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The General in the Garden

George Washington's Landscape at Mount Vernon
Edited by Susan P. Schoelwer

BUY Cloth · 208 pp. · 10 × 10 · ISBN 9780931917486 · $39.95 · Apr 2015

The General in the Garden provides an engaging, informative, and richly illustrated introduction to George Washington’s landscape at Mount Vernon—arguably the best-documented, best-preserved complex of gardens and grounds to survive from eighteenth-century America.

The book’s three essays, by Adam T. Erby, J. Dean Norton, and Esther C. White, chronicle Washington’s transformation of the estate in the years between the American Revolution and the Constitutional Convention of 1787, the stewardship of its gardens by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association since 1860, and the archaeology that led to the recent restoration of Washington’s showplace upper garden. Mount Vernon assistant curator Adam Erby examines Washington’s critical role in developing Mount Vernon’s landscape, arguing that the general drew on British design sources and gardening manuals but adapted them to his own circumstances, creating a truly American garden. J. Dean Norton, Mount Vernon’s director of horticulture, traces the evolution of the estate’s landscape and recreated gardens across the two centuries since Washington’s death. And Esther White, Mount Vernon’s director of historic preservation and research, shows how groundbreaking archaeological methods facilitated the discovery of Washington-era garden beds and borders of flowers, shrubs, and vegetables in his upper garden—a remarkable find that yielded one of the most significant eighteenth-century garden recreations of our time.

Also included is a lavishly illustrated guide to Mount Vernon’s landscape features, introducing Washington’s beloved estate to a modern audience.

This book will appeal to many readers—from students of American history and culture to gardening enthusiasts to Mount Vernon visitors curious to know more about the estate to which George Washington devoted intense and sophisticated care.

Distributed for George Washington’s Mount Vernon


Explores the magnificent gardens and grounds that he created, from their origins to present-day preservation efforts. Historical drawings, snapshots, and records along with color photographs of Mount Vernon today complete the picture of Washington as an extraordinary gardener.

The American Gardener

[A] richly illustrated book of essays... George Washington had such a passion for gardening that his death itself was green-thumbed.

Washington Post

About the Author(s): 

Susan P. Schoelwer is the Robert H. Smith Senior Curator at George Washington’s Mount Vernon. She has written and lectured extensively on American decorative and fine arts, material culture, and history.

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