Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
A Garden Sustains
This garden fed the Custis and Lee families, their many guests, the enslaved house workers, and even the Federal Army. It provided for the family from early spring to late fall.
The harvest included fruits and vegetables such as berries, potatoes, broccoli, artichokes, turnips, and tomatoes. Prize carrots, beets, cabbage and squash were displayed at local agricultural exhibitions. The garden also provided herbs for medicinal purposes, along with currant, blackberry, and fox grapes for wine.
"...there is pleasure in a dish of asparagus just from the earth, white, tender, sweet...There is joy in young peas that know no pause between the gathering and the table, green, sweet, and buttery. And what emotion of delight green corn...inspire[ed]."
Elizabeth Randolph Calvert (Cousin of Mary Lee)
After the Lees left Arlington in 1861, and throughout the Civil War, this garden fed the occupying Union soldiers and later the families of officers stationed at Arlington House.
The enslaved workers raised chickens, milked cows, churned butter, smoked hams, maintained an ice house and canned produce to sustain the household through the winter.
Old and treasured family recipes depended upon the success of the garden. Mrs. Custis, and in turn Mrs. Lee, used a cookbook handed down by Martha Washington.
Robert E. Lee teased his daughter Mildred in a letter about her "exploding" ketchup, made from garden tomatoes.
Erected by National Park Service.
Location. 38° 52.892′ N, 77° 4.363′ W. Marker is in Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, in Arlington County. Marker can be reached from Sherman Drive. Touch for map. The marker is directly north of Arlington House, on the border of the vegetable garden area. Marker is in this post office area: Fort Myer VA 22211, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Kitchen Garden (here, next to this marker but has been reported missing); Dependence on Slave Labor (a few steps from this marker); Arlington Estate, 1860 (within shouting distance of this marker); Pierre Charles L'Enfant (within shouting distance of this marker); Mary Randolph (within shouting distance of this marker); Guardian of a Nation's Heritage (within shouting distance of this marker); The Arlington Woodlands (within shouting distance of this marker); Garden to Graves (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Arlington National Cemetery.
More about this marker.
Categories. • Agriculture • Horticulture & Forestry • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on March 16, 2016, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. This page has been viewed 154 times since then and 16 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on March 16, 2016, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico.