April 14, 2011 at 8:10 am EST | by Valerie Blake
Houses and gardens and teas – oh my!

If you missed the White House Garden Tour this year, fear not. You can come to my house instead.  Not impressed?  Then read on.

Each year a variety of D.C. neighborhoods and their residents open their doors and their yards to the public. Sponsored by local garden clubs and historical groups, house and garden tours are even better than open houses. You get to see the best of the best and don’t have to worry about making the monthly payments.

First up for the spring season is the Georgetown House Tour, which will be held April 30 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. This tour will feature up to a dozen beautiful homes (and yes, you can take a peek at their gardens too). In addition, there will be a “parish tea” from 2 to 5 p.m. in Blake Hall (no relation) at St. John’s Church. Go to georgetownhousetour.com before April 22 to buy your tickets online for $50.

If you can’t make that tour, then head back to Georgetown for its garden tour on May 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Be prepared for bursts of color amid manicured hedges and statuary in nine of Georgetown’s most exquisite gardens. Tickets are available for $30 if purchased before May 2 online at georgetowngardentour.com.

Think Takoma Park is already green? Then wait until you see its house and garden tour on May 1 from 1 to 5 p.m. This year’s theme is “Takoma origins,” so look for some of the oldest Victorian and arts and crafts homes in the area to be open to the public. Take Metro or just park there and stroll to the tour homes. Purchase tickets for $15 in advance from the Food Co-op and from various shops in downtown Takoma Park.

Capitol Hill’s house and garden tour is always a treat. This year the tour will be held May 7-8 from noon to 5 p.m. An annual event since 1958, the Capitol Hill Restoration Society has sponsored the two-day tour on Mother’s Day weekend each year. Plan on spending an afternoon with mom viewing Victorian and Federal-style homes on the southeast side of the Hill. Tickets may be purchased for $25 online through May 1 at chrs.org and will also be sold at Eastern Market during the preceding weekends.

My own community, Brookland, is a relative newcomer to the house and garden scene.  This year it will be the place to be on June 5 from noon to 5 p.m. when as many as a dozen homes featuring the eclectic, distinctive and varied architecture of the neighborhood will be on display. Petals, Ribbons & Beyond, located at 3906 12th Street, N.E., will be selling tickets in advance for $10.

Now, when I invited you all to my house in the beginning of this article, I really wasn’t kidding. In a proud-but-weak moment, I volunteered my home for the Brookland House and Garden Tour this year.  In anticipation of June 5, I recently revised my honey-do list, which had been sitting on the kitchen counter relatively untouched since January 2010.

Nearly everyone who owns a home has such a list, but not everyone has a honey to do the items on it. Such is my dilemma, so I have had to hire a few honeys to get the job done. The impending tour has fueled a bevy of activity at my place. My honeys so far have included a roofer, an electrician, a carpenter, a painter, a tile setter, an iron worker and a mason (and I may need that partridge in a pear tree before I’m done). I have even had to buy a garden to go with my new and improved house. It’s being delivered at the end of the month.

My Miniature Schnauzers are also getting into the groove. Stanley, the baby, is taking care of “watering the lawn.” Olivia, the eldest and several times a mom, keeps the work crews in line by frequently “barking orders.” Even Fulbright, my middle child, is getting excited, although he’s not sure why. A loving dog with a sweet disposition, sometimes he’s more “half bright” than Fulbright.

Despite my frenzied schedule, I know that the house will look the way I want it to by tour day and I hope to see you there. The Miniature Schnauzers, however, will have to go on a play-date for the afternoon. They might have made good docents but I just couldn’t train them to read the history of the house from the cue cards. Maybe next year.

Valerie M. Blake can be reached at (202) (246-8602) or at Valerie@DCHomeQuest.com. Prudential Carruthers REALTORS® is an independently owned and operated member of Prudential Real Estate Affiliates, Inc., a Prudential Financial company. Equal Housing Opportunity.

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