The North Carolina Visitor Center




Spring Garden Symposium

The Blount-Bridgers House


2010 Spring Garden Symposium

Thursday, May 6, 2010



What a winter!  After bitter temperatures and lingering snow gardeners are “itching” to start working in their yards.  Historic Tarboro, now celebrating its 250th birthday, is full of dedicated gardeners and beautiful gardens.  To celebrate spring and educate gardeners and garden enthusiasts, the Blount-Bridgers House invites you to the 2010 Spring Garden Symposium on Thursday, May 6 from 8:30 am to 5 pm starting at Calvary Episcopal Church, 411 E. Church Street, in Historic Tarboro.


This exciting day will include lectures by renowned gardeners Pam Beck,

gardening author, lecturer, and photographer, and Bryce Lane, host of In the Garden on UNC-TV.  Ms. Beck will speak in the morning session on “Let’s Mix It Up - Mixed Border Design” and Mr. Lane will speak in the afternoon session on “Do These Go? Creating Beautiful Container Combinations”.  These well-known speakers will be happy to answer questions from the audience and share their wealth of knowledge of eastern North Carolina plants.


Attendees will also have the opportunity to shop with numerous specialty garden vendors.  These vendors will locate along the outside west wall of historic Calvary Episcopal Church, offering unique plants, birdhouses, garden decorative items, plant containers, and other items of interest.   This will be a great opportunity to purchase that item on your “wish list,” or shop for that special birthday, housewarming, thank-you, or early Christmas gift!


Artfully decorated tables in the National Register churchyard will welcome guests at a luncheon catered by Joe White from Myrtle Grove Plantation.   This will be a time to meet garden enthusiasts, share ideas, and enjoy lunch.


Architecturally significant Calvary Episcopal Church (c. 1833)   and its 175 year old plantings will amaze visitors.  This Edgecombe County treasure was built during the ministry of The Rev. Joseph Blount Cheshire in the stormy years between 1859 -1868.  The Gothic Revival church, designed by William Percival, contains an impressive array of stained glass windows, one attributed to Tiffany Studios.  Mr. Cheshire fenced the yard and planted both native and exotic specimens, still visible today.  The Church welcomes you to meander among the collection of tombstones, memorials, and magnificent vegetation.






Another special part of this day will be the garden tour of selected sites in Tarboro and Edgecombe County.  Not only will the churchyard be open, but also six private gardens, and the garden at the Blount-Bridgers House and Pender Museum.  Each garden will offer singular delights. 


A traditional English afternoon tea will complete the tour at the evolving gardens of the Blount-Bridgers House (c.1808) at 130 Bridgers Street.  The Blount-Bridgers House, once known as “The Grove,” was built by Thomas Blount, an important local merchant, shipper, and U.S. congressman.  The House marked its bicentennial in 2008.  This Federal style National Historic landmark is surrounded by a spectacular Italianate shed porch that allows visitors to view the grounds.  Also on the property is the Pender Museum (c. 1810) a coastal plain cottage, with decoratively painted interior panelling and mantels, and local hand-made furniture.  The Philips Dependency (c. 1840’s) was moved to this property in the 1980’s.  The grounds exhibit a central perennial garden with gravel paths and English benches inside a gated and arched wooden fence.  The Edgecombe Garden Club maintains a shade garden near the Pender Museum.  A kitchen garden nestles between the Pender Museum and the Philips Dependency.


The grounds of “The Grove” provide the perfect background for an authentic afternoon tea.  Carol Banks, manager of the museum, hails from England and is orchestrating this elegant affair.  She has ordered the tea from England, as well as the flour to make her special scones.  Petit fresh salmon sandwiches, cucumber sandwiches, and vol-au-vents (a scrumptious pastry filled with sweet delights) will also be on the menu.   A “proper tea,” on the wrap-around porch overlooking the beautiful gardens, will be a wonderful way to end the day.


Registration for this much-anticipated day will begin at 8:30 am at Calvary Episcopal Church, 411 East Church Street, Tarboro, where coffee and sweets will greet attendees.  Tickets are $60 for the full day.  Half-day tickets are available for $40.  Tickets may be purchased at the Blount-Bridgers House, the Edgecombe County Memorial Library, the Tarboro Edgecombe Chamber of Commerce, or on the day of the tour at the Calvary Episcopal Church from 8:30 am to 1:00 pm.  You may also call Candis Owens at 252-823-5770 for more information and group rates.  If you are planning on buying a ticket at the door, please make luncheon reservations by Monday, May 3rd by calling the above number.  Proceeds from this event benefit the restoration of the Blount-Bridgers House gardens.