Our founding father, Tulip Poplar, and Integrated Horticulture
Updated: Mar 20, 2022
Envision, eye lifting Tulip trees bustling with hummingbirds feasting on sweet, honey-like nectar, held safely within yellow and slightly graced by a vibrant orange ring located in the middle of sturdily cupped petals. If one could reach the lifted flowers, we could drink this sweet nectar out of the flower. The Tulip Tree's leaf displays a shimmering dance of green within heightened winds, carrying scattered seeds to their next destination of life. This temperament of peace found within our ecosystems is capable of alignment on a global scale, one community at a time.
Today, we are talking about George Washington’s “godlike omniscience” (quoted by Martha's grandson, George Washington Parke Custis) and integrated meticulous attention to the perfect renovation of his family home built by his father around 1734. This permaculture masterpiece gave hospitality to the countless guests that George and Mary hosted. This “fixer-upper” home that encompassed 8,000 acres (about the area of Chicago O'Hare airport) in the 18th century, has sadly degraded down to 500 acres (about twice the total floor space of the Pentagon), or around 1/16th of Mount Vernon's previous magnificent botanical scale. First known as Little Hunting Creek Plantain, George Washington blueprinted an evermoving design of botanical displays, which renovated the land, reconstructing the original scale. Mr. Washington was not shy in this field, during the time planning and creating the botanical landscape, his thoughts and ideas would be shared by the likes of Thomas Jefferson. Their mutual hobby can be linked to the botanic Jeffersonia Diphylla, which is a part of Mount Vernon's vast landscape, is a medicinal, white pedaled five-star flower, directly named after the then presidents future successor,
and friend, Thomas Jefferson.
Tulip trees or otherwise known as Poplar trees that were planted on Washington's estate, tower at heights of 120 feet tall in present day. These trees are well over 300 years old.
“Washington was his own architect and builder,” wrote his wife's grandson, George Washington Parke Custis, “laying off everything himself. With “god-like omniscience,” buildings, gardens, and grounds all rose to ornament and usefulness under his fostering hand,” this quote was written in “Washington's Magnificent Obsession” by Stephen Harrigan, which appeared in the august issue of American History in 2008. “It was an intoxicating creation, not just the plants but the beautiful, terraced brick walls enclosing them. Even the ancestral proves, with their spacious summerhouse feel, were part of Washington's binding vision: the studied harmony of structure and open space that reigned over the entire Mount Vernon grounds.” “Fireflies on the sloping lawn or the swaying branches of the ages-old pecan tree that towers above the southern wing of the mansion.”
(Tulip Poplar's blooming, nectar filled flowers)
This courageous man fought for freedom of the people. Our founding father only came home for a total of 10 days while fighting the Revolutionary War yet remained immersed in construction of Mount Vernon's gardens. President Washington courageously rallied army troops on horseback, futilely beating them back into action with his riding whip into a crucial engagement with invading British during the Revolutionary War in 1776, where they were once fleeing in panic. This reminds me of a profound film Directed by Mel Gibson in “The Patriot,” and similarly in “Braveheart.” Both capturing the embodiment of these incredibly fundamental political wars in the foundation of America as an independent nation, separating from British rule.
“Washington,” Abraham Lincoln once declared, “is the mightiest name on Earth.” Washington reluctantly took oath of office as our first president in 1789 and dutifully continued compassion, and service, selflessly, to our founding communities and country, founding American roots. Through all these political quarrels, and war, he prioritized his home, gardens, and tranquility amongst the weight and brutality of our American Revolution.
Mount Vernon gardens in 1905, photographed with a panoramic camera produced by The Leet Bros.
Staud the God