What do we mean by restoration ?? Some thoughts...

The_Mohave__Kid(Nevada)January 18, 2004

Quite a while back I was bored of the typical request for landscape services and considered adding the term "restoration" to some of my advertisements after seeing some, "This Old House" reruns ...but was taken a back by someones comment. "How can you restore a landscape ... you don't restore a tree ?? " ... they said ...

It is easy in theory to restore an old grandfathers clock that your Great Great Grandma once had ... you need to make it look and work the way it did when she had it ....

Gardens are meant to grow and never stay still .. in fact we hope for change not only to plants but even to hardscapes.

Can we really restore a garden ?? To what point in time do we return the garden ?? How do we know what the garden would look like at that time ??

Why do we renovate ?

Can we renovate a landscape and achieve restoration at the same time ? How ?

How do the terms renovation and conservation relate to the restoration of a garden ?

Even hardscapes weather and change in time for the better ... and plants ?? .... Can plants be restored ?? Really ? HOW ??

I remember working on some rather old irrigation systems back east ... old galvanized pipes and manual valves ...

If you were completely in charge and you found such a system in a very OLD garden ... would you restore it or replace it ?? ... Why ?.. OR if the garden never had irrigation would you add it ?? Why ?

Good Day ....

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ginger_nh(z4 NH)

Gardenweb philosophers, start your engines . . .

    Bookmark   January 18, 2004 at 4:17PM
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ginger_nh(z4 NH)

Kidding aside, Mohave, this phrase especially caught my attention.

"How do the terms renovation and conservation relate to the restoration of a garden ? "

Conservation is not frequently mentioned in discussing garden renovations and restorations. But saving old varieties of plants, saving old trees, rejuvenating rather than disposing of and buying new plant materials, re-using and repairing hardscaping(garden structures, paths, walls) - all work towards conservation of materials, labor, water, and so on. Also, in our throw-away society, saving living things is even of greater importance. Seeing all of the throw-away live plants at the big box stores is sickening.

So, yes, there certainly can be a connection between conservation and garden renewal. On the other hand, if a garden is completely taken out and a clean slate started with in order to assure a period garden and landscape, then that would be quite the opposite.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2004 at 4:30PM
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spectre(SZ 24, US 10b)

Hello Mohave Kid:

You post enough questions to cover a dozen threads, but since I'm trying to watch the NFL playoffs and finish mortaring a slate floor in my living room, I'll only address only a few of them from my POV.

Based on my first few posts to this forum, you've probably gathered I'm into the tropical side of the gardening spectra, therefore my answers have that bias. I believe plants can be "restored" as you asked. We've all seen the TV gardening makeover shows where the participant will say something like, "oh, and that orange tree and bougainvillea are way overgrown, so to provide more light, we are going to rip those out." Why? I understand you'd want to do this if you want to go from a Mediterranean to a say an English garden, but why do it if you want to restore the garden, unless you want to plug the nursery supplying the plants?

There was a locally famous landscape designer in the San Diego area named Sinjen who designed many of the mid-20th century subtropical gardens here. He called one of the pruning techniques he promoted for renovating overgrown plants "lacing." To Sinjen, nothing was overgrown, but he recognized that plants like camellias could, overtime, grow and look like they were beyond repair. He laced the trees and large shrubs, which involves traditional pruning steps like removing cross branches and cutting dead wood. The lacing part came in afterwards when he "artistically" removed many vertical branches, letting the diagonal shoots grow. The end result was opening the plant for airyness and structure. In addition, the plant would keep a more natural, aesthetically pleasing form and, in the long run, require less pruning.

Unless a tree is lifting a house, or the garden style is changing, I believe plants can be "restored".

With regards to your irrigation question, I replace it with the latest state of the art materials. The only exceptions are if you are working on an old garden that's meant to be a period demonstration garden, or someone really chooses to do things the old-fashioned way.

Irrigation is a tool to help in the care and maintenance of a garden. I don't think I've ever heard anyone say, "I'm going on the Garden Conservancy tour on Saturday to check out the Flintstone's garden...I here they have a irrigation system that's been featured in Garden Design." I'm not a designer...I only play one on TV , but if I were doing that kind of work and I come across old pipes, I'd replace them. If I was in charge of a restoration garden that didn't have it, I'd put it in. Again, if the garden is there as a historical demonstration garden in every way and the people commissioning me employed people paid to tend to the irrigation chores in period costume, etc., then I wouldn't.

