-in-law went to school there and told me about the beauty of the campus--especially in spring. Thanks for taking the time to capture it so beautifully in words and photos.

  18. Sherry, I so enjoyed your pictures all the way to the first post of the Gardens. To live somewhere were you can have all those beautiful gardens is magical to me. In the summers I had been going up north and was able to have some really pretty flowers but now that I am stuck here in the desert not so much. Thanks for the great post.

  19. These gardens are just lovely. They are definitely going on my must-see list.

  20. getting caught up … just gorgeous! Sherry…. Monticello is something I wished I had spent time at … blast m'hide. You worked at the University for 26 years?! wow…. what a gorgeous gorgeous place!

    and what! a farmer's market! never saw such mushrooms… I had never heard of Sudnuts outside of Texarkana, Texas… thought it was a local thing… gooooood stuff!

    and ohhhhhh Allegra! wow.

  21. Such beautiful documentation! Hope you're having a nice time in MD too and no storms while you're out. We had rain and wind at the market the last hour.5 this morning - so glad you came last week!

  22. How beautiful!! My favorite (no surprise) is the garden of wildflowers. You were there at the perfect time; when we travel east I want to make sure that we visit in the springtime. Thanks for sharing about this gorgeous place that we might have easily missed. (So interesting about the serpentine brick wall -- Jefferson was brilliant!)

  23. I love to tour of the gardens! I use to walk them when we were visiting the campus when the kids went there.We had some family pictures taken one year ,was a gift from Justin and Ashley for our Anniversary.I will have to go back and visit again and take my sketch pad along or a good book!
    Thanks for the reminder of how beautiful the campus is and how special that I live close by!

  24. That Jefferson was a smart man. Love the serpentine walls and all the luscious plantings. Be safe on the road.

  25. Goodness, I just love gardens and this one is a doozy! Thanks for sharing!

    Metamorphosis Lisa

  26. When I was a teen living in NY we always spent a few days in VA at the start of every long, driving vacation. We visited Monticello and drove by the UVA. We talked about and admired the serpentine walls and knew why they were that way, but we never knew about the lovely gardens. In the fourth picture from the end, the trillium, is that poison ivy in with the flowering plant?

  27. Haven't done this in a few years now. Beautiful pics! Can't wait til the end of June!


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