Saturday, July 17, 2010
Field Trip Report: Mt. Vernon
Field Trip: Mt. Vernon
This is sort of a field trip report-after all, summer is the time to travel and see historic gardens (right?). I am a fan of historic gardens and Mt. Vernon is no exception. Yes, I enjoy the house tours and museums (even if the tour guides and exhibits paint a picture of Washington or Jefferson or the "BMOH" [Big Man of History] and his family that is impossibly perfect), but I go to these places to see the gardens, really. I enjoy the colonial garden aesthetic (or, at least, the modern conceptualization of the colonial garden aesthetic) and I like to see what plants were around and in use at the time (though there is guesswork involved, as I suggested in my entry on the Cloisters). I have learned a lot from touring these gardens:for example, Jefferson's love of experimentation transferred to his garden and that Washington was a frugal gardener who was interested in protecting the soil (hence he gave up tobacco growing). I learned about candelabra espalier:
and living cordon fencing:
both of which I first saw at Mount Vernon. But I also learned that these historic gardens have gardeners and garden volunteers to pluck each offending weed and prune each little new apple sprout into the proper espalier shape, and far more resources (money, time, historical research, hands) than the average gardener has to spend on his or her garden. So, while I admire these gardens at a distance, and maybe envy them a little, I realize that what I am able to do is what is possible for one gardener, with occasional help from family. I can try to incorporate some design ideas from the Colonial (or other) eras, but they must be elements easy to maintain on my scale.
Oh, by the way, like artichokes? They are pretty!