Known as a “gentleman’s farm” during Buchanan’s ownership of the estate, Wheatland was once dotted with orchards, graperies, strawberry patches, wheat fields, livestock, a kitchen garden, and a gardener’s house. Though food was grown on the property, it was not enough to sustain the household entirely. Household expenses indicate the regular purchase of grocery items such as potatoes, oranges, hams, milk, cream, flour, and oysters.
The success of Wheatland depended upon the domestic servants and day laborers who worked and occasionally lived on the property. With specific regards to maintaining the kitchen garden, Buchanan noted: “I have a large and excellent garden, that is, it would be excellent if properly cultivated.”
Over the years, gardeners including Thomas Costello and Charles Smith took charge of cultivating the land. The two did not work together; rather, Charles Smith took over the position in March 1867 after Thomas Costello left to work on his own estate. Ledgers also list additional day laborers who were paid to assist with large seasonal operations such as harvesting crops. However, the garden was not left to the gardeners alone. In later years when Buchanan struggled to maintain a full staff of domestic servants, he recalled that he could not prevent his head housekeeper, Miss Hetty, “from working in the garden or about the lawn.”