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Quick Facts

Condition: Original

Where is it Located

About the Garden House

The small octagonal building at the west corner of the garden was built as a Garden House and tool room many years before the garden was developed into its present form. The structure was moved by General Washington to its present location in the spring of 1786, as part of the redesign for the grounds and gardens. The structure provided a sheltered workspace for gardeners to cultivate new plants, gather their seeds, and carefully store them.

Saving seeds from one growing season for the next was crucial for successful 18th-century gardening and farming. Seeds and tools were very valuable commodities at Mount Vernon and were stored under lock and key.

Vegetables, grains, and pasture grasses were also grown in the fruit garden and nursery beds and allowed to “go to seed.” This practice provided additional seeds essential to the following season’s planting. The loss of a single season’s seeds could mean the elimination of a valuable plant. Washington thought it was shameful to purchase seeds beyond one’s first year of cultivating a particular plant or crop.