May 29, 2019

An Afternoon at Mount Vernon

One of my absolute favorite places to visit in our area is Mount Vernon.  I love it in every season but try go at least once a spring.  The kids got out early on a Friday recently and we got babysitting for Aurora so we could have a good, long lunch and give the older four our full attention.


the roses and even the wild roses were in full bloom


We had lunch in the garden at one of our favorite restaurants, Taverna Cretekou, in Old Town and then headed to Mount Vernon late in the afternoon.


The visitor’s center always seems to have something new going on but the house replica is always a favorite for the kids.


The inspiring brickwork at Mount Vernon


The sky was amazing as we arrived, half white and half-covered in dark ominous clouds.  I LOVE the energy in the air before a storm.



It was almost empty there (I’m sure due to the weather) and it was so quiet and it felt like we had everything to ourselves.



The kids raced through the field across from the mansion as the storm came in…



We visited the “ruby red” bulls…


Louie loves his animals so much


…and wandered around, taking it all in.  There is so much good design at Mount Vernon and so much to take away.  The fencing is all so interesting.



Gisele normally naps in the afternoon so she was pretty happy for the ride


A photo of my three guys together with some more amazing different types of fencing in the background


We escaped the rain on the back porch overlooking the Potomac.  There are days when the lawn is filled with people but the gray emptiness was so pretty…



There is such an orderly neatness about the gardens.  I love the rows and rows of plantings…



The roofs throughout Mount Vernon are done in painted red cypress shingles and they’re striking.  According to Mount, “Wood was the overwhelming choice for Virginia roofs in Washington’s day. Washington purchased hundreds of thousands of shingles for Mount Vernon during his lifetime, most of them split from cypress trees cut in the Dismal Swamp of southern Virginia. Cypress is naturally rot resistant, and an old growth cypress roof was expected to provide cover for 50 years or more… The red color used on Mount Vernon’s roofs today was matched to the paint preserved on an original shingle found in the mansion attic, apparently dropped during shingle replacement in the 1800s.”



The sheep were ADORABLE oh my goodness!!!!! Definitely a favorite part for us…



But the kitchen garden is always my favorite and has inspired so many moves we’ve made in our own gardens over the years…  I love how the garden beds hit grass pathways.



…A couple of houses ago I tried to emulate this but in the end, the grass-to-garden-bed border was too hard for us to maintain and we added low willow reed borders.


{The left side of our kitchen garden with the willow reed borders & Louie.  Photo by Helen Norman }


The colonial brick pathways…


…inspired the kitchen garden in the front of our last house…



…. and the espaliered fruit trees…



…we grew along our fence….  (Click here for my plans/ inspiration post for that garden.)  I went with apple:



“In the 18th century, every home outside the city had a vegetable or kitchen garden as these plots were necessary to supplement the diets of their inhabitants. In addition to the kitchen garden, the cultivated fields and every garden except the botanical garden contained vegetables. During the Revolutionary War, George Washington encouraged his troops to eat vegetables and even to plant them if time allowed. As one 18th-century horticulturist said, “A Kitchen-garden may be said to be the most useful and consequential part of gardening.” Mount Vernon’s kitchen garden has the distinction of never changing in its purpose. Since 1760, the kitchen garden has been cultivated continuously for the production of vegetables, and it still is today.” (



The specific vegetables in the garden beds shift year after year.  The lettuces were so beautiful the other week…



I loved watching the kids run through the paths.  There’s something so magical about gardens you can walk through and explore.



The chives were in full force and the rosemary shrubs keep getting bigger and bigger each year.  I went home with some of it from the garden shop, cultivated from the actual rosemary at Mount Vernon.


Believe it or not, that’s rosemary on the right!!! It’s incredible and smells like heaven!!




The lower garden is so beautiful but you’re not able to actually go down and walk in it which always drives me crazy…

I love this photo from the Mount Vernon website showing the lower garden

It’s so sculptural and intricate…


It was closing time so we had to leave the kitchen gardens but on our way out, we had a minute to peek in at the greenhouse & Upper Garden…


The greenhouse once housed exotic and tropical plants.  According to Mount, “One guest wrote in 1799, “I saw there English grapes, oranges, limes and lemons in great perfection as well as a great variety of plants and flowers, wonderful in appearance, exquisite in their perfume and delightful to the eye…”

The paths are gravel and flower / fruit tree beds are lined in clipped boxwood:



The flowers were out!! The peonies were out & full of droopy goodness!



And finally, we took a moment for the massive old tulip poplars line the bowling green…



They’re so incredibly beautiful and the phrase “wise trees” comes to mind in the allees.


Gisele loved climbing the old roots and I loved seeing her so free and happy in nature.


I could (and will) go back to Mount Vernon over and over and never tire of it.  It always inspires me or gives me some sort of idea, whether for interiors, exteriors or gardens and we always leave with a list of things we want to do at home.

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