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Quote of the Day: Patsy Washington

March 21st, 2018

“I think you’re avoiding me, Mrs. Randloph,” William said, bareheaded, shielding his eyes against the sun.

“I think I’m harvesting the garden, Mr Short,” I said from beneath the shadow of my straw hat, fretting that he should come up on me in my housedress, my hands covered in dirt. A Virginia gentleman would’ve pretended not to see the lady of the house hard at work–even if the garden was her sweet escape from the demands of everyone inside the house; a Virginia gentleman would’ve passed by without a word and waiting to address me in polite company.

from America’s First Daughter: A Novel




I started this book last week and am absolutely loving it. It’s especially interesting to me since I’ve read a lot about Thomas Jefferson and have visited Monticello. The book is written from his oldest daughter’s perspective and give a fascinating view, not only about the revolution, but about life in general in those times from a women’s perspective.

Since I visited Monticello, as I read, I can see the different rooms, furniture, and the gardens as they are mentioned.

Have you read any good books lately?

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.

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.

On the Road

August 4th, 2010

Mr Chiots and I are still on the road, we’ll be arriving home later today. Those of you who guessed Monticello were right. I’ve always wanted to go and we finally made it on Monday. After driving up the Skyline Drive, and doing a few short hikes in the Shenandoah Mountains, we ended up in Cumberland, MA and enjoyed some in season soft shelled crab at a small restaurant near our hotel. I haven’t had time even to download all my photos, so I’ll be posting about it more in depth later this week or early next.

Today I’ll leave you with Thomas Jefferson’s 10 Rules to Live by:
1. Never put off tomorrow what you can do today.
2. Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.
3. Never spend your money before you have earned it.
4. Never buy what you don’t want because it is cheap.
5. Pride costs more than hunger, thirst and cold.
6. We seldom repent of having eaten too little.
7. Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.
8. How much pain the evils have cost us that never happened.
9. Take things always by the smooth handle.
10. When angry, count ten before you speak, if very angry, count to a hundred.

Have you ever been to Monticello or a past president’s home?

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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 moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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