Saturday, November 29, 2014

Orlando, Florida

We have moved further south into Florida this past week, near the town of Bushnell.  About five years ago we stayed here, it is not a place to easily forget what with the presence of sand cranes.
I saw the above family while walking around the park a couple of days ago.  It seems to be an adult male and female with two young ones.  One parent is always on guard to watch for danger, as you can see in the picture above.  Also in my walk around the perimeter of the park we have seen wild turkeys, storks, numerous ibis, and the little blue heron.  There is one large swamp as well as a few ponds (which came about with the last heavy rainfall) in the park, which explains the abundance of wildlife at present.
No, we did not do Walt Disney Park in Orlando- we will save that for when our grandson Nathan gets a bit older.  Instead we thought that for a change we would just check out downtown Orland.  Its skyline is pictured above with the Centennial Fountain.  We spent most of our downtown at Lake Eola Park which has a wonderful walkway around it.  According to one tour book which we had on us, it was here where Orlando received its name.  It was named after Orlando Reeves, a sentry for U.S. soldiers in 1835, who saved his company by alerting them there were Indians creeping toward their camp at Lake Eola. 
Just as we started our walk around the lake we came upon this sculpture entitled "Muse of Discovery".  The sign near it said that if we sat in her hands she would whisper to us and help us discover our hidden potential.  We did not try that, currently the muse is fenced off as the park is trying to grow grass around her.  Finding our hidden potential will have to wait!
The park is quite beautiful  with live oaks, and cypress trees, as well as flowering trees and shrubs.  Many waterfowl can also be found here, as black and white swans, coots, anhinga, moor hens, and many ibis. In the picture above the latter can be seen, in the background is a white egret sunning himself on a cypress knee.  After our hike around the lake we walked the streets of the downtown area.  Not very much action there as I suspect many people were at the outlying malls doing their Black Friday shopping.  One final reflection here, as we walked around Orlando the thought hit me that we have walked the streets of San Diego, Detroit, Washington D.C. and now Orlando.  Hard to believe that we have covered that much territory in one year.  Maybe one of these years we will settle down!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thomasville, Georgia

After touring Monticello Saturday we decided to drive further north into Georgia.  We had read that Thomasville was also a town with many older homes.  In addition, we thought that since it was in the heart of the pecan grove farms of Georgia we might be able to purchase pecans.  Our first stop in the town was at the Mighty Oak.  A sign near it notes that it is 333 years old and 68 feet high with a spread of 164 feet.
I recently learned that it is an evergreen or live oak because this tree keeps its leaves during the winter.  After visiting the southeast now several times I can readily identify this tree because of its wide-spreading branches which curve down and then swoop  upwards.  It is possible to have your picture taken at this spot by dialing a phone number and then ordering it on-line.  In the picture above there is a group of people having that done.  I at first thought it a bit strange that they were posing for a picture and there was no one around with a camera in front of them.  I think the camera was on a pole down the street.
The rain continued to fall intermittently, so we decided not to check out the older homes of the town, of which there are roughly 75.  The downtown area with restored Victorian storefronts and many small shops was tempting, but we also passed on that and instead chose to visit Pebble Hill Plantation.  In the late 1800s the town became a winter destination for wealthy industrialists from the north.  Usually the owners lived in these homes from November to April,  Industrialist Howard Hanna bought Pebble Hill as a second home and transformed it into a sporting plantation.  He gave it to his daughter Kate in 1901.  She was responsible for construction of the main house and most of the brick outbuildings in 1936.
  Her daughter Elizabeth Poe inherited the home after Kate died.  She was an accomplished equestrienne and polo player, her trophies are still hanging in the home today.  It was her wish that upon her death the home be opened to the public as a museum.   Many of the Hana family treasures as their china and antique furniture are still there.  English and American sporting artists were guests at Pebble Hill and while they completed their commissions they were often guests at the plantation.  Lots of entertaining was done here, other guests who came for sport shooting events were Presidents Eisenhower and Carter. 
The second floor of the home is an art gallery of the many paintings which Elizabeth purchased.  Hanging on the walls of the first floor living quarters are 35 original prints done by Audubon.  Also, one of the rooms on the first floor has hand-painted wall paper.  The house also features a cantilevered staircase with a dome above it.   It was one memorable house tour for us.  The out buildings include a school house where Kate had her children tutored during the winter months.  There are also stables where Elizabeth kept vintage carriages.  The plantation still owns horses which are mainly used for weddings at the plantation.

