An Exciting Day at the Plantation
Yesterday, we headed back to the plantation to meet with our landscape contractor, Linda from Arrowwood Landscape Design from Fredericksburg. We need to start the work on our driveway, entry to the plantation, sidewalks, parking area and grading of the grounds.
When we arrived at the plantation, the air was cool but the sun was shining and the sky was blue. As I got out of the car, to our delight, five eagles were cruising the currents, circling over the Mansion. Of course, my small camera just couldn’t get close enough to get a good picture of them. But in the picture I did get, you can see them just over the house. It was amazing to see them.
Once Linda and her helper, Rick arrived, they got with Brett to start discussing the ins and outs of what we want for each of those areas. I wasn’t really needed to talk with them, so I left to do some walking around the grounds and taking pictures.
I wanted to show you some recent pictures of the trees we have in the Bowling Green. A lot of you made the suggestion for us to add some Magnolias. Well, we have two beautiful ones in the Bowling Green.
We did talk about which trees we are going to remove. There are three that we feel the need to remove, possibly four. The first one is the Hickory that is located just in front of the house.
The second is a Maple that is just behind another Maple in the center of the Bowling Green. This Maple has lost a lot of its top and is mostly a straight truck with little limbs.
The third is the Walnut located towards the front gate entry. It has lost most of its top and sides. It also has insects in the truck eating away at it.
The fourth is a Sweet Gum located just to the left of one of the Magnolias. It is a really health tree, but it throws off a lot of gum balls. It’s not on the “ax list” yet, but we are talking about it. You can see it in the first picture of tree with the Hickory and Magnolia.
One of the requirements that we are facing to get our zoning is to expand the driveway into the plantation. Currently it is 14 feet across, but the county has requested that we make it 20 feet across to allow for two car traffic. This could be an issue as there are ancient trees that have lined this drive that may have to be cut down if they are in the way of the expansion. So we needed to get out to the drive and walk it to see what might need to moved. We found that in most places we could move the drive on a slight curve to avoid cutting any of them down, with the possibility of only one that might need to go. But it isn’t looking really good so it could be a blessing.
We are also going to be required to move the entry twenty feet to the north of the curr entry to match up to the cut through on the highway. This doesn’t sound like much, but the cost could be an issue. We are also going to have to pave that entry back twenty feet. This isn’t much of an issue. The cost isn’t too bad either.
But I look at it like this. Right now, you can drive past the entry of the plantation and see the Mansion at the end clearly. If we move the drive to the north and put in the curves to make the twenty feet across, you won’t be able to see the Mansion from the road. I kind of like this. It makes it more of a “Wow” when you do come up on it.
While Brett, Linda and Rick walked the grounds, I kept myself busy by walking the grounds by myself. I have to say I love this time of year to walk the plantation. The grass has turned and thinned so I can see more of the ground and less of the grass. This makes it a lot easier to see artifacts laying in the grass. I have found so much so far just walking around. Yesterday was not expectation. I found two pieces of glass, one bottom piece that I think is kind of modern and one that is a lot thinner than modern glass and has writing on it. I also found another green and white plate shard. It looks like pearl ware and if it is, it could date in the late 1800s.
But the most exciting piece was my first intact piece, a bottle. Of course it does have a twist top, but it looks like a medicine bottle. Could it be from the late 1800s? Or maybe early 1900s? I will have to do some research and see. Or I might need to consult with Ferry Farm to find out. Either way, it was so cool to find it in one piece.
Another issue that I am going to have to face is the parking area. They are going to have to remove several layers of top soil to put in the gravel we are going to need for the parking area. The top soil that is removed will be moved to another area of the grounds to help fill in when it is graded. The issue that I have to face is what if there are artifacts in the ground in this area? Everyone kind of got a laugh when I said for them just to pile it up in the Bowling Green and I would sift through it all. But I am serious! I don’t want to lose anything we might find. So I guess I need to find a metal detector to start doing some sweeps in this area. Then I will have to do some test holes to see if we have anything there. Wow, I’m starting to sound like an archeologist.
