In This Issue
Landscape Restorations
GCV Restoration Fellowships
Design Notes
Garden Maintenance
Before and After
Events of Interest at Historic Properties.
Restoration NewsNumber 7 January 2016
Happy New Year!
In this issue, you will see that 2015 was a big year for the Garden Club of Virginia as we have completed work on two properties at opposite ends of the Commonwealth. Green Spring Gardens in Fairfax County and the grounds of the Historic Henry County Courthouse have now been entered into the Garden Club of Virginia's list of Restored Historic Gardens

As you plan for the upcoming growing season, please note the articles on walkway construction and mulch, both common concerns among historic gardens and, if you haven't been introduced, we'd like you to get to know Calycanthus floridus (aka Carolina Allspice), a sweetly fragrant shrub, familiar to American horticulturalists since colonial times.

Along with my good wishes for a bountiful new year, I send the sincere appreciation of the Garden Club for all that you do to nurture Virginia's historic landscapes.

Thank you!
 Kim Nash, President

Kim Nash
Chairman, GCV Restoration Committee
The Warrenton Garden Club 
Landscape Restorations
Beatrix Farrand Landscape at Green Spring Gardens  

Green Spring Garden
Just outside the City of Alexandria in Fairfax County, one of the last projects of Beatrix Farrand's celebrated career can be found. Owned by the Fairfax County Park Authority since 1970, the Green Spring Gardens feature a 1784 historic house that was redesigned in 1942 by Colonial Revival architect Walter Macomber with a garden that was redone in the same year by this famed landscape designer.

Beatrix Farrand was the only woman of the 11 founding members of the American Society of Landscape Architects. Her work from the 1890s to the 1950s included grand estates, public parks, college campuses, and the White House. The gardens of Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, DC are considered the masterpiece of her career. Here at Green Spring, this doyenne of grand spaces was able to showcase her design philosophy in a small space.

Green Spring was the home of Michael and Belinda Straight, who were family friends of the designer. The garden room she designed behind the house provided the perfect outdoor space for the Straights to entertain their many important national and international guests. The spacious lawn is enclosed by a boxwood crescent.

The Garden Club of Virginia was asked to help preserve this historic garden. Under the direction of our landscape architect, William D. Rieley, the stone retaining wall behind the crescent was rebuilt and perennials were planted in front of the boxwood crescent. The preservation of this garden was important for Green Spring, as they continue to educate visitors about Beatrix Farrand and her important cultural legacy in American landscape design.

On June 10, 2015, the Garden Club of Virginia officially presented the restored Beatrix Farrand landscape to the Fairfax County Park Authority. Included among the guests that day were the Straights' son and his wife and the Straights' garden caretaker's son. It is important and appropriate that the only Virginia garden of one of the most important woman landscape architects of the 20th century has been restored by the Garden Club of Virginia. The garden is open for the public to visit and learn more about Farrand's work. 
Anne Baldwin
The Garden Club of Alexandria

Historic Henry County Courthouse
Historic Henry County Courthouse.
Photo by Sam Davis
The Historic Henry County Courthouse landscape was dedicated on October 15, 2015 as the latest Garden Club of Virginia restoration.This centerpiece of the uptown renewal has been a cooperative effort between the City of Martinsville and the Garden Club of Virginia.

Martinsville became the county seat in 1791 for Henry County.  The original log and stone courthouse was replaced in 1824, and after major reconstructions in 1929 and the 1940's, reigns with a dignified elegance over the town square.  In July 2010, the county gave the building and surrounding grounds to the Martinsville-Henry County Historical Society which has maintained it since 1996 as a museum and heritage center, as well as keeping open the 1929 courtroom for public use.

In 2010, the GCV was approached by the Historical Society to develop the courthouse grounds into civic green space.  The design for the grounds is simple and refined, preserving the key elements of the square.  In front of the courthouse, parking has been removed and the brick plaza expanded.  A broad walkway with a vehicular drop-off and new disabled access has been added, and the flagpoles have moved out to the front of the plaza.  Concrete ramps have been replaced with broad steps and code compliant brick ramps with iron railings have been installed.  Simple plantings of Princeton elms, redbud, serviceberry, Hophornbeam and St. John's Wort groundcover flank the plaza and frame the views of the courthouse. The historic cannons have been relocated closer to Main Street and placed on metal carriages, realigned facing south, and set at the proper vertical angle.

