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Into the Garden: Old home gets new landscape

Kenny Kemp
The driveway of the West Virginia Humanities Council's headquarters, the McFarland-Hubbard House, was transformed from gravel to exposed aggregate. The new driveway has a historic look without the maintenance of the old surface.
Kenny Kemp
Plantings that complement the historic McFarland-Hubbard House on Kanawha Avenue have been installed recently, with a flagstone walkway planned to tie in the front yard, at left in the photo, with the pergola that was added to the back of the house.
Kenny Kemp
Catawbiense Rhododendrons and Firecracker Mountain Laurel were added to a side shade garden. Mountain Fire Pieris were already growing in the bed.
Kenny Kemp
Oakleaf Hydrangea and pachysandra have been planted in beds near the original brick walkway of the McFarland-Hubbard House.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The historic McFarland-Hubbard House has finished phase two of a total landscaping re-do, and the new plantings complement the old house beautifully.Cheryl Marsh, operations manager for the West Virginia Humanities Council that owns the house, said phase three would be completed this spring."We've done this in two phases so far. This spring, landscape architect Joe Young of Triad Engineering and contractor Bruce McClanahan of McClanahan Construction Co. did the hardscape: the driveway and city sidewalk along the Boulevard, and repaired and re-pointed the original brick sidewalk -- the historical part."Recently, TerraCare installed an irrigation system and plants according to Young's plan.In the early spring, the group will put in sod and a flagstone pathway connecting the front yard to a pergola in the back, the final piece of the plan."We had already refurbished the interior of the main house and the carriage house, and added additional programming space with the completion of the pergola. The next logical step was to refurbish the grounds and improve the usefulness of the outside by tying our pergola programming space to the rest of the grounds with a flagstone pathway and beautiful plantings," Marsh said.The planning for the landscape project began in July 2010. Dividing the project into two phases allowed the organization more time for fundraising to pay for the improvements.Young said he didn't have any original landscaping plans to base his design on, but he did do research to determine what plants were used during the period when the house was built."We planted with that in mind," Young said.A new tree, Dwarf Green Giant (Thuja Steeplechase), was planted, as well as azaleas, boxwoods, hydrangeas, mountain laurel, rhododendrons, roses, yews and more.
The perennials include Sweet Woodruff, Big Blue Lily Turf, Stella D'oro, Japanese Spurge, mixed daffodils and hostas. Seasonal plantings will be determined each season.The house, entered on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, celebrates its 175th year this year. It is the third oldest house in Charleston and one of the oldest in the region. Andrew Jackson was president when the MacFarland-Hubbard House was built in 1836, and Charleston was a county seat town of maybe 1,500 citizens, a bustling village on the Midland Trail."One of the most difficult things was the amount of existing shade trees," Young said. "We used a pretty large palette of shade-loving plants."The driveway was gravel, which caused frequent headaches with drainage and potholes. Now, it's exposed aggregate, keeping the character of the older gravel look without the maintenance issues.In the area near the pergola is a lovely planting of rhododendrons. Many perennials will pop up in the spring, Young assured me.
"We have been very successful in raising funds for this project, as well as other projects we've undertaken for the MacFarland-Hubbard House," Marsh said. "The Charleston community has been very generous in supporting our efforts and we are very appreciative. We continue to raise funds for the remaining portion that will be undertaken this spring. We feel that we hold the house in stewardship for the community and will continue to hold numerous events throughout the year for the public to enjoy what Charleston has here."A celebration of the house's 175th anniversary will be from 4 to 6 p.m. Dec. 9. The Holiday Open House will feature light refreshments and is open to the public. Call 304-346-8500.Reach Sara Busse at or 304-348-1249.  
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