On our way back home from the plantation, we made a stop at the House Key in Yorktown. The owners will be doing our interior design. We had stopped there a week ago and saw a bed that we were drawn to. It is a beautiful walnut bed that was from the late 1800s. But what drew us to it was the craving in the headboard. It is a Dogwood design. This is one of the interior design elements in some of the door entries. After talking with them, we placed it on hold! We are going to put this bed into one of the Junior Suites called the “Hipkins-Bernard” Room.
They were also able to show us two chairs that we really liked. One was a small love seat and the other was just a chair. Both are Victorian style and will go into a Master Suite upstairs called the “Turner” Room. Of course we will have them reupholstered to match the room. But they were great prices!
And I think we are going to be able to get the “Wheat Back” Shield style chairs I want for the Formal Dining Room. They will need to be reproductions since we will be using them so much, but I just love this pattern and style!
This week we have a few things on our plate. Brett is meeting at the plantation on Tuesday with several people that are involved with the Zoning Approval.
I will be working on the website and getting us started on Twitter. Since we are now going to be doing a lot more things, I thought you might enjoy some up to date pictures and status of what is happening for us. If you have Twitter, please leave me your account in a comment so I can add you as a follower!
I am also going to look into starting a Pinterest account and a RSS feed. I am still learning how RSS works. I feel so lost with it. But give me some time to do the research, I will figure it out.
Don’t forget to submit our Cookie Recipe for the First Annual Official Cookie of Belle Grove Plantation Cookie Contest! Deadline for entries will be January 31st.
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I think the tree is in the birch family and the bottle is from the early 1900’s maybe 1920 ish. love every picture!
Thank you! I am thinking the same on the birch.
Zoners are zoning you to death. Beautiful grounds, tons of grass to cut! Much flatter there than I assumed. Beautiful home, very stylish. 🙂
Thank you! Yes we are doing a lot with zoning right now. But we can get through it… I hope 😉 The grounds are so bare right now. I can’t wait to see the plans come to life there!
Going by the fruit/nut and the markings on the trunk, the tree in question looks (to me) to be a London Plane Tree (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platanus_%C3%97_acerifolia)
I think you may be right! Thank you!
I can understand why it would be nice to keep the driveway as is. The view of the mansion is wonderful.
It is beautiful, but it wouldn’t hurt to hide it a little. Makes it more exciting driving up to it 😉
Good luck with everything and with the zoning approval, glad to know the Holly Tree with berries is staying; it’s beautiful. BTW, I’m also glad to hear you will be on twitter, I will start following you on twitter, I started mine back in Sept or Oct I think and it’s amazing to see everything people have to say 🙂 If you would like this is my acc name: ingridelizabe18 🙂
Thank you! I am going to set it up tomorrow. I will let you know once we do!
🙂 I’m sure you will have fun with it and your pictures will be great to share 🙂
Thank you! 🙂
I love the detail in the headboard and the woodwork, also the dining room chairs. It might just be easier if you put a link to your Twitter here or in the sidebar, and then we can follow you. 🙂
That sound like a plan! I just need to get it set up tomorrow! Thank you!
Reblogged this on Simon Sundaraj-Keun.
Thank you so much for sharing our blog with your readers! It really means a lot to us!
Maureen is close, but I think you will find the tree is an American sycamore (also called American plane tree, botanical name is Platanus occidentalis), which can be distinguished from the London plane tree by its larger size, whiter color of exfoliating bark, and longer leafless period in the dormant season.
Do you know one of the best places to find artifacts is the old privy? I once saw a television show about digging out old privies and the stuff that was found. Very interesting.
I love the sense of excitement and discovery in your blog.
Thank you! We have come to that answer too. Our landscape contractor saw the post and let me know. But thank you for your help!
I had heard that the privy was a good place to dig. I just need to find out where they were! 😉
You are such a busy girl! I tweet at @janesadek. I also pinterest. I can’t help you with RSS feed. I put the gadget on my blog, but I have no idea what it does or if it works.
BTW – could the tree with the balls be a sycamore tree? You know like Zichias climbed.
Thank you Jane. It is a Sycamore tree per my landscape contractor and several very smart readers! We are going to sign up for Twitter tonight. Keep you fingers crossed!
It is an American Sycamore, and those are the dried fruit. The white cast on the trunk is a giveaway even without the fruit. It is indigenous to the area. George Washington sketched and wrote of the species in one of his journals.
The wheat backs are nice for the Dining. However, Hepplewhites may be nice too – picking up on the more feminine style of the other upholstered pieces you have going in.
Thank you! We have confirmed that it is a Sycamore tree. I love that George Washington sketched one and wrote about it! I didn’t know that. I guess I will be doing some more research!
I love the Hepplewhite chairs too. But for some reason I just love the Shields. Can’t explain it. Maybe “someone” is “inspiring” me to place them because they were there before. 😉
I know it is sad to cut down trees. I used to think they lived forever -seems like some do. Maybe you can save some of the wood (if it is good) for fuel – but my other suggestion is to let some of the wood dry out in planks and make tables or furniture. My Mother-in-law tells me of one of her table mates at her retirement community who didn’t like a walnut tree (that was when she was a new bride). He husband cut down the tree, saved it, cut it into planks and over ten or twenty years had a cabinet maker construct a wardrobe for her. I suppose it depends on how damaged the wood is. But maybe it could be made into outdoor furniture? Or even shelving for the basement or pantry…gift boxes to sell…just a few ideas to reuse that wonderful wood.
We have thought about furniture, but I think they will be going to help restore the Summer Kitchen and Smokehouse first. We have also thought about using some to build a Temple in the formal garden. It will look like the Temple at Montpelier. Thank you for your suggestions!
The holly tree and the magnolia will really come in handy for decorating for Christmas next year! I LOVE using magnolia in Christmas decorations. Michelle, thank you for being so descriptive in your updates and for the pictures. I think I will feel at home at Belle Grove because of your wonderful reports.
Yes I totally agree! Thank you! We can’t wait for you to come “home” soon!
I love Magnolia trees! We have several on campus here in Southern California but they aren’t in very good shape. The guys here don’t know how to care for them.
Aw that is sad! I love Magnolia trees. My grandfather had four of them. He would pay my sisters and me 25 cents to pick up the leaves. Of course that was back in the early 70s. Thank you!
1. The tree with the peeling bark is sycamore. Hickory is neat but the Enlish Ivy will destroy it. cut the ivy at the base of the tree trunk. Terrible stuff.
2. The trees along your driveway/entrance appear to be red cedar…not a real cedar but a scrub tree in VA. They are not what would have been along the entrance during colonial times.
3. The ‘dogwood’ pattern appears to be some variant of Acathus leaf pattern (doorway and headboard), I think. Very popular in the neoclassical architecture. Dogwood is American plant and the English furniture makers (or those in Boston or Philadelphia) would not know the plant as it is a southern flora. If it is dogwood as you suggest do you have corroboration? Sounds intriguing. If it is a variant of the Acanthus pattern, it would not be amiss datewise.
4. Bottles with screw tops are 19th century.
We have confirmed that it is in fact a Sycamore Tree. And we know about the Ivy. The caretaker is suppose to take care of it. If not, we will. I love the trees and want them around as long as possible. Aw that is sad about the Cedars. I like to think that they have been around for a little while. I don’t know about the Dogwood patterns. I just know it looks like the same pattern so I thought it would be nice. I don’t know much about styles and patterns with furniture. I will left that to the interior designer. Thank you for confirming about the bottle. I am still going to get someone from Ferry Farm to confirm the date on it and I will let you know.
I agree with the tree being an American Sycamore.
What a marvelous blog! You have me absolutely convinced that my wife and I MUST take a weekend or two each year and stay there. Perhaps more, much more!. To be absolutely saturated with history, with your eye for detail, your deep seated interest in the history of the plantation and your obvious love for what you are doing… it’s infectious in a very good way!
I have confirmed it. Yes, its a Sycamore tree. Oh I am so glad its infectious! I don’t want to be the only one who find great enjoy at this plantation! Thank you for the wonderful words! They made my day!
Thanks for “liking” my post “A New Year ” on
I am enjoying following the progress on your beautiful property!
