Poplar Forest – in progress

L ocated outside of Lynchburg, the 5000-acre plantation at Poplar Forest was Thomas Jefferson’s personal retreat. While eluding British capture in 1781, he compiled much of the material for his only book Notes on the State of Virginia here. On behalf of The Garden Club of Virginia and in conjunction with Poplar Forest’s archaeologist, we were involved in three important projects. The first was the restoration of the west allée of paper mulberry trees that lead from the west side of the house to the mound. The exact location of the original trees was determined through archaeology. Planted in 2011, the trees are already filling the space and providing the shade as envisioned by Jefferson. The second project is the restoration of four ornamental clumps and oval beds that once existed at four corners of the octagonal house. The third and final part of the Phase 1 restoration involves the carriage turnaround and oval bed which frame the north approach to the house and, as such, is a critical part of Jefferson’s ornamental landscape. The early 19th century turnaround consisted of gathered quartz rocks which were pounded into the ground by enslaved people. It is preserved in place with the new carriage turnaround installed atop it. Rocks found on a nearby farm perfectly match the geologic profile of the original quartz and were crushed to a size that reflects the original stones. The rocks are set in a bed of mortar, colored to match the soil that was present between the stones in Jefferson’s time.