June 2018
Issue 12
Greetings to all,

I am honored to be following in the footsteps of Dianne Spence, and am delighted to be serving as the new chairman of the Garden Club of Virginia’s Restoration Committee. As a member of the committee these last five years, I have had the privilege to visit each of our projects and also to serve as liaison to several of these. Over these next two years, I look forward to working with each of you in my new role. 

I am a member of the Garden Club of Alexandria. Our winter in this northern part of the state seemed to hang on forever. Even our Easter and Historic Garden Week tour days were much cooler than normal. A blast of warm weather brought everything to life, making this an exciting time to be in the garden. 

We invite you to pause and enjoy this issue of our summer GCV Restoration Newsletter, and hope that it will provide information you will find helpful. Again, I look forward to working with each of you and appreciate all the work that you are doing in maintaining these important restoration properties.


Anne Baldwin
Chairman, GCV Restoration Committee
The Garden Club of Alexandria
Featured Historic Property
Portsmouth Courthouse 

“O’ yes, O’ yes, O’ yes. Silence is commanded in the court for the county of Lower Norfolk while his Majesty’s Justices of the Peace are sitting on the paine of imprisonment,” thus began the call to order in the 1637 court. 

At the time this court moved to Portsmouth in 1801, Portsmouth was part of Norfolk County. Its placement on the northwest corner of Court Street and High Street was originally designated by Portsmouth founder Col. William Crawford.

The present day building was constructed on this site in 1846. Designed by Portsmouth native William Singleton and built by Willoughby G. Butler, this Greek Revival structure proudly represented the finest architecture in the county. Following the Civil War, the original cupola was removed and the roofline changed. The grand outer stairway to the second floor was added in 1872. After many years of use as a courthouse, the building was vacated in 1970. Another Portsmouth native and noted architect, John Paul C. Hanbury, focused his efforts to save this historic courthouse by securing both the Virginia and National Landmark Registry status in 1970. Then he began to work on the exterior restoration, applying for grants and slowly bringing it back to its original design. By 1982, the city of Portsmouth joined Hanbury in this endeavor and began the interior renovation.

The final and last part of the restoration began with the landscape. Hanbury and the Elizabeth River Garden Club looked to the Garden Club of Virginia and their landscape architect, Rudy J. Favretti, to assist with the design and execution of the understated courtyard and planting plan. The existing brick and cobblestone were carefully removed, new grades and drainage added and then the brick and cobblestone re-installed. The beautiful iron hand-wrought fence was repaired and extended on the north side along with the addition of three gates. Eight cast-iron lamp posts were installed within the courtyard. Existing live oaks were trimmed and planting beds prepared for ivy, nandina, liriope, viburnum, azalea and wisteria to grace the iron fence. Today the beds are simplified with ivy, poet’s laurel, hypericum and nandina with a few spring bulbs in the mix.

The Portsmouth Courthouse became a community museum and arts center for the city of Portsmouth and is known today as the Portsmouth Art and Cultural Center. The courtyard is a popular gathering place and frequently used for special events, including First Friday concerts and the Saturday Farmer’s Market. Each summer a new judged outdoor sculpture exhibit is featured for all to enjoy. This courtyard restoration of the museum/art center enhances the experiences within, and handsomely frames this historic building.

Judy Perry
The Elizabeth River Garden Club

Photo credit: Roger Foley
Featured Gardener
Matt Peterschmidt, Stratford Hall
A landscape in transition and an opportunity to be a part of bringing a more truthful representation of what would be found at an 18th-century Virginia manor home attracted Matt Peterschmidt to Stratford Hall five years ago. Since his graduation at Virginia Tech, Matt first worked at a retail nursery center. He moved on to become the head gardener at Mount Vernon, and ended his more than 15 years there as a garden specialist. Matt has been able to bring this valuable learning with him to Stratford Hall, where he serves as director of landscapes. 

The Garden Club of Virginia first began its association with Stratford Hall in 1929 when a request to undertake the restoration of the East Garden was received. The GCV engaged Arthur Shurcliff in the initial research and archaeology, and in 1931 asked Morley J. Williams to complete the research and to design a plan for the formal garden. This traditional 18th-century design has had to be simplified over the years, as the boxwood edging has grown and maintenance costs for such an elaborate garden increased. Inspired by a plan found by William D. Rieley in the papers of Thomas Jefferson, the GCV is beginning the installation of a new garden in the tier of the East Garden closest to the house which will reflect more accurately what would have been found when the Lees lived there.Matt stresses the importance of the archeology and research that has gone into planning for this new garden. Archeological work was done in the 1930s before the initial work, but much more has been done before proceeding with the new installation. When the archeologists recently uncovered the bottom of garden beds from the earliest time of the garden’s life, Matt could only imagine what it was like for those who had the task of double digging these vegetable beds more than 300 years ago. 

