In This Issue
Design Notes
Sandy Mudrinich
Garden Maintenance
GCV Research Fellowships
Beale Garden: Before and After
Questions from Properties

Related Links
Restoration NewsJanuary 2014


This issue of the Restoration News highlights Montpelier, GCV Fellowships and some of the concerns of GCV properties expressed at the 2013 Maintenance Workshop. A new addition to our newsletter is before and after pictures. There is nothing like seeing a successful end result after extensive planning and execution of a restoration project!


Questions and suggestions from properties for the newsletter are always welcome. It is your link between the GCV and other restoration properties. Don't forget to send your upcoming event schedule to your liaison for posting on the GCV website. Our members are huge supporters! We shall look forward to hearing from you.   


There are exciting archaeological studies ongoing at Monticello and Poplar Forest that will be revealed in our next issue. Stay tuned.


Thank you to Judy Perry for conceiving and executing this wonderful Newsletter which is proving to be so beneficial to our properties and our members.


With many thanks for all you do,



Sally Guy Brown 

GCV Restoration Chairman

Featured Historic Garden
Montpelier, Montpelier Station

At Montpelier in Orange County one can tour the restored Federal style home of James and Dolley Madison as well as the early 1900 duPont garden restored by the Garden Club of Virginia. When Annie duPont began planning her garden there were vestiges of a Madison garden, but what remained had fallen into disrepair. Mrs. duPont called in landscape architect Oglesby Paul to help with renewing the terraces and the reestablishment of the famous horseshoe shaped terrace of the Madison era. Later, her daughter Marion engaged Charles Gillette to help to refine the garden. The boxwood hedges were rejuvenated and herb parterres, perennial borders, and rose arbors were planted in the two- acre garden. Brick walks and steps were constructed and marble statuary and enormous marble urns, imported from Europe, were placed on the upper terrace. A brick wall, with an imposing entry including a gilt wrought- iron gate, was built to enclose the garden. This stately formal garden had declined by the time Marion duPont Scott left the house to the National Trust in 1983.


The Garden Club of Virginia began to help with the restoration of the duPont garden in the early 1990s. By consulting contemporary photographs, it was possible to see what had been planted in the beds in Mrs. duPont's day. A plan incorporating some of the plants, but requiring less maintenance, was devised. The brick wall has been repointed and the brick stairs restored. Handrails have been placed at the steps that lead down though the garden, and the lion statues that grace one set of steps, have been gently cleaned and conserved. The gates at the top and bottom of the garden wall have been restored. Tall American hollies, southern magnolias and a China fir, all planted by the duPont family, frame the interior perimeter of the garden. Old tree peonies against the brick wall at the bottom of the garden are magnificent in the spring. In the summer, bright annuals that can take the heat, such as portulaca, are planted in some of the marble containers.

Read more..


Montpelier Garden Entry
Horseshoe Terrace


Design Notes by William D. Rieley
Will Rieley

Historic Invasives


Sometimes recreating a historic landscape presents a conundrum or, as one of the P. G. Wodehouse's characters would say, "wheels within wheels."  Thomas Jefferson said, "There is not a sprig of grass that shoots uninteresting to me."  He, many of his contemporaries and others who have gardened throughout history were greatly interested in exotics and took great pains to obtain seeds and plants from all over the world to enhance their surroundings. Some of these exotic plants are now considered invasive. So how do you honor the efforts of these diligent gardeners while keeping the larger landscape free of the likes of Scotch broom and multiflora roses?


One example is the Garden Club's current work with Poplar Forest to restore Jefferson's landscape around the house which included paper mulberries ( Broussonetia papyrifera). Native to Japan, it became popular to plant it here because it is a fast-growing shade tree. Though it does not create the problems of some aggressive exotic plants, like kudzu and Russian olive, it has found its way onto lists of invasive plants. Fortunately, it is also dioecious so there are both male and female plants.  By using only male trees at Poplar Forest, we were able to mitigate its impact on the surrounding landscape, while using the same tree that Jefferson himself planted two hundred years ago.



  Paper Mulberries at Poplar Forest


In restoring the Beale Garden at Hollins University, the Garden Club took a different approach.  When Albert Farnham originally designed it to honor the memory of Lucy Preston Beale, he used a wide variety of plants that included Polygonum, Father Hugo rose, Russian olive and privet, all of which are now considered invasive.  Rather than planting these species, the Garden Club emphasized native plants and worked to recreate the effect that Farnham achieved with his plant palette.


