In the fragrant gardens at Beagle Ridge Herb Farm near Wytheville, Va., the herbs and butterflies continue to flower, flutter, and bring loveliness to the world as if COVID-19 didn’t exist. Proprietor Ellen Reynolds welcomes visitors to her gardens, her butterfly-shaped lavender maze, and the shop where she sells beauty products and edibles created from her organic herbs.
Located five hours south of Washington, D.C., Beagle Ridge offers a variety of herb and fragrance-related workshops in small, socially-distanced gatherings.
Reynolds also loves to arrange individual shopping and outdoor tea room experiences on her property for those who call ahead.
“We’re actually doing quite a few private classes -- groups of two or three friends, mother, daughters, etc. They can stay safe but still have girls’ time out,” Reynolds said.
In one workshop, participants can develop the skills to make their own soaps, lotions, and creams from Beagle Ridge’s fragrant herbs. In others, they gather lavender, mint, rosemary and other herbs for potpourri or for fragrant wreaths. Reynolds also teaches how to make pesto and herb-infused vinegars and oils. Her two-day Lavender Academy, held next on Sept 12 and 13, teaches the fine points of growing and harvesting lavender as well making lotions, bath bombs, and balms. Participants are often astounded to discover that a 10 ft. x 10 ft. x 10 ft. room full of cut lavender is required to make each liter of the farm’s prized lavender essential oil.
Beagle Ridge’s herbal spa and culinary products are produced on site and shipped all over the country, both to individuals and retailers. Several dozen of Beagle Ridge’s products and a schedule of classes are listed at https://squareup.com/store/beagle-ridge-herb-farm.
The new lavender vanilla and lavender chocolate ice cream offered at Beagle Ridge’s outdoor tea room is created from lavender grown just feet away. The menu includes charcuterie boards featuring savory or sweet items, including lavender shortbreads and lavender-fruit jams.
Through the efforts of Reynolds and her husband, Gregg, this former hunting preserve has become a beautiful, fragrant site where people come to picnic, hold parties, or wander through the dozen or more themed gardens teeming with butterflies. This private retreat is located on the end of a gravel road, in the shadow of Lick Mountain.
In other years before the virus, Reynolds gave guided tours of her small butterfly house and hatchery. Now visitors just peek into the butterflies’ abode but don’t mingle. The farm’s Serendipity event center is currently hosting small gatherings and weddings. The 210-acre property’s gardens and wooded trails are open to farm visitors during Thursday – Sunday business hours. For particulars, call 276-621-4511 or email email@example.com.
The Wytheville area around Beagle Ridge is worthy of exploration. On the opposite side of the mountain at the town’s Crystal Run Recreation Area, a new mountain bike terrain park uses natural materials to create features for novices and experts alike – ramps, beams, teeter-totters, and rock drops. The terrain park, 18 miles of trails, and six primitive campsites at Crystal Spring are fee-free.
Wytheville’s charming brick downtown, just off I-81, beckons with an assortment of specialty shops and take-out or open-air eateries with take-out or open-air options. The restored Bolling Wilson Hotel presides over Main Street, offering upscale lodging with breakfast delivered to your room in a basket. A few blocks away, the Trinkle Mansion B&B dazzles with Classical Revival elegance, built at the turn of the last century by a gentleman farmer to upstage his Virginia governor brother. In the mountains north of town, live bluegrass, gospel, and roots music echo on weekend afternoons from Big Walker Mountain Lookout’s general store patio, where you can mountains ridges for 30 miles.
For more information, call 1-877-347-8307 or see www.visitwytheville.com.