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Bringing Monticello Home

August 13th, 2010

I’ve been wanting to get a terracotta cloche for quite a while now. I don’t know why I like them so much, I think they’re quite beautiful in the garden and useful for blanching and protecting plants. They’re not readily available here in the U.S. so they’re difficult to find. While searching on-line I saw that they were available for purchase at Monticello and I had every intention of buying one.

I’d saved up some money, but when I was standing in the gift shop looking at the $125 price tag I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I’m a very frugal person, so spending that much money on one item to sit in the garden seemed ridiculous, no matter how much I love them. Especially given the fact that our gardens are surrounded by huge trees that frequently drop branches. My luck I’d take it home, put it in the garden and we’d get a summer storm that would knock a big branch out of a tree right on top of it.

Instead of buying a cloche, I settled on purchasing a few plants. They’re a much better purchase anyways, I’ll be able to propagate them for gifts or for additional plants. It’s also a great way to have a little piece of Monticello at home. Most of the plants I bought will be houseplants during the winter and outdoor potted plants during the summer. What varieties of plants did I purchase?

A dwarf weeping lantana, a buttery yellow one just like the one seen in this flower bed. It is not a hardy plant, so I’ll be overwintering it in the house. I’ve overwintered regular lantana in the house successfully so this shouldn’t be a problem.

I also purchased a fig tree of the variety ‘Brunswick’ which is only hardy to a zone 6b. I may be able to wrap it and successfully overwinter it outside, but I think I’ll put it in the basement this winter. I’ll take starts next spring and then try overwintering it outside when I have more than one plant. I have a ‘Hardy Chicago’ fig that I successfully overwintered in the basement this past year. It’s quite large now after only one summer of good growth, perhaps next year I’ll get a few figs from it.

I also purchased two small variegated lemon trees (one for my mom) and a key lime tree, which will become a houseplants in the winter and spend their summers outside on the back porch. I’ve been wanting to get a nice potted citrus for a while and they were well priced at Monticello. Let’s hope they survive and I’ll be harvesting fresh citrus in a few years!

We bought these plants only a few days into our trip, so we had to spend a few days traveling with plants. I kept telling Mr Chiots people probably wondered what we were doing. If anyone asked, I was going to say that we always traveled with plants to help clean the air of the hotel room. The funny thing is we actually met a guy at our hotel that was traveling with a HUGE potted dumb cane plant. We mentioned to him that we thought we were the only ones with plants in our room and both got a good laugh.

I love buying or getting starts of plants as souvenirs, so much better to have a plant in the garden than something to dust inside!

Do you ever buy or get starts of plants when you travel?

Here’s a slideshow of the Vegetable Gardens from my visit,
and a slideshow of the House and Ornamental Gardens from my visit.

15 Comments to “Bringing Monticello Home”
  1. Sue on August 13, 2010 at 5:17 am

    I wanted to bring home a very unusual cactus from Mesa, AZ but hubby wouldn’t let me buy it…we were on day 5 of a 30 day trip. I guess he was right, but I sure do wish I had it!
    And I have to say, I’m with you on buying that cloche. Very beautiful, but I wouldn’t feel right spending that kind of money on one small item. Much better deal with the plants! (but if someone GAVE you one for Christmas, how cool would THAT be!)

    Reply to Sue's comment

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  3. Bell Pepper on August 13, 2010 at 8:33 am

    While I was at the Hoover Dam I happened across a dried Rose of Jericho plant, sometimes called a Century Plant, in the gift shop. It had nothing to do with the Hoover damn but I bought it anyway. So most of the time it collects dust but at christmas i put it in a bowl of water and it opens up nicely. Best of both worlds?

    Reply to Bell Pepper's comment

  4. Turling on August 13, 2010 at 10:05 am

    125 dollars!!??!!?? US Dollars??!!??!! That’s highway robbery. I’m glad you refrained.

    Safe to say, I have never purchased a plant while travelling on vacation. Now, I have purchased many bottles that contain plants that have gone through a fermenting or distilling process, but it never occurred to me to buy an actual plant.

    Reply to Turling's comment

  5. MAYBELLINE on August 13, 2010 at 10:39 am

    I buy plants locally that can prove they can take the conditions. No wonder you can hardly wait for spring. i think I would nut up having to bring plants inside.

    Reply to MAYBELLINE's comment

  6. Whitney on August 13, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    Delurking… Those cloches would be super easy for a potter to make. Shipping would be expensive, so I would stay away from Etsy. Contact a local studio (I take classes at our modern art museum) and see if they can put you in touch with someone. That way you can specify exact size and whether or not you want them glazed. The terra cotta might be the hard part, but I would imagine other earthenware clays would work. I’m sure you’ll find someone to do them for half the price.

    Reply to Whitney's comment

    • Susy on August 13, 2010 at 8:26 pm

      That’s a great idea, I must look into this option. I love finding local people to make things for me.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  7. stefaneener on August 13, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    Those variegated lemons are really pretty. I’ve thought of putting one in here. Traveling with plants is fun, but we often can’t bring plant materials into our state.

    Reply to stefaneener's comment

  8. Amy on August 13, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    Yes……I do buy plants whenever I travel…….Oftentimes it isn’t so much fun for the rest of the family that has had to cope with them for hours on the way home……but I have gotten some beauties this way…….They are nice keepsakes from wonderful vacations…..I just bought a Meyer’s Lemon Tree and am waiting for it to get a bit bigger and fill my house with wonderful citrus smells and lovely fruit!

    Reply to Amy's comment

  9. Helen on August 13, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    I always bring plants home from my travels, if I dont my family think I’m unwell! I even managed to bring some seeds back from my recent trip to Italy.
    Hope your plants do well

    Reply to Helen's comment

    • Susy on August 13, 2010 at 8:26 pm

      Oh yes, I pick seed pods whenever I’m out and about hoping that they’ll germinate so I can introduce new plants into the garden.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  10. Wendy on August 13, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    My husband and I bought two plants on our honeymoon. Even though we don’t travel much, we buy plants to commemorate our anniversary each year.

    Reply to Wendy's comment

  11. Wenchypoo on August 14, 2010 at 8:03 am

    Make your own cloches with an overturned clay planting pot and a drip saucer on top to cover the hole.

    Reply to Wenchypoo's comment

    • Susy on August 14, 2010 at 9:01 am

      I know, I do use this method in the spring, especially to protect tomatoes I’ve already planted in the ground. There’s something irrational in me though, that just loves a bell shaped cloche and really wants one!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  12. Growing Like a Champ | Chiot's Run on October 25, 2011 at 4:47 am

    […] when I talked about the plants I purchased on my trip to Monticello? One of the plants was a small variegated citrus. I potted it up after we […]

    Reply to Growing Like a Champ | Chiot’s Run'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.

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Monticello, the House and Ornamental Gardens

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