Over 178 years of Peter family ownership, Tudor Place’s garden has seen many changes and improvements. In 1969, the last Peter owner, Armistead Peter, 3rd, published his book on the history and evolution of Tudor Place. Included at the end of the book was a formal landscape plan that he had commissioned for that purpose. The plan details the garden’s structure as well as the tree and shrub plantings around the property. This map gives us the clearest view of the family’s intentions and leads our preservation efforts.
A garden by nature is not a static entity. With a changing landscape, preservation becomes a challenge. Questions arise concerning the future of plantings and what to do when replacements are necessary. Over the years, as weather patterns change and plants mature, changes become necessary in the garden. This past week we held our second planting event with the help of Casey Trees. With their help we have added 24 new trees to the Tudor Place landscape in less than a year.
As part of our garden restoration project, each missing tree was looked at to determine the feasibility of replanting the same species. For most trees, the same species is still available and were replanted. There were a few trees which required decisions to be made. Most were easy decisions like the American elm we planted last fall. Originally the south lawn was home to three English elms but with the threat of Dutch elm disease and the reality that a red maple and beech tree had been planted in previous years, only one could be restored. We chose to plant a more disease resistant variety of elm, ‘Valley Forge’. Another example would be the three Malus species needed for screening the tool shed on the western side of the south lawn. Originally a tea crabapple and two carmine crabapples stood there. With the difficulty of acquiring those exact species, two newer species were chosen to provide a similar look to the landscape and overall better disease resistance. The hardest decision involves the copper beech trees on the north façade. According to family lore, these trees were bought by Tudor Place’s second owner, Brittania Peter Kennon, from a travelling peddler. Since there is such a variance in what is considered a true copper beech tree, we are not sure what type of tree she purchased. The true variety, ‘Cuprea’, is very difficult to find today and we have not found documentation that this variety was what the peddler was selling. These trees have not been replanted yet.
The ongoing restoration of the garden is an important project which requires research, understanding, and patience. Tudor Place has been fortunate to partner with an organization like Casey Trees to help us move forward toward accomplishing our goals. We would like to thank the staff and volunteers of Casey Trees, the Nussbaum family for sponsoring our spring planting, and the garden staff and volunteers of Tudor Place for being a part of the preservation efforts here at Tudor Place.