From the Chairman
Our beloved state has been true to its unpredictability of the weather as we move from a wet, early spring into the hot, humid weather of summer and back again to cool and wet.
You will notice a format change of the newsletter to allow better viewing on your mobile electronic devices. We hope this enables you to easily read the articles herein. Please note the review of the Maintenance Workshop held at the Kent-Valentine House on February 22. It was wonderful seeing many of you, and I know by this writing you are busy in your gardens. I hope the information you received and the sharing of ideas with each other was helpful.
One of my greatest joys is visiting your properties, enjoying their uniqueness and celebrating the work that you do. On behalf of the Garden Club of Virginia, I thank you for all you do to maintain the historic landscapes in the commonwealth.
Chairman, GCV Restoration Committee
The Williamsburg Garden Club
The Garden Club of Gloucester
Featured Historic Property
Centre Hill is an outstanding example of Petersburg's great 18th- and 19th-century architectural heritage. Situated on a high hill overlooking Old Towne Petersburg, Centre Haill has survived the Civil War and recent drainage issues. The current challenge is to maintain its historical heritage while being faced with city-wide budget short-falls.
The mansion was built in 1823 by Robert Bowling and modernized in the 1840s by Robert Buckner Bowling to reflect the then-current Greek Revival style. It served as headquarters for two Civil War generals. Abraham Lincoln visited in April 1865 and William Howard Taft in 1909. Centre Hill has recently been a primary location for the PBS series Mercy Street.
The Garden Club of Virginia became involved in Centre Hill's landscape in 1978. GCV Landscape Architect Rudy J. Favretti focused on an uninspired brick walkway that leads to the house from North Adams Street. He lined it with lindens, shrubs and seasonal flowers. Parking was limited at Centre Hill, thus this lovely access provided visitors with a pleasant approach. In addition, the stately iron fence surrounding the property was restored. Trees including tulip poplar, cherry laurel, water oak, crape myrtle, willow oak and white oak were added. Shrubs included in the restoration were Otto Luykens laurel, winterberry holly, blackhaw viburnum and boxwood. Care was taken not to disturb a tunnel that was once used to bring food and supplies up from Henry Street near the Appomattox River.
In 2007, under the direction of GCV Landscape Architect William D. Rieley, plans were begun by the city of Petersburg to mitigate serious drainage issues around the foundation. This project gave the mansion a new lease on its old life. During this period a tulip poplar, a willow oak and a yellowwood were added to the landscape. Further plantings included replacing the blackhaw viburnums, adding weigela, plum yews, Otto Luykens laurels, periwinkle, hypericum and, most recently, osmanthus. Mr. Rieley also coordinated the selection of two Charleston-style light fixtures, donated by the Petersburg Garden Club, for the south portico.
Inspired by a 1910 photograph of the hillside landscape sloping down to Henry Street, both Favretti and Rieley, at different times, prepared preliminary plans for a restoration to reflect this period when Centre Hill was preparing for Taft's visit. Neither plan was executed and will be left for another time.
One of the outstanding stories surrounding Centre Hill involves the unstinting commitment of the Petersburg Garden Club to Centre Hill's landscape. Untold hours of weeding and pruning and monetary support have been donated to help preserve this historic site. The Garden Club of Virginia's restoration work at Centre Hill continues to help support one of Virginia's important landmarks.
The Tuckahoe Garden Club of Westhampton
Peggy Cornett has worked at Monticello for more than 30 years. She began in 1983 as the Associate Director of Gardens and Grounds, then Director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants, and currently serves as Curator of Plants.
During her time at Monticello, Peggy has done it all, from managing greenhouse production, supervising staff, conducting workshops and presenting garden tours and lectures. Presently, she is mapping the plants at Monticello with the Iris BG software program. Lewis Ginter, Green Spring and Norfolk Botanical Gardens are other Virginia gardens making use of this database and software program for botanical garden collection management.
