Thistle Gate wins Dogwood Award

“They have such a great presence along Rt. 6 here at the Hardware River,” said Sue Lang, president of the Fluvanna Garden Club. “When you turn into their entrance you are greeted with a gorgeous blue gate – the colors are beautiful, the shrubbery are beautiful, there are serviceberry trees that the birds love to live in,” she explained. “It is a great enhancement to the roadways of Fluvanna County.”

Leslie Cushnie, who studied forestry and wildlife and is a Fluvanna Master Gardener, is the creative mind behind the landscape design, according to her husband George. “I’ll help with the implementation, “ he said, “whether it is tilling up soil for a garden or helping with planting – but she does all of the design work,” he explained. “That is true of the building here,” he said, indicating the tasting room, “and the renovation of our home. She had a vision for all of these things and I just go with the flow.”

“The vineyard itself is a little gem here in our county,” said Lang. “There are six acres of vineyards that are so peaceful. They have expanded their tasting room and they have a gazebo in the back area; there are lovely gardens planted in lavenders, and a wine barrel fountain,” she added.

Leslie Cushnie explained the vineyard’s name, which inspired the blue gate with thistle finials that is such an integral part of their street landscape. “When we bought the property, there were wild thistles everywhere,” she said, “and because George’s ancestors were from Scotland, we were trying to think of a Scottish name for the farm. At the same time we were planning to have a gate put in. The name ‘Thistle Gate’ was just something that popped into my head – and so we had the gate made with thistle finials,” she said with a laugh.

The award was a surprise to George Cushnie, who said that construction work on the Hardware River Bridge had impacted their landscaping. “The road was moved out 50 feet away from our entrance,” he said, “and they redid all of the utilities, so everything was dug up. When they left last August they put down grass seed, but we had a six–week drought and none of that lived. I went out in the fall and re–seeded, so in a sense I am surprised to get the award this year – because we are not yet satisfied with the entrance ourselves.”

The most recent recipient of the Dogwood Award was Fruit Hill Orchard on Thomas Jefferson Parkway. “It is such a beautiful location and they have done an outstanding job with their roadway enhancement also,” explained Lang. “We are always looking for a business or organization that has made an effort to enhance their roadway,” she said.

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