While the existing garden has kept Matt busy maintaining the many mature boxwood, the new garden will bring Matt opportunities for sharing and discussing a variety of plants that have not been on display at Stratford. He says the rows of vegetables will educate the visitor about what might have been grown, but then the produce can also be used by the chefs for culinary opportunities. What is left could be enjoyed by the staff and the regional food bank. There will also be rows with perennials and sheared evergreens mixed in to talk about as well. 

The open grandeur of this location with fields, pastures, river frontage and a forest that first attracted Matt require continual maintenance. Miles of fencing, pasture land and agricultural land are included as part of his responsibilities. He has a staff of four who assist him, but Matt does most of the actual gardening around the house and grounds. Working with the plants is what Matt loves to do, but the chance to share his knowledge and passion about these gardens with others brings him much delight. Matt is looking forward to new opportunities for sharing with those who visit Stratford Hall. 

Anne Baldwin
The Garden Club of Alexandria
Design Notes by William Rieley
Fences in Historic Landscapes

Fences are the frames for landscapes and gardens. They make the first impression and hint at what visitors are to expect. At historic sites, the fence style requires especially careful study to ensure its appropriateness to the period, the proper scale and that it serves its intended function.  

Virginia gardens are a showcase for a wide variety of fences. At the Moses Myers House in Norfolk and the Sutherlin House in Danville, old photographs allowed for the recreation of the original picket fences that surrounded the properties. They are elegant, detailed fences that reflect the status of their owners and their town locations. In contrast, the post-and-rail fence at the Burwell Morgan Mill reflects its working character as does the paling fence Jefferson used around Monticello’s vegetable garden and orchard. At the Mill, Ralph Griswold, the Garden Club’s landscape architect for the project, selected the post-and-rail as appropriate to this setting. At Monticello, a portion of the fence has been recreated based on Jefferson’s description of the construction.

The mid-19th century saw a boom in the use of ornamental iron fencing. Richmond foundries were renowned worldwide for their creative work. Thus, in the mid-1960s, when the Garden Club of Virginia asked Ralph Griswold to design St. John’s Mews, he incorporated salvaged iron railings into the wall that separated the new garden from the backyards of adjacent residences. Over fifty years later, these railings stand as a tribute to this Richmond industry. Ornamental iron may still be obtained today from Richmond foundries. It was a pleasant surprise a few years ago to learn that a missing finial on the Kent-Valentine House fence could be easily and inexpensively recreated by making a mold of one of the remaining intact finials. It can now be used to cast new, identical ones whenever they might be needed.

There is a plethora of options in selecting a fence for a historic landscape from the rusticity of snake rail and post and rail fences to the elegance of elaborate picket and ornamental iron. Another important alternative is a “living fence” as early American gardens made use of such trees as Osage orange and Washington thorn to create impenetrable barriers. As in other design choices, the historic and current use of a site guides the selection of a fence which will be an appropriate frame.

Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History (Sutherlin Mansion) Photo credit Roger Foley
St. John's Mews
Garden Maintenance
A Plant Worth Knowing
Paper Mulberry
Broussonetia papyrifera

Paper mulberry is a dioecious, fast-growing plant with a broad crown. In the wild it grows to approximately 40’ but stays considerably shorter under cultivation. Leaves grow up to 8”, are a dull green, tomentose on the underside and variably shaped from mitten-shaped to lobed. Male trees are preferred as they are fruitless, although they sport yellowish-white catkin flowers in the spring. The female mulberry is considered an invasive species in the USA.

The tree prefers sun and a porous soil. Its shallow roots make it susceptible to coming down in high winds. The leaves, bark, fruit, sap, wood and roots are useful in cloth, paper, medicine, food, furniture etc. Shade from the tree is one of its best assets.

A native to Japan, China and Indonesia, the paper mulberry has bark that was used as early as 100 A.D. to make paper in China. By 600 A.D., the Japanese began producing a special hand-crafted paper, washi, from the inner bark of the tree. The genus name honors Pierre August Marie Broussonet, a French physician and naturalist who was a professor of botany at Le Jardin des Plantes de Montpelier. 

