In This Issue
Historic Bruton Parish Churchyard
Design Notes
2015 Maintenance Workshop Review
Garden Maintenance
Featured Gardener
Before and After
Events of Interest at Historic Properties.
Restoration NewsNumber 6  June 2015


With luck, new green growth has masked any damage done by Old Man Winter and the bright colors of the summer landscape have erased the memory of his dark and stormy stay this past season. No doubt the return of sunny days has re-energized you to get into your gardens and dig, but when you do take a break, I invite you to enjoy this copy of our Restoration News.

Among other items of interest, you will learn about the Bruton Parish Churchyard - one of the few burying grounds of Virginia's early years which still receives "inhabitants." If you are not already acquainted, you will be introduced to the Kentucky Coffeetree, as it is well worth knowing. In the fifth edition of his Manual of Woody Landscape Plants, Michael Dirr notes that its "seeds are great fun to throw and hit with a baseball bat." You also will meet Mark Schroeter, the energetic and committed gardener at Oatlands.

As always, we, of the Garden Club of Virginia, are grateful for the work you do to maintain the historic places in the landscape of the Commonwealth.

Thank you!


 Kim Nash, President

Kim Nash
Chairman, GCV Restoration Committee

The Warrenton Garden Club 
Featured Historic Garden
Bruton Parish Churchyard 


Bruton Parish

This year, Bruton Parish Church is celebrating its 300th anniversary of the present church building dating to 1715. Bruton Parish was established in 1674 twenty-five years before the Virginia Capital was moved to Williamsburg from Jamestown. The first brick parish church was completed in 1683 and the stone outline may be seen in the churchyard today.

Bruton's relationship with the Garden Club of Virginia dates back to 1936 when the Williamsburg Garden Club asked the Restoration Committee for help as "age and recent severe storms have played havoc with many of the old trees and shrubs." As a result, the Garden Club planted 10 trees, and Rose of Sharon shrubs, English Ivy and Periwinkle. At this same time, the Rev. W. A. R. Goodwin led the effort to restore the tombstones and the 1745 walls that had been in a sad state of disrepair. In 1939, Arthur Shurcliff and the staff at Colonial Williamsburg created a landscape plan which was approved by the church vestry and the Garden Club of Virginia. New walkways and additional trees and shrubs were added, funded by the Garden Club and completed by Colonial Williamsburg.

Through the years, increased visitation, poor drainage, and competition from tree roots caused damage to the churchyard, and seventy years later the vestry asked Garden Club for help. In 2000, William D. Rieley, landscape architect to the Garden Club of Virginia, was engaged to provide guidance and a renovation plan that would "maintain the eighteenth century character of the churchyard, respect the requirements of an active congregation, and accommodate three million visitors a year." Colonial Williamsburg was an active participant in implementing the plan. New brick paving and a low single rail fence established new areas and an underground drainage system was connected to the City of Williamsburg storm sewers. Paths were reworked and could be closed but continue to be welcoming to visitors. Lastly, a Columbarium was established in a corner of the churchyard with plantings and benches for quiet meditation.

Visitors continue to enjoy this historic church and surrounding churchyard as they immerse themselves in the charm and solitude of this peaceful setting.

Dianne Spence

The Williamsburg Garden Club

Design Notes by William D. Rieley
Will Rieley
Night Lighting at Historic Properties 

Night lighting presents one of the most difficult issues for historic properties, and it is often handled very badly.To provide guidance to its properties and to give consistency to its own decisions, the Restoration Committee developed the following policy:

While outside lighting at historic sites is sometimes necessary or desirable, its use should be limited and restrained. The following guidelines should direct our decisions.

1. The level of lighting should be appropriate to the period of the restoration. An eighteenth century site, for example, should have the minimum amount of light required for safety and utility. Generally, a larger number of low-lumen fixtures will be favored over a few high-lumen fixtures to achieve the same level of light. More latitude is appropriate in sites restored to a period after the introduction of electric lights.