Monticello, Florida

We have had warmer weather, but now heavy rainfall has plagued us.  On Saturday we drove to Monticello, which is only about five miles from where we are parked.  The town has 600 buildings built before 1930. It has been declared "the most haunted small town in America" by ABC news.  The Big Bend Trackers, a group of people that document paranormal activity throughout northern Florida, claim that this area has more "activity" than other haunted cities.  The Ghost Trackers claim that they have filmed Mr.Perkins dancing on the steps of the Opera House.  He was the man who built the theater pictured below in 1890.
The first floor of the building originally had a general store and sewing machine shop, as well as a hardware and farm equipment supply store.  The second floor had an Opera House which boasted of  very good acoustics and the largest stage in the region.  Shortly after the turn of the century the railroads were rerouted, bypassing Monticello.  Perkins then discontinued live performances and the theater was closed until 1973 when a group of citizens organized to restore the opera house.  We returned there Sunday to hear the Flamingos, a singing group who began recording in the late 1950s.  Maybe you remember Terry Johnson who composed the new arrangement for "I Only Have Eyes for You"- he was one of the trio singing for the Sunday's performance.  They may be old, but their singing is still good!  Other of their songs are "Begin the Beguine"  and "When I Fall in Love".  We also returned to the town Sunday for services at Christ Episcopal.
The church,  built in 1885 in a classic Revival style, is not the usual style of Episcopal architecture of that era.  The service on Sunday was quite inspirational with musical accompaniment by violin, cello, and trumpet- besides organ.  After the service we attended a luncheon provided by the church and listened to a discussion related to their work in a Cuban village of providing water filtration systems.
Sorry, I have wandered off the topic of old homes in Monticello  Pictured above is a house built in 1890 by J.Girardeau.  He developed the LeConte pear and paper shell pecan.   Also, according to our tour book,  the house is in the Colonial Revival style with Queen Anne influence.  The Queen Anne style has a full length porch, as well as multiple gables and dormers.  The original owner of this home planted a row of oaks along Dogwood road which runs in front of the house.  Dogwood trees have red leaves in the fall, which may explain what the red tree is in the picture below.  It certainly stands out among the live oaks!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Wakulla Springs

Florida contains more springs than any other place in the world.  An underlying layer of limestone and numerous sinkholes, along with warm climate, heavy rainfall and large amounts of decaying vegetation  makes Florida a natural for springs.  Wakulla Springs State Park is a 6,000 acre wildlife sanctuary in the Florida  Woodlands.  Cool water flows from the springs to the Wakulla River, one of the last pristine rivers in Florida, according to the information provided for us by the park.
Manatees also love this water, presently the springs are warmer than the Gulf  so many of them have recently swum up into this area.  I was able to see a couple of them from an observation deck, the huffing sound which they make as they come out of the water to exhale gives them away.  We have seen that sea cow before in other parts of Florida.  From this vantage point we also saw, sitting on a buoy, an anhinga.  You may notice him in the picture above. The only way to see the wildlife up close in this park is to take a cruise on a flat-bottomed boat, which John and I chose to do.
We had just started out on the boat tour when our guide pointed out the mergansers pictured above.  The male of this species has a crest on his head, there are two males in the picture above.  On our cruise we also saw many ibis either hanging out on the shoreline or perched in trees.
Also hanging out in trees over the river were many black vultures.  In addition we saw many white egrets as well as an occasional great blue heron.  Our guide, in his many tours of the river, also knew where he could find the alligators, one of which who is pictured below.  He steered the boat close to her and she lazily opened her eyes to check us out.  Her babies were swimming around in front of her so she perhaps is extra vigilant!   However, she soon flicked her tail and returned to her snooze.
The river is certainly looking quite autumnal for this time of the year, what with some of the leaves turning and the cypress trees going bald as they drop their leaves.  There is also a splash of red along the shoreline as the yaupon holly is presently covered with red berries.  In the picture below wild asters surround a cypress tree.
Two Tarzan movies were filmed here, one of them was Creatures of the Lost Lagoon.  I will leave you with one last picture, which is that of an anhinga perched in a tree and drying his feathers out.  That is a characteristic pose for the duck who is also called a snake bird.  He has been called that because when he comes out of the water, after diving down for food, all that is seen is a long slim neck and bill- which gives the impression of a snake arising out of the water- maybe you can see that in the picture below.  I think that picture would make a great Halloween scene, what with all the orange color and Spanish moss!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

St.Marks National Wldlife Refuge

This park was established in 1931 to provide a winter habitat for migratory birds.  One of the reasons we came was to see some whooping cranes.  For the past few years an ultralight aircraft has led the young ones from Patuxent Research Refuge to this refuge where they can mature in safety.  The hope is to reestablish a migratory eastern population of the birds.  However, for this winter they have not arrived yet in this refuge.  What has arrived are monarch butterflies.  Written information from the refuge indicates that in late October to early November they arrive, after a cold front comes through.  It is later in November, but the cold front was here.  We saw many of them during or time in the refuge.  A strong wind was blowing which did not seem to stop bother them at all.  They have to be tough for their long migratory journey!
The refuge encompasses about 70,000 acres of Florida counties, and is one of the oldest of the National Wildlife Refuge System.  It includes about 43 miles of Florida's Gulf coast.  The park has hardwood hammocks, swamps and pine flatwoods, and is dotted with lakes and tidal marshes.  We saw a lot of wildlife in the refuge, shortly after we entered the park a deer ran in front of our car and into the woods.  After a brief stop at the visitor's center we took a driving tour of the park and saw many waterfowl in the marshes.
With the above picture enlarged it is possible to see at least 6 black-crowned heron.  They are nocturnal feeders which may explain why they are hiding out in the brush.  What was out feeding was a great egret.
 We saw many other egrets as well as great blue herons.  After seeing so many of them it was exciting to
 see a little blue heron, pictured below.  We also saw many shore and wading birds, as well as one alligator.
Some of the wildlife we saw on a hike near the lighthouse.  St. Marks Lighthouse was transferred from the U.S. Coast Guard to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Bureau in 2013.  Since its beginning in 1842 it has had a remarkable history of surviving several hurricanes as well as fire and shelling during the Civil War.  In 1865 the Union Army safely landed 1,000 men near the lighthouse.  During World War 11 a submarine/U boat station was located at the lighthouse.  From this park we drove to Waukulla Springs and saw more wildlife.  I will save that story for my next posting


Friday, November 21, 2014

Tallahassee, Florida

So far, since we have been in Florida, the weather has fallen a bit short of our expectations.  We have had one night of a hard freeze, other nights have been a little above freezing.  However, our days have been sunny and today it should come close to seventy degrees.  We can not complain at all, especially if we consider what the rest of the nation has been experiencing with the cold and snow.  And it is still green here, with blooming flowers!  If it is cold but still green and not grey, that is not bad at all!
We drove into the capitol city yesterday by way of Miccosukkee Road, one of the canopy roads.  Large moss-draped live oaks, sweet gums, hickory and pines meet each other above nine official canopy roads, providing a total of 78 miles of scenic drives.  Speed limit is 45 miles per hour, due to the shadowy darkness of the road.  Overall, Tallahassee is quite the pretty town with a mixture of the old and new, a good example of that is the two capitol buildings in the heart of the downtown area.
Florida had a couple of capitol buildings before it built the one pictured above (with the dome) in 1845.  It was built partly with slave labor.  When Florida became a state, that same year, it was a slave state and had to be paired with Iowa, a free state to maintain a balance of power politically for the nation.  In 1978 the state moved into a new capital, it is the tall building behind the old capitol.  It has 22 stories, only Nebraska and Louisiana have taller capitol buildings.  The old capitol is now a museum, anything you may which to know about Florida's history can be found there.  Upon entering the present capitol building we immediately noticed a beautiful mural which depicted the two "Images of the Sunshine State",  it represents the various recreation and industries of Florida.  On the 5th floor is located the Florida Senate and House of  Representatives.  Our last stop in the capitol building was the 22nd floor which is an enclosed observation deck.  It was interesting to see Tallahassee from that vantage point, and note that is nestled among some gently rolling hills.  From the capitol we walked through the cities' Park Avenue Chain of Parks.  Up to this point I had been refraining from taking pictures of the many blooming azalea bushes, but the one pictured below was too pretty to pass up what with the moss- draped live oak hanging over it.  
The city is also enhanced by the public art scattered around it, we saw many sculptures, murals and monuments while just driving through the town as well on our walks.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Mission San Luis

