In This Issue
Poplar Forest
Design Notes
Peggy Singlemann
Garden Maintenance
Did You Know?
Sweet Briar College: Before and After
Conferences of Interest

Related Links
Restoration NewsNumber 4 June 2014



Allow me to introduce myself. I am Kim Nash from the Warrenton Garden Club. Last month, I was honored to accept the Chairmanship of the Garden Club of Virginia's Restoration Committee. In the past, I have had the pleasure of working with many of you as your liaison to the Committee, and, over the next two years, I will look forward to getting acquainted with all of you associated with our historic gardens of Virginia.


Even with the arrival of the summer sunshine, no one can forget the unusually tough winter we had statewide and, without a doubt, springtime cleanup has been arduous. I hope this issue of the GCV Restoration Newsletter offers some helpful information to assist you in meeting the challenges posed by Mother Nature.


I join my esteemed predecessor, Sally Guy Brown, in applauding your commitment to maintaining the properties restored by the Garden Club of Virginia. In addition, I thank each of you for sharing the wealth of your experience with your fellow stewards of the horticultural heritage of our Commonwealth.




 Kim Nash, President


Kim Nash

GCV Restoration Chairman

Featured Historic Garden
Thomas Jefferson's Clumps Restored at Poplar Forest


The Garden Club of Virginia's partnership with Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest has completed the second part of the Phase I landscape restoration with the recent planting of the tree clumps just as Jefferson originally did over 200 years ago.


These tight plantings of trees, "clumps", as Jefferson called them, were elements of eighteenth century English landscape style popularized by William Kent. Jefferson would have seen many examples on his 1786 tour of English gardens with his friend, John Adams. Although rare in the American landscape, Alexander Hamilton had a remarkable example at his house, The Grange, in New York, and Jefferson's friend, William Hamilton, used this same feature at his Philadelphia estate, The Woodlands, whose landscape Jefferson greatly admired. There is also evidence that George Washington planted clumps at Mount Vernon, and Jefferson used them at the White House, at Monticello, and of course at Poplar Forest.

Newly Planted Poplar Forest Clumps in Bloom

The replanting of these clumps at Poplar Forest marks the first restoration of this striking 18th century landscape feature anywhere in America.


The restoration process began with Jefferson's own words recorded in his garden book in November of 1812: "Plant a clump of Athenian and Balsam poplars each corner of the house. Intermix locusts, common and Kentucky, redbuds, dogwoods, calycanthus, liriodendron."


Discovering the meaning behind these words and bringing this unique landscape feature back to Poplar Forest has taken a tremendous amount of research, both historical and archaeological. Jack Gary, Poplar Forest's director of Archaeology and Landscapes, and Will Rieley, landscape architect for The Garden Club of Virginia, have collaborated and  led a great team of researchers who worked painstakingly on this project. The onsite archaeology including identifying plant stains in the soil combined with delving into Jefferson's copious records which show his use of a surveyor's chain in laying out his landscape has resulted in the placement of trees and shrubs in the exact locations that Jefferson used 200 years ago.


Archaeological work continues on the third part of the first phase of the landscape restoration that includes the carriage turnaround and the central oval bed at the approach to the house. Research has established that the boxwood there were not from the Jefferson period, but the investigation is ongoing to discover Jefferson's original plan for that part of the landscape.


There is no doubt that all the lessons learned from this exploration of Jefferson's landscape at Poplar Forest, specifically his ingenious marriage of geometry with nature, will have important implications for other historic landscape restorations in Virginia and beyond.


Catherine Madden

The Lynchburg Garden Club


Design Notes by William D. Rieley
Will Rieley
Layers of History in the Garden


At our last Maintenance Workshop, we received this interesting question: "How does one meld the great strides in horticulture with the historically old?"  It is a huge topic, of course, but I shall try to address a couple of aspects of it that we encounter working with historic properties.  First, we must always acknowledge that the re-creation of historic landscapes is a more challenging and imperfect exercise than restoring a historic building or its interior.  Landscapes are, by their nature, mutable-ever changing.  Secondly, we live in literally a different world than did historical figures-one with introduced competing plants and new pests and pathogens. So, even under the best conditions and with a clear interpretive mission, we must be prepared for compromise with historical accuracy. Nevertheless, at historic sites strictly interpreted to the life of a particular person, like Monticello or Mount Vernon, we strive to reveal the varieties of plants that would have been available at these times, and to demonstrate the cultural methods of the time as faithfully as we practically can.


