George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 16 February 1785]

Wednesday 16th. Mercury at 36 in the Morning—45 at Noon & 49 at Night.

Wind Southwardly & pretty fresh in the forenoon—calm afterwards and somewhat lowering.

Transplanted along the So. side of the Wall of the No. Garden, the Ivy; which I had taken up with as much dirt about the roots of it as I could obtain.

Weather soft and thawing—the Southwardly having dissolved all the Snow that fell yesterday.

ivy: Here GW is not referring to Hedera helix, the classic English ivy, or even to the domestic Parthenocissus quinquefolia, the Virginia creeper. Rather, it is Kalmia latifolia, the mountain laurel. Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, which GW had in his own library, reproduces a drawing of K. latifolia and describes it as vulgarly called mountain ivy. Writing some instructions to Lund Washington 19 Aug. 1776, GW explained his wishes for plantings in his groves by the mansion house (CSmH). In the south grove he wanted flowering trees such as crabapple, dogwood, and tulip poplar, interspersed with such evergreens as holly, pine, cedar, and ivy. Evidently he was attempting to produce a showy undergrowth among his flowering trees and was not calling for a climbing ivy. The flowers of GW’s ivy were coming into bloom when he made his 30 May 1785 diary entry, another indication that this was mountain laurel.

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