At Mount Vernon, George Washington cultivated gardens for necessity, pleasure, experimentation, fruit, and ornamental plants. He cared deeply about the appearance of his gardens and hired professional gardeners whom he insisted provide him with weekly reports of their activities. The gardens provided food for the table and pleasure to the eye. Eighteenth-century visitors to Mount Vernon were delighted by the bountiful offerings of fresh vegetables, fruits, and berries at the evening meal. During their strolls of the estate they admired flowers, roses, shrubs, and exotics planted for their viewing pleasure. Foreign governments, friends, admirers, and even strangers sent Washington seeds, bulbs, and cuttings from all over the world. The gardens at Mount Vernon proved to be a culinary success as well as aesthetically pleasing; as one visitor remarked, they were "wonderful in appearance, exquisite in their perfume and delightful to the eye..."
Dean Norton, Director of Horticulture, discusses the Greenhouse at Mount Vernon. This interesting structure employed a number of innovations and was a center point of Washington's Upper Garden.
Washington took his basic designs from popular landscape books of the time, but it was his practiced surveyor's eye that brought so many different landscape elements together.
Washington loved his gardens and was constantly changing the plants used at Mount Vernon. There is little evidence to suggest, however, that he was the one gardening.