The Greenhouse

The Greenhouse


– We’re standing in the upper garden, behind me is a very unique feature for an 18th century garden
and that’s a greenhouse. George Washington was
leaving Baltimore, Maryland and lived up on a hill in a
property called Mount Clair. It was owned by Margaret Carol and he admired her greenhouse. Wrote a letter to her asking if she might, send him measurements and instructions on how she created her greenhouse and he could have one
here at Mount Vernon. And she was thrilled to do that and not only provided that information, but also provided plants to him once his greenhouse was complete to start his collection
of tropical plants. It’s a unique structure
in that it’s very modern. It has wonderful southern exposure with your glass windows, allowing as much sun in as possible. To the east is a glass
door allowing morning sun, but to the west is a wood
door to exclude afternoon sun cause that would be too harsh. Now the main thing was
to keep plants alive in the winter time and so
the way to do that was to get as much heat going in
the greenhouse as possible and then close shutters, so the cold air wouldn’t infiltrate in. On a really cold night you
could put a candle at the base of those shutters where that
crack was where they joined, so that keep the cold
air from infiltrating in as the hot air would rise. Margaret Carol shared with
Washington her heating system, which was pretty modern. It sure did beat slapping
manure on the back wall and as that decomposed it generated heat. His heat came from a source of a fireplace on the opposite side of the greenhouse, it was a very deep fireplace. The heat would rise, go through
a series of flu systems, which ran underneath the slate floor, and then the flu would be
up behind the greenhouse. The heat from the floor and the back wall radiate into the greenhouse, kept the temperatures above freezing, so he could keep these plants alive. Visitors accounts of
people walking through this beautiful garden
admired lemons, limes, and oranges and thought, “Wow is that unique.” and how very special it was. So Washington accomplished
what he was trying to achieve, a beautiful structure and something that would delight his guest.

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *