Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and Alexander Hamilton were farmers, as were most men of their time – even if they became soldiers, lawyers and statesmen. Benjamin Franklin was a scientist with a deep interest in seeds as a source of American self-sufficiency. John Jay, who was president of the Congress and navigated many essential treaties, retired to life as a gentleman farmer in Westchester.
They were knowledgeable about plants, including flowers, and four of them knew the Philadelphia botanist John Bartram and ordered plants from him. Outside of their occupation of the White House and higher reaches of public service, each of them had farms or estates with flower gardens. In Franklin’s case, it was the garden behind his townhouse in Philadelphia, perhaps best known for his mulberry tree, under which details of the Constitution were hashed out.
To maintain their legacies, their flower gardens, except for Franklin’s, are maintained today to honor the men who shaped the United States of America. As Thomas Jefferson once noted, “Too old to plant trees for my own gratification, I shall do it for my posterity.”