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Washington's Gardens at Mount Vernon

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For gardeners and readers of early American history, here is the first book to document the unknown George Washington—- landscaper, farmer, and gardener of Mount Vernon. Remarkably, the George Washington who spent forty-five years designing and planting the gardens at Mount Vernon is virtually unknown today, hidden behind the icon of the first president's frozen dignity. In her new book, Mac Griswold reveals to us a man who gathered seed, transplanted and pruned trees, and designed a kitchen garden, a pleasure ...

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Overview

For gardeners and readers of early American history, here is the first book to document the unknown George Washington—- landscaper, farmer, and gardener of Mount Vernon. Remarkably, the George Washington who spent forty-five years designing and planting the gardens at Mount Vernon is virtually unknown today, hidden behind the icon of the first president's frozen dignity. In her new book, Mac Griswold reveals to us a man who gathered seed, transplanted and pruned trees, and designed a kitchen garden, a pleasure garden, and even a botanical garden, where he did all the experimental work himself. Washington left for historians and restorationists a wealth of memos, directives, diaries, plans, and plant lists that documented every step of his creation (and now the recreation) of his gardens. Out of this wealth of archival material, Griswold paints a remarkably vivid picture of eighteenth-century gardening.

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Editorial Reviews

Lee Anne White
Garden historian Mac Griswold and photographer Roger Foley have teamed up to produce an elegant and classic book about George Washington, the gardener. Drawing from Washington's own letters and records, Griswold paints a picture of gardening in the 18th century and reveals a lesser-known, intimate side of our first president...a man who designed and planted gardens at Mount Vernon for 45 years. But don't consider this just a picture-perfect history book. Throughout, you'll find valuable advice for your own garden from Mount Vernon's horticultural staff.
Fine Gardening
Library Journal
In this engaging book, Griswold (The Golden Age of American Gardens, Abrams, 1991) draws a very appealing and human portrait of George Washington as farmer and gardener. She notes that the "secret George," a figure increasingly remote from our time, can be seen as more accessible through his "passionate domesticity." Her text conjures up a man who walked his fields, puttered in his gardens, and, when politics called him away, shopped at nurseries for desirable plants to ship home. It is also a fascinating introduction to gardening and farming practices in late 18th-century America. Washington tried many agricultural innovations, though ultimately the infertility of the land defeated many of them. Nor does Griswold ignore the reality of slave labor at the plantation, "the unwilling machinery of his farm." Washington's innovations made more work for them, but some ultimately benefited by becoming skilled farmers rather than unskilled field hands. The beauty of his garden design has endured, however, and Griswold includes many tips from the present gardeners at Mount Vernon on growing plants typical of Washington's day. Recommended for most gardening collections. [This book is being published to coincide with the restoration of Mount Vernon's gardens; this year is also the bicentennial of Washington's death.--Ed.]--Beth Clewis Crim, Prince William P.L., VA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780395929704
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 5/28/1999
  • Edition description: None
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 8.10 (w) x 10.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Mac Griswold, the author of Washington's Gardens at Mount Vernon , is a cultural landscape historian whose numerous awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship in architecture and design. She has been contributing editor for House and Garden and has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Travel & Leisure .

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Table of Contents

CHAPTER 1 A Plantation Portrait CHAPTER 2 Making a Landscape: The Design CHAPTER 3 Making a Landscape: Plants for Vistas and Screens CHAPTER 4 The Upper Garden CHAPTER 5 The Lower Garden CHAPTER 6 The Botanical Garden and the Vineyard Enclosure CHAPTER 7 A Storehouse and Granary for the world APPENDICES Plant Lists A Timeline for Mount Vernon's Gardens and Landscape Notes Bibliography of Works Consulted Index

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