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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.

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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.

The Vegetable Gardens at Monticello

August 11th, 2010

As promised, I made a slide show for you of my favorite photos of the Monticello vegetable gardens. It sure was hard to pick and choose the ones to add, I have a ton of photos of the gardens. I finally narrowed it down to 36 of my favorites. Click through the photos below with the arrow buttons on the side of the player, if you click on the small icon in the top left hand corner you can view the slide show in full screen (click the button again to exit full screen mode when you’re finished). It takes a while to load since I uploaded larger files, so be patient, it will be worth the wait!

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This vegetable garden surely is inspirational. I’d love to have one this big, of course when I can retire and have nothing else to do but garden. Until then, I’ll keep these photos to inspire my future gardening efforts.

What did you like most about the vegetable gardens at Monticello?

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

The Spring Garden

May 27th, 2010

In the spring, it takes a while for the garden to ramp up and fill in (although you wouldn’t know it was spring with the hot weather we’ve been having around here). Everything is starting to look really great, especially in the front foundation bed. It can be difficult to time blooming plants so that you have something blooming most of the growing season. Spring is probably the easiest time with peonies, salvias, catmints and sages.


The peonies are blooming as well. Last week my early single peonies bloomed and just as they are fading the big pink ones up by the front fence are starting to come out.

My favorite combination at the moment is lamb’s ears and chives. I planted the lamb’s ears last spring and they’re really coming into their own this year. I’ve been able to dig up a few seedlings to transplant around the gardens. This combination will be making an appearance throughout the gardens in the next couple years as I divide these.

The foxgloves are also just starting to bloom. I have this yellow green variety that grows along the edges of the woods and seeds itself freely. I’m always happy to have more plants each year. They really brighten up the shady edges of the garden. This year I have more than ever and few really nice sized clumps.

I don’t know if I could ever choose a favorite flower. My favorite is usually what’s blooming at the moment.

What’s blooming in your garden at the moment?

Quote of the Day: Aaron Rose

March 21st, 2010


One day when Mr Chiots and I were on a walk, we spotted these dried up weeds in the ditch by the side of the road. They were beautiful in the evening sunlight and caught our eye. Not something I would notice as a thing of beauty on most occasions, but on this evening it certainly was! Often I’m inspired to take photos because of the light. Here are a few other moments that were made extraordinary by the light and moment.










Have you ever noticed something extraordinary because of the light and the moment?

Time Machine: What I was Doing 1 Year Ago

March 15th, 2010

One of things I love about blogging that is encourages me to take tons of photos. I average at least 20 photos a day and some days more than 200 (thank goodness for digital). The best part of taking so many photos is that I have a pictorial journal of everything I’ve been doing for the past 10 years. Digital photos have a time stamp that tells you exactly what date and time the photo was taken – I love this feature. I was wondering yesterday what I was doing on March 15 of last year, so I opened up my photo program, here’s what I found:

I finished off a batch of maple syrup in the morning and put some peas in water to soak for planting the next day. These are the peas that the deer ate, so I never even got to eat any of these.

It was a beautiful spring day so we celebrated by going on a picnic with friends at a local trail. We enjoyed a good lunch and a short hike. The perfect way to enjoy a beautiful spring day besides!


After hiking we came home to get some work done in the garden. I carried 5 trays of seedlings up to enjoy the warm day on the front porch: 3 trays of onions, 1 tray of nice lettuce, and one tray of broccoli & cabbage. This year I barely have some onions that germinated this past week.

I also sifted some compost to amend the soil in the cold frame for a planting lettuce seedlings and beet seeds. This past week I did sow some spinach seeds in the cold frame after amending it with some compost.

These lovely lettuces were planted in the cold frame in the afternoon, they’re only a week or two away from harvesting small leaves for a salad. I don’t even have lettuce yet, except for a few mache plants that overwintered. These are the lettuce seeds that I started to choose the winner of the Freedom Seed contest.

I also started beet seeds in the cold frame. This past Friday and I started spinach in the cold frame.

I also took a ton of photos of the beautiful sunset we enjoyed that evening, what a perfect ending to a perfect day!


I have 165 photos from March 15, 2009. I do need to delete some of them, but I definitely have a great photo journal of what I was doing on this day last year, and what the cats were doing.

Do you remember what you were doing on March 15 last year?

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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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