Nice Rear

This weekend we went garden crashing. And it was totally legal. We jumped at the chance to tour a bunch of lovely backyard gardens thanks to Richmond’s annual West Avenue Garden Tour in the historic Fan district and we can’t wait to share the glorious eye candy. The Fan is a gorgeous downtown neighborhood (think brownstones with killer architecture and quaint little back gardens in the middle of the city) where many swanky people tend their swanky gardens.


And once a year they throw open their back gates and let total strangers like us poke around in their petunias! Here’s what we were loving this year.

This amazing yard had a gorgeous hand-carved arch that stood in the back of the space with breezy outdoor curtains, a babbling water feature, and even an outdoor couch for relaxing alfresco. Doesn’t it look like an exotic island paradise?


And just a few houses down this back garden boasted a gorgeous koi pond. Gotta love how they made such excellent use of a small, narrow space (that otherwise couldn’t be accessed).


This backyard had a built-in fireplace. Uh. Mazing. And we love the cheerful yellow and tangerine accent colors that were applied so liberally to liven things up:


Meanwhile, this garden reminded us that even with a smaller budget and a narrow area, four Adirondack chairs can come together to create a totally inviting outdoor room:


This rear view totally amazed us because they were in the process of training ivy to grow in a sophisticated x-pattern. Can you imagine the effort it took to create that perfectly balanced grid of wire? The ivy really seemed to be taking to the idea, though. We can’t wait to check on its progress next year…


This garden made us smile instantly thanks to the cheerful turquoise paint that was liberally applied around the perimeter. Talk about embracing a small space and making the most of the border.


This lovely archway was just dripping with feathery foliage. Imagine walking through that every day! I felt like Alice in Wonderland slipping through some magical door. So pretty. Note: nope, that’s not me in the doorway below, it’s just some other neighbor who’s happy to be traipsing through such lovely backyards. And look how cute and “Richmond” she is with her sun hat and Sunday dress.


Last but not least, this yard was less about weeding and watering and more about monkeying around. I actually took a cute picture of some sweet little girls playing on these hanging chairs, but this one of John just cracks me up. He was loving it more than the eight year olds.


So that concludes our little annual garden tour. We really loved how a shot of bright color instantly cheered things up and everyones instinct to go vertical in such a modest space really inspired us (with vines, hanging swings, arches, or trellises). All in all, another great garden tour. Just 362 days til the next one.

Jonesing for more mouthwatering back garden eye candy? Check out our pictures from last year’s West Avenue Garden tour right here.


  1. Colleen in MA says

    Thanks for the inspiration! Lovely photos.

    And that post title – cracked me up!! haha!

  2. Lesley says

    I love all the options for outdoor furniture with big comfy cushions like in picture #1. But am scared as to how they will hold up to the unpredictable weather in the Northeast. Does anyone have this type of furniture and how do you care for everything? Do you have to store everything when you aren’t using it?

  3. says

    Wow, that brings back memories. My first apartment was in a basement in The Fan (back when the area was still a little rough.) I had waterbugs, mice and a bad sewer smell every time it rained. But I could escape to the garden, which I did, replanting and weeding the neglected flowerbeds.

    Thanks for sharing these amazing gardens.

  4. says

    Where is West Avenue? I live in Indiana, but my sister lives in Richmond on W. Grace Street. Beautiful homes & a great area. They have done lots of work on their beautiful home!! I am wondering what their backyard looks like right now….

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Heidi,

      West Avenue is a small street in The Fan, and it’s actually quite close to part of W. Grace Street (W. Grace is super long so your sister might be really close to West Ave or a bit further away depending where she lives on Grace). It’s such a sweet little neighborhood. Hope it helps!


  5. says

    White adirondack chairs looks amazing just about anywhere….love it.

    Also, I’m very jealous of that outdoor fireplace. My parents just had one built and they’re amazing! Ah well, perhaps when the economy comes back. :)

  6. says

    I especially love the pond, outdoor fireplace, and swinging chairs. That district looks really charming! I don’t know much about Richmond, but I didn’t expect it to look like that!

  7. says

    Sigh. I wish there were a Fan district in my town. In this city, the only “historical” houses we have are mobile homes. I know that probably comes across as snotty, and I don’t mean it to be–it’s just the truth. Almost everything is new construction.

    Great garden inspiration!

  8. says

    Boy, Richmond looks like a beautiful city! At the moment, I have lake front property in my backyard, due to the large amounts of rain we’ve had and the ground not being able to dry up. I hate muddy dog paws!

  9. says

    i so love the ivy crawling up in the x-pattern. i’m going to have to try my hand at that. thanks for sharing!

  10. says

    Ahh, the joys of living in The Fan! I live on Grove Ave. and when I was a student I would always cut through and walk down West Avenue on the really nice mornings when everyone was sitting on their porches enjoying the weather and scenery. It’s a shame my allergies got the best of me this year because I would have loved to have gone this year. Either way, great pictures- it’s like I was there!

  11. Erin says

    Hey there,

    I am a first-time commenter/long time reader of your fantastic blog! I lived in Richmond for quite a few years and lived on Monument Ave, Grove Ave, and W Cary St and i miss it down there every day! Luckily i only live a few hours away (i’m up in DC). The pics you posted made me all sentimental so i felt the need to agree with the other posters and say that the city is indeed BEAUTIFUL! And i’m constantly jealous of those who get to enjoy its character.

    Have a great day!


    PS: Diversity Thrift is awesome! I haven’t been there since it was a hole-in-the-wall on Cary (at least i think it was on Cary…it’s been a few years!)