About the Gardens on Tour...

easels in the garden

Photos of this year’s event.

1.   Begin at Event Headquarters — 408 South Broad Street, The 1758 Cupola House and Gardens — Also known as the Frances Drane Inglis Gardens
Designed in a Colonial style, the gardens have only heritage plants that would have grown in an 18th Century garden. The three gardens — the Orchard, the Pleasure Garden and the Herb Garden — are maintained by a volunteer group, “The Weeders.” A plant database can be found on the this website.

2.   505 South Broad Street, The Penelope Barker House
This beautiful 1782 building was moved to this location in 1954; consequently, there are no original gardens. The garden on the north side is the “Celebration Garden,” created and maintained by the Garden of Eden Club. It provides a lovely spot to rest and enjoy cypress trees in the bay, a beautiful “water element.” Inside the house, in ‘Edenton’s Living Room’ is an indoor display of many orchids for you and an artist’s enjoyment.

3.   101 East Water Street, The Homestead
This garden is tended by Frances Inglis who received the Award of Merit in 2014 from the Southern History Garden Society. This is an historical garden: Frances says a garden has been on this location since 1773. Harmony, preservation, and evolution are the garden themes and two of the roses date from 1843.

4.   207 East Water Street, the Burch Family Gardens.
Front and side garden landscapes have been joined by a newly constructed rear deck, the installation of a large fountain, numerous shrubs, and flowers. Flower arrangements in large pots provide interest and change throughout the seasons. Judy and Buddy enjoy sharing their porch and flowers in any season.

5.   216 East Water Street, The Elliott’s Views of Queen Anne Creek
This landscape has a tropical feel with numerous palms. In addition it has a beautiful border of roses. Chris and Mary enjoy their boats by the creek and in warm weather, returning a majestic staghorn fern to its spot overlooking the yard and creek.

6.   310 East King Street, The Gettinger Formal Escape
Originally designed by noted artist, Carol Becker, this garden has Korean boxwoods for structure; hardscapes such as the fountain and statuary; and beautiful Julia Child roses which are prized for their resistance to black spot disease. The garden owner, Cheryl, an artist herself, enjoys continuing the tradition of this beautiful garden.

7.   223 East King Street, Water Level Gardens
Named for flooding with Hurricane Isabel, the Water Level Gardens have been evolving for the past 20 years. Raised beds have given way to a more formal, yet still eclectic approach. Anne Edwards, the garden owner, shares this sage advise: “Garden for two reasons: because you love it and because you want to take care of it. Just like adopting a dog.”

8.   208 East King Street, Garden Rooms
This garden has been influenced by the Cupola House garden as three owners have been volunteer “weeders” at the Cupola House. The Cherokee rose is a stunning wall in the formal garden in the spring along with urns from the Pascal Ravello ceramic studio in Italy. Flowers are abundant in three seasons; roses in the spring and ginger lilies are a fall favorite. Four distinct garden rooms planned by garden owner Susan Nolton are: the Formal Garden; Woodland Garden with maidenhair ferns; Meditation Garden; and the Meadow with its compost pile.

9.   209 East King Street, The Cofield House Gardens
Spanning two lots, there are several garden rooms and many plantings. Nancy and Keith Sorensen have been gardening here for 20 years. Their devoted attention to the spaces is evident. While there is a formal feeling, the variety of plantings are less formal and are both annual and perennial. A serpentine wall provides a stunning hardscape and a greenhouse overwinters glorious ferns.

Walking west toward Broad Street you will see the historic 1767 Courthouse and the Courthouse Green. At Broad Street turn south to...

10.   407 South Broad Street, The Courtyard at Edenton Bay Trading Company
A New Orleans style courtyard, tucked away and reached through the store, is a perfect getaway. Plants, art, and a pond are featured. Easels ticket holders are treated to a complimentary glass of wine from the proprietors and gardeners, Debbie and Malcolm King.

Walking north on Broad Street, shop and window shop on both sides of Broad to the corner of Queen Street, Turn west to...

11.   111 West Queen Street, The Busby English Cottage Gardens
Kathy Busby has been delighting the community with this garden. Whether passing by foot or in a car, her massing of plants and colors catch the eye. While the front garden is an eye- catcher, the side and back gardens are full of known, and not well-known, plants that equally delight. Kathy’s relative, a metal artist, will be constructing garden art and structures in the back garden.

