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How George Washington Inspired My Garden Evolution

Almost 221 years after George Washington’s passing, he’s still making an impact on Americans. This American in particular (that would be me) was not inspired to lead a movement, to join the military, or to write a poem or song. No, it was much simpler than that. I was inspired to evolve my garden.

Our son attended archeology camp at George Washington’s Boyhood Home at Ferry Farm this summer. The one and only thing he asked Santa for this year was an archeology kit. Luckily, he was old enough to attend archeology camp as well, which made the gift even better. His excitement was through the roof the morning I dropped him off at camp. I didn’t expect to find any inspiration, gardening wise, that morning. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even know Ferry Farm had a working garden.

I was delighted upon discovering the garden. It’s garden beds are neatly tucked into a sprawling garden surrounded by a quaint white picket fence. I wandered through the garden leasierly with our daughter and took in all the sights. I paid particular attention to how the garden was laid out and noticed every bed had a marker of what was growing in it. I could tell that the garden needed some love. It wasn’t being tended to as well as it could be. There were plants that had finished their growing season that needed to be pulled, as well as some weeds.

There were beds that sat empty that certainly could have held more fruits or vegetables, or simply flowers. In all that is going on in the world at the moment, I could see how the garden wasn’t a top priority.

There were plenty of established plants and new growth however. Seeing the watermelon and pumpkins growing was a refreshing sight, like life was springing from the garden once again. I smiled at the pumpkins that were already a brilliant orange even though it was only the end of July. They had survived the late spring frost that had killed off so many local gardeners’ early plantings. I am a huge fan of pumpkins and was not expecting to see any orange ones in my gardening zone (zone 7a) this time of year. It’s been a million degrees and dry all summer. These beauties thrived though and I continued my journey through the garden with a smile on my face after seeing them.

I exited the garden behind the visitors’ welcome center and stopped to look at the grapes growing along the fence. Our daughter (who just turned 3) was excited to see them as we eat a lot of grapes and she has never seen them growing. She beamed with joy and whispered to the grapes,

“Hello little grapes. You are very cute. Don’t let the bugs bite. That’s what my mommy says when we leave our garden. Grow nicely and I will come back to eat you.”

Then she said, “boop” and touched one and smiled back at me. I think she made friends with the grapes that day. I’ve heard talking to plants can possibly improve their growth. If that’s the case, I’m pretty sure these grapes are happily growing.

We then left the garden, but the images didn’t leave my mind. I looked up the garden at Ferry Farm and learned that the archaeologists that worked that area discovered evidence that George Washington’s family grew corn, wheat, green beans and peas and there were hackberry bushes and cherry trees. They also found a hazelnut shell. They used this evidence as well as county records to try to recreate Washington’s garden. It’s pretty neat that all these years after George Washington’s passing that archaeologists were able to discover these things. I’m sure he knew that he was leaving behind a great legacy but gardening probably wasn’t one of the things he considered.

So how did all of this enspire an evolution in my garden? It was the grapes that did it. I’ve been to wineries all around the world but have never once thought about growing my own grapes. After our tiny little girl had a beautiful moment with the grapes at George Washington’s Boyhood Home, I desired to bring that magic home.

Exactly a week later I stumbled upon concord grape vines for sale at a local garden center. This is something I have never seen for sale locally. A big smile spread across my face and I eagerly scooped up pots with gorgeous vines knowing instantly that they were coming home with me.

And so a new adventure begins as a vineyard is born.

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