Garden design remains endlessly interesting because there are so many ways to approach an issue. Each site requires careful consideration and a unique design. This is especially true of historic gardens where layer upon layer of historic information, ecological considerations, and the demands of accommodating visitors challenge us to put the puzzle pieces together in a way that educate, protect the environment and create a beautiful place that people enjoy and return to.

Featured Gardener

Sandy Mudrinich, Montpelier


In June 1985, the very same month and year that Sandy Mudrinich received her B.S. in horticulture from Virginia Tech, she started work as an intern on the Grounds crew at Montpelier. By 1987, she was hired as full time staff. The walled garden had received scant attention in the decade before it was given to the National Trust. The most pressing task, according to Sandy, was reclaiming the duPont garden from the invasives such as trumpet creeper, honeysuckle, and poison ivy. Sandy laughs when she notes that it was a luxury to be able to do a big, messy project such as installing an irrigation system before the tourists arrived with the opening of Montpelier in 1987. In the lengthy crescent beds there were over eighty varieties of day lilies, as well as, peonies and bearded iris, for which Sandy and staff did an inventory as an accurate historical record. Statuary, which had been removed and placed elsewhere, was returned to the garden. Sadly, glass greenhouses built outside the main garden by the duPonts and used for raising annuals from seed and for plant propagation, were dismantled in the late 1990's.

Sandy Mudrinich


Sandy has been grateful for the GCV involvement in the garden beginning in 1992 and for the expertise and guidance of GCV Landscape Architects, first Rudy Favretti and currently Will Rieley. Their expertise and sensitivity in interpreting the garden have helped to bring it alive in the present day. Mr. Rieley has created plans for the upper perennial beds of the garden which will provide more summer color. Sandy's favorite feature of the garden is the remarkable trees. There is a tall Dawn Redwood planted by the GCV that is especially appreciated. This garden is beautiful in all seasons but she thinks the spring when the crescent beds are in full bloom is one of the best times to visit. Sandy has been tending the duPont garden for almost thirty years. She still smiles when visitors come through the gate for the first time and say "Wow" after their first glance at the restored Annie DuPont garden.



Garden tips from Sandy


When feeding boxwoods, put two inches (and no more!) of composted horse manure under them every year. If this is done properly, the boxwood roots will grow into the compost as it settles into the soil. The composted manure will keep the roots moist while enriching the soil as it breaks down even further.


Montpelier is in an area that straddles two zones (6 and 7), so tender perennials often don't make it through the winter. Pineapple sage, which happens to be a tender perennial, is a favorite in our herb garden. To avoid having to plant it every spring, we will leave it to face the winter without cutting off the dead stems. The stems are hollow, so if the stems are cut, water will collect in the crown area, freeze when the temperature drops, and definitely kill the plant. Just leave the plant alone until all chance of frost is over in early spring. If you're lucky (and, yes, luck is needed since an extremely cold winter might kill them anyway), the plants will reemerge in the spring.

Garden Maintenance

A Plant Worth Knowing

An excellent ground cover used often by Mr. Rieley at properties is Hypericum calycinum (St. John's Wort) due to its tough nature, ability to survive both in sun and shade and after being established, tolerating both drought and wet conditions. This Hypericum has dark evergreen leaves with attractive yellow cup-shaped flowers in summer, growing approximately 12 inches high. This lovely ground cover spreads rapidly by underground stems to fill in the desired area and is easy to maintain. In places with very cold winters some top die back occurs, but shearing or high mowing works very well in the early spring to encourage renewal growth. As there are no serious insect or disease problems, Hypericum calycinum is a fine ground cover for stabilizing banks as well as growing well under trees.


Hypericum calycinum
Hypericum at Montpelier


 Did  You Know?


