January 2018
Issue 11

After a challenging year of storms and drought, I know those of you who work in the gardens day after day are ready for the quiet of catching up on sharpening tools, reading publications, and ordering plants for the warmer months. 
In this issue, we are pleased to offer some thoughtful tips and to focus on gardens and gardeners who wow us with their accomplishments and give us inspiration in our own efforts.
I would particularly like to point out the article on the GCV Fellowships. This very important program has been in existence since 1996, and graduate fellows have researched and documented 25 historic sites around the state.
Staci Catron, a member of the Fellowship Committee and Director of the Cherokee Garden Library in Atlanta, has submitted an article on the Southern Garden History Society which should be of interest to our readers.
Thank you for all you do to protect, preserve, and beautify the most significant properties in the state of Virginia, and indeed in the United States.

Dianne Spence
Chairman, GCV Restoration Committee
The Williamsburg Garden Club
The Garden Club of Gloucester
Featured Historic Property
Photo credit Roger Foley

My first visit to Maymont was with my Brownie troop in the mid 1950s. The swan bed is my only memory of the mansion, but I vividly remember running up and down the steep hills, play acting in the Italian and Japanese gardens. Major and Mrs. James H. Dooley began building their mansion in 1890 and created a 100 acre estate overlooking the James River. Inspired by their travels, they called upon the best landscape architects of the day to incorporate a number of enchanting theme gardens.

When the Dooleys died in the early 1920s, they left their estate to the city of Richmond as a park. The city could not provide adequate funding for proper maintenance, and in 1975 the Maymont Foundation took over. In addition to restoring existing buildings and many areas of the gardens and grounds,the Foundation added the Children's Farm and the Nature & Visitors' Center.
In 1996 the Garden Club of Virginia began the restoration of six acres immediately surrounding the mansion. Rudy Favretti, GCV's landscape architect at the time, used old photos, watercolors, invoices, maps and blueprints to restore or replace the ornamental lawn, 28 species of trees, three rose arbors, gazebos, sculpture, rose colored walkways and the shrub labyrinth.
Maymont's Director of Horticulture Peggy Singlemann worked with Mr. Favretti and more recently with Will Rieley and the Restoration Committee. In 2003 Hurricane Isabel damaged the labyrinth shrubs, creating the opportunity to replace most of them with more authentic Japanese white spirea. In 2006 Princeton elms flanking the entire driveway from the main gate to the mansion were planted, recreating the striking allee that had been lost to Dutch elm disease.
Sixty years after my introduction to Maymont I am still a frequent visitor, and now love watching my one-year-old granddaughter smell the roses, play on the hills and appreciate this enchanting place. 
Jody Branch
The Boxwood Garden Club 
Featured Gardener
Mary Petres
Mary Petres, Manchester Gardening
Kent-Valentine House

A native Virginian, Mary Petres is the owner of Manchester Gardening, a boutique landscape maintenance, renovation and design firm which specializes in older neighborhoods in Henrico County and city landscapes in the Richmond area. Manchester Gardening has been working at the Kent-Valentine House, headquarters of the Garden Club of Virginia, since 2007 and will be starting maintenance at St. John's Mews in January of 2018.

Mary notes that her diverse career path, from her "first job" of mowing and weeding for a neighbor when she was in the fifth grade, has come full circle! Her firm was begun in 2006 and now employs 13 people. Nearly all of their pruning and garden maintenance is done by hand. Their use of "manpower" rather than gas hedge trimmers results in the wearing out of many pairs of garden gloves! In addition, their philosophy is to rebuild "the ecosystem from the soil up" and to limit their use of chemical controls.
With a degree from the University of Virginia in Speech and Communications, Mary found the way to this gardening career and sums up her job: "I am fortunate to do the work I love. Every day offers new challenges and different kinds of beauty." The Garden Club of Virginia is fortunate to have such a committed professional working at its restoration properties in Richmond.

Sue Thompson
The Tuckahoe Garden Club of Westhampton
Design Notes by William Rieley
Tuckahoe Plantation
The Importance of an Approaching View

Vistas and circulation (pedestrian or vehicular) are inextricably linked and are key elements in organizing a site. Depending on the effect desired, different techniques are employed. At the Biltmore estate in Asheville, North Carolina, Frederick Law Olmsted (the father of landscape architecture and designer of Central Park) planned a circuitous, two-mile approach road that provides glimpses of the final destination, the house. He did not give visitors an axial or direct view of the house until a right turn put them at the end of a 700-foot panel of grass that serves as the building's foreground. He built suspense until the drama of that final turn. 
George Washington designed his approach road at Mount Vernon in the same fashion. From the entrance to the estate, he cut a vista nearly a mile long through the woods to the house. The road to the west garden gate at the end of the Bowling Green diverged from this straight-line view to follow a route more conducive to uphill travel by horses and carriages. Halfway to the house, however, the road crossed the sightline again to give visitors another view of their final destination. Upon reaching the west garden gate, visitors were given a central view of the house before turning onto the symmetrical winding paths that frame the Bowling Green and lead to the front door. 

An alternative strategy is seen at many southern plantations, Tuckahoe in Richmond being a good example. The approach road follows a straight line for three quarters of a mile from the entrance off River Road to the front of the house. This is considered a formal approach and focuses the visitor's attention on the destination from the outset. It is a very clear line in the landscape, especially when lined with trees and also serves as a spine along which features or structures may be arranged. 

During Jefferson's lifetime, the approach to Monticello was very different than it is today. Visitors came from the east crossing the Rivanna River at Secretary's Ford and made their way up the gentle grade of Monticello's east-facing slope. This road joined the first roundabout, an elliptical road which followed an even grade, thus connecting visitors to every part of the mountaintop. To accommodate visitors from Charlottesville who contended with his mountain's steeper western slopes, Jefferson designed a complicated system of four roundabouts which circled the mountain at a consistent elevation and were connected by ascending roads. He also weighed in on the importance of views along a route:

"Of prospect I have a rich profusion and offering itself at every point of the compass ... To prevent a satiety of this is the principal difficulty. It may be successively offered, and in different portions through vistas, ... with the advantage of shifting the scenes as you advance on your way." Letter to William Hamilton, 1806

Garden Maintenance
A Plant Worth Knowing
Winter Blooming Treasures

While winters can sometimes be cold and dreary in Virginia, we all love the occasional blooms in February and March that lighten up the darker days and fill our kitchens with incredible fragrances ... some of the best of the year.

A wonderfully dependable shrub for a mixed border or to stand alone is Lonicera fragrantissima or winter honeysuckle. In some winters its heavenly, small, creamy white bloom has persisted in the yard from January until April 1. The lemony fragrance is sweet but not overwhelming. Because of its vigor, good-sized branches can be cut and brought inside without harming the shrub. Growing in full sun to partial shade, it is an easy keeper! Moreover, when the bloom is over and leaves form, branches are wonderful to cut for flower arranging. The smallish, oval leaves have a lovely bluish tinge making the shrub an attractive year-round addition to the landscape.

Daphne mezereum or February Daphne is not often seen in the trade but is another plant that gives freely in the winter. Growing from 3-5', its pinkish-red blooms are extremely fragrant. Although Daphnes are temperamental, susceptible to botrytis and other diseases, it is worth trying to settle this gem into a shady border. Avoid full sun and wet feet to help with the plant's health. A word of caution, Daphnes are poisonous when ingested.

Lastly, Chimonanthus praecox 'Luteus' is a little-known but extraordinarily lovely winter bloomer. Known as Wintersweet or Japanese Allspice, Chimonanthus has been cultivated in China for centuries. It is rich in essential oils and also can be of culinary and medicinal use. Growing to be a larger, 10-15' tall by 9-12' wide shrub, it takes sun and is not particularly picky about moisture conditions ... moderate is probably best. Its exquisite waxy yellow bloom emits a heavenly beautiful fragrance that again can fill a room. Blooming without leaves in January-February, it is a winter gem as well as a bold shrub in a mixed border. 
Sue Thompson
The Tuckahoe Garden Club of Westhampton
Suzanne Wright
The Petersburg Garden Club
Lonicera fragrantissima
Daphne mezereum
Chimonanthus praecox 'Luteus'
Did You Know?
Organic Pest Control

For leaf eating caterpillars - Bt ( Bacillus thuringiensis) is one of the safest natural pesticides to use and does not harm beneficial insects. It degrades in sunlight after a few hours, so it is best to apply late in the day. Repeat every 7-10 days. Products listed by Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) are best.

For aphids, leafhoppers, slugs and snails - Diatomaceous earth (DE) a naturally occurring, soft, silicosis sedimentary rock, can be sprinkled on garden bed. DE causes insects to dry out and die. Do not inhale the dust.

Kaolin clay - Mix with water and apply with a sprayer every 7-10 days. It covers leaves with a white powdery film which adheres to and irritates bugs. Insect control should be effective within three applications.

Candy Crosby
Albemarle Garden Club
Southern States
Related and Interesting
www.omri.org (Organic Materials Review Institute)
Have a Question?
How do I prevent damage to trees from weed trimmers and mowers?

You have seen it, the tell-tale scarring on the trunks of trees. With just one swipe from a weed trimmer or lawn mower and the tree is in danger of dying a slow death, or at the least, failing to thrive. The layers of the tree most vulnerable are the outer bark, inner bark or phloem and the cambium. The phloem is the conduit for nutrients; the cambium is the cell layer that produces growth. Any disruption in these arterial layers can spell disaster.

