Last Sunday, the TJDG hosted our very first (but hopefully not last!) TJ’s Fall Garden Party! We’ve busily been preparing the past few weeks, planning the menu, organizing the activities, and advertising to our friends, students, and other members of the Charlottesville community.
Everyone contributed to make this event a success. We had a respectable crowd arrive by 2 PM; guests meandered from our demonstration table of dyes and plants to our table full of delicious garden-themed food and finished with an interactive tour by Chelsea to get to know the garden a little better.
All of our best culinary skills were on display and we had a beautiful table of fall harvest food. Marissa and Kari contributed chips and Lily brought her signature caramelized onion dip, a tribute to the onions we had grown in the garden. Apple cider, pumpkin cake, and apple crumble cake from Rachael added to the harvest theme.
Chelsea made a sunchoke salad, intertwining the flavors of ginger and currants to highlight the excellent flavor of the Jerusalem artichokes. Emily rolled nasturtium leaves with a salmon cucumber cream cheese and plain cream cheese with chives to make a bite-size snack of our plant by the greenhouse.. She also mixed butter, lemon zest, and minced nasturtium blossoms for a spread on French bread slices. The recipes can be found here: http://oldfashionedliving.com/nasturtiums2.html.
Kari used dried soapwort to make a lemon-scented soap, which she demonstrated to guests. The soap has an earthy, fresh scent and visitors were thrilled to take home small bottles of samples and recipe cards!
After guests tried out all of our delicious treats, Chelsea gave the overall history and mission of the TJDG. She explained the layout of the garden and how it is divided into rooms, common for gardens of Thomas Jefferson’s era. She showed guests around the garden, explaining some of the plants’ features and uses. Interesting to guests was the wormwood contains thujone, an addictive substance more commonly known as an element of absinthe. Marissa dug up peanuts (or whatever the squirrels have left) to show our visitors, though we cautioned them they are toxic unless dried for two weeks before consuming. We also dug up the root tubers of the Jerusalem artichoke. Guests were fascinated that the name actually comes from a mispronounciation of the original Italian and the tubers are good for diabetes to consume because it aids in processing insulin.
Overall, it was a beautiful experience to share our garden , useful plants, and cooking skills to the guests to celebrate Thomas Jefferson’s vision. It was a great way to share Our love of good and the garden brought together close friends and first-time visitors. Thank you to everyone that contributed and everyone that attended our garden party! We look forward to learning from the experience and planning many such events in the future!