George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Lee, 16 April 1785

From Henry Lee

Leesylvania [Va.] April 16th 1785

Dear Sir

I have Sent you by your Servant 2½ bushels of the Naked Italian Barley wch will be Enough for your ground as it branches much I never Sewed it very thick; it requires Strong Land, & never grows tall, has a thick Stem & large luxuriant heads, wch hangs near the Earth, and if Cut there is a great waste of the grain in harvesting; therefore I have it pulled up by the hand, and as it is a rear ripe grain to Prevent the birds (who are very fond of it) from distroying it I Sow it in the Neighbourhood of Oats—I have also Sent you a few of Madzays Italian Peas wch are fine for the table I think nearly equal to the Marrowfat—you will also receive 14 of the Cotton Scions wch require Low sunken ground,1 Mrs Lee joins in best Wishes for Mrs Washington & yourself With the greatest Esteem & regard I am Dr Sir Your Most Obt hble Servt

Henry Lee


1In the spring of 1785 GW fills his diary with entries about receiving from friends plants, seed, and cuttings for the grounds at Mount Vernon or to be tried in his gardens or fields. Much of this GW either took from (or repeated in) his lengthy and elaborate “Notes & observations” on his planting operations and experiments for 1785 and 1786, both in the gardens, borders, and lawns of the manor house and in the fields of the various farms at Mount Vernon. These notes and observations are in DLC:GW, and a transcription of the manuscript is in CD-ROM:GW. GW wrote in his Notes and Observations for 18 April 1785: “Sowed the point . . . from a dble Chesnut tree downwards with Barley had from Colo. Henry Lee—The East Side of this was sprinkled with 2 bushels of the Plaister of Paris (powdered) and harrowed in along with the Barley.” On 26 April, “the Barley and Pease were perceived to be coming up, the first very generally—the latter just making their appearance”; on 7 May, “the Barley & Pease seem to have come in well”; and on 25 May, “Pease were brought to Table for the six time in the Season to day.” It is not clear whether or not these were the Mazzei peas (see George Divers to Thomas Jefferson, 11 April 1814, quoted in Betts, Jefferson’s Garden Book, description begins Edwin Morris Betts, ed. Thomas Jefferson’s Garden Book, 1766–1824: With Relevant Extracts from His Other Writings. Philadelphia, 1944. description ends 532). Marrofats were popular late peas.

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