Workers wielding the trimmers and mowers are focused on their job of eliminating the weeds and grass, and they move quickly.
To protect the tree trunks, a ring of mulch 3-6 feet from the base should be maintained. As we know, pine straw is the preferred mulch for historic properties. Mulch to a depth of 4 inches, leaving 2-4 inches around the trunk mulch free. This will also maintain soil moisture and discourage weed and grass growth.

What should be done when there is damage? If it is a very young tree, the impact is more likely to be severe and the tree may need to be replaced. Do not wait to see whether it will recover if there is a large gash. Replace the tree and add mulch protection immediately. A mature tree could survive the damage particularly if it has a thick bark. Again, quickly remedy the cause of the situation by adding a mulch barrier.

Lastly, remind those who are using mechanical equipment of the dangers to the plants and trees. The care of the landscape is in their hands. They are an important part of the process of preservation of the historic property and need to know their role is valued.

Judy Perry
The Elizabeth River Garden Club
Before and After
Poe Museum Garden
The wall and door in a section of the garden was in danger of collapsing. Now it is a safe and charming part of the surroundings.
Special Articles
2017 Research Fellows Krista Reimer and Kathleen Conti
Krista Reimer (l) and Kathleen Conti (r)
Through the 2017 GCV Fellowship program, two Virginia historic properties were researched for their landscape histories. The purpose of the fellowships is not only to document the landscapes of these sites but also to mentor graduate students in the area of historic preservation and landscape architecture.

The Rudy J. Favretti Fellowship at Berkeley Plantation was the focus of Kathleen Conti, who recently received her Masters of Historic Preservation at the University of Texas at Austin. Berkeley was settled in 1619 and the Georgian house built in 1726.
Three distinguished Harrisons of Virginia occupied the historic home. In 1907 the Jamieson family purchased the estate. It remains with the Jamieson family today. The landscape features terraces that extend down to the James River and a former wharf.

The William D. Rieley Fellowship at Westover Plantation was the subject of Krista Reimer's research. Krista is a third-year graduate student of Masters of Landscape Design at the University of Pennsylvania. Westover was built in the mid-18th century by another famous family, the Byrd Family. The home's 150-year-old poplar trees frame the views of the James River. Expansive grounds, formal gardens and original outbuildings match the elegance of the Georgian mansion. In 1921 the Richard Crane family acquired the property and today is owned by the great-granddaughter, Andrea Erda and husband Rob.

Final presentations were made at the end of the summer. Both fellows revealed information and photographs not before seen by the families. Kathleen and Krista will continue to work with the results of their research to form a document with photographs, drawings and detailed history of the landscape. When completed, it will be published and posted on the GCV website, www.gcvfellowship.org. You may find past fellowship landscape histories on this site.

Judy Perry
Chairman, GCV Research Fellowship Committee
The Elizabeth River Garden Club
Southern Garden History Society
Founded in 1982, the Southern Garden History Society is an active membership organization that raises awareness and promotes scholarship of historic gardens, cultural landscapes, and horticultural history across the South. The society holds an Annual Meeting each spring in a different location in the South for the purposes of studying the garden and landscape history of that area, and stimulating interchange of information and ideas among members. Scholarships to attend the annual meeting are available to students enrolled in college and university majors relevant to the mission and goals of the society.

The society publishes a quarterly journal, Magnolia, which includes scholarly articles on historic gardens and landscapes and restoration efforts through the South. Magnolia serves as a valuable resource for scholars, libraries, and society members.

Recently, the society launched the State Ambassadors Program, offering additional educational opportunities to members of the society in their own home states annually. The Virginia State Ambassadors are Perry Mathewes and Jane White, who hosted an engaging tour and event at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in the summer of 2017. Plans are underway for another Virginia event for 2018.

Please visit southerngardenhistory.org to learn more about the society offerings or to join SGHS. Individuals, families, historic sites, public gardens or organizations interested in southern gardens and landscapes are welcome to membership.

Staci Catron
Director, Cherokee Garden Library, Atlanta
Special Events at Historic Properties
See what other Restoration Properties are doing to entice visitors and raise funds.

Belle Grove, Shenandoah Valley, Middletown, VA
February 10, 6-8:30 p.m., Hite of Excellence Series of Sumptuous Feasts Kick Off Party - the beginning of a dinner series held throughout 2018.

May 19-20, Farm to Fork Fondo, Shenandoah Valley
500 cyclists from around the country celebrate Farms, Food and Landscapes. Belle Grove is hosting the pre-ride "Meet the Farmers Dinner" on May 19. Partnering with Wrenagade Sports. For more information visit www.farmforkfondo.com

Burwell-Morgan Mill, Millwood, VA
Each Spring & Fall, Art at the Mill, Since Oct 1990, this has grown from a 3 day show to 2 weeks to include 300 artists and 1000 pieces of art from around the country. Look for the March date announcement on the website, www.burwellmorganmill.org

Ker Place, Onancock, VA
February 23, 6-8 p.m., Frederick Douglass Live Speaking Tour with Nathan Richardson. www.shorehistory.org