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The Mount Vernon American holly.

Offspring of one of Washington's favorite trees are now helping to restore a fabled garden on the estate.

"No estate in United America is more pleasantly situated than this. It lies in a high, dry and healthy Country 300 miles by water from the Sea . . . on one of the finest Rivers in the World." Thus wrote Washington of his beloved Mount Vernon in a letter to an English correspondent in 1793.

George Washington's name brings to mind many images: statesman, soldier, military leader, and "Father of our country." One image that usually does not come to mind is that of a farmer. Washington was a horticulturist at heart, and his beautiful home on the Potomac in Virginia is a garden of exceptional abundance.

Today, the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association is trying to restore Washington's fruit garden and vineyard to their original beauty, a project estimated to cost $500,000. Through careful research and references from Washington's diary, researchers have pieced together the layout of the original garden.

To support the fruit-garden restoration, AMERICAN FORESTS' tree-planting project, Famous & Historic Trees, began collecting seed from the American holly trees now growing on the bowling green at Mount Vernon. Individuals and communities can participate and bring a part of history into their own backyards by planting the resulting offspring.

Each tree comes with a complete growing kit, a personalized certificate of authenticity, and a one-year guarantee; the $42 cost includes shipping. A portion of the proceeds goes directly to the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association to help preserve the estate and restore Washington's fruit garden.

Seed from the only female American holly surviving from Washington's day was collected by the barrel and planted in rows in many locations about the Mansion House Farm. Washington particularly liked the American holly's beauty and usefulness as hedging. Riding his vast property, Washington would take stock of various plants and trees that would make good landscape material, then transplant these selections to the estate. He devoted countless hours of planning to his gardens and other plant materials, and designated areas for experimental plants.

Since 1858, more than 60 million visitors have admired Mount Vernon. As scholars research Washington's diaries and writings, they make new discoveries that can have a significant impact on the estate's appearance. One of these discoveries was the area of the Mansion House Farm, located between the stables and the site Washington selected for his tomb, the site of his original fruit garden. Archaeologists found physical evidence that led them to uncover the original planting holes of fruit trees and where fence posts were located.

This find, which utilized equipment ranging from backhoes to toothbrushes, established the location of Washington's fruit garden, which was referenced by his various writings.

Each Mount Vernon American holly planted at your home or in your community helps support the restoration efforts at Mount Vernon and establishes a living legacy to George Washington, a man who dedicated his life to establishing and preserving democracy.

For more information about the Mount Vernon American holly or to receive a free catalog of more than 150 other Famous & Historic Trees, please write to: Famous & Historic Trees, 8555 Plummer Rd., Jacksonville, FL 32219 or call toll-tree, 800/677-0727.

Jamie Roney is director of public relations for Famous & Historic Trees.
COPYRIGHT 1993 American Forests
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Roney, Jamie
Publication:American Forests
Date:Mar 1, 1993
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