Friday 18th. Thermometer at 49 in the Morning—54 at Noon and 50 at Night.
Morning clear & serene—a white Frost and ground froze—Ice an eighth of an Inch thick. Wind at No. Wt. & pretty fresh untill the afternoon when it was almost calm.
Began to take up a number of small Pines to replace the dead ones in my wilderness. Got them with much dirt about the Roots.
Took an Account of the Horses, Cattle & Sheep at Home.
Note. One of the Cows that came from the River Plantn. (making the above, 9) got mired this Fall and died, and of the above, the 4 Cows from Camp—two from the Ferry—three from Dogue run—and one from the Neck are ordered to be detained here—and all the rest to be sent to their respective places.
Began to take up my summer Turnips at the House. Got abt. half up to day.
Sent to Mr. Digges for Papaw Bushes to replace the dead ones in my Shrubberies. Coming late I had not time to plant them but put the Roots in the ground until tomorrow.
Planted the two duke Cherries—sent me by Major Jenifer in the two gardens—one under each Wall, abt. 30 feet from the Garden Houses—and planted the Bury & 2 St. Germain Pairs also sent me by him in the No. Garden—new part thereof—one of each kind on the circular Walk and the other two on the Strait walk.
Put the Box with the Magnolia, & other exotics from So. Carolina and that with the Kentucke Coffee tree under a bush cover in the open part of the Green Ho[use] and began to cover the Palmetto Royal at the Front gate with Brush with the leaf on—but got a small part only South of the gate & South part thereof done before night.
Magnolia, or Magnolio, was an Arabian horse which GW had bought for £500 from the estate of John Parke Custis (LEDGER B description begins Manuscript Ledger Book 2, 1772-93, in George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends , 224). He was a five-year-old, “a chesnut colour, near sixteen hands high, finely formed, and thought by all who have seen him to be perfect. He was got by the Ranger Arabian, his dam by Othello son of Crab, her dam by Morton’s Traveller, and her dam was Selima by the Godolphin Arabian” (Va. Journal, 24 Mar. 1785).
Nelson and Blueskin, two horses that had carried GW during the Revolution, were now in honorable retirement at Mount Vernon. Nelson was, according to George Washington Parke Custis, the chestnut which GW rode at Yorktown. He was named for Gov. Thomas Nelson, Jr., of Virginia, and was probably the horse which Governor Nelson sent GW as a gift in 1778 after hearing of GW’s difficulties in finding a suitable animal to replace one he had been riding (CUSTIS description begins George Washington Parke Custis. Recollections and Private Memoirs of Washington. New York, 1860. description ends , 166; Nelson to GW, 11 Aug. 1778, DLC:GW). Blueskin seems to have been sold or given to GW by Benjamin Dulany or his wife, and GW wrote late in 1785 to Elizabeth French Dulany, presenting the horse to her: “Marks of antiquity have supplied the place of those beauties with which this horse abounded in his better days. Nothing but the recollection of which, & of his having been the favourite of Mr. Dulany in the days of his Court ship, can reconcile her [Mrs. Dulany] to the meagre appearance he now makes” (GW to Elizabeth French Dulany, c.23 Nov. 1785, MdHi).