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George Washington's Garden at Mount Vernon

by Sarah Clark, All About Lawns Columnist

The gardens at Mount Vernon are among the most famous, and oldest, formal gardens in the United States. True to the classical gardening tradition, Mount Vernon features parterres and alleys that make up its dominantly green palette.

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First a Farmer, then a Statesman

George Washington was known for many great things; in addition to being a great political figure, Washington was also a skilled farmer and gardening enthusiast.

Washington had a very active role in the design of Mount Vernon's architecture and landscape. He left his Virginia estate with a formal garden that preservationists and gardeners have maintained in its original form. Washington's garden reflects the restraint and elegance of formal gardens in England and France, yet it also betrays the American aesthetic for simplicity.

The "Pleasure" Garden

In Washington's Mount Vernon garden you'll find a pleasure garden replete with boxwood hedges and parterres bordered by tall leafy trees. The parterre, manicured to resemble a fleur-de-lis, was included as a symbol of Washington's gratitude toward the French for their help during the Revolution.

Washington's Vegetable Garden

Washington continued to nurture his interest in agriculture long after his military and political successes. At Mount Vernon, you'll find Washington's vegetable garden, which provided the majority of his fruits and vegetables consumed there. Today the garden has apples and pear trees as well as spinach, artichokes, onions, lettuce, and other vegetables.

While the gardening enthusiast in you might need only the lure of a historical garden to justify a trip to Mount Vernon, you'll enjoy the many historical attractions on the property, including tours of Washington's estate that includes his restored home, slaves' quarters, a reconstructed coach house, and the shoemaker's shop, among other historical sites.

About the Author
Sarah Clark is a freelance writer based in the Washington metro area.

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