Posted by Monticello’s Keith Nevison and Jason Young
Take a look at what’s happening outdoors! 2020 is already shaping up to be an exciting year for Monticello’s Farm and Gardens, including our Center for Historic Plants, Center for Food and Farming and landscapes on the mountaintop.
A Kitchen Garden at Bartholdi Park
A few months back we were invited to plant a Thomas Jefferson-themed kitchen garden at the United States Botanic Garden’s Bartholdi Park (our colleagues at Mount Vernon were also invited to plant a George Washington garden). This spectacular garden is located directly adjacent to the U.S. Capitol and provides the perfect backdrop to showcase some of Jefferson’s favorite vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers. In addition, we’ll display crops gathered from Native American tribes during the Lewis & Clark Corps of Discovery and cultural plants grown by enslaved African Americans at Monticello. Throughout 2020, this garden will transition to feature spring, summer and fall plants in peak bloom, and we are hard at work producing content that highlights the unique role Thomas Jefferson had in promoting horticulture across America and his contribution along with other Founding Fathers in chartering a U.S. Botanic Garden 200 years ago for the nation’s capital.
Down on the Tufton Farm
On the home front, we’re recruiting a full-time Farm Associate to join our team