Elegant Formal Garden Tour

With its classical design, three-gardens-in-one and dining pavilion, Rabbit Run Garden in Charlottesville, Virginia is truly a magical place.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Madison Spencer Architects

Photo By: Image courtesy of Madison Spencer Architects

Photo By: Image courtesy of Madison Spencer Architects

Photo By: Image courtesy of Madison Spencer Architects

Photo By: Image courtesy of Madison Spencer Architects

Photo By: Image courtesy of Madison Spencer Architects

Photo By: Image courtesy of Madison Spencer Architects

Photo By: Image courtesy of Madison Spencer Architects

Photo By: Image courtesy of Madison Spencer Architects

Photo By: Image courtesy of Madison Spencer Architects

Photo By: Image courtesy of Madison Spencer Architects

Photo By: Image courtesy of Madison Spencer Architects

Photo By: Image courtesy of Madison Spencer Architects

Photo By: Image courtesy of Madison Spencer Architects

Photo By: Image courtesy of Madison Spencer Architects

Photo By: Image courtesy of Madison Spencer Architects

Photo By: Image courtesy of Madison Spencer Architects

Photo By: Image courtesy of Madison Spencer Architects

Photo By: Image courtesy of Madison Spencer Architects

Photo By: Image courtesy of Madison Spencer Architects

Photo By: Photo by Andrea Hubbell

Photo By: Photo by Andrea Hubbell

Photo By: Photo by Andrea Hubbell

Photo By: Photo by Andrea Hubbell

Photo By: Photo by Andrea Hubbell

The Circle Garden

The cast-stone reflecting pond is the first thing family and guests see when they mount the double stone staircases leading up to the Circle Garden. Lotus flowers grow on the pond’s surface, which is shaded in part by dogwood and stewartia trees.

A Pretty Path

One of a pair of obelisks is covered in clematis vines. Beyond is a bench set in the Greek-key patterned walkway leading up to the dining pavilion. Hornbeam hedges provide height, while boxwoods line the path.

The Long Garden

The Long Garden’s benches are from McKinnon & Harris. In the center of the circular planting in the Pavilion garden is a stone urn brimming with hydrangea. The outer rim is boxwood and the middle is filled with annuals.

A Perennial Border

The reflecting pond is bordered by a foreground of lush perennials as well as boxwoods.

Monticello Mix

To the right of the pea gravel pathway, known locally as Monticello Mix— alluding to Jefferson Davis’s beloved home—is a riot of black-eyed Susans, providing local wildflower color in a tamed environment.

Adorable Outbuilding

A charming outhouse has a deep sink for conditioning flowers, as well as a powder room for diners at the dining pavilion; it looks like something out of a fairy tale tucked away in lush greenery.

The Blues

One of several pairs of French doors to the stuccoed dining pavilion is flanked by boxwood ‘Fastigiata’ growing in pots; their blue tint is picked up in the verdigris-hued door paint. When the weather permits, the doors are opened fully connecting the dining room to the landscape.

Triple Play

Triple French doors open from the dining pavilion upon the blue flagstone patio just outside, where guests can enjoy cocktails and hors d’oeuvres before moving inside for their meal. The patio has double rectangular holding tanks on either side, gently bubbling with water for ambiance and sound.

True Blue

The adjacent Woodland Garden brims with 40,000 bluebells and scilla in the spring, providing a visual treat for passersby.

Garden Buddy

A whimsical garden sculpture—a concrete man's head—is tucked away in the greenery with sedum growing as his hair.

A Big Hello

A hardy hibiscus in white is sure to stand out amid the green throng, adding brightness and form.

Lovely Lotus

Pink lotus flowers and their seedpods light up the pond. Beyond are trimmed rounds of boxwood and lush variegated hostas growing in the shade of dogwood and stewartia trees.

It's All in the Mix!

Happy-faced Rudbeckia and Leucanthemum grow profusely in this grouping of flowers, along with oak leaf hydrangea in the back.

Hornbeam Hedge

Ten-foot tall hornbeam hedges serve as a perennial border on either side of the Long Garden planted with perennials. The outhouse turret is visible over their tops.

Woodland Path

Stone steps lead up to the outhouse, with a path surrounded with mixed green and silver-leafed plants, including bright purple waves of Russian sage.

The Dining Pavilion

The dining pavilion was made the old-fashioned way with solid masonry construction. The exterior is all stucco, with a neutral palette of cream, sage and sand. There is a wood-burning marble fireplace inside for colder months.

Welcome to Rabbit Run

A pushed-back stone retaining wall was created to add separation between Rabbit Run and the main house. On either side, twin stairs lead up to the Circle Garden. Trailing peonies spill over the wall, while a pair of potted boxwood ‘Fastigiata’ marks the entry.

Fun for All

The family beagles play on the green lawn in front of the pediment facade of the main house.

Max's Secret Spot

Max, the beagle, heads for his favorite napping place in the Pavilion Garden.

The View From Inside

While someone reclines on a chaise reading, the dining table is set for a formal dinner party inside the dining pavilion, with an elegant long tablecloth grazing the tile floors.

In Sync

The front door of the main house gets its blue coloration from the beautiful bluestone used throughout the home and garden design. The two pots closest to the front door repeat the same color.

Updating a Classic

The original one-bedroom 1950s ranch house was redesigned and added onto for the Spencer family. The home sits directly across from the entrance to Rabbit Run and its trio of gardens. Monticello mix, pruned boxwood, and potted plants are all repeated elements throughout the gardens.

Bubbling Water Feature

In the foreground is one of a pair of water tanks at the dining pavilion. Though the tanks are purely utilitarian, decorative bubblers were added to them and their edges were elegantly finished in bluestone to match the patio area and seating.

Living Fence

The 10-foot-high hornbeam hedges provide a dramatic visual gateway into the Pavilion Garden, as well as border the Long Garden on both sides. The dining pavilion is visible as a destination, encouraging the garden walker to partake of its charms.

Classic Inspiration

Round boxwood topiaries lie close to the edge of the Greek key pattern in the Long Garden. Other plants and flowers go up in height from shorter annuals to mature trees the further out the eye travels.