Some historic gardens are designed, not to illustrate one particular time, but evolution over time.  Eyre Hall on Virginia's Eastern Shore is a great example of this approach.  The layout of the garden is from the early 19th century; the beautiful English boxwood were added in the mid-to late 19th century, crape-myrtles in the early 20th, and wonderful flower gardens under the guidance of experienced horticulturalists in the late 20th and early 21st century.  This layering of history as each generation puts its own mark on the garden not only gives a depth of interest to the experience, but it allows for the introduction of advanced cultivars and cultural methods over time.  Gaymont/Rose Hill, in Caroline County, and Mount Sharon, in Orange County, are other examples of historic gardens that have been revitalized with more contemporary plantings.  Either approach is valid,and adds to our understanding of historic gardens if the re-created landscape is presented for what it is - a garden at a point in time or a garden through time.

Featured Gardener

Peggy Singlemann, Director of Horticulture, Maymont


Peggy Singlemann walked onto the grounds of Maymont in 1984 in response to an advertisement for the estate's only gardener position. Thirty years later she serves as Director of Horticulture for Maymont, a Victorian treasure located on the banks of the James River in the heart of Richmond. Peggy brought with her that day in 1984 a devotion to horticulture that began as a child growing up in Westchester County, New York.  With a father, grandfather and close neighbor who enjoyed gardening, it is no surprise that Peggy started growing beets as a kindergartener.  Her interest in horticulture never waned and led to a degree in horticulture and floriculture from State University of New York at Cobleskill. Peggy's education continued with a certification in landscape design, horticulture and a license in pesticide application. 

Peggy Singlemann

The original owners, Major and Mrs. James Dooley, acquired this 100+ acres tract of land in 1886. Mrs. Dooley, an avid student of horticulture, was interested in establishing gardens and overseeing the maintenance. Sallie Dooley was also a writer and her poetry and stories often reflect her strong interest in gardening. At Mrs. Dooley's death in 1925, the estate was left to the City of Richmond.


These past thirty years have found Peggy designing, implementing and maintaining this Victorian estate's gardens, public gardens and historic landscapes. Maymont is home to a formal Italian garden, a 6 acre Japanese stroll garden, an Arboretum boasting National and State Champ ion trees, a butterfly trail, vegetable garden, annual/perennial borders and native plants landscaping. Leading tours and workshops for the general public and managing Maymont's horticulture staff and 30+ volunteers add to Peggy's already busy schedule.


Peggy shares her extensive knowledge of horticulture beyond the grounds of Maymont. She finds herself working with 4 metro Richmond Master Gardener Associations, the Richmond Tree Stewards and lecturing throughout the mid-Atlantic region. Several years ago, Peggy accepted an invitation from Virginia Home Grown to co-host its PBS WCVE/WHTJ Community Ideas Station program where she develops topics for programs and the roster of guests, executes on-line interviews and conducts live studio broadcasts with each guest. As members of the Boxwood Blight Advisory Committee, Peggy and other horticulturists worked with Virginia Tech representatives to develop the Best Management Practices for Boxwood Blight. A fungus which first appeared in the United States in 2011, boxwood blight continues to draw close attention and concern from gardeners and horticulturists across Virginia.


Major and Mrs. James Dooley would be proud of Peggy's many contributions to Maymont, the Richmond community and the state over the past thirty years. She has played a major role in fulfilling the Dooleys' dream that their estate be enjoyed by the public. She gives much credit to Will Rieley and the Restoration Committee of the Garden Club of Virginia.


Peggy's Garden Tips


June is the beginning of Hurricane Season.  Take the time to examine the canopy of significant trees.  If the canopy or crown is dense, consider hiring a certified arborist to properly thin the canopy (crown thinning).  This will enable the wind to blow through a tree rather than blow it down.


Warm nights create the perfect conditions for diseases to flourish. Continually monitor your plants for signs of disease, identify the symptoms and treat accordingly.


Meg Clement

Three Chopt Garden Club
Garden Maintenance
A Plant Worth Knowing
Eastern Redbud
Cercis canadensis 'Alba'


One of the finest native understory and landscape trees used at GCV Restoration properties is Cercis canadensis, our lovely native Eastern redbud. Growing 20 to 40 feet tall at maturity and happy in either acid or alkaline soils, the redbud may be grown in either full or part sun. Bloom time of this small tree occurs just before or with our native dogwood and consists of branches loaded with small pea like rosy pink to white flowers. It may be substituted for Cornus florida where the placement is in full sun; however, Cercis may be difficult to move from a wild location, so planting during the dormant season from nursery stock is recommended. There are many interesting cultivars available from the nursery trade.