This new landscape has enhanced the beauty of the historic courthouse and created a wonderful gathering place for visitors and citizens. This gift of restoration sets the tone for the revitalization of the proud City of Martinsville.
Kim Nash, Restoration Chairman
Warrenton Garden Club
GCV Restoration Fellowships
Fellows Research Two Historic Plantations in Charles City County

The 2015 GCV Fellowship research sites were adjoining plantations in Charles City County, Berkeley and Westover. 

Fellows, Wenling Li, with a Master of Landscape Architecture degree from Harvard, and Amanda Goodman, a graduate student at the University of Virginia, presented the results of their summer research on August 21 on the grounds of the properties to a gathering of about 50 GCV members and other interested individuals.

Wenling discovered some previously unknown documents of Berkeley and produced geometric assessments of the landscape. Amanda focused on how the grounds and gardens of Westover evolved to meet differing needs as war and changing ownership affected the property.

Both fellows are working to complete their reports which, when finished, will be added to the Archives on the GCV web site. To visit and view the work of previous fellows, go to the Fellowships link on the GCV web site and click on Archives. 
Mary Ann Johnson, Fellowship Chairman
Roanoke Valley Garden Club

GCV Restoration Fellows Wenling Li, Berkeley Plantation and Amanda Goodman, Westover Plantation 
Design Notes by William D. Rieley
Stone Dust Paths 

One recurrent issue in garden and landscape restoration is the material for pedestrian paths. Many different surfaces were used historically. A favorite material for garden paths in formal gardens was gravel. This would have been material mined from river banks in our region. Paths of sand were often used as were those of packed earth or turf.

Today, we often need a material that will recall the materials of the past, but which must meet new criteria for accessibility and durability. One material that we have employed widely is generically referred to as "stone dust." This is a crushed stone product whose particles range in size from about one-quarter inch down to "minus 200" (i.e., particles that will pass a #200 seive-flour-sized). In a tan color this material is sometimes called "honey dust." VDOT's designation for this stone size is No. 10 fine aggregate. It resembles sand, but packs much tighter and harder.

When laid with proper incline for drainage, over a base of VDOT 21-A stone, this surface can be compacted into a smooth, hard surface that will support bicycles, baby carriages and wheelchairs. (Whether it qualifies as a disabled access is a call for local compliance officials.) While this material is a manufactured product that would not have been available until after the invention of the mechanical stone crusher in the mid-19th century, it combines the appearance of an unbound (no tar or cement to hold it together) aggregate, but with a relatively smooth and hard walking surface.

This material has been used in the gardens at the University of Virginia from the time of their installations in the 1940s through the 1960s, at Hollins University's Beale Garden, and most recently in the renovation of the walks at Ker Place on Virginia's Eastern Shore. The photographs below show the new installation at Ker Place. This material, while not maintenance-free, is an elegant and historically sympathetic material that is easy for a wide range of users to traverse.

Ker Place Path Under Construction
Ker Place Path 

Garden Maintenance
A Plant Worth Knowing

Calycantus floridus Sweet Shrub 
Calycanthus floridus, Sweet Shrub or Carolina Allspice, is an outstanding native shrub that has long been a staple in Virginia gardens. With its adaptability to a variety of soils, to sun/part shade exposure and resistance to most diseases and insects, Calycanthus is a winner. It reaches a height of 6-9' and a spread of 9-12'. Its native habitat ranges from woodlands to stream edges.

During the summer, this bold deciduous shrub whose stems and leaves smell of camphor when bruised boasts large bright green entire leaves that are attached oppositely along the stem. Its unique reddish-brown flower, blooming from April to June, is composed of whorled tepals rather than petals and sepals.The flower resembles a tiny water lily. The flower fragrance varies greatly among plants.If you are interested in fragrance, it is probably a good idea to acquire the shrub while it is blooming.The cultivar, 'Athena,' has a very fragrant yellow flower. Dried flowers were often used in the past as a potpourri in chests-of-drawers.

Fall leaf color is a golden yellow and stands out in the landscape.The shrub's habit is to colonize through suckering and thus can make a wonderful hedge as well.

