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Monticello, the House and Ornamental Gardens

August 12th, 2010

Monticello is much more than the vegetables gardens that I showed you yesterday, although these were my favorite part. Thomas Jefferson designed and built the house, tearing parts of it down and rebuilding it over and over again to suit his changing tastes. He wrote “Architecture is my delight, and putting up, and pulling down, one of my favorite amusements.”

If you haven’t read much about him, I’d highly recommend it. He was an interesting fellow, perhaps one of the last few true Renaissance men, interesting in just about everything. He had a huge influences on many aspects of life as we know it now, bringing new ideas in the areas of architecture and gardening. He kept meticulous records of everything he did, from the daily weather to what was planted in the garden and how much he harvested. His notes and experiments helped understand the idea of gardening zones and plants that survived and thrived in different climates.

Thomas Jefferson said of himself that he was not an inventor, simply an adapter. You can see his adaptations of all kinds of things around the house. From the weathervane on the front porch roof that allowed him to see the direction of the wind without going outside if if was raining to the rain catchment system to gather water from the terraces.

When Mr Chiots and I visited Monticello, we looked around the vegetable gardens first, then we took the “Behind the Scenes” tour. After that we did the regular house tour and walked around the grounds a little more. We didn’t do the Plantation Tour or the Garden Tour, we simply ran out of steam. Here’s a slide show of some of the other interesting things about Monticello, from the Chinese railings, to the cat doors in the closets on the third floor and the ornamental gardens that surround the roundabout at the front of the house. Here’s another slide show of the rest of the Monticello, the house and the ornamental gardens. To view in full screen click on the icon in the top left hand corner, click the same icon to exit full screen mode.
[flashgallery folder=”Visiting_monticello”]

If you’d like to read up on Thomas Jefferson and Monticello I’d highly recommend these books: Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello is a great book, in depth with lots of photos of the house and the gardens, not too wordy though so as to lose your attention. The Gardens of Monticello is a small book that focuses on the gardens of Monticello, a quick read if you don’t have much time. If you’re interested in an in depth read about the farm and gardens of Monticello I’d recommend The Garden and Farm Books of Thomas Jefferson. If you’re more of a documentary type, both Thomas Jefferson by Ken Burns and Thomas Jefferson – A View From the Mountain are good.

I have to admit, Thomas Jefferson is probably one of my most favorite historical persons to read about. I find him quite fascinating in all aspects of his life.

Do you enjoy reading about historical persons such as Thomas Jefferson? who’s your favorite?

Here’s a slideshow of the Vegetable Gardens from my visit.

15 Comments to “Monticello, the House and Ornamental Gardens”
  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by mark mile, Susy Morris. Susy Morris said: #Monticello, the House and Ornamental Gardens #photos #travel […]

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  2. Greg on August 12, 2010 at 8:27 am

    Huh. First comment, eh? Interesting…

    Thomas Jefferson was an amazing guy. I found a collection of his writings, and have found that fascinating to read through. It’s just called Thomas Jefferson: In His Own Words. There’s a link to it somewhere on my site.

    I, too, love learning about great people. Especially in their own words, as much as possible. It’s amazing to see not only the talent (which Jefferson had in more than an abundance) but the integrity and character with which they respond to the opportunities and challenges placed before them. Encourages me to attempt the same.

    I wrote extensively not too long ago about an historical figure that I had previously not know of, William Wilberforce. He single-handedly changed the world, really. Gave his entire life to ending the African slave trade (and then focused on helping people in India, too). Again, links on my site to books/articles about him.

    Thanks for sharing all the pictures and stories. I think we Campbells will have to make a trip to Monticello someday, too!

    Reply to Greg's comment

  3. Amy on August 12, 2010 at 10:05 am

    Leonardo da Vinci and Mark Twain……..

    Reply to Amy's comment

  4. Turling on August 12, 2010 at 10:05 am

    I’m a big fan of Teddy Roosevelt. Not a gardener, but an avid outdoorsman and proponent of our National Parks.

