Monday, February 21, 2011

By George...I think he's got it!

George Washington that is...Happy President's Day!  I know many of you have the day off (not I) so I thought it'd be a great opportunity to showcase some of our first President's gardening skills!

Here's a quick lay of the land:

Image from here
George Washington (Born: February 22, 1732 in Westmoreland County, VA– Died: December 14, 1799 at his home Mt. Vernon, VA) was President from April 30, 1789 – March 4, 1797.  During this time he had quite a full to-do list.  Imagine what he could have accomplished with a blackberry and facebook!

I found it fascinating that his occupation is listed as both Farmer (planter) and soldier.  What a humble guy!  We are lucky enough to live about 15 miles from his home Mount Vernon, a beautifully restored estate on the banks of the Potomac River just outside Washington, DC and have made multiple visits through every season.  (Thanks Mom and Dad for the year passes!)  His gardens are nothing short of stunning and the care and forethought that went into planning them quite meticulous.

Beautiful image of the front of Mt. Vernon taken by David Paul Ohmer @flickr
From Mount Vernon's Website you can lean more about each of his gardens, but here's a quick rundown:

Pleasure Garden - The boxwood garden is certainly a key element in this garden, although I think the beautiful blooming annuals, perennials, bulbs and trees help make this area of the garden a beautiful visit year round.

Image from here
Kitchen Garden - Close to the house for easy access this garden was a favorite of his wife Martha's.  They grew an abundance of herbs, fruits and vegetables.  Although it's a complex garden to plan and plant I love the simple, organized layout!
Image from here
Botanical Garden - This area of his property was devoted to growing plants and seeds given to him as gifts from friends and admirers often in foreign countries.
Fruit Garden & Nursery - The orchard he planted provided enough fruit for his estate nearly six months out of the year!  By using his plant knowledge to screen his fruit bearing trees with a thorny honeylocust tree he was able to prevent his crop from being eaten by animals.  This is a trend that is coming back into style and is called companion plantings.
I love this quote from our founding father:
"It will not be doubted, that with reference either to individual, or National Welfare, Agriculture is of primary importance. In proportions as Nations advance in population, and other circumstances of maturity, this truth becomes more apparent; and renders the cultivation of the soil more and more, an object of public patronage. "  -George Washington

(Eighth Annual Address to Congress, December 7, 1796)
I hope you've been inspired to perhaps plan or tend to a garden of your own this season!

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