Washington’s Mount Vernon Gardens

George Washington is best known as the father of our country. Born on today’s date in 1722, Washington was a general, a statesman and an expert gardener. His gardens at Mount Vernon are some of the oldest and best-known in the country.



George Washington is best known as the father of our country. Born on today’s date in 1722, Washington was a general, a statesman and an expert gardener. His gardens at Mount Vernon are some of the oldest and best-known in the country.

Washington’s true love was his home at Mount Vernon, and due to his service to our country he was away from his beloved mansion for years longer than he wanted to be. I visited Mount Vernon several years ago, and I can understand why he missed it so much. The house (large and beautiful, though relatively modest) featured a spectacular back patio overlooking the Potomac. Most impressive, however, was the incredible amount of land at his disposal.

Washington was highly interested in crops and educated himself on different farming techniques. Perhaps his surveyor’s eye gave him an artistic side too, as he was highly involved in the planning and design of the Mount Vernon gardens.

Washington experimented with garden journals, crop rotation, seed saving, organic fertilizers and planting methods on over 8,000 acres of farmland. Mount Vernon transformed from a tobacco plantation to a diversified and self-sustaining garden complex, including corn, wheat, potatoes, oats and rye. The plantation was home to a fruit orchard, as well as herb and vegetable gardens, which he protected from deer and other animals with thorny shrub borders. Washington also modified and invented tools to make farming more efficient, including using greenhouses and building a 16-sided barn for wheat thrashing. If you visit Mount Vernon today, the plants in the gardens have been replanted, but everything is in its original space and form.

As we celebrate Washington’s birthday, we always recognize his political contributions, but, as a fellow gardener, don’t forget to remember his influence on American agriculture.

History and Tour of Mount Vernon:

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