When a small white blooming tree was required for Historic Christ Church after many failures of dogwood in full sun, Cercis canadensis 'Alba' was chosen. It has been a total success.


Fleet Hurlbatt

The Garden Club of the Eastern Shore

Did You Know?
Watering and Weeding


The growing season is upon us, and along with all the blooms of spring and summer comes the never ending tasks of watering and weeding.  Once again, the GCV Garden Maintenance Manual has a few tips for making our lives as gardeners much easier.


As we all know, maintaining a moist soil is essential for good growth. "The watering program should be managed so that the soil is watered thoroughly to the depth of six inches, even if it dries out slightly between watering."  This type of watering encourages deep root growth; the ultimate goal for healthy plants. Just watering the surface area of the garden will cause roots to grow nearer to the surface and to then dry out faster, causing the plant to suffer. One also must be careful not to overwater. To insure this doesn't happen, "one inch of water applied per week if it hasn't rained should suffice."  The Manual also points out that "soaker hoses and drip irrigation are better for watering plants than sprinklers because water on foliage encourages diseases.


Weeding is an ongoing chore and challenge.  Here are a few helpful suggestions.  First of all - Mulch, Mulch, Mulch.  Using mulches in the form of compost will help keep weeds down. "At a historic site it is more appropriate to use decomposed compost as mulch rather than modern mulching materials." By using decomposed compost, one is easily able to remove the weeds by hand whenever they appear.  If compost is not available, pine straw makes a good, natural mulch. The mulch should be about two inches deep. Do not place the mulch right against the plants; leave space to prevent insect and moisture damage. Also, weed regularly, never let weeds go to seed, and have good, sharp weeding tools.  Diligence is the gardener's most powerful tool against weeds.  Deal with them as soon as they appear.


Suzanne Wright

The Petersburg Garden Club

Sweet Briar College, President's House, Front Arrival Court: Before and After
Conferences of Interest on Historic Landscapes


Historic Landscape Institute "Preserving Jefferson's Gardens and Landscapes"

June 22 - 27, 2014


This one-week course will use the gardens and landscapes of Monticello and the University of Virginia as an outdoor classroom for the study of historic landscape preservation. Lectures, workshops, field trips, and practical working experiences will provide an introduction to the fields of landscape history, garden restoration, and historical horticulture. Fee charged; registration and application required.  


Call 434-984-9816 or visit http://www.monticello.org/site/research-and-collections/historic-landscape-institute


Colonial Revival at the Crossroads: Colonial Revival landscapes-their significance, challenges and preservation

October 31 - November 1, 2014

Stratford Hall

Between the late 1800s and the 1930s, Colonial Revival gardens were the leading American garden style. Interest in the topic was particularly consequential at historic sites that preserved and celebrated Colonial-era history such as Williamsburg, Carter's Grove, and Stratford Hall. Reflecting the merger of the burgeoning landscape architecture and historic preservation professions of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, these designed landscapes embodied the ideas, ideals, and progressive movements of the era. While not always historically accurate, Colonial Revival landscapes nonetheless have earned their own historical importance over the years through their association with important landscape designers and their reflection of an important period in the history of American culture

Stratford Hall's Colonial Revival legacy dates to 1929, with the reconstruction of the landscape surrounding Thomas Lee's Great House-an endeavor that spanned several decades, and employed such prominent designers as Arthur Shurcliff, Morley Jeffers Williams, the firm of Innocenti & Webel, and Alden Hopkins, in addition to the Garden Club of Virginia. Many aspects of the Colonial Revival cultural landscape of Stratford Hall survive today in its formal gardens and reconstructed buildings and structures.

Recently, Colonial Revival cultural landscapes have received much attention, praise, and criticism. Colonial Revival at the Crossroads will explore aspects of this reassessment, including questions about how to identify, evaluate, interpret, and manage Colonial Revival landscapes.

For further details and to register, visit Stratford Hall's event calendar: http://www.stratfordhall.org/event/colonial-revival-at-the-crossroads/


Thank you to Roxanne Brouse of Rieley and Associates for providing images.


Newsletter Editors: Candy Crosby, Albemarle Garden Club and Ann Gordon Evans, The Huntington Garden Club

Copy Editor: Judy Perry, The Elizabeth River Garden Club

Technical Support: Nina Mustard, The Williamsburg Garden Club