In This Issue
Featured Historic Gardens
Historic Garden Week
Design Notes
Featured Gardener
Garden Maintenance
Questions from Properties

Related Links
Restoration NewsJanuary 2013

The Garden Club of Virginia is committed to maintaining strong relationships with our restored historic sites. To that end, the members of our GCV Restoration Committee are pleased to share Restoration News with you, designed to serve as an informational link between the GCV and historic properties, as well as a connection between the properties themselves. 


The knowledge we gain in sharing maintenance concerns and success stories is extremely valuable and can benefit property managers, staff and the public who visit to learn about the past. 


We thank you for your commitment to maintaining the GCV restored landscape on your historic property and look forward to hearing your comments and questions.




Sally Guy Brown 

GCV Restoration Chairman

Featured Historic Gardens
Kenmore, Fredericksburg 


The first GCV historic garden restoration was the garden at Kenmore, the


1770s home of Fielding and Betty Washington Lewis. In 1937, the Kenmore Association asked the GCV to "redo" the grounds of Kenmore. Fundraising for this task brought about the beginnings of "Garden Week in Virginia" that has become the GCV engine for funding these historic landscape restorations.


In the 1930s and 1940s, GCV landscape architect Charles Gillette implemented his design for the front, side and upper terrace, adding a front walk and plantings, an upper terrace with arbors, flower garden and later a board fence, picket gate, tool house and smoke house.


Subsequent designs were added by Alden Hopkins (1960) in contract with Kenmore Association, Ralph Griswold (1962-74) and Rudy J. Favretti (1991) in contract with the GCV. Today, the GCV Landscape Architect, William D. Rieley, is continuing to advise on replacement plantings and design changes.


John Handley High School
John Handley High School
John Handley High School, Winchester


The buildings and grounds of this handsome 1923 high school were designed by Architect Walter McCornack of Cleveland. On the National Register of Historic Places, it is sited high on a hill in a park-like setting befitting its importance to the community.


In 2011, the GCV restored the original McCornack landscape design at the front of the building and along the west end of the "bowl." The "landscape park" at the east end of the bowl was designed by William D. Rieley, sponsored by the GCV and implemented by the Handley Board of Trustees and the city of Winchester. Read more...


Historic Henry County Courthouse in the News


Henry County Courthouse

The City of Martinsville recently restored the Courthouse that is now the home of the Martinsville Historical Society. The Courthouse occupies a central location in downtown Martinsville and the Garden Club enthusiastically agreed to help with the restoration of its grounds. Construction is nearing completion.


A recent article published by the Martinsville Bulletin describes the logistics involved in repositioning two post-Civil War naval cannons at the courthouse entrance, a very visible aspect of the project. Read article...


Historic Garden Week in Virginia Celebrates 80th Anniversary

Historic Garden Week, heralded as "America's Largest Open House" has raised millions of dollars over the years for the restoration of historic gardens across Virginia. A number of special activities and events have been planned by staff members at our historic gardens to celebrate the 80th anniversary. Take a look at those plans and more. Special Activities

Design Notes
William D. Rieley
Will Rieley

by William D. Rieley, GCV Landscape Architect


A historic site may contain beautiful old trees that were not present at the time of interpretation of the building; if lawns are maintained as they would have been in the 18th century, visitors might be appalled; we must cope with pests and diseases that were not present historically; and unlike buildings, the landscape is a living, growing entity that will always change over time. In both the design and the maintenance of historic sites, we are constantly required to make judgment calls that must balance historic, aesthetic, practical, safety and horticultural considerations. Despite these challenges, the field of historic landscape design and management is one whose breadth and depth of understanding grows every year. I look forward to raising some of the fascinating issues with which we in this field grapple. I hope you will find them informative and useful.