2. Lighting for dramatic effect is generally inappropriate for pre-electric-light period restoration. Light emanating from within historic structures is generally more appropriate than floodlighting from the outside. Where the period of the restoration makes lighting appropriate, the type of light source should also be as compatible as possible. In a 1930s restoration, for example, incandescent light would be favored over more modern light types, such as metal halide, mercury vapor or sodium vapor. (New LED lights are showing a lot of promise, but we need to be careful about the light spectrum or warmth of the luminaire. Those closest to incandescent are a good starting point.)

3. Where exterior lighting is necessary or desirable for utility and safety, the areas lit should be restricted to those necessary, and the source of the light should be hidden, except for those settings in which fixtures appropriate to the period are used. Motion activated lights are preferred for security lighting.

4. Plants should not be subjected to all-night lighting, as this will have a detrimental effect on them. Bright, constant light can even kill large trees.

5. The importance of a dark sky should be acknowledged. Lights particularly high-lumen ones, that point up into the sky should be avoided.

6. Fixtures should be fully shielded. No light should be directed above the horizontal plane except for small, historically appropriate fixtures.

7. The effect of outside lighting on adjacent properties and neighborhoods should always be taken into account.

8. Generally, lighting should be directed down to emulate natural daylight, rather than up for theatrical effect.
Historically appropriate fixtures, in numbers and locations consistent with their historic use should be utilized first, with supplemental lighting only where required. Except for historic, or historic reproduction fixtures, all fixtures, conduit, cables, braces and frames should be dark in color, dull, and located as inconspicuously as possible.

9. Lighting for temporary events should be temporary as well.

Every site is different and lighting must be designed carefully at each site, but these principles are an important basis for decision-making about lighting at all historic properties, and GCV restoration properties in particular.
2015 Maintenance Workshop Review 

On March 18th more than fifty guests gathered at Kent-Valentine House in Richmond for the Restoration Committee's biennial maintenance workshop. The program featured Robert Saunders of Saunders Brothers Nursery who spoke about boxwood in the landscape, as well as William D. Rieley, landscape architect to the Garden Club of Virginia, who presented an entertaining power point on the Restoration Committee's procedures and policies. Kim Nash, Restoration Chairman, reviewed the many GCV historic properties through beautiful pictures of their restored gardens. But much of the buzz was about biochar. What is it and why do we care?

Chris Fields-Johnson, Plant Healthcare Specialist for Bartlett Trees, answered many of our questions. Biochar is a type of charcoal used to amend soils. It is stable, rich in carbon, and can remain in the soil for many years. Researchers have found that the dark soil of the Amazon, terra preta, is rich with biochar. They believe that through civilizations' use of fire for cooking, light and heat, charcoal has been built into the soil for thousands of years. Crops grown in this soil have shown to be double in size and productivity than those grown in nutrient deficient soils.

Studies reveal that biochar has the ability to help soil retain nutrients and water as well as improve drainage. It increases aeration and provides resistance to compaction. Biochar is most useful for sandy and clay soils, and its water retention quality helps plants survive drought conditions. Most importantly, biochar replenishes poor soils with organic carbon and encourages the growth of microbes in the soil essential for absorption of nutrients. Globally, biochar has much promise as a tool to increase food supplies in areas with poor soils and growing conditions.

So how can we use biochar in our landscape today? Bartlett is currently using biochar for root invigoration of trees. With the use of an air spade biochar is mixed with compost and injected into the soil around at risk trees. Biochar mixed with grass seed can be used for pathways and other high-traffic areas. Mixed with a planting medium biochar helps grow healthy and vigorous plants. If you can't find biochar at your local store, you can find it at Amazon!

The Restoration Committee looks forward to hosting all of our restoration site maintenance workers and gardeners at our next workshop in 2017. Who knows what the buzz will be by then! 