We are now parked about 22 miles east of Tallahassee, Fl.  After we arrived here on Tuesday I happened to glance out the window and noticed a short trim older lady next door setting up a ramp on her motor home.  My first thought that it was to accommodate a wheelchair, but the ramp was too narrow for that.  Then I thought perhaps she had a big dog who needed the ramp.  No, it was a very large potbelly pig!
We walked over to greet our neighbor and got acquainted with her sole traveling companion, Pumpkin.  He is twenty-two years old and arthritic back legs slow him down a bit.  He did not impress me as someone I would like to have in my little home.  On to more serious matters, which is the mission.  In 1607 the Apalachee Indians requested that Spanish friars help them in fighting disease and foreign intruders.  Their tribe was experiencing a lack of trust in their traditions as well as their leadership.  A settlement was built which included a large central area that accommodated the Indian's council house as well as a church and rectory.  In the 1940s archeologists found artifacts in this area which told the story of this village.  In 1986 Florida purchased this land and, after further extensive research, reconstructed the settlement.
At the council house a docent dressed in period clothing greeted us and followed us inside.  The structure is open at the top and has the height of a five-story building.  It can hold between 2,000 and 3,000 people.
Straw mats filled with Spanish moss cover the sleeping/sitting structures pictured above.  Smudge pots are located below the beds as it was necessary to smoke out the bugs in the moss.  The moss proved to be a useful item for the Indians, strands of it woven together made some very strong rope.  The church and rectory, two different structures, proved to be every bit as big as the council house.
Mission records indicate that between 1633-1635 5,000 Apalachee were baptized.   A base of the limestone baptismal font has been excavated.  Below the dirt floor of the church is the cemetery.
Between 1656 and 1704 more than 1400 Apalachee and Spaniards lived at the mission.  It was a principal village of the Apalachee and home of their most powerful leaders.  San Luis was also the Spaniard's westernmost religious, administrative, and military headquarters.  Speaking of the latter, a fort was located near the settlement, we toured its blockhouse.  A full scale fort was built in 1690 when threat of the British became imminent.  However, the entire mission and fort were burned and abandoned by 1704 before the British arrived.  The Apalachee fled to French controlled Mobile Alabama and in 1763 relocated to Louisiana - where about 250-300 descendants are living today.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Columbia, South Carolina

Last week's arctic polar air mass prompted us to head south out of Washington D.C.  We are now in Columbia, and still experiencing cold weather.  Locals here are quick to tell us that the weather here has not been normal for them for several weeks now.  We drove to downtown Columbia yesterday and a rather cold wind kept us from touring around as much as we would usually do.
Despite the cool weather which this town has been having, the grounds of the capitol still look quite lush and green.  As some of you may know, the nickname of South Carolina is the Palmetto State.  The palmetto is really not a tree, it belongs to the grass family.  The tall palmetto in the picture is not real, but part of a monument.  The real ones are standing to the left of the capitol.  They are joined by other large striking elegant trees on the grounds.  I could have spent more time outside but the cold drove us inside.
The interior dome (pictured above) fits inside the exterior one which is made of steel and wood and has a copper finish.  The state seal is located on the second floor overlooking the main lobby.  It is made of 37,000 pieces of glass and is an original to the building.  Below it are three large mahogany doors with mosaic pictures on the transom windows above, also original to the building.  An imposing statue of John C. Calhoun (1782-1850) dominates the middle of the lobby.  General Sherman burned Columbia in1865, which included the old wooden state house.  Work on the present building began in 1855, it sustained some damage in 1865.  A statue of George Washington, located outside, was brick batted and part of his cane is  missing.  For more than 150 years five architects worked to complete the state house.  Today it is quite a beautiful state house with its wrought iron stairways, stained glass and marble floors.
Before leaving the capitol grounds we stopped at the African American History Monument, which tells the story of  Americans who were transported here from Africa as slaves (about 40% came through the port of Charleston to be enslaved), and even after their freedom endured Jim Crow laws, lynching and discrimination.  The beauty of this monument lies in the last panel which shows African Americans today experiencing success in business, sports, science, politics and art.
Our day in Columbia ended at Riverfront Park and Columbia Canal.  The city lies along the Congaree River.  In 1824 a canal was built for transportation purposes, after which it became a source of hydroelectric power.  The old waterworks plant is still here, as well as other old brick buildings.  Trees with their fall foliage and a lone great blue heron added to the beauty of the walkway along the river.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Smithstonian's National Zoo

