Gardens may not seem the obvious choice to think about history. Nonetheless, a visit to the American Museum Gardens in Bath had me doing just that. The gardens held an open day under the National Garden Scheme (NGS). Two key American gardens were represented in the American Museum’s Gardens: the Winding Way of Thomas Jefferson’s flowerbeds at Monticello and George Washington’s Mount Vernon Garden. The topics of colonial history and slavery were addressed in the gardens.
Slavery in the Garden
The Winding Way was influenced by a tendency towards more informal design in European gardens. It was tended by female members of Jefferson’s family with a slave. A sign in the Mount Vernon Garden acknowledged that the creation and maintenance of Mount Vernon would not have been possible without 300 slaves. Even when Washington tried to free slaves in his will, he only freed those he owned outright on his estate and caused the devastating separation of families.
The subject of slavery is also represented by the extraordinary Harriet Tubman. She is credited with helping over 70 slaves to escape the American South for the free Northern states and Canada. She also served as a scout for the Union Army during the Civil War. After the war, she even fought for women’s suffrage. The bust of Harriet Tubman sits at one end of the Winding Way with a bust of Abraham Lincoln at the other. Perhaps it illustrates that history does not always follow a direct route?
The gardens seemed popular with parents with young children. I was particularly pleased to note that areas of the garden and grassland were allowed to go wild.
Gallery of Images
References and Further Reading
- American Museum & Gardens (2021): Explore this Hidden Gem on the Edge of Bath.
- Americanmuseum.org (): Floorplan and Map. American Museum & Gardens
- Monticello.org (2021): Winding Flower Border.
- Mount Vernon (2021): George Washington’s Mount Vernon
Karen does not seek or receive any commercial interest or advantage from this blog. She is not promoting any business venture. She simply loves to share fascinating facts about plants. These pages illustrate her love of plants, botany, biodiversity, gardens and creative expression. There is always so much to learn about plant diversity. This blog is designed as a showcase for photography, commentary on plants and wildlife, gardens and other places visited, horticulture and related topics. Viewpoints are her own, not those of her employer.
All above photos © Karen Andrews