Jean Gilpin
Winchester-Clarke Garden Club
Garden Maintenance
Kentucky Coffeetree,Gymnocladus dioicus
Photo by Sue Thompson
A Plant Worth Knowing


Of all the trees in the winter landscape, Kentucky Coffeetree, Gymnocladus dioicus, may well be one of the more outstanding. If a tree could project strength, this great, adaptable native does it.

Plantsman Michael Dirr considers the Kentucky Coffeetree among the greatest of his "Noble Trees." Somewhat coarse looking, especially as a young tree, its spring appearance is transformed by green to bluish-green bipinnately compound leaves that add to the tree's stately presence as it graces lawns and parks in Virginia's landscape.

The word dioicus in the tree's botanical name reflects the dioecious aspect of this tree. Males and females are separate trees with the females bearing 5-8" rather course pods.

Inside the pods are large seeds said to be 2,000 times harder than a jawbreaker. The seed can take up to two years to break down while the pods themselves are thick and also very slow to decompose. They are also too dense to be generally consumed by herbivores, though it is believed that dinosaurs and mastodons did eat the seed, thus spreading the species afar in ancient times. From today's standpoint of ease of maintenance and clean-up, most people prefer the podless or male trees in the landscape. 'J.C. McDaniel,'d'Espresso' and 'Stately Manor' are three cultivars which are predominately male. 

Not commonly used in the landscape, Kentucky Coffeetree can add great character to large lawns. It is adaptable to various soils and moisture, can tolerate a high pH, and is not prone to insect damage or diseases. When harvested, the wood makes lovely paneling. Owners of larger properties and historic sites will love this tree. This year GCV planted a Kentucky Coffeetree as part of the Kitchen Road Project at Monticello. It will provide both summer shade and a wonderful winter silhouette on the mountaintop. Poplar Forest has also used this tree in the "Clumps" or oval planting beds recently restored in front of the house. Jefferson was obviously a fan of the Kentucky Coffeetree.

Sue Thompson
The Tuckahoe Garden Club of Westhampton

Did You Know?
The season for "dead-heading, pinching back, and disbudding" is now and throughout the summer, and page 23 of the "Garden Maintenance Manual" has a plethora of good information about these processes as well as a list of flowers that benefit from these practices.


Dead-heading is the process of removing flowers after they have bloomed and faded; thereby redirecting the plant's energy away from producing seeds and into forming more new blossoms.The idea is to pinch back the plant to the next flower, bud or leaf on a stem. Use your fingers to dead-head plants with soft stems and for tougher woodier stems use anvil pruners or scissors.

Many times when flower head are removed and the plants cut back, they will produce lateral shoots that will bloom in early fall. A partial list of such plants from page 23 are: yarrow (Achillea spp.), hollyhock (Alcea spp.), larkspur (Delphinium spp.), foxglove (Digitalis spp.), shasta daisy (Leucanthemun spp.), beebalm (Monarda didyma) and many, many more. It is noted that an exception to dead-heading is when a more wild-garden effect is desired, therefore self-seeding is encouraged.

Pinching back is very much like dead-heading and it only requires two fingers. However, its main purpose is to keep a plant compact and prevent it from getting too tall or 'leggy.'  Not all plants benefit from pinching back and the timing varies by plant. In general, pinch back annuals and perennials when they are between 4" and 6" high and mums should be pinched back before flower buds appear. Asters, zinnias and petunias also benefit.

Disbudding is effective when a few large blooms are desired rather than many smaller ones. To disbud, remove the smaller side buds so that all the plants energy goes into feeding the larger buds. This is especially true with plants like peonies. This practice also works well with camellias and dahlias. Many rose gardeners also use this process.

Finally, there are some plants that, although they only bloom once, remain attractive all season. Several that are listed in the "Garden Maintenance Manual" are Goat's beard (Aruncus dioicus), False Indigo (Baptisia australis), and Joe-Pye-Weed (Eupatorium spp.)


