Editor’s Letter: Holdin’ Out for Spring

Cloak-and-dagger disguise, Historic Garden Week, trees, and a red-lidded favorite fill our spring pages.


I’m positively over the moon with our feature on trees, timed perfectly for spring and courtesy of my friends Nancy Ross Hugo and Robert Llewellyn. These are two greats in my book—Nancy the writer, and Bob the photographer, both impassioned nature lovers—and they’re collaborating once again just for us. 

If that doesn’t get you fired up for spring, check out our House + Garden section, where you can read all about Ballantrae Farm. It’s open for the McLean-Fairfax Tour on Tuesday, April 23, for the 91st year of Historic Garden Week. Plus, we bring you design trends galore—from a new look at checkerboards, to biophilic design and more. 

When I first heard about Master of Disguise Jonna Mendez, I imagined all sorts of cloak-and-dagger intrigue right out of James Bond—and I was right. Dawn Klavon brings the story of this former CIA operative to our pages, even describing a meeting with then-president Bush—and remember, he was also a former CIA director—whom Mendez manages to fool with her high-tech spyware that, poof!, turned her into someone else. 

For architecture and history buffs, don’t miss Mike Welton’s trip to Westmoreland County and his article on Battersea, the Petersburg estate of John Banister, one of Virginia’s Founding Fathers. They should both be on bucket lists everywhere.

On my bucket list is a trip to the Eastern Shore, where I intend to veg out at Tiny Livin, Cape Charles’ very own tiny village of tiny houses, recently rehabbed by renovistas Eric and Sylvia Hawkins. The story and photos will charm you right into making a reservation! 

Stephanie Ganz took a spin to Sabra, everyone’s favorite red-lidded hummus maker near Hopewell and dishes company intel, including what’s coming down the dipping pipeline. Plus, the Sabra reels we’ve posted on our social channels, thanks to our new digital content creator, Jessica Redwood, are positively mouthwatering. And speaking of deliciousness, Stephanie also writes about the flavor party she had at Padaek in NoVa and its craveable food from Laos. Not surprising Chef Seng Luangrath’s Paa Pao Branzino made our cover. 

And finally, our annual State of Education is overflowing with information you can use, including a list of 160 of the Commonwealth’s Top Schools, plus the lowdown on Governor Youngkin’s initiative to create a pipeline for educators. It’s an unparalleled resource that’s a labor of love here at Virginia Living that we are proud to produce and share with our readers.

Like Ed Sheeran croons, “I’m holdin’ out for spring,” which becomes official on March 19. So sit back and explore our pages. Tell us how we’re doing. We’d love to hear from you.

June 11, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum
July 9, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum
August 13, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum