Monticello Heritage Harvest Festival

“But though I am an old man, I am but a young gardener”
Thomas Jefferson to Charles Willson Peake 1811

Thomas Jefferson is one of my biggest heroes. He and George Washington loomed large in my imagination as a child and throughout my school years. In fact my graduate work focused on the tour of English gardens that Jefferson and Adams took together in 1786. I’ve been happy to see the renewed interest in the personalities surrounding the founding of our country and have enjoyed the numerous histories and television programs such as the John Adams series.

Although I’m a few centuries too late to meet the man, I can still learn a lot from Thomas Jefferson by visiting his home Monticello. In fact, I used many of the ideas gleaned there to design the Garden Home Retreat.

On September 16 I’m heading to Monticello for the fifth annual Heritage Harvest Festival celebrating Jefferson as America’s “first foodie.” Appropriate title don’t you think?

You can learn from Jefferson too when you attend this family-friendly weekend featuring food, music and workshops.  I’m giving the keynote address Reflections on Jefferson: Gardening, Farming and Democracy on Friday the 16th at 6 p.m. Hope you can join me for a lively discussion and good food. Click here to learn more.

The mountain top estate and other farms encompassed over 9,000 acres at its peak.

Construction on the house that we know today was started in 1769.

Lord Burlington's Chiswick house and gardens. Jefferson visited English gardens with John Adams in 1786

The 1,000 foot long vegetable terrace with views of Mount Alto beyond.

Flowers specific to Jefferson's time line the walks at Monticello today.

A springtime view of the gardens and orchards, which were essential to the vitality of the estate..

Jefferson's garden book, which he kept from 1766 - 1824, illustrates this commitment to trialing new plant varieties & his scientific appraoch to botany, farming & gardening.

Jefferson kept a pet Mockingbird sometime during his tenure as president between 1801 - 1809..

Photos courtesy of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation.

7 Responses to Monticello Heritage Harvest Festival

  1. Susan Ann Zoeller says:

    Nice pictures Allen! They are two of my favorites also. I like your farm the best. Hope you had a good growing season.

  2. Cindy Menn says:

    It’s interesting that Jefferson kept a mockingbird as a pet. I had never heard that before. In my observations, mockingbirds seem to be solitary compared to other birds. Bluejays travel in packs, cardinals seem to show-up as mates and then mates with youngsters. Doves always arrive in groups as do the starlings and blackbirds. I’ve grown very attatched to the mockingbird that includes my garden in its territory. It likes to eat the asparagus fern berries. Mockingbirds mark their territory by flying to its boundaries and singing. I see this happen at nightfall. Sometimes, when I am out late finishing my garden work, I will talk to it as it perches on my fence to sing. I don’t feel crazy because it does seem to be listening to me!

  3. Linda Siert says:

    Washington and Jefferson are my heros also and my three trips to Monticello were three of the highlights of my life of 67 yrs. Your photos bring back cherished memories and the garden photos make my heart “hurt”. :) They chose well when they asked you to do the keynote address. Enjoy your time!

    PS—–purchased my first “heirloom” fruit today at our local fresh market and can’t wait to see if there is a difference!

  4. Linda L. says:

    Allen: I am pleased to see you write about Jefferson. What is your favorite book written about him? I noted at your home you had several. I wish I could be there to hear your speech. After you give your presentation, please share it with the rest of us.

  5. Mistress Gardener says:

    Hi! Lovin’ the blog! Long time fan, along with my mom, from your PBS shows and books, and appearances elsewhere.

    Wish I could be there to hear your keynote…youtube it? I’ll be moving across the country from MI to AZ the first week of Nov, and was hoping to visit/meet/greet in the lavender , but looks like I missed the dates (plus the gardens may have been put to bed for the winter). ;)

    In AZ previously, I had a mockingbird family that lived in my Canary Island date palm trees. They used to dive-bomb my indoor-outdoor cat for months, I think after she attacked them. :/ They ignored the other cat.

    Any suggestions for other gardens to visit along the way?

  6. Deb says:

    I’m just seeing this post five days later and went to the Monticello site. Tickets are all sold out for your talk. But I may be able to make it to the Saturday a.m. book signing. I hope so as I’d love to get to meet you. We’re only 45 minutes away and have taken many visitors there over the years. I hope you have a wonderful time in VA.

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