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Visiting Monticello

August 10th, 2010

Last Monday (August 2) Mr Chiots and I finally found our way to Monticello after wanting to go for years. We were wondering how we’d like it, after going to Longwood Gardens several times, most other gardens pale in comparison. The main part of Monticello I’ve really been wanting to see is the vegetable garden. It’s quite impressive in photos and I must say, it’s equally impressive in person, I was not disappointed. This was one of two asparagus patches, now that’s about the size I need since we love asparagus so much (that’s yours truly in the photo).

We woke up to the perfect day, overcast with temperatures in the low 70’s. Considering the temperatures before and after our trip were in the 90’s we were so lucky. We arrived early, about 15 minutes before it opened (which was at 9am), which turned out to be quite an advantage. We were able to get our tickets right away and head up the path through the woods.


We arrived in the vegetable garden right around 9 am. I’d highly recommend arriving 15-20 minutes before opening and making a beeline for the vegetable garden if that’s what you’re interested in. We had the garden all to ourselves for about 45 minutes. It seems everyone else that arrived when we did toured the house first, then they went to the gardens.

It was very nice to be able to get some great photos of the garden with only one of the gardeners around, he was picking all of the eggplants and peppers that morning. I’ve read the vegetables harvested are distributed to the Monticello employees.

One of the things that I found fascinating about the gardens was the use of natural materials. All trellises and plant supports were built from saplings and twigs. Since they didn’t have Gardner’s Supply back then selling all shapes and sizes of supports, they used with what they had. I have to admit, it makes for a much more beautiful garden. The natural materials blend beautifully into the garden.

This is something I try to do here at Chiot’s Run, I’ve blogged about using twigs for my peas just like they do in the gardens at Monticello. I have plenty of saplings and twigs around since our gardens are surrounded by woods so it’s a very frugal plant support option.

The plants were tagged with large tags, which were easy to read and written in a lovely script. I don’t know if this is how Jefferson tagged them, or if this was done for the benefit of the visitors. They were quite lovely. Something I definitely want to find a way to make and use in my garden. Looks like a project for Mr Chiots to do someday. Here’s a slideshow of the Monticello vegetable gardens if you’d like to see more.

We didn’t just look around the gardens, we also toured the house, and the Behind the Scenes tour, which takes you up into the rotunda and through the second and third floors in the house. You have to have a tour time to go through the main house, and it seemed kind of rushed. It was interesting, but not nearly as interesting to me as the gardens.

The behind the scenes tour was much more laid back and the group was smaller. Our tour guide was very good, and you are also allowed to take photos, which you aren’t on the main house tour. They also have garden tours and plantation tours that are free and you don’t have to get a tour time reservation. We didn’t go on either of these since we were tired and hungry and I’ve read a lot about the gardens and the plantations so I knew all about them.

Tomorrow I’ll post a slideshow of the gardens at Monticello for you to enjoy, I didn’t want this post to get too long! Truly I could blog about this for a week.

I can finally check this garden off my list and work my way down through the other gardens I want to see, like Mt Vernon, Williamsburg, Longwood in summer, and many more.

Any great gardens you’d like to recommend to add to my list?

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

18 Comments to “Visiting Monticello”
  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by mark mile, Susy Morris. Susy Morris said: Visiting #Monticello http://goo.gl/fb/dDw1t #miscellaneus #travel […]

    Reply to Tweets that mention Visiting Monticello | Chiot’s Run — Topsy.com's comment

  2. Helen on August 10, 2010 at 7:27 am

    How fantastic that you got to go to Monticello. I have it on my wish list too but have the Atlantic to cross first!! You are right to go to the veg patch first. I often find that going to the bit you really want to see first when the garden opens and then working your way back is the best bet as you avoid the crowds and get fab pics. Looking forward to seeing your photos on the next post.

    Reply to Helen's comment

  3. Diane@Peaceful Acres on August 10, 2010 at 7:37 am

    I too love the gardens of the Colonial tourist sites. I still remember seeing Monticelllo as a child with my Gma. You will love Mt Vernon. We’ve spent so much time in Colonial Williamsburg and still my favorite place is to wonder through open gardens! Just love it!
    Diane@Peaceful Acres´s last post ..County Fair

    Reply to Diane@Peaceful Acres's comment

  4. Amy on August 10, 2010 at 8:12 am

    Thank you for the pictures……I have been to Monticello’s gardens and found them so beautiful……Another garden I have found beautiful was in Manteo North Carolina~The Elizabethan Gardens…….Often on our vacations to the Outer Bank when I was a child and later a teen we would stop at Monticello first and then The Elizabethan…….Both figured highly in my appreciation for…….and creativity in…….gardening as I got older…….Thank you again and I am looking forward to the slide show……It has been years now since I have visited…..

