Home & Garden
Peek Inside a Stunning Virginia Estate That’s Been Hidden Away—Until Now
Glenstone Gardens plants a new seed for events in Hunt Country
Photo: Heather Waraksa
The Reuter family’s Virginia roots run deep as the centuries-old trees that rise over their beloved Glenstone Farm. Matilda Reuter and her husband, Jonathan Engle, are among the seventh generation tending to the 1,000-acre private estate nestled within the Piedmont region beneath the eastern slope of Bull Run Mountain.
For the first time, they’ve opened Glenstone’s twenty-six-acre homestead and its adjoining formal gardens for a limited number of sophisticated celebrations, including intimate dinner parties, al fresco soirees, corporate retreats, and elegant country weddings. (Find more information on the Glenstone website.)
Photo: Heather Waraksa (1); Laura Gordon Photography (2)
Recently, I visited the site with Middleburg Hospitality. The family-owned group, which also includes the historic Red Fox Inn & Tavern, a former home-away-from-home for Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and the late President Kennedy, will use the rental profits to maintain their country estate and perpetuate its legacy. “Glenstone doesn’t belong to anyone, and that’s the most important thing we appreciate as a family,” Matilda says. “Glenstone is its own place, but as my grandmother pointed out, it’s the soul of continuity and family carrying it through, generation to generation, that makes it so special.”
Photo: Laura Gordon
Many of Matilda’s fondest memories involve the farm—building forts, catching salamanders, and looking for arrowheads there. Every summer and on weekends throughout the year, she and her family would stay in the compound of historic homes. Some of these, such as her great-grandmother’s eighteenth-century farmhouse, have been reconfigured with dressing rooms and gathering spaces.
Outside, the gardens feel like an extension of the built environment, with boxwood hedges that wind like walls through the verdant grounds. These hedges, which were propagated from a single mother box bush by Matilda’s great-grandmother and great-aunts in the early 1900s, were used to enclose a large vegetable plot in the earliest days of Glenstone Gardens.
Over the next generation, Matilda’s grandparents Frederick T. and Nancy Reuter expanded the footprint, creating seven distinct gardens that flourish to this day. Drawing from her background in interior design, Nancy conceived of each outdoor section like a room, complete with its own purpose, soul, and flow. In the former vegetable garden, an octagonal lily pool gleams near an eighteenth-century gate, while in a tiny sanctuary known as the Secret Garden, a pair of chairs soak in the sun, awaiting the evening’s cocktails and conversation. Meanwhile, leggy grasshoppers and stately peacocks, along with other sculpted artworks by Nancy’s daughter, Diana Reuter-Twining, animate the grounds.
Photo: Laura Gordon Photography
To mark their sixtieth wedding anniversary, Frederick T. and Nancy constructed their final space together, an Eastern-themed garden with a large, circular Moon Gate believed to cleanse the souls of those who pass through it. Most poignant, however, are the couple’s stone graves, which lie within a ring of perennial plantings that bloom like a color wheel with the changing seasons.
Standing sentry over the grounds is a more than four-hundred-year-old tulip poplar. Jonathan Engle and his crew of gardeners manage the layers of evergreens, shrubs, and bushes along with the gingkos, Deodar cedars, and one-hundred-year-old David Austin roses. Nurturing this land is a privilege, Engle says, and so is the chance to host an event at Glenstone, amid the flowering trellises, winding footpaths, and manicured hedges sculpted with secret passageways.
Photo: Laura Gordon Photography (1,3); Heather Waraksa (2)
As the gardens are publicly shared for the first time, Matilda hopes visitors will appreciate the grounds as a living embodiment of Virginia hospitality, and the many family members, like her beloved grandparents, who have been its stewards over time. “My husband and I have made it our mission to be that couple for our generation,” she says. “It’s a labor of love, and something we have chosen, to be caretakers of tradition so that it is preserved for future generations.”