When asked what she saw as the biggest change she has seen in the Monticello gardens during her time there, she replied, "I would say the restoration of the vegetable garden. It was transformed from a truncated, cut-flower garden into a magnificent terrace, 1,000 feet long and 80 feet wide, supported by a massive, 10-foot high stone wall, and crowned by a cubic, brick pavilion in the center of the garden. This restoration occurred in the mid-1980s, but much of the interpretation and programming developed since then, including the Harvest Tasting Tours and the Heritage Harvest Festival, evolved around the restoration of Jefferson's vegetable garden. This is where we tell the story of Jefferson: farmer, slave holder, grandfather, epicurean, hands-on gardener-and the man who felt the 'greatest service which can be rendered any country is to add a useful plant to its culture.' ''
Peggy is a scholar of Jefferson's gardens, and over the years her knowledge has informed the plantings of the oval beds and the roundabout walk near the house. Her favorite annuals are old- fashioned sweet peas, annual poppies (including California poppies) and hollyhocks. She loves native plants, such as the spring ephemerals, which can be found on an April wildflower walk through the Monticello woodlands.
Peggy lectures on garden history topics, writes articles for gardening magazines and professional journals, and edits Magnolia for the Southern Garden History Society. She wrote and produced Twinleaf, the annual journal of the Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants, for the years 1992-2009. That journal was a great source of information on Jefferson and his gardens at Monticello. Past issues are archived on the Monticello website. Peggy is a co-director of the Historic Landscape Institute, an annual course on the theory and practice of historic landscape preservation, held at Monticello and the University of Virginia in June. This year's session is full. Check the Monticello website for more information.
Garden tips from Peggy:
* Digging is an art. I'm a stickler about using the proper tools, like spading forks and garden spades instead of regular, long-handled shovels when digging up bulbs and root crops for example.
* Most people don't know how to use a shovel. They kick at the shovel with their heel, which is the thinnest part of the foot. I've seriously injured my heel by doing this. The best way is to work the shovel with the ball of the foot by using the force of the entire length of the leg from the hip down."
When Peggy was beginning her career in historic landscapes, she was the head gardener at Dewitt Hanes, the 50-acre, private estate in Winston-Salem, which included a 1920s formal garden designed by Ellen Biddle Shipman. Peggy recounts,
"When I was an estate gardener for DeWitt Hanes (matriarch of the Hanes hosiery empire), I was required to wear gardening gloves and
stay tidy; not get filthy dirty when I gardened. This has stayed with me.
Although I do get some dirt on my knee or wrists, I really try to be conscious of where the dirt is going and not get grubby."
Albemarle Garden Club
Access to Historic Sites for People with Disabilities
July of this year marks the 27th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. the transformative impact of this civil rights legislation on the lives of the disabled cannot be overstated. The sponsor of the legislation, Senator Tom Harkin, recalls its passage as one of the proudest moments of his career. Indeed, we have come a long way toward realizing the four goals of the ADA: equal opportunity, full participation, independent living and economic self-sufficiency.
Making historic sites accessible to all is one of the greatest challenges we face in the design of restorations for historic sites; but as we move forward we all need to understand what the law requires, and must continue to look for ways to include people with disabilities in all aspects of our community life. For me, that means thinking through how everyone can take advantage of what each site has to offer.
First and foremost, that means equal access where possible. Ideally, all should be able to use the front door. ADA regulations lay out the criteria for ramps, railings and curb cuts, etc. The enforcement of these regulations goes beyond building code issue, and falls under the purview of the Department of Justice. At historic sites, complying with the regulations while maintaining the historic and aesthetic qualities of the site is often difficult. Where following the usual standards would "threaten or destroy the historic significance of a feature," exceptions are made.
The University of Virginia has recently worked through the complications of installing a ramp into one of Jefferson's pavilions on The Lawn from its adjacent garden. While not perfectly in compliance, it allows access without changing the fabric of the porch columns and thus an exception was granted by the State Historic Preservation Officer.
And, of course, your liaison to the Restoration Committee is also there to help.
