Garden Journal: Week of 7/11

Our cameras are full of pictures from our recent trip to Monticello, and I am happy to finally be able to sit down and share them with you!

On Tuesday Lily, Erica, Joseph, Sarah, Tazzy & I went to Monticello to see the Vegetable and Flower Gardens at what looks to be the height of their beauty.

Monticello Vegetable Garden

We started in the Vegetable Garden and were treated to a tour by Pat Brodowski, head vegetable gardener.  I was amazed by how many plants were familiar to me, and found the most beautiful carrots, artichokes, white eggplants, and heads of cabbage.  As Tazzy told me, “Now I see why they call it Eggplant,” since the big, white fruits look just like a blown-up chicken egg.

Eggplant (Solanum melongena)

Colorful Carrots (Daucus carota)

The amount of thought that went into the design of Jefferson’s garden reminded me of his innovative designs back home on Grounds.  The location and organization of the terraced garden is perfect for optimal sunlight and warmth that gave him a longer growing season.

Pat showing off a giant Savoy cabbage.

He also used his gardens as a way to experiment, and after looking through Jefferson’s Garden Book I saw how focused he was on seeing what plants prospered, how many seeds and fruit they produced, and what failed each growing season.

Looking along the edge of the Vegetable Garden to the Garden Pavilion, with the vineyards and orchards of the Fruit Garden below.

Next we took a walk through the winding Flower Garden in front of the house.  Debbie Donley, head flower gardener, told us about how Jefferson wrote to his granddaughter, Anne Randolph, while he was President, sharing his ideas for an expanded flower garden, and sent back sketches including winding paths, oval beds, and natural curves (below).

Monticello: letter and garden/flowerbeds (layout), verso, 7 June 1807, by Thomas Jefferson. N147gg; M15 (electronic edition). Thomas Jefferson Papers: An Electronic Archive. Boston, Mass: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2003.

The colors and feelings of the Flower Garden were unforgettable, and I loved seeing the Victorian-esque color of the Pincushion Flower, the strangeness of Love In the Mist, a Balsam Apple (look for the Balsam Pear in the Hereford Mini-Farm!), and feeling the amazing Sensitive Plant.  Debbie said that Jefferson may have planted them to entertain his grandchildren, since the leaves curl up as you touch them.

Pincushion Flower (Scabiosa atropurpurea 'Mourning Bride')

Love-in-a-mist seed pods (Nigella damascena)

Balsam Apple seed pod (Momordica balsamina)

We were all entertained by the Sensitive Plant for a while.

Sensitive Plant (Mimosa pudica) curling up as I touch the leaves.

On my way out, I saw a familiar Tucson flower: the Lantana.  Out of all the flowers I had seen that day, the Lantana was the only one that I could have recognized seven years ago when I moved here from Tucson.  I realized how far we have come this summer, how much I have learned, and how much I want to continue to garden and grow.  Looking at all the beauty around Monticello made me wish I had an acre of land and endless hours to spend cultivating and exploring.

Lantana (Lantana camara)

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