Happy Independence Day!

I like to begin this day listening to the Annual Reading of the Declaration of Independence on NPR’s Morning Edition. Getting back to the basics of how and why our country came to be is inspiring and refreshing (especially if you spend any time listening to the current news).

The founders of our country were an incredible group of men who literally risked their lives to form the only country on Earth founded on freedom. Freedom of speech, freedom for all races and religions and freedom from oppression.

While Thomas Jefferson is a well known gardener and extraordinary statesman, George Washington was all that and an extraordinary man as well. Did you know that George Washington was the only Founding Father to free his slaves.? He was also credited with introducing the mule to America. However, one of George Washington’s most important contributions was how he treated prisoners during the Revolutionary War.

 

sculpture of unknown gentleman at time of American Revolution

Sculpture of a gentleman around the time of the American Revolution. Exhibited at The Legion of Honor in San Francisco

George Washington’s Contribution

“Should any American soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any [prisoner]. . . I do most earnestly enjoin you to bring him to such severe and exemplary punishment as the enormity of the crime may require. Should it extend to death itself, it will not be disproportional to its guilt at such a time and in such a cause… for by such conduct they bring shame, disgrace and ruin to themselves and their country.”– George Washington, charge to the Northern Expeditionary Force, Sept. 14, 1775

George Washington was an inspirational leader and he had a revolutionary policy on the treatment of prisoners of war. The prisoners were treated with humanity and dignity, which was unusual for the time. While the British were slaughtering soldiers AND civilians, Washington refused to respond in kind. Because of this, many prisoners defected, fought with the revolutionary forces and settled here after the war was won. This demonstration of compassion and understanding of human nature also set the stage for the creation of a new nation. (For details, listen to this amazing account of George Washington’s conduct as a Revolutionary War commander.)

The Gardening Connection

Almond orchard in bloom

“I can truly say I had rather be at Mount Vernon with a friend or two about me, than to be attended at the Seat of Government by the Officers of State and the Representatives of every Power in Europe.”

George Washington, letter to David Stuart, June 15, 1790

And, what does all this have to do with gardening? Everything. George Washington had an innate respect for life and the laws of nature and so do gardeners. Good gardening is about being observant, being attentive to nature’s laws and having a love of all living things. I Guess that’s why gardeners are such exceptional people, kind of like George.

Have a very happy Independence Day weekend and remember to fill your garden with joy!

xo Lisa