The answers to most all your garden questions can be found in the "GCV Garden Maintenance Manual."  It is definitely a gardening tool to be treasured and used!

Suzanne Wright

The Petersburg Garden Club

Featured Gardener
Mark Schroeter, Head Gardener at Oatlands
Mark Schroeter, Head Gardener at Oatlands
Photo by Will Rieley

Mark Schroeter has an ambitious goal...his desire is for the "Oatlands Garden to be thought of as one of the best gardens in the country"! With his vision and innovation, combined with his efforts to constantly improve the garden, he has the potential to reach his goal.

Oatlands was built in 1804 by the descendants of Robert ("King") Carter. The Oatlands Garden is a GCV Restoration with a "unique" combination of 19th- and 20th-century design elements. It is a walled, terraced garden with multiple 'rooms.' As a historic site with many visitors and events annually, the garden has long blooming seasonal interest throughout.

Mr. Schroeter maintains the garden with a minimal but dedicated staff. Efficiency is critical. The health of the garden is primary so organic care is very important. Pesticides and fungicides are used when all else fails. Plants with similar needs are usually planted near each other and dismal performers are replaced.

Replacing and restoring garden beds is ongoing. Drainage problems, walkways and crumbling walls are projects in need of attention and are a top priority. Mr. Schroeter thinks this is where the expertise of the GCV Restoration Committee would really be helpful and he looks forward to future collaboration and advice.

Mr. Schroeter's words are an important reminder for those of us who have a responsibility for restoration gardens..."good gardens constantly change but are still anchored in their past, especially at a historic site and you have to keep in mind how it will look twenty or a hundred years from now."
Charlotte S. Benjamin
The Garden Club of Fairfax
Before and After:

Bruton Parish 

                                             Before                                                                                                 After                

                                             Before                                                                                                    After  
Events of Interest at Historic Properties

Belle Grove
Belle Grove Garden Fest, June 6, 8 am-3 pm. Admission is free to the fair and will feature a plant sale, specialty vendors, tool sharpening, children's activities, gardening workshops and more.

Art in the Barn, August 15, 6 pm. Enjoy local artwork for sale and Bluegrass in Belle Grove's 1918 Bank Barn. Beer, wine and appetizers available, $25 per person.

Burwell-Morgan Mill
Jim Costello Artist's Reception, June 6, 4-6 pm. Open to the public June 6-14.

Historic St. Luke's Church

Part 1 of 2 on the 17th-century Establishment: The Role of the Church of England in Virginia.

Saturday, June 13, 7:00-8:30 p.m.

Shakespeare on the Lawn at Kenmore, Sats.:June 13 & 20, 7 pm, Suns. June 14 & 21, 7 pm.
Native Plant Walks at Ferry Farm, June 6-10:30 am, September 19-10:30 am.

Lee Hall Mansion
Summer Celebration Wine Festival, June 13, 11 am - 6pm. Wines from Virginia wineries, live music, food, craft vendors. Advance tasting tickets $20, Day of - $25. Non-tasting, $10.

Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center/Courtyard
Tenth Annual Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit, Reception June 5, 5-8 pm, food and music in the Courtyard. Exhibits open May-Oct 2015. Outdoor sculpture will feature past award winning artists.

Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library
Boxwood Consultation, June 4. Lynn Batdorf, U.S. National Arboretum Horticulturist, Registrar for The American Boxwood Society and curator of the National Boxwood Collection at the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C., will consult and advise about the WWPL's boxwood. Members of The Augusta Garden Club have been invited to attend.

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


Newsletter Editor: Judy Perry, The Elizabeth River Garden Club

Copy Editor: Candy Crosby, Albemarle Garden Club 

Technical Support: Nina Mustard, The Williamsburg Garden Club and Ann Heller, Garden Club of Virginia 
President of the Garden Club of Virginia: 
Jeanette Cadwallender, The Rappahannock Valley Garden Club