Reminds me of the This Old House episodes where Steve, Norm and Tom are working on a house from the mid 1600's and Richard, the plumber, still puts in the PVC warming tubes beneath the floor.


    Bookmark   January 18, 2004 at 5:00PM
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It seems to me that restoration is more related to returning the garden to its original form whereas renovation is making it over saving what is good and changing what is not usable whether that be plants or hardscape. I read a very interesting book about the restoration of the Heligan ( not sure of the spelling there) gardens in Wales. It was basically restored to its old glory. A renovation would I think be what has been done to the gardens at the California Missions which are full of a variety of colorful plants from todays world rather than a drab assortment of useful plants from colonial times. Both things have their place in horticulture today, you just have to know where.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2004 at 5:57PM
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I'll go with that. But me, I am Oliver Twist..More.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2004 at 6:20PM
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Can not the ronovation process be aimed at returning a garden to some earlier state ?

    Bookmark   January 18, 2004 at 6:40PM
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spectre(SZ 24, US 10b)


Why not? It may depend on the specific design objectives behind the renovation. To use Venezuela's example, you can renovate a California mission's garden, but you'd end up with olive trees, prickly pears, and other plantings that were meant to soften the dry, hot environment, rather than plants for aesthetic purposes only. If the intent is historical accuracy (instead of hysterical accuracy which I'm often accused of), then I think you'd want to "retroplant" the garden.


P.S.: I've applied for a copyright on the word, "retroplant."

    Bookmark   January 18, 2004 at 8:53PM
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In defining comparison of renovation and restoration, to renovate is to renew or to make as if new including replacing worn or broken parts. To restore is to give back something taken away, to bring back to a former or normal condition by repairing, rebuilding, or altering to bring it back into use. In instance of a garden, one which has not been maintained or attended for a period of time, to return to usefullness. If garden is designated as historical restoration shoud include planting appropriate to the historical values. EP

    Bookmark   January 18, 2004 at 9:47PM
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It may be possible to partially restore - replace and alter a garden to bring it closer to the original look.

But another idea of restoration, is to restore the potential for a garden to provide the same enjoyment now, as it did for whoever enjoyed it before.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2004 at 2:31AM
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saypoint(6b CT)

I think restoration would refer to restoring a garden's condition to approximate what it was at a particular time in the past, whether it is historically accurate for a particular period, or just as close as possible as what it was at some point in the past, whether true to any period or not.
Renovation would refer to cleanup, plant relocation or removal, tree and shrub pruning where needed, additional plantings, or a change in style or feeling to suit a different taste or use. In short, remodeling an old landscaping rather than starting from scratch.
I don't think either term implies historical accuracy in itself.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2004 at 8:03AM
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Cady(6b/Sunset34 MA)

I see garden restoration as just that - restoring a garden to it's original glory.

There are many classical gardens, either part of an estate or institutional campus, that have gone through stages of deterioration over the years. Whether that happened as a result of insufficient care or misguided efforts, doesn't matter. What does count, is that someone has the vision now to see what once was, and to take pains to bring back that state.

A good example of a garden thus restored is Lynch Park in Beverly, Mass. It was designed with a formal rose garden complete with Italianate pavillion. It was part of the Taft (as in US President Taft) estate, but eventually fell into the hands of owners who were less invested in maintaining it. It ultimately ended up in public domain and was vandalized during the 1960s.

Recently, the park underwent a complete rehab, with the gardens lovingly restored, the pavillion repaired, and even its landmark stone lion sculptures (which I and thousands of others "rode" on as toddlers and children) were given a cleanup to remove decades of graffitti and grime.

The restorers worked from sepia photographs and postcards borrowed from the historical society in town, and the restore gardens now look remarkably like the photographs.

After suffering a severe drop in public interest for 30 years, the gardens are now a popular place for families. The pavillion and rose gardens get booked heavily for weddings (I'm trying to get a reservation for my own there).

I posted links on another thread once. I'll see if I can re-find them and post them here for your perusal.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2004 at 12:44PM
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Now that sounds like a fun project ... Cady.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2004 at 4:47PM
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mjsee(Zone 7b, NC)

Congratulations Ms./Mr. Cady! Non-gender specific names confuse the heck out of me--so I just DON'T make assumptions. Actually, if I remember correctly, one is supposed to wish the potential BRIDE luck, and the potential GROOM congratulations--which always seemed HORRIBLY sexist to me. Hope you get your reservation!

And it DOES sound like a fun project.


    Bookmark   January 19, 2004 at 8:32PM
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Cady(6b/Sunset34 MA)

Here is a shot of Lynch Park in the early 1900s. I'll find the link to the restored park circa 2002.