    Reply to Turling's comment

  5. Rhonda on August 12, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    I love Thomas Jefferson. Ever since watching the “John Adams” mini-series, I’ve been obsessed with both Adams, Jefferson and the Revolutionary War. I ended up buying several books about them but my favorite book thus far is the one that contains the letters between Jefferson and Adams. It’s very Interesting! “The Adams-Jefferson Letters: The complete Correspondence between Thomas Jefferson & Abigail & John Adams” Edited By Lester J. Capon.

    Something else … Adams and Jefferson both died July 4, 1826 within hours of each other. Spooky. :-)

    Reply to Rhonda's comment

    • Rhonda on August 12, 2010 at 12:51 pm

      Sorry … the editor’s name is Cappon, NOT Capon (ha ha)

      Reply to Rhonda's comment

  6. MAYBELLINE on August 12, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    Thank you for the tour.

    Reply to MAYBELLINE's comment

  7. Blake @ Salt, Teak & Fog on August 12, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    Funny, as I posted on my blog earlier this summer, I’ve been having quite the Jefferson year. Lots of reading and wishing that I could visit Monticello! I’m envious of your trip but am grateful for the photos. The veg garden would definitely be my first stop, too. Another interesting book to add to the mix is Saving Monticello by Mark Leepson. In short, it’s about the property-rights struggles that occurred after Jefferson’s death. Really fascinating characters and outrageous struggles.

    Reply to Blake @ Salt, Teak & Fog's comment

  8. baby crib on August 13, 2010 at 6:45 am

    Isn’t that wonderful? I love the photos that you post. But what I really love the most is the last picture. That statue is so fascinating. I wish I can have a chance to visit that place.

    Reply to baby crib's comment

    • Susy on August 13, 2010 at 8:25 pm

      Yes, it’s actual size, Thomas was a tall man for his era.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  9. Rose on August 17, 2010 at 8:50 am

    I have to admit I have mixed feelings about the man; when he meant “to defend one’s right” to free speech, he certainly didn’t mean the slaves he was keeping!

    On my mum’s side, I am a direct descendant to George Mason. My mum even still has his diary which was handed down from my great-gran. I read it once and it really profoundly interested me – and really spoke to the Human Condition which, obviously, hasn’t changed over the centuries. I found him much more inspirational, personally.

    Reply to Rose's comment

    • Susy on August 17, 2010 at 9:25 am

      I believe we need to look at historical figures in the cultural context from the time they lived in, we can’t judge them by what we believe now and through the eyes of our modern culture. If we didn’t do this we wouldn’t be able appreciate any of the work of our founding father’s or many other historical figures because they often viewed women as lesser people as well, along with many other cultural and social groups.

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  10. Rose on August 17, 2010 at 8:54 am

    Edited to add: It is credited that Mason also owned slaves; but again by reading his diary I know there was considerably more going on there which probably would have had him lose his position of state if he’d let on – it was more like a halfway house, precursor to underground railroad and at the same time didn’t just release slaves to just be caught again or to starve to death. There were hints of Shelly’s Utopia – I keep convincing my mum to put it into print but she won’t have any of it.

    Reply to Rose's comment

  11. The Vegetable Garden at Monticello | Chiot's Run on August 17, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    […] a slideshow of the House and Ornamental Gardens from my visit. Filed under Miscellaneus, Photos | Comments […]

    Reply to The Vegetable Garden at Monticello | Chiot’s Run's comment

  12. Lelo on August 19, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    Yeah! Such a beautiful garden to visit. I’ve been there! The flowers that I remember the most? Cockscomb. So strange and beautiful at the the same time. I see you saw the cleome. Another beauty.

    Reply to Lelo's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

Read previous post:
The Vegetable Gardens at Monticello

As promised, I made a slide show for you of my favorite photos of the Monticello vegetable gardens. It sure...