The New Bohemians in Jefferson’s Garden


When visiting Monticello most visitors crowd together tightly, with twenty others, for a view of the main floor of the house and call it good. We of course spent most of our time in the gardens. We had our own personal guide and had an audience with the chief gardener, who answered the few questions our guide was unable to answer. We had no schedule, no groups awaited our departure, and we had the space to absorb all that we’d learned about the creative, scientific garden experiments of perhaps our favorite Founding Father.

If you visit Monticello, do take the house tour, but leave a couple of hours for the orchards and gardens. They give as much insight into the mind of Thomas Jefferson as his eclectic approach to architecture. The man who wrote our Declaration of Independence was a scientific thinker, and that should tell us something about how we should guide the future of the Republic.


The New Bohemians in Jefferson’s Garden — 1 Comment

  1. Cheryl and I visited Monticello several times, and also his “get-away cottage” at Poplar Forest, a miniature Monticello. We were, of course, impressed by his skills as an architect and gardener, and by his intellectual acumen.

    But I was most impressed to realize that he used slave labor to build his homes and serve in the houses and gardens and fields. He had as many as 135 slaves at any one time, and maybe as many as 600 in total worked for him over his lifetime. Though in principle he was opposed to slavery, in practice he was no less a slave-holder than any of his neighbors. When he died in 1826, all his properties, including his slaves, were sold at auction to pay his debts totaling $100,000.

    George Washington, on the other hand, was also opposed to slavery, but not as publicly as Jefferson. Yet in his will he freed his slaves, providing for them in advance of his death, so that most of them would not be impoverished.

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