"Look twice and cut once" is a tried and true rule for pruning trees and shrubs. Pages 36 - 43 in the Maintenance Manual are devoted to "Pruning".  Technique, Growth Habits, Timing, Maintenance Pruning,Renewal Pruning, Hedges, Tools/Safety, and Tree Pruning are all discussed in this eight page section. Many trees and shrubs benefit from being pruned in late winter. Pruning while the plants are dormant allows for viewing the branch structure more easily; therefore, making it easier to identify the dead or diseased branches that need to be removed. Judicious winter pruning invigorates the plants for growth in the spring.  Also, pruning should be limited to removal of no more than a third of the total bud and leaf-bud-bearing branches. The following is a short list of plants that will benefit from late winter pruning: Crape Myrtles, Vitex, Smoke Tree, Fruit Trees, Roses, Hydrangea paniculata and Hydrangea arborscens and Boxwood.




In the Garden Now

  • Thoroughly water all plants before the ground freezes.  Continue to water broad-leaved and needle-leaved evergreens throughout the winter months, if necessary.
  • Check garden throughout winter for heaved plants.
  • Check stored bulbs and tubers to be sure they are not drying out.
  • Mulch with compost 2 inches thick.  Leave "breathing space" around main stems and trunks. Compost puts nutrients back into soil, increases soil temperature and protects roots.
  • Lawns may be aerated at this time.
  • Ponds should be cleared of leaves and debris.  Remove, clean and store pumps and filters.  A ball placed in the pond keeps a small area from freezing, allowing oxygen to reach fish.
  • Brush heavy snow off shrubs to prevent damage.
  • Alternatives to salt (sodium chloride) on walks are sand or calcium chloride. (Helpful tip: Coat a snow shovel with non-sticking cooking spray so snow sides off.  Repeat as needed.)
  • Avoid walking on frozen grass or ground covers to prevent damage.
  • Prune evergreens before new growth appears in the spring.
  • Order any trees, shrubs, perennials, or seeds to be planted in the spring.
  • Clean and sharpen garden tools.  Sterilize with 1 part bleach to 9 parts water. (Helpful tip: paint tool handles red or orange to easily spot in the garden.)
  • Clean clay pots with vinegar water to remove salt deposits. Use bleach solution to sterilize. DO NOT mix the two.

In the Garden Late Winter

  • Remove leaves and debris from shrub and perennial beds.
  • Divide & replant perennials not done in the fall.
  • Cut back liriope with a lawn mower.
  • Move small shrubs or trees from one spot to another, if needed.
  • Watch for slugs and snails as temperature warms.
  • Plant early flowering shrubs.  
GCV Research Fellowships


The Garden Club of Virginia has established two Research Fellowships, the Rudy J. Favretti Fellowship and the William D. Rieley Fellowship, both for graduate students in landscape architecture.  Under

From left: Kim Nash, Megan Turner (holding daughter), Matthew Traucht

supervision of GCV landscape architect, William D. Rieley, the students work for one summer to research and document the garden/grounds of an historic site.  The results of their work may be found on the GCV website www.gcvfellowship.org. These fellowships preserve the history of important Virginia gardens, one private and one public, as well as groom the next generation of landscape architects and preservationists.


Megan Turner, the 2013 Rudy J. Favretti Fellow, is a master of landscape architecture student at the University of Georgia.  She researched the landscape history of Carter Hall c.1795-1800 in Millwood, VA, the ancestral home of Col. Nathanial Burwell great-grandson of Robert "King" Carter of Carter's Grove, Williamsburg. It is now home of Project Hope.


Matthew Traucht, the 2013 William D. Rieley Fellow, graduated from the University of Minnesota with a  Master of Landscape Architecture degree. The  c.1843 Reynold's Homestead in Critz, VA was his research subject. It is the birthplace and boyhood home of R.J. Reynolds, founder of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. The 717 acre plantation was given to Virginia Tech in 1969 and now serves as a continuing education and research center.


Read  more ...   

Beale Garden: Before and After
Questions from Properties

Question: Our city has no pickup for leaf debris in the fall. What should we do with it?

Answer:  Create a composting area and use a leaf/twig shredder to hasten the deterioration process. The compost makes very good mulch. It also can be offered to the public if it becomes too much for the property to use and store.


Question: Many visitors to the garden ask about the names of plants. May we place small identification tags on trees and in the planting areas?

Answer: Identification tags would not have been seen in an historic garden and would be a distraction to the overall effect. The GCV provides Garden Guides with plant names for properties to make available to their visitors.

     We welcome questions for future newsletters a[email protected].