Garden Journal: Week of 2/12

Welcome back to another beautiful season of gardening! The TJDG staff has joyfully expanded to include three new interns: Marissa Friedman, Yong Shin, and Sharon Ellison.

The TJDG gardeners at Monticello's Tufton Farm

On February 11th, we TJDG Gardeners had our first outing of the semester: The Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants at Monticello’s Tufton Farm; Tufton was one of Jefferson’s original satellite farms. Waiting at the greenhouse door to greet us when we arrived were Hannah, the black lab, and Lily Fox-Bruguiere, gardener extraordinaire and new coordinator of the CHP. Both were glowing to be in a place with so much burgeoning life defying the cold of the season. Lily led us on a tour of the property: the workspace (where we seeded, but I’ll get to that later), the Greenhouse, the perennial garden, the Lath House, the Léonie Bell Noisette Rose Garden, and the rose border.

The Greenhouse

Inside the greenhouse

Stepping through the door, the un-wintry warmth washes over your body. Amazing scents from all sorts of flowers fill your nostrils and your mouth involuntarily smiles. Below are the misting benches, wooden structures matching and facing one another with enough space to walk through and place our newly seeded trays down on heat pads. There are moisture detectors at the end of each table top; when the device registers it is too dry (by a weighing apparatus) the misting sprinklers turn on above the seedlings and everything gets a moistening.

The misters turned on and gave us all a damp demonstration of how they work!

Out from the shelter of the mist space, the plants become older as you walk toward the back of the room. From plants that had been seeded or started from cuttings a month or so ago, to the parent plants from which the cutting had been done, the greenhouse is full of both new and familiar plants to see and smell.

The sliding tables in the greenhouse: these tables move, just like moving library stacks!

The old wooden tables in the greenhouse

The Garden

Inside the gate...

Walking in the heavy-duty garden fence, bare beds filled our minds with thoughts of the beauties they hold in the spring. Hellebores abound!

The winter garden: flowers, be back soon!

From there we cruised into the “Lath House,” where shade-loving plants like Virginia Bluebells and ferns will come up soon. Lots of pretty greenery tangle their way in here! (When Lily F.-B. introduced this structure, I thought she said “Laugh” house, and I thought that a splendid name for it! I figured it was named due to the event of a good laugh happening there. Lath is a decent name, but I think I’ll call the lath house I build “The Laugh House!”)

The Lath House

Around the corner is the Léonie Bell Rose Garden, filled with heirloom noisette roses. May not look like much now, but come May, the roses will be in bloom and heart-stoppingly gorgeous!

The Léonie Bell Rose Garden


After seeing the grounds, our little group of gardeners trotted back inside the work house to prepare seeds for the spring planting! Starting off, we shuffled soil into the seed trays, then delicately placed 3 seeds in each compartment, no deeper in the soil than two times the width of the seed. For the TJDG we started both Pot Marigold (Calendula officinalis) and ‘Jaune Paille des Vertus’ Onion (Allium cepa). For the Center for Historic Plants, we also planted seeds of broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, cabbage, hyssop, wormwood, and peppers.

Hands into the soil

Calendula seeds for planting

Preparing to plant!

After completing a tray, we took them into the greenhouse and placed them in the misting area, gave them a good soaking, and left them to germinate.

It is exciting to have the seeds we’ll be planting in the ground this spring germinating not far from the TJDG. Now, in these spontaneously cold and lovely winter days, the TJDG gardeners are working away at creating a plant guidebook for your viewing pleasure! Until next week–stay warm, stay smiling!

~ Lily Cartwright ~

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