Melanie, I'm a female type. :) My name rhymes with "lady." And, thanks! My groom to be and I actually "met" on GardenWeb a few years ago.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   January 19, 2004 at 9:04PM
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Cady(6b/Sunset34 MA)

Here is the park rose garden after restoration was completed (2002-3).
Scroll down to see a photo of the pavillion. The restoration version of the garden is remarkably close to the orginal.

I'll post a link to the page w/history of the park. It's worth skimming, and includes a shot of the mansion that the gardens belonged to before being made into a public park.

Here is a link that might be useful: After restoration

    Bookmark   January 19, 2004 at 9:12PM
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Cady(6b/Sunset34 MA)

Here's a page of history about Lynch Park. Note the paragraph that explains how, in 1910, the owner of the cottage (really a mansion... They were called "cottages") that President Taft rented as his "summer White House" told Taft off and refused to rent to him anymore, because his guests were digging up the garden and stealing her plants. heh heh.

Here is a link that might be useful: Lynch Park - interesting history

    Bookmark   January 19, 2004 at 9:15PM
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Frizzle(z6 PA)

(conpletely off topic here -

((((mjsee - my take on your bride/groom statement is probably -

congradulations to the groom for finding someone to cook/clean/wash/pickup after you for the rest of your life

good luck to the bride for the same reasons! ))))))


    Bookmark   January 21, 2004 at 11:44AM
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Cady, interesting site. Glad to see the park restored to its former beauty. How interesting to see how the park /gardens were treated thru its history. I am glad there is a renewened interest through out our country for urban renovation & restoration.
One park I am working on is only 15 years old and yet we have hade to remove 6 pines because of improper horticulture practices ( nylon burlap b&b). I've looked at the LA's master plan which calls for Pinus strobus do i replace with the same? Restoration. Or do I replace whith another evergreen I feel is a better longer lived tree? Renovation.
By the way Mel et.al.; to the bride, congratulations... to the groom , best wishes. true story.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2004 at 1:01PM
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Cady(6b/Sunset34 MA)

It's the opposite, according to Dear Abby and Miss Manners -- it's "best wishes" for the bride, and "congratulations" for the groom. Reason being, to congratulate the bride, in the old days (when single women were doomed to be "spinsters" and "old maids"), is to imply that she has spared herself a life of spinsterhood.

Nowadays, with women able to earn a decent living and have independent lives, we no longer see single women as unfortunate...such a thing would be presumptuous. More likely a woman should be asked - "You're getting married? Why?!" har har

    Bookmark   January 21, 2004 at 1:22PM
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Cady(6b/Sunset34 MA)

Perry, I thought the Lynch Park restoration would be of interest because focus was on the Italian rose garden and pavillion, and other intimate garden spaces in the park. It's a good example of restoration for historic accuracy as well as aesthetics.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2004 at 1:24PM
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Cady, I stand corrected. you are right. AS an old married man I know when its time to gracfully acquiesce. LOL
Cady were the gardens replanted with original varieties of roses or new "old timeys". Or were roses able to be salvaged from original gardens. Just curious.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2004 at 2:04PM
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Cady(6b/Sunset34 MA)

I don't believe that any of the old rose bushes were salvaged, but I could be wrong. I get the impression that the garden was just replanted from square one, using the historic photos as guidelines and that they were going more for look and texture than for species matching. I will call the society and see if I can get details, though. It's possible that they did use some of the same cultivars, or improved descendents of those cultivars.

I'm not a rose expert, alas, so I can't claim to recognize any of the ones shown in the photos.

For other plants, the park website mentions that "rare species" were imported for the original gardens, but in the photos all I can see are dusty miller and marigolds... ;)

I'll make a point of going to Lynch Park in May and June to see what's in bloom. It's been over 4 decades since I sat on the backs of the stone lions.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2004 at 2:30PM
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Some ways I feel the spirit of design is more important than actual historical accuracy. Improved varieties making the care takers job a little easier. Hysterical vs.Historical? I guess I go with Gingers post at top. just reread thread.
Cady time to go back and "take a ride" on those lions. Post pics here.lol. It would be great if and when you do find out about the plantings you let us know. Like to know about a historical committee's thinking process.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2004 at 2:57PM
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Cady(6b/Sunset34 MA)

Will do. And, I agree that it's the spirit, not the letter, that is what's most important in restorations -- except for those that, for whatever reason, must be absolute recreations of their original form.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2004 at 3:04PM
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