    Reply to Amy's comment

  5. Turling on August 10, 2010 at 9:38 am

    Abosolutely beautiful. I look forward to the slideshow.
    Turling´s last post ..Yosemite

    Reply to Turling's comment

  6. Louise on August 10, 2010 at 10:16 am

    Thank you for sharing your Monticello trip with us. It looks beautiful, can wait until tomorrow.

    Reply to Louise's comment

  7. Stacy on August 10, 2010 at 11:33 am

    I’m a member of Longwood – plan a whole day to see it. Now matter what time of year, it’s just gorgeous.

    (And MAKE SURE you leave an hour or so to stop in at Terrain at Stylers just down the road!)

    Reply to Stacy's comment

  8. lee on August 10, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    I can’t wait to see the rest of the pics tomorrow. If you ever venture west, then you have to visit The Huntington Library in San Marino.

    Reply to lee's comment

  9. Dave on August 10, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    Very neat! I would love to go back to Monticello sometime (I was little when I was there last) now that I have an appreciation for all the gardening that Jefferson did. Those plant tags are really nice and that display of asparagus is very impressive!
    Dave´s last post ..Seven More Switchgrasses

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  10. Sincerely, Emily on August 10, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Thank you for the “tour”. It looks like a fabulous place to see. Thanks. Emily in So. TX

    Reply to Sincerely, Emily's comment

  11. Amy @ Homestead Revival on August 10, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    I’ve longed to go to this area and tour. Someday…

    Try Buchart Gardens in Victoria if you’re ever in the Northwest of Canada. I had a chance to see these when we went on vacation. Lovely for flowers. I recently tried to see the gardens and chickens at Long Meadow Ranch in St. Helena, CA, but they were closed to tours when I went. They do a whole farm-to-table dining experience which I’ll be blogging about on Saturday.

    The plant tags… I use these same wood stakes, but find that a sharpie pen bleeds and then when water hits them, they get worse. I’d love to hear what kind of pen to use for calligraphy and if they seal it with anything, so let us know if you find out.
    Amy @ Homestead Revival´s last post ..What Is Simple Living

    Reply to Amy @ Homestead Revival's comment

    • Pat Brodowski on August 17, 2010 at 4:26 pm

      Hello Amy,
      I’m the Vegetable Gardener at Monticello and I create the wooden plant stakes. I happen to know calligraphy, something I started back in high school. So this is what I do: First, we purchase wooden stakes from Hummert. We used thin stakes, which are cheaper, but I wanted something tough to withstand our dogs running over them, and also long enough for some of the plant names. I think the stakes are about 3/8 inch and 15 inches long. Since I use a square nib pen and ink , the stakes are first sanded extremely well and given a coat of polyurethane. Then a quick, light sanding before applying the ink. I am probably using acrylic ink — know to not shrink when inking on a plastic surface. The calligraphy is freehand. Then I apply 3 more coats of polyurethane to seal it in. The edges and point are important to coat well, since they are exposed to moisture. Organizing the stakes is a good idea. We alphabetize ours by plant group, such as brassica, legume, and so on. The flower gardener categorizes her stakes by season. Hope this helps!

      Reply to Pat Brodowski's comment

      • Susy on August 17, 2010 at 9:09 pm

        Thanks so much, I’ll be making some for my garden for sure!

        to Susy's comment

  12. Throwback at Trapper Creek on August 10, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    Lovely Susy! If you ever get to Oregon, check out Edgefield, which was our our county poor farm originally. Now it is a hotel, tastefully restored, with a brew pub and distillery on the grounds. The gardens are only about 19 years old but amazing in their own right. The vegetable gardens and orchard are my favorite along with the Ruby ale of course :)
    http://www.mcmenamins.com/54-edgefield-home

    Thanks for the tour of Monticello!

    Reply to Throwback at Trapper Creek's comment

    • Susy on August 10, 2010 at 11:10 pm

      I do want to come to Oregon, it’s one of the few states I haven’t visited and one I really want to visit.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  13. dig this chick on August 10, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    I haven’t been here in a bit and, whenever that happens, I am always happy to read what you are up to! How cool. That asparagus patch?! Holy hell sister. I’m with ya. Even with the funky pee smell (Margot thinks it’s cool).

    Fun to see you in a photo!
    dig this chick´s last post ..roses and thorns

    Reply to dig this chick's comment

  14. Xan from Mahlzeit on August 13, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    I practically grew up at Longwood Gardens, and you’re so right; I’ve never been to another botanic garden that measures up. You’ve definitely put Monticello on my bucket list!
    Xan from Mahlzeit´s last post ..What the hell gardening

    Reply to Xan from Mahlzeit's comment

  15. Peggy Cornett on August 17, 2010 at 10:00 am

    This is a terrific piece. I’m in the Monticello gardens daily, but now I see it in a new light. many thanks! P Cornett, curator of plants at Monticello

    Reply to Peggy Cornett's comment

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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 just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.

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