12.   100 West Church Street (corner of Broad and West Church Streets) The Churchyard of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
Begun in 1701, the Parish of St. Paul’s has served this area for over 300 years. The church yard has ancient magnolias shading the graves of three Governors of North Carolina. The tombstones are intriguing and trace the history of Edenton’s citizens. A border of Bridal Wreath Spirea sets off the recently restored Rector’s Study.

13.   105 East Church Street, the James Iredell House (Cross Broad Street to the east)
The yard surrounding the historic outbuildings provide the proposed site for “Miss Annie’s Garden” named for Annie Isabella Iredell, the daughter of James Iredell, Sr. Recently discovered, the plans for the garden are described in the letters of Hannah Iredell, written to James Iredell Jr. in the early 1800s. James Iredell, Jr. was a lawyer and North Carolina Governor. His father, James Iredell, Sr, was appointed by George Washington to be an Associate Justice on the first Supreme Court. The garden is being recreated from Hannah’s plans. Perhaps more important at this time are the buildings’ architecture and the site interpretation by docents. Artists delight in painting these historic structures.

14.   200 West Church Street, The Surprise Garden
Asked about his garden, owner Bob Quinn stated: “It is always a surprise to me to see what appears in the spring. If anyone asks me about a plant I have to say, I’m not sure, it is a surprise to me!” Irises and poppies abound with other plantings and shrubs. The Garden House is also a delightful surprise with artifacts and relics.

Walking south on Granville Street for several blocks you will pass beautiful architecture of varying styles with landscapes and front gardens to admire as you approach the corner of West King Street where you will turn east to...

15.   121 West King Street, The Gardens of Pembroke Hall
This antebellum estate, built circa 1855, is now a private residence. The owner, Vince Burgher, is the father of a three-year-old and wants the gardens to be child-friendly and evolve as the family evolves. New gardens are being designed by Vince’s mother and installed with the family in mind. Boxwood parterres in front join majestic trees and beds of flowers.

16.   115 West King Street, The Paxton-Skinner House Gardens
The formal English design is reflected in the symmetrical quarters of the space behind the house which are surrounded by plantings. A rectangular fountain also denotes the formal design. Over twenty cherry trees are included in the gardens and a most unusual element, a California Redwood that is not indigenous to this area, still survives after 47 years. The stone patio is transformed into a potter’s work space for Easels enjoyment.

17.   114 West King Street, The Gardens of Beverly Hall
These gardens are among the earliest in North Carolina still in existence. The garden was designed by Dr. Richard Browning Dillard after his plantation, Wingfield, was burned during the Civil War. The English boxwoods and old roses were planted by Dr. Dillard. The summerhouse, based on designs and photographs from earlier years, was rebuilt in 2015. The garden owners, Sambo and Gray Dixon are faithful stewards of this historical treasure.

18.   104 West King Street, Boxwoods Retreat
The house, built circa 1800, was once the law office of James Iredell, Jr., Governor of North Carolina. Restored as a family home, the location’s plantings are in keeping with a formal, 18th Century design. Boxwoods provide the structure and interest. Parterres carry out the colonial influences. The gardener is Judge Chris Bean, assisted by his wife Grace. The design is Judge Bean’s who, in addition to the study of law and gardening, has a keen interest in early architecture and decorative arts.

Turn east back to Broad Street turning south to the Cupola House Gardens and parking. The next two gardens are accessed by car within minutes — and should not be missed! (see map)

19.   217 Queen Anne Drive, Views on Edenton Bay
This garden, and its neighbor garden, are each designed and maintained by noted artists. Nancy Downum, the artist-gardener here, loves spring and the flowers that come with this special season. Roses are among her favorites. She describes the garden theme as casual, in keeping with the boating and fishing life on the bay. Take notice of the intriguing statuary and other hardscapes that lend unique structure, yet in a casual way.

20.   219 Queen Anne Drive, An Artist’s Garden
Artist Robin Sams maintains this garden herself with assistance from her husband John. She strives to have flowers with lots of color, peonies are a favorite. John designed the flower bed shaped so 90% of pine cones from the trees land in the beds, not on the lawn. Notice the distinct gardens: Pembroke Creek View Garden, Canal Edge Garden, and the Side Shade Garden.

Photos of the 2016 event.

Photos of the 2014 event.


Read about early architectural changes we just discovered.

View a photo gallery of the Cupola House gardens.

View a beautiful UNC-TV documentary on Frances Inglis and the Cupola House.

View a WRAL-TV news report on the Cupola House Restoration.

View a UNC-TV “North Carolina Weekend” video about the Cupola House