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..."
In this special exhibition, we invite you to join us in exploring George Washington's creation of this picture-perfect setting. Discover the ideas that shaped his vision and inspired the landscape at Mount Vernon.
Dean Norton discusses the history and role of George Washington’s Mount Vernon greenhouse.
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.