Featured Gardener

Valerie Balentine, Bacon's Castle
Valerie Balentine and Barbara Insley

The value of part-time gardeners to a property is revealed in the work of head gardener Valerie Balentine (shown left) and her assistant, Barbara Insley (right). The 17th century garden at Bacon's Castle was uncovered in 1983 and restored by the GCV in 1984-89. Ms. Balentine has been involved in this "Virginia's first garden" since 1998 and Ms. Insley since 1991. Their dedication to its maintenance remains throughout the vagaries of weather, staffing and time. 


Their garden work involves keeping the formal garden of six large squares planted with grass and surrounding borders of perennials backed by a hawthorn hedge. A brick forcing wall at one end yields a mix of flowers, vegetables, herbs and two trellises supporting grape vines. Garden paths intersect the squares and surround the outer edges.


Balentine Ms. Balentine reports "Preservation Virginia's Bacon's Castle's garden's recent certification as a Virginia Green Attraction requires that we use earth-friendly organic products and homemade remedies. We receive help from area Master Gardeners, Mr. Glen Slade, Surry County Extension Agent and other historic site gardeners who share their expertise to maintain this garden."


Garden Tip: Ms. Balentine uses a mixture of vinegar and salt to rid pathways of grass and weeds and prevent their return.  


UMW student Caitlin McCafferty served an internship at Bacon's Castle this summer and her work included some hands on garden maintenance. Read more at http://www.slideshare.net/cmmada/my-summer-internship-at-bacons-castle2.  
Garden Maintenance


Restoration Maintenance Manual

"Maintaining a garden or landscape is challenging in and of itself. Add to this the layer of historical authenticity and the task becomes even more complex, but also more rewarding. Our overriding goal for maintaining a historic landscape is to keep the built elements in good repair, promote healthy and vigorous plant growth, and accommodate visitors without compromising authenticity. Meeting the challenges and exploiting the opportunities at each property helps to showcase its unique beauty and historic importance." Garden Maintenance Manual


All properties should have a copy of the Garden Maintenance Manual.  Please let your property liaison know if you did not yet receive yours. 


Did you know...?

Boxwoods do not wilt like many other plants when they are dry but require that the soil is moist to a depth of 12" to 18" from early spring to late fall. During periods of less than normal rainfall, water boxwoods so that they receive the equivalent of 1" of rainfall every 10 days. This will require letting the hose or sprinkler run for several hours once or twice a week so the water percolates deep into the soil. Drip irrigation is not recommended.
Pruning: When the diameter of a branch exceeds 1-1/4 inches, use a pruning saw that has teeth on only one side of the blade. Curved bladed pruning saws are the best for preventing damage when pruning. Use fine-toothed pruning saws for branches 2-1/2 inches in diameter and coarsely-toothed saws for branches 3 inches or more.              
An Invitation to GCV Historic Site Gardeners and Garden Staff 
Maintenance Workshop February 5, 2013 
9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Kent-Valentine House Richmond
Featured Speakers
Peggy Cornett, Curator of Plants, Monticello
Jack Gary, Director of Archeology and Landscapes, Poplar Forest
Will Rieley, GCV Landscape Architect
Peggy Singlemann, Director of Horticulture, Maymont
Questions from Properties

Question from Historic St. Luke's Church, Smithfield:
Why is pine straw a better choice for mulch, rather than shredded bark (pine or hardwood)?
Answer: The double-shredded mulch found today is a modern invention and not as suited to the historic setting of restored landscapes.  Pine straw is the preferred mulch and a good source of nutrients while discouraging weeds, retaining moisture and regulating soil temperature.  Compost has historically been used also as mulch, working it into the soil at the end of each season to improve the soil structure.


Question from Christ Church, Lancaster: Dogwoods are in decline. What are some appropriate replacements?
Answer: White-Flowering Redbud, Cercis canadensis "alba". Black Haw, Viburnum prunifolium. Serviceberry, Amelanchier arborea or canadensis.
     We welcome questions for future newsletters a[email protected].
Newsletter Editor: Judy Perry [email protected] 
Technical Editor: Nina Mustard [email protected]