You are so welcome! We hope to see more of your blog! Thank you so much for following our progress! We really enjoy sharing it with everyone!
The wheatback chairs need striped cushions, with the stripes running front to back rather than crossways. Don’t cut down the sweetgum. Each year, gather up the balls and dye them gold and silver and use them in your Christmas decorations. Don’t try to save them from year to year, though–compost them or toss them, one or the other. I wish I weren’t an invalid, so I could come for a stay when you’re ready!
We are still talking about it. But I think it may stay. I love the tree. That is a good idea about the balls! We may just have to do that! Thank you for starting a wonderful tradition! We wish you could come too! We will try to give you as much information and pictures so you can feel like your apart of it anyway! Thank you!
LOVELOVELOVE the Holly tree! (CanNOT grow it for a dang up here in NY) The bottle looks like circa turn of the Century (1900) and could have been medicine. That “B” should help you at least narrow it down.
The Holly is really beautiful! If you come down during the Christmas season, we will see if we can get some cuttings for you! I am thinking the same about the bottle. I have someone that can date it for me so I will find out and let you know! Thank you!
I’m so glad that you will apparently lose few trees. The ones you have are lovely, and the sycamore is so interesting looking. Good luck with the zoning board! I’m on Twitter-please follow me at LaurenGilbert9.
Thank you Lauren! We are so excited to see how it will all come together in the end. We will be signing up for twitter tonight so we will add you once I figure out how to use it 😉
I really enjoy following your progress on the James Madison birthplace. I live in a beautiful antebellum town named after President Madison. You can take a look at the town’s website: http://www.madisonga.org/ to “tour” the town. On our town’s 200th birthday, a statue of Madison was placed in Town Park. I agree with other comments about the tree; it is an American Sycamore. There are many of them in our area and the bark gets prettier with age. A great book about historic plants is Gardens and Historic Plants of the Antebellum South by James R. Cothran. Best wishes on your project!
Oh wow that is so cool! I am from South Carolina so Antebellum history is in my blood! I love your town! I think Brett and I might need to take a trip down to see it in person! We did confirm it is a Sycamore tree. I am going to look into the book though. I would love to see what else we have on the plantation! Thank you!
I love watching this journey unfold…thank you for sharing it with us – I am glad you are joining some of the other social media sites…cheers @passaggio
Thank you so much! We just love to share it and this is only going to help us do it. Now I just need to figure out how to use it;)
That’s great that you find little treasures on your walks around the plantation! I love old bottles, and the one you found intact is so nice!
Thank you! We are returning tomorrow so I am going to do a little more looking in the same area to see if I can find more. Keep your fingers crossed!
I’m happy to see the trees that are going to stay. They are beautiful!
Thank you! I am too. I just love the trees.
I was born and raised in Fredericksburg, I was so happy to stumble on this blog. I remember this place.
Wow! What a small world! If you have any memories of the plantation, I would love if you would share them with us! We would love to add them to our history of the plantation!
Things seem to be moving very quickly now! Such excitement. 😉
They are picking up some. I just hope we can keep up!
Thank you! I can’t wait until we can settle back with a wonderful glass of wine and just enjoy it.
I know it is a very hectic time for you now, but – it will be over, and you will be able to enjoy that well deserved glass of wine : )
You will have to suggest a great bottle we can crack open to celebrate!
Gladly! I would suggest that it have to be an American Sparkling wine – J. Schram from Schramsberg, J Vintage from J Vineyards or L’Ermitage from Roederer Estate. Or may be you can even go local and celebrate with Thibaut – Janisson Blanc de Chardonnay Virginia Sparkling Wine
I’m making a list! Thank you!
So, wait, those round ball things are not man-made? They’re so weird!
And great finds, both on the grounds and furniture-wise!
Yes they are the dry fruit of a Sycamore Tree. We had it confirmed today. Brett thought they were gum balls from a Sweet Gum Tree. But they didn’t look like it to me. Thank you! We are going back tomorrow so I am going to have another look! Keep your fingers crossed!
Those are crazy! Nature is so weird!
Hope you find something good!