We intended on this trip to Washington D.C. to see the American Art Museum, however never made it there.  Our visit Monday to the Supreme Court building took up our afternoon.  It was a very worthwhile visit, even though by the time we got there the court was not in session.  Instead we sat in the courtroom and listened to a lecture about the workings of the court which was interesting.  There were also exhibits to see and and a film which featured interviews of the justices.  Tuesday was a sunny day, there was no way we were going to spend it in a museum, the National Zoo was our best bet. 
The zoo is noted for a pair of pandas, Tian Tian and Mei Xian.  Their offspring Bao Bao was born in August of 2013.  The pandas were the exhibit we first wanted to see, and we were fortunate to see the toddler out tumbling around some logs.  It wasn't very long, however, that he heard the dinner bell and rushed inside with his mom Mei Xian for lunch. 
We learned at the bird exhibit that in Guam birds are extinct.  The brown tree snake was accidentally introduced to the island via wartime sea and aircraft travel.  Their diet is birds and lizards.  Pictured above is the micronesian kingfisher, a native of Guam and now extinct in the wild.  As an added note here, two-thirds of Hawaii's birds which lived there 2,000 years ago are now gone.  Thei extinction has been due to direct and indirect impact by humans.  Wild populations of kori bustards are also declining because of humans.
This bird is the largest of the flying birds, it is native to Africa.  It has experienced habitat loss because of cattle grazing.  For many years the feathers of this bird was desired by fly fisherman, for making lures.  Zoos now contribute the feathers, which are plentiful when the bird molts, to fisherman.  Someone should have thought of that solution long time ago!
We have seen a variety of enrichment programs for animals at many of the zoos we have visited, however we have not seen gorillas at a computer!  That was a first for us!  We do not think, however, that the gorilla pictured above was doing anything intelligent with the computer.  After awhile he stood up and tried to look behind the screen to see what was causing those colored lights in front of him.
Our warm day spilled into the evening hours so we decided to take in the Valor Concert in honor of Veterans Day at the National Mall.  I had always wanted to take in a happening there- granted this concert was not like the president's inauguration, but I am glad we went.  I think John and I were only a few of the older citizens there, as the music was more for the younger crowd.  Our son Dan thinks it was funny that he took his parents to hear Metallica, and Bruce Springsteen.  There were many more band and singers which we enjoyed, however.  What was more nuts to me was the fact that for security reasons chairs could not be brought in and for us to stand any length of time, after walking around the zoo all day, was a bit of torture for our feet.  That probably is the real reason older people were not in attendance.  Well, they would not have appreciated the marijuana in the air either!  The concert was three hours long, we left after a couple of hours.

Monday, November 10, 2014

A Visit to Three D.C. Museums

There is no end to what can be experienced in Washington D.C.  On Friday we visited the Spy Museum.  I thought that I would be bored and out of there in a short time.  As with most museums, I enjoyed it very much and after two hours we had not seen it all.  According to the museum, spying is the second oldest profession.  It goes back to Bible times, and in the 21st century there is the new intelligence battlefield of cyberspace.  That brings me to the movie which John and I, as well as Dan and Amanda, saw Friday evening, CITIZENFOUR.   It is a real life espionage story which unfolds as it happens.  The movie follows Edward Snowden as he, over 8 days, unveils his knowledge of how the United States spies on its citizens.   What we had learned during the day at the spy museum just seemed to naturally spill over into our evening experience of watching that movie.  It was certain a full day of stories of suspense and intrigue!
The second museum we just happened to walk by on our way to church in downtown D.C.  What caught my attention was the banded sculpture of soldiers and naval men above one of the building's doors.   After attending church at First Trinity we stepped into the large brick building and I immediately said "wow".
We joined a group to tour the building and later learned that the columns are 75 feet high, each built of 70,000 bricks.  They were painted in 1895 to resemble marble.  The building was built in 1882-87 by Montgomery Meigs, a Quartermaster General during the Civil War.  Meigs had taken architectural courses at West Point and was the right man for the task.  The building is now the National Building Museum,  it was formerly known as the Pension Building.  The plan for the building was for it not to only have office space, but to also provide a grand area for social events.  Eighteen inaugural balls have taken place here from 1885 to 2009.  Most fortunate for us we had an architect as our tour guide who pointed out many of the unique features of the building.  The tour took up most of our afternoon, we could not even consider looking at the special exhibits which are in the building- all relating to achievements in architecture in the buildings in which we live and work.  We had one more museum to see, and it had a connection with the Pension Building.
In 1885, after the Civil War, families needed to find out what happened to their father/husband before receiving survivor benefits at the Pension Building.  Many people turned to Clara Barton in that regard, so she took up residence in D.C.  In 1997 in the attic of an older building (which was due for demolition) was found many documents and artifacts pertaining to her work for missing soldiers.  The painted tin sign pictured above was one of those artifacts.  This museum just opened this year, Barton's third floor office and living space has been restored.  The building had a retail store, offices, and on the third floor were boarding rooms.  Barton tore out a wall, made her living space smaller, and erected a wall using wagon covers.  The later is still in place, it feels quite soft for a wall.  She thus created a large reception room where she received callers and where her clerks could work at their desks.  In this office she was able to identify 22,000 missing soldiers.  Copies of the letters which she wrote to families are on display.   A brief movie about the restoration of the building noted that the third floor was fairly easy to restore because no plumbing had ever been installed in that area of the building.  It was a very worthwhile stop in our busy day!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Slavery and Mount Vernon

