George Washington oversaw the creation of all aspects of the landscape at Mount Vernon. He extensively redesigned the grounds surrounding his home, adopting the naturalistic style and promoting designer Batty Langley’s idea that the curved line was nature’s gift. Washington reshaped walks, roads, lawns, and gardens, cut vistas through the forest, and planted hundreds of native trees and shrubs. Using English design books, Washington incorporated many interesting and unique landscape features, including groves, shrubberies, wildernesses, ha-has, and a deer park. Covering a much smaller area than design book authors envisioned, Washington’s landscape at Mount Vernon was peaceful, yet efficient; grand, but intimate. His design blended with the lush Virginia countryside and took full advantage of the breathtaking views of the Potomac River. Washington’s landscape was meant to fit the man he had become. His success in achieving this goal was verbalized by a visitor in 1798: “After seeing his house and his gardens one would say that he had seen the most beautiful examples in England of this style.”
Vaughan sketched a plan of the Mount Vernon mansion and the formal area around it in his journal, embellishing it with a perspective of the river and the Maryland shore beyond.
For more than 50 years the Ladies of Mount Vernon have been working to preserve George Washington’s view across the Potomac.
Langley’s New Principles of Gardening played an important role in shaping Washington’s thoughts on gardens and landscapes.