Mark Catesby described Calycanthus in "The Natural History of Carolina" in 1732. Though he didn't specifically identify it by name, he referred to its fragrance "as odiferous as cinnamon."  Used in traditional medicine by native Americans, it was imported into England by botanist Peter Collinson who had described it to Linnaeus.This was one of many native North American plants that crossed the Atlantic to England and Europe to be eagerly planted by gardeners and collectors.
Sue Thompson
The Tuckahoe Garden Club of Westhampton

Did You Know?
Pine Straw is the preferred mulch for GCV restoration projects as it is more in keeping with the historic nature of these restored gardens. Shredded hardwood, coarse pine bark or similar products give a look that is much more modern in appearance.

Used as mulch, pine straw is a good source of nutrients, reduces the growth of weeds, helps retain moisture, and helps prevent soil compaction and erosion. It also protects plants from freezing conditions, and aids in keeping the soil around the plants at a stable temperature. This is especially important for newer plants and those with shallow roots systems. Pine straw will also improve the soil structure as it decays. As pine needles break down they slightly acidify the soil, making them an excellent landscaping mulch for acid loving plants, trees, and shrubs such as camellias, azaleas, hydrangeas, gardenias, ferns, dogwoods, magnolias, holly, and evergreens.

Usually, an annual application of pine straw is recommended. However, if necessary, it can be applied twice a year to keep the landscape looking fresh. The area that is to be mulched should be free of weeds, and, unfortunately, the pine straw needs to be spread by hand. In general, pine straw should be at least 3 inches thick and around trees and shrubs it is a good idea to extend the pine straw to the drip line of the plants. It is very important to keep the pine straw about 2 to 3 inches away from plant bases and the trunks of trees and shrubs.

Pine Straw will not only add to the beauty of the landscape with its rich, auburn color, but will also improve the condition of the soil and the overall well-being of the garden, shrubs and trees.
Suzanne Wright
The Petersburg Garden Club
Before and After: 
Stone Retaining Wall, Green Spring Garden 

Events of Interest at Historic Properties

Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library
Feb. 5, 2016, 2 p.m. Detailed tour of the objects in the Presbyterian Manse where Woodrow Wilson was born. Led by museum curator Andrew Phillips. $25.
Lee Chapel at Washington & Lee University
Jan. 17, 2016, 6-8 p.m.Martin Luther King Keynote Speaker, Michael Eric Dyson.  

Feb. 11, 2016,1-9 p.m. 
Mock Convention with noted political speaker, TBA. 

"Boys in the Boat" author, Daniel James Brown, will be the guest lecturer in April. Free and open to the public.

Historic Portsmouth Courthouse
(Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center)
April 1- Oct. 9, The 2016 Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit, Juried show of outdoor sculpture displayed in the GCV restored courtyard
Ker Place
April 8, 2016, Lunch & Lecture Series, The Fight of Their Lives: Finding the Stories of Civil War Women by noted Civil War historian, Kellee Green Blake

Point of Honor
Feb 15, 2016, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Presidents' Day. Visit for FREE in celebration of Presidents' Day

May 1, 2016, Mother-Daughter Tea, $10 Adult +child (additional child $5 each).  Reservations Required.
Tea and light refreshments in Carriage House, kid friendly tours, games, crafts and more.
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
May 6, 2016, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., National Public Gardens Day. 
On this day designed to promote awareness of public gardens, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden will have its historic Bloemendaal House open to the public (11 a.m.-3 p.m.) with free tours by knowledgeable Garden Guides (regular admission is required). Learn more about the original history of the house as the Lakeside Wheel (or bicycle) Club built in the 1800s. Regular Garden admission  http://www.lewisginter.org/ 
May 6, 7 & 8, 2016, Mother's Day. A three-day weekend with many opportunities to honor and spend time with mom. Enjoy the popular Butterflies LIVE! exhibit, shopping and dining, plus: Sunday, May 8 is the popular Mother's Day concert with Glenroy Bailey & Co. (1-4 p.m.). Food available for purchase in front of Bloemendaal House. Guests are also welcome to bring blankets or lawn chairs but no outside food or beverage. Activities in the Children's Garden include "make-and-takes" for mom (10 a.m.-4 p.m.) Regular Garden admission http://www.lewisginter.org/

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: Ann Heller, Garden Club of Virginia 
President of the Garden Club of Virginia: 
Jeanette Cadwallender, The Rappahannock Valley Garden Club