George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 13 June 1785]

Monday 13th. Mercury at 74 in the Morning—76 at Noon and 80 at Night.

But little wind in the Morning. At times afterwards it blew pretty fresh from the Westward, but was nevertheless very Warm.

Colo. Mercer, Lady & Sister went away after breakfast. My Brother, Mr. John Lewis and G. A. Washington dined at Mr. Lund Washingtons & returned in the Evening.

Sowed the following Nuts, & Seeds, in the inclosure I had prepared for a Nursery—viz.

In the first Section—beginning by the walk next the Ho[use]

I built for a hospital (since used for Spinning)—the first row contains 17 Nuts of the Sand Box tree. Next to these are 2 rows containing 85 of the Palmetto Nut, or acorn. Next, 2 rows 87 Physic Nut; Next 3 rows of the Seed of the Pride of China. Next 9 rows containing 635 Acorns of the live oak (wch. seemed bad). Next (which compleated the section) 3 rows of a species of the Acacia (or Acasee) used in the West Indias for incircling their Gardens.

In the next section to this, (immediately back of the Salt House) the first row, and parallel thereto—is the same as the last—that is Acacia. The next is the flower fence, also used as an inclosure to Gardens. Next to this are two rows of the Bird pepper—then one row of the Cayan pepper. Then 2 rows of the Seed of the Privy. The remainder of this Section was compleated with Guinea Grass—which, as all the others, were planted and Sowed in Drills 12 Inches a part.

Colo. Harrison left this by Sunrise today.

All the planting done this day was apparently with materials brought to GW by George Augustine Washington. In addition to the plants already identified, they include:

Hura crepitans, sandbox tree, a native of the West Indies and South America, reaching a height of 100 feet.

Jatropha curcas, Barbados nut or physic nut, a small tropical tree cultivated for its purgative oil.

Melia azedarach, chinaberry, Indian lilac, or pride of China, widely planted in the South from the Atlantic to western Texas.

Acacia sp., acacia. There are about 450 species, but as GW says it was used in the West Indies to encircle gardens it is possibly A. cavenia, a shrub with a stout spine good for hedges, found in tropical America. Most acacias are native to Australia.

Poinciana pulcherrima, Barbados flower fence or Barbados pride.

Capsicum frutescens, bird pepper.

C. frutescens longum, cayenne pepper.

Ligustrum vulgare, common privet.

GW had written to George Augustine Washington on 6 Jan. 1785 that he would be glad to receive trees not native to his area “which would be ornamental in a grove or forest, and would stand our climate” (owned by H. Bartholomew Cox, Washington, D.C.). His nephew replied that he would do his best, with the assistance of Col. William Washington and that of an unnamed botanist and gardener who lived in the vicinity (25 Feb. 1785, ViMtvL).

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