A Plant Worth Knowing
Summers in Virginia bring not only heat and humidity but wonderful annual color! One of the best bets for outstanding vibrancy in the landscape is hyacinth bean, Dolichos lablab. A native of Africa, the vigorous vine grows to a height of 8-10' or more. By mid-summer it is covered with a purple and white flower that matures into a fantastic burgundy pod amidst healthy purple-tinged green foliage. As a screen growing up trellises, hyacinth bean is a true standout in the landscape and continues its showy display until frost.
While not a native, hyacinth bean was possibly known by Thomas Jefferson. Nurseryman Bernard McMahon sold the bean as early as 1804. Jefferson recorded planting "Arbor beans white, scarlet, crimson, purple, at the trees of the level on both sides of the terrasses, and on the long walk of (kitchen) garden." Hyacinth bean seed is sold today at Monticello.
Although used primarily in Virginia as an ornamental, hyacinth bean is eaten in numerous countries. The uncooked bean is poisonous and must be thoroughly boiled with changes of the water to rid the bean of glycosides which, when eaten, convert to hydrogen cyanide. Flowers and leaves (similar in taste to spinach) are edible either raw or steamed. In Vietnam, it is the main ingredient in hyacinth bean sweet soup. Numerous Indian populations serve it in curried form. Kenyan women, more frequently before colonialism, used cooked hyacinth bean, often mixed with banana to sweeten the taste, as their main food aid to encourage lactation.
Today hyacinth bean can be found in nurseries as a young plant as well as in seed form. The plant should not be put out into the landscape until after danger of frost. It is very fast-growing and appears to be extremely disease-resistant. If there is vertical room in the garden, try this adaptable annual and be rewarded with a great source of interest for flower arranging ... and even a possible addition to the summer menu!
The Tuckahoe Garden Club of Westhampton
The Public-Spirited Beatrix Farrand of Mount Desert Island,
by Roxanne Brouse, PLA of Rieley & Associates, is the result of an important historic study about the collaborative work of Beatrix Farrand and John D. Rockefeller Jr. in the design and construction of the 45 miles of carriage roads throughout Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island,
By the late 1980s, most of the carriage roads had suffered years of neglect. The National Park Service hired Rieley & Associates of Charlottesville to evaluate the condition and historic significance of the roads. The resulting Carriage Road Study by Will Rieley and Roxanne Brouse was awarded the ASLA Merit Award in Research. The study established the lasting importance of the carriage roads and led to their
restoration. The roads are now a hallmark of Acadia National Park.
Responding to a request from the Beatrix Farrand Society, Roxanne Brouse prepared a monograph about Farrand's role in the design of the carriage roads. This monograph is rich with photographs and quotations, as well as letters between Farrand and Rockefeller. It includes reflections on how their collaboration influenced Farrand's later work designing the Bliss estate at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C.
|The Carriage Road at Witchhole
2016 hard-cover editions are now available through The Beatrix Farrand Society at www.beatrixfarrandsocietyshop.org/
Or by sending check or money order ($45 non-members; $40 members) to:
The Beatrix Farrand Society
PO Box 111
Mount Desert, ME 04660
All proceeds go to the Society.
Mary Ann Johnson
Roanoke Valley Garden Club
Did You Know?
Put That Plant in the Ground
Did you know the GCV's Garden Maintenance Manual has more than 10 pages devoted to the planting of trees, shrubs, bulbs, vines, ground covers and perennials? Here is a summary of some of the good planting practices found in the manual about "Putting That Plant in the Ground."
* The planting hole should be three to five times the width of the root ball and the depth should be at the "root collar" which is where the roots join the main stem or trunk. This depth is usually even with or a little above the existing soil grade.
* In removing a potted plant, tree or shrub, it is important to disturb the root ball as little as possible. Tip the container on its side and slide the plant from the container. If root bound, cut the container away from the plant and gently loosen the root ball, or if matted, score the root mass in several places. This will encourage new root growth. NEVER lift plants by the trunk, stem or branches and do not let the root system dry out at any time during the planting process.
* Once the plant, shrub or tree is upright and stabilized in the plant hole, add UNAMENDED backfill soil. Use your hands to firm the soil around the plant and to eliminate air pockets. Mulch should not be up against the stem or trunk of a new planting.