I just love that driveway and can see the carriages rolling down the lane arriving for bbq’s! Can’t you just see Scarlet O’Hara with her beaus? It is such a romantic place – great pictures. No words can describe the antique bed though, the detail is fantastic.
Yes, I can see the Southern Ladies and Gentlemen coming to the house. And they will be doing it again soon! 😉 We can’t wait to see what other furniture we are going to find. And we are going back to the plantation tomorrow so I am going to have a second look to see if I can find more artifacts! Thank you!
I’m glad the peeling-bark, ball-bedecked tree was ID’d; thought it looked like an American Sycamore as well. There was one in our old neighborhood that was also obviously very old, though not so much as yours—and it had a more spreading growth (perhaps because the climate is a bit cooler there). Your elm is gorgeous! Good luck with the zoning board and drive issues—I hope it can be worked out. That sort of thing can be so frustrating.
Will the landscapers be putting in native plants? I do hope so (especially as you are such a fan of your local wildlife!)…since becoming a gardener, I’ve really learned the importance of our own ‘homebred’ plants and use them as much as I can. Plus they’re so much easier to grow!
Glad to see you on Twitter—I followed right away!—and it will be fun to see you on Pinterest as well. It might be a good spot for you to set up inspiration boards/wish lists for the rooms, too (I’ve one for my office, one for the library, and another for the guestroom); it helps organize one’s thoughts and ideas, but can be dangerous, too. I’d be glad to help if you think you need it; just send a note.
I am glad we ID the Sycamore tree too. I knew someone would know. The landscapers are going to use as much native plants as possible. However to get the look I would like, we may have to use others. We want it to be beautiful for all those photos!
Yes, I finally embraced the bird. And Pinterest. I am just getting started so they aren’t as detailed as the blog. Plus I need to learn how to us them. I can generally play around with it and get it, but I might be sending you an email for help! It is all new to me and with all we have going, well, it is getting a little overwhelming! Lol
😉 Well, once you get used to the new things it’ll be easier to fit them into your day. 😉 Just send a note if you think you need help!
Thank you! I did sent 12 tweets today several pictures. So I think I am getting it. Maybe…
So much to do when getting ready for a grand opening that most people never think about. I would be on brain overload trying to think of all those details! It’s easy to see why you were attracted to that great bed — what a fabulous find!
Thank you! I am in a little bit of overload at the moment. But it mostly these new social sites I am trying to figure out. Yes, that bed is just define!
I love the bed – what an amazing time you must be having sourcing all the furniture! I am really enjoying reading about all your adventures.
Thank you! We fell in love with the bed two weeks ago. I just knew it was the right one for us. Now I just need to find a few more 😉 Thank you! We love having you along!
I might as well add to the tree identification that it is a sycamore tree. Love your trees! Also love everything you all are doing with the place. If we ever get over that way, we will definitely look you up! Great job and keep up the great work!
Thank you so much! Yes, it is a Sycamore. I can’t tell you how many I saw today on the way to and from the plantation! I think I can ID the faster than any other tree now 😉 Thank you! We hope that you will have a chance to see them up close and personal one day!
The trwe is a sycamore!
Thank you Brigitte! We have confirmed it too. 😉
I love the pictures. It is nice to hear about your experience in plantation.
Thank you on behalf of Daylight Tune ministry members for following our blog.
You are so welcome! We hope to see more of your blog in the future! Thank you. We have really enjoyed sharing the fun with everyone.
Thank you for your encouragement. I also agree to share the fun with everyone.
Here’s a thought — plant a few Weeping Willows. They grow relatively quickly, and the pendulous habit will call to mind plantations in the deep south — the weeping habit makes me think of Spanish Moss, which doesn’t grow in that part of Virginia. And you are close to the river, and you know they thrive near the water.
I will have to give that one some thought. We don’t have any on the plantation so one or two might be nice. Thank you!
I agree Weeping Willows will look magical!!! My husband absolutely loves Weeping Willows and I think they are extremely romantic. The plantation is wonderful and I can’t wait till you guys are finished!!!
Thank you! We can’t wait to be finish too! We are keeping Weeping Willows in our thoughts. 😉