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2008 News Releases

Landscaping improvements planned for Longwood Estate

November 18, 2008

Pine trees near the Longwood Estate Officials are concerned with the white pines near the Longwood Estate because of their declining health.

The property adjacent to Longwood House, the residence of Longwood President Dr. Patricia P. Cormier and Dr. Raymond Cormier, will be undergoing landscaping changes to re-establish the green aesthetics of the area and improve the overall environmental quality of the Longwood Estate. The top priority will address the two rows of aging and ailing white pine trees along Johnston Drive.

According to Bill Westerhoff, director of landscape/grounds management, "The health of the existing white pines is indeed an area of deep concern. The conditions are not ideal for them and they have been suffering." For many years, the white pines provided a natural buffer between Johnston Drive and Longwood House. However, over time the trees have grown closer together—competing for resources such as water, sun, and nutrients—and have not been able to mature properly.  Several trees have already been removed due to declining health and the situation has been aggravated by recent drought conditions.   

White pine trees near the Longwood Estate
Over time the trees have grown closer together—competing for resources such as water, sun, and nutrients—and have not been able to mature properly.
Following an evaluation of the current health of these trees and the prognosis for continuing deterioration, it has been decided that the white pines will be removed in a sequential manner and replaced by London plane trees to mirror the existing London plane trees on the opposite side of Johnston Drive. The London plane, a popular urban deciduous roadside tree, is well suited for this location because of its heartiness and resistance to wind, climate changes, and root compaction. Initially, the first row of white pines, closest to Johnston Drive, will be replaced by a row of new London plane trees. Once the new trees have acclimated to the setting, the second row of white pines will also be replaced. During the transition period, a fence will be installed along the road to ensure safety for landscaping crews and provide a buffer between Johnston Drive and Longwood House. 

According to Dick Bratcher, vice president of facilities and real property, the decision to remove the ailing white pine trees was difficult but necessary. "We do not take lightly the decision to remove these trees, but we do believe this is in the best long-term interest of the historic Longwood Estate."

The parallel rows of new London plane trees along Johnston Drive will provide a beautiful and natural boundary for Longwood House. When mature the trees will reach 80’-100’ in height and will arch naturally over the drive. The trees will protect both Longwood House and the athletic fields while improving the overall aesthetics appeal of the Longwood Estate.

The Longwood Estate was purchased by the Farmville State Teachers College in 1928 as a recreational center and included 88 acres and Longwood House, which has been the home of Longwood’s president since 1969. The estate, which has been expanded to include more than 103 acres, was originally the home of the Johnston family from 1765 until being sold in 1811 to the Venable family, also prominent in Virginia history.