* Water new plantings deeply and often to encourage root development. Two or three times a week should be sufficient. Don't fertilize newly planted trees and shrubs during their first year of growth.
Following these simple practices for "Putting That Plant in the Ground" will result in a long and healthy life for any and all landscape plantings.
The Petersburg Garden Club
Have a Question?
Once the cheery daffodil blooms fade, the garden is left in a jumble. This flopping foliage is disconcerting to some. What to do about that? Braiding and tying are not recommended because the foliage continues to manufacture food which is stored in the bulb for the following year's blooms. The more leaf surface exposed to the sunlight, the greater the benefit for next year. Don't cut until the leaves turn brown, in about 4-6 weeks.
The aberrant foliage may be camouflaged by over-planting with later greening or blooming plants. Ferns, daylilies or any other late-spring or early summer perennials can lessen the unruly appearance.
Save time and next year's blooms by avoiding the temptation to braid.
The Elizabeth River Garden Club
2017 Maintenance Workshop Review
On February 22. more than 50 guests representing 18 of the Garden Club of Virginia Restoration Properties gathered at the Kent-Valentine House in Richmond for the biennial Maintenance Workshop. This year's featured speakers were Brittany Council, 4-H Urban Agriculture Extension Agent for Richmond City, Virginia Cooperative Extension; Peggy Cornett, Curator of Plants at Monticello; Will Rieley, Landscape Architect of the Garden Club of Virginia, who highlighted the policies of the GCV Restoration Committee; and Catherine Madden, Restoration Committee member, who presented an updated photo review of the many GCV historic properties and their restored gardens.
Ms. Council spoke about turfgrass management for both cool and warm season grasses. One take-away from her talk was the benefit of compost applied to turfgrass when seeding a lawn initially or for repair. As little as ¼ to ½ inch of compost applied to a lawn twice a year, especially after aerating, can significantly improve seeding results and can improve established lawns as well.
Ms. Cornett's presentation included the story behind the varieties of historic plants grown by Thomas Jefferson and his contemporaries and the laborious efforts they went to acquiring new and rare plant and vegetable seeds for their gardens.The roundabout and lengthy journeys that many of these seeds took is a lesson in the perseverance of these early horticulturalists like Jefferson. How important it is to continue this historic seed saving, so they are available to grow at Monticello and other important gardens. The gardeners at Monticello are to be commended for their efforts.
Mr. Rieley reviewed the present policies and procedures of the Restoration Committee. With pertinent photos he explained the reasoning behind many of the policies, and which offered better understanding to why these procedures are in place.
We hope that the staff and gardeners who attended our workshop felt their time was well spent, and we welcome any suggestions for topics for our next maintenance workshop that will take place in the winter of 2019.
Lynchburg Garden Club
Special Events at Historic Properties
Green Spring Gardens, Alexandria
April 18 - June 18, ART Show - Potomac Valley Water Colorists
July 15, 10:00 a.m., Garden Tour, Ice Cream Social & Exhibit
June 11, 1-5 p.m., Scout Day: afternoon of activities that help scouts fulfill badge and adventure requirements.
July 15, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.;
July 16, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., WWI & WWII Weekend: Interpreters, re-enactors, military vehicles,
patriotic music, oral history recording program, other activities. $20 per family/$10 individual
State Arboretum of Virginia/Blandy Experiment Farm, Boyce
June and July, Summer camps for children.
October 14 & 15, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Fall Festival and Plant Sale: Plants divided and propagated from Arboretum grounds. Outside vendors. Activities for children. Guided Arboretum walks. Live music. Hay rides.
Thank you to Roxanne Brouse of Rieley and Associates for providing images.
Newsletter Editor: Judy Perry, The Elizabeth River Garden Club
Copy Editors: Candy Crosby, Albemarle Garden Club; Mary Ann Johnson, Roanoke Valley Garden Club
Technical Support: Ann Heller, Garden Club of Virginia
President of the Garden Club of Virginia: Nina Mustard, The Williamsburg Garden Club