By the time of his death George Washington was one of the wealthiest men in the United States.  He could not have accomplished that without his slave population.  He had 4 out-laying farms, as well as a gristmill and distillery.  In the education center I learned that at the peak of all of his operations his slaves numbered 600.  They worked in the fields as well as the mansion, which had 30 fireplaces that needed chopped wood.   In the last posting I mentioned that he was constantly hosting many guests who stayed for extended periods of time.  That meant a lot of laundry to be done.  One interpretive marker noted that the laundry house was "hot, dangerous, and difficult".   Slaves carried 25-30 buckets of water a day for each load. Irons had to be heated in a fire, large wooden mangles were also used for pressing the laundry.  Record has it that Vina and Dolsey were two of the slave washerwomen who worked here six days a week.  A replica of the laundry house is pictured below.
Washington had bunkhouses built for his adult males and females using the same design and dimensions which were used by the Continental Army for their barracks.  Pictured below is a replica of his bunkhouse for the males.  His estate had 59 single men as well as married men whose jobs kept them apart from family six days out of a week.
George and Martha Washington are buried on their estate.  For some strange reason I was more interested in the slave graveyard.  Pictured below is memorial which the Mount Vernon Ladies Association dedicated in 1983, pictured below.  Beyond the memorial is the graveyard of many of the slaves.
I also found an older memorial with the date of 1929, which was dedicated to "the many faithful colored servants of the Washington family" who worked at Mount Vernon from 1760- 1860.  Washington inherited 10 slaves at the age of 11 when his father died.  Upon marriage to Martha Custis, he received "dower slaves" from her first husband's estate.  It is recorded that in 1799, the year of his death, his slaves numbered 316.  In his last will and testament he asked that his slaves receive their freedom, however he was able to only emancipate those who were his property outright- a little less than half of the Mount Vernon enslaved population.  One last picture here will be that of the kitchen inside the woman's bunkhouse.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Gardens of Mount Vernon

Despite his many successes in his military and political life, George Washington saw himself first and foremost as a farmer.  This is according to the official guidebook of Mount Vernon.  By 1799, the last year of Washington's life, Mount Vernon was an 8,000 acre plantation divided into five farms, four of them devoted to agriculture.  The fifth was the Mansion House Farm.  He was quite knowledgeable in the latest and best farm equipment as plows, and he checked into what was the strongest animal to pull those plows- which is the mule.  He probably was the first in our country to compost animal manure and a variety of organic materials to cure into fertilizer.  Pictured below is his compost repository.
Archeologists revealed remnants of the brick foundation for the shed with the virtually intact cobblestone floor.  We first toured the lower gardens of the estate, which have been reconstructed by following 18th century gardening books.  Following that research two dripping cisterns were incorporated.

We learned later in the education center that Washington planted a wide variety of plants and vegetables, one of which was the artichoke.  We saw that plant blooming in the vegetable garden.
Also a lot of research had been done for the upper garden.  As I had alluded to in the previous posting Washington liked the naturalistic styling of English landscaping.  This garden is laid out in squares with boxwood parterres, the French fleur-de-lis a major design element.
The estate also had a fruit orchard where Washington planted pears, cherries, peaches, and apples.  A green house was completed in 1785 which allowed Washington to nurture tropical and semitropical plants.  He did not do well growing tobacco so wheat was his most successful crop.  He managed a series of gristmills and his whiskey distillery was his most successful commercial operation.  To accomplish all of this many slaves were needed, my next posting will be on the slaves of Mount Vernon.