Spend Father’s Day in the Gardens of the Father of Our Country!

Spend Father’s Day in the Gardens of the Father of Our Country!

An air of serenity and peace permeates the picturesque agricultural estate located on a grassy bluff with a panoramic view of the Potomac River known as Mount Vernon. Mount Vernon was originally the beloved home of George and Martha Washington and is today America’s most visited historic manor.

It is a place where in spring and summer the grounds overflow with foliage and color. The attractive gardens are a unique weave of art and agriculture, in beautiful creative and useful landscapes, inviting yet not fancy or fussy. Comprising more than 500-acres, Mount Vernon is made up of the spacious mansion, numerous gardens and hiking trails. Hiking is not only welcomed, but encouraged.

Washington was both an avid horticulturist and a landscape architect creating Mount Vernon to develop a backdrop fitting a country gentleman, designing the grounds to include a wide perimeter of woods, rolling meadows, winding walkways, a decorative garden, a kitchen garden and sandwiched between the house and the banks of the Potomac River lay a haven of a park like greenery. The view from Mount Vernon across the Potomac River is the same as it was 200-years ago.

George and Martha Washington called Mount Vernon home from the time of their marriage in 1759 until George’s death in 1799 and were known for their generous hospitality. Their fruit garden and nursery were not only planted to supply provisions, but also used to experiment with new seeds and plants before planting them elsewhere on the estate.

During the Washington’s residency, Mount Vernon grew from 2,000 acres to an 8,000-acre self-contained community plantation divided into several smaller farms, each a complete unit with its own overseers, farm animals, tools and buildings.

Nothing was purchased that could be produced on the site. The farm where Washington and his family lived was called the “Mansion House Farm.” This is the part of the plantation that visitors see today.

Following George Washington’s service in the American Revolutionary War, he returned to Mount Vernon and began putting a great deal of effort into improving the landscaping of the estate. Following his presidency, Washington, often called the “Father of our Country,” again returned to tend to further gardening. The remains of George and Martha Washington, as well as other family members, are entombed on the grounds.

The garden beds have been restored to their original size, based on careful archaeological excavations. Only varieties of plants known to have been available in Washington’s time are grown in the garden beds. The Upper Garden includes a pleasing variety of flowers and trees.

Vegetables and herbs continue to be grown in the original plot areas, in addition to cherry, apple, and other fruit trees. The beautiful English boxwoods that line Mount Vernon’s entry path were planted during Washington’s time.

Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960, Mount Vernon is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The action to restore Mt. Vernon came with the purchase from the Washington family in 1858 by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association and with their group effort the Ladies readied the estate to open to the public in 1860. With continued hard work, the mansion and grounds have grown into a remarkable family destination that continues to be owned and maintained in trust by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association.

Soothing, tranquil and infinitely distinct, offering cultivated calm and charm, Mount Vernon attracts thousands of visitors annually and remains independent of the government, with no tax dollars spent to support the estate, its learning programs or activities. It is an outstanding resource for visitors of all ages.

Whether you are interested in planning your own colonial garden, seeing the estate greenhouses, taking a garden walking tour or getting free gardening advice, you are sure to enjoy the self-designed gardens of the “Father of our Country.” The grounds keepers have combined historically accurate plants to create gardens and green spaces that entice visitors to come back again and again to enjoy and photograph.

Movie buffs may remember Mount Vernon’s cellar where Nicolas Cage kidnaps the president in “National Treasure: Book of Secrets.” But you don’t need to be either a movie or history buff or a father to enjoy a visit to Mount Vernon’s garden; the grounds are easy and eye-catching with garden and landscape walking tours beginning at Mansion Circle 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., and 3:00 p.m. daily, April through October. Walking tours last approximately 30 minutes. There is limited wheelchair accessibility.

Situated in the rolling hills of Northern Virginia, this historic estate is located 16-miles south of Washington, D.C. and eight-miles south of Alexandria.


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