The paper mulberry played an integral part in Thomas Jefferson’s landscape design at Poplar Forest. The Palladio-inspired octagonal home on the property featured two “wings” of double rows of paper mulberries to reflect the colonnades. When Jefferson was able to build out the wing on one side, he removed those paper mulberries but kept the other row to balance the design.  
On Nov. 18, 1815, he wrote to his friend and neighbor in Bedford County, Charles Clay: “…and tomorrow, weather permitting, will pay you a morning visit. In the meantime I send you a note of the result of my ten days labor and some Otaheite or Paper Mulberries, valuable for the regularity of their form, velvet leaf & for being fruitless. They are charming near a porch for densely shading it…” (Jefferson Papers, U. Va.)
Sue Thompson
The Tuckahoe Garden Club of Westhampton
Did You Know?
Fighting Fungal Disease in the Garden

Rust, black spot, yellow spot, powdery mildew and blight are common fungal diseases in hot and humid Virginia summers. If there is a lot of rain in the season, there are bound to be unsightly leaves in the border and weakened plants. Destroy diseased leaves, do not compost them or leave them on the ground. After treating plants with fungal problems, rinse gardening tools with alcohol or bleach.

Tidy beds with good air circulation will help prevent disease. Do not overwater. If possible, avoid chemical sprays to rid the garden of fungus. Neem oil works for powdery mildew. There are few organic homemade sprays that can be used as well. Test-spray a plant before treating the whole garden. Spray early in the morning, the best temperature for spraying is under 80 degrees.

Baking soda spray - use as preventative once a week 
1 tablespoon baking soda
Squirt of dish soap
Gallon of water
Shake up, use as a foliar spray

Huntingdon Botanical Garden – fungicide spray for blackspot and powdery mildew
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 tablespoon horticultural spray
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 gallon water

Cornmeal soil drench
2 oz. horticultural cornmeal
I gallon water
Mix and water around plants. Can also be used as a spray.

Useful websites

Candy Crosby
Albemarle Garden Club
Before and After
Burwell-Morgan Mill
Front entrance
Special Articles
2018 Research Fellows Penelope Cottrell-Crawford and Mary Fesak
It is with pleasure that we announce the recipients of the 2018 GCV Research Fellowships. They have begun their work and will continue through the summer to complete their research documenting the gardens of these historic properties.

The William D. Rieley Fellowship at Shirley Plantation
Penelope Cottrell-Crawford
Penelope Cottrell-Crawford is the 2018 Rieley Fellow for Shirley Plantation. She is a Master’s candidate in Landscape Architecture at the University of Arizona, and has earned a Bachelor’s degree in Art History, Environmental Art and French Language from Lewis & Clark College.

The Rudy J. Favretti Fellowship at Sherwood Forest Plantation
Mary Fesak

Mary Fesak is the 2018 Favretti Fellow for Sherwood Forest Plantation. Mary received a Master’s in Historic Preservation this May from Clemson University at the College of Charleston. Her Bachelor’s degree was also in the field of historic preservation and history. She served as a graduate assistant with the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture in Charleston and has recently received the Graduate Student Research Fellowship from SESAH – the Southeast Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians.

Judy Perry
Chairman, GCV Research Fellowship Committee
The Elizabeth River Garden Club
Penelope Cottrell-Crawford
Mary Fesak
Book Review
Seeking Eden
A Collection of Georgia’s Historic Gardens
by Staci L. Catron* and Mary Ann Eaddy,
Photography by James R. Lockhart

Seeking Eden highlights nearly 30 historic Georgia gardens dating from the mid-eighteenth to the early twentieth centuries. The evolution and history of these public and privately owned gardens are recorded through careful research and documented with beautiful photographs to show each garden then and now. Gardens throughout the state such as the Andrew Low House and Garden in Savannah, Bradley Olmsted Garden in Columbus, Governor’s Mansion in Atlanta, Salubrity Hall in Augusta are featured. The influence that women and the garden club movement in Georgia both had in the formation of these gardens is explored in these pages. 

*Staci Catron is member of the GCV Restoration Research Fellowship Committee and is the director of the Cherokee Garden Library, Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center.

Book proceeds will go to the Garden Club of Georgia’s Historic Landscape Preservation Grant program. Published by The University of Georgia Press.

Judy Perry
Special Events at Historic Properties
See what other Restoration Properties are doing to entice visitors and raise funds.

Bacon’s Castle
June 23, 10 am–5 pm. 
Bacon’s Castle Descendants Day. All are welcome. Genealogist from Library of VA will be present. Tickets $25 - $35. Register at baconscastle@preservationvirginia.org

Danville Museum

June 22, 23 at 7:30 pm, June 24 at 2:30 pm
Southern Fried Funeral. Comedy by Osborne & Eppler brought to you by The Little Theater of Danville, Inc. Admission $15.

June 16, 17 at 7 pm. 
Shakespeare on the Lawn at Kenmore, 15th year.
As You Like It. $10 adults, $5 students. Bring lawn chairs or blankets. Come early & picnic. Tours of mansion offered from 5:45 – 6:45 pm.