Gardeners Exchange Group: Meeting 17 July 2021
Location: Hillbrook Inn, Summit Point WV
Topic: Hillbrook Inn Home and Garden Tour
Hillbrook: a beautiful estate in Summit Point is situated on property that was part of George Washington’s first land purchase. The home itself was built by Brigadier General Frank E. Bamfort after World War One in European architectural styling which General Bamfort came to appreciate while stationed in France. The 30 acres of grounds were originally farmed. Several decades ago, under the ownership of the Gretchen Carroll Family, the 19-room mansion was converted to a bed and breakfast. The present owners continue to run the property as a B&B and on-site spa.
Thirteen GEG members shared the pleasure of touring the home and gardens. Staff members Kelly Campbell and Katie Bochinski opened our visit by speaking of the home’s rich history and then led us through the extensive grounds including their newly established butterfly garden, the spring house and the wooden bridge.
Members delighted in the plantings surrounding the entire house as our hosts pointed out many varieties: balloon flower (Platycodon grandiflorus), purple aster (Tatarian), bright red Lucifer’s fire (Crocosmia), pink motherwort ((Leonurus cardiaca) once used in labor and delivery, dazzling yellow California poppies (Eschscholzia californica), stunning pink gladiola (Applause) and many more species. The newly-installed butterfly garden was a special point of interest with its many varieties of plants cascading down a natural limestone backyard slope.
Members had the opportunity to walk the grounds on their own and view the cottages, the wooden bridge, the spring house and the wedding circle. Our hosts spoke of the current rehabilitation of the greenhouse near the adjacent Hawthorn House and hope to have it open to guests and the public next year.
We then had the privilege of touring the inn, first entering the guest lobby featuring a large fireplace and mantle and brass stair railings. A few narrow steps lead us to one of the dining rooms overlooking the grounds. Here we enjoyed seeing photos of family members who’ve lived in the home over the years including photos of those who in more recent decades converted and maintained the home as a bed and breakfast. A previous owner kept meticulous hand-written records of menus and meals, archiving these into several dozen matching red bound volumes now displayed in the dining area.
We thanked our gracious hosts Kelly and Katie for providing us with an elegant tour and to Alexis Gregory for arranging the program.
Members completed their morning by exchanging an extensive array of plant offerings from their own gardens.
Submitted by Jane Blash
Photos by Jane Blash