Tomorrow we head back to the plantation… YAY!
We are meeting with the landscape contractor we have selected to help us turn Belle Grove Plantation back into the showplace it once was. I was very excited to find out that the person who is going to help us design the landscape is a licensed horticulturist. She is able to tell us what we have and how to best use it. She is also able to help us know what we need and what will look best. I am very excited!
Our goal is to use as many Virginia native plants as possible. We have several trees, but sadly a few are going to have to go. We are going to try and preserve as many ancient trees that we can.
But we have to look at the placement and remove those that might threaten the house. We have one just in front of the front entry. If a good wind came along, it could end up in the front hallway. So we are going to have to sacrifice this one. I don’t think I can be there when they do it though. After doing so much research and knowing about how long it has been there, I would be in tears as it came down. But don’t worry. It won’t be going far. The tree is large enough that we can have it milled to make boards to use on the Smokehouse or Summer Kitchen. So it won’t be gone, just changed in form.
So what kind of plants would you recommend? I love crepe myrtles. I am looking to use them around the Bowling Green (the large circle of grass on the Carriage side of the house). I also love flowering plants and want to use ones that will keep the yard filled all year around if possible. We are also looking at putting in a Formal Walking Garden. In the center of this garden will be a smaller version of Montpelier’s Temple. It is our way of remembering James Madison in the yard. It will also be a great place to take wedding pictures!
Here is a copy of the landscape plan that was done back in 2003. This was just an idea of what they were thinking about doing. The walking garden at the Riverside of the house isn’t going in at that place. We are thinking of moving it to the right of the house behind the garage area. This will leave open the grounds between the house and the river. We want this to be a three terrace step from the main grounds to the bluff over looking the water. It will also leave space for weddings at the Riverside with a view of the river and wooded area across the river. It is so beautiful.
If you look to the left of the house, you will see a pool. The three buildings around the pool are the three 1790s outbuildings, the Smokehouse, Ice House and Summer Kitchen. The pool isn’t there yet. Right now, there is only open ground. Under that open ground is an older inground pool that runs from the side of the house to the Ice House. But it was filled in for some reason years ago. So before we can put in the new pool, we will have to dig up the old one and remove it.
The pier you see at the waters edge isn’t there either. There use to be pier there many years ago. In fact I was told by a local man that he use to come to Belle Grove to swim in the pool with the owners son. He would travel from his plantation home downstream up to Belle Grove by boat. We hope in the future to add that pier back. It would be a great place for guests to get down to the water’s edge to watch the birds or do some fishing.
The trees around the Bowling Green aren’t all there yet either. Those will be the crepe myrtles that I love. This will be my touch on Belle Grove that came from my heart. There are also more trees on the Bowling Green that aren’t showing on this plan.
As you can see, we have a lot to talk over and a lot of work ahead of us! Our first task is driveway, sidewalks and grading. We also need to get some drainage work done on the guttering system. Right now it just comes down at the base of the house. This isn’t good for the foundation or the basement that dates back to the Conway period (1670 to 1790).
Whew.. just talking about it, I am already tired. But it will be a labor of love for us. And just think of the wonderful artifacts we are going to find! I can’t wait to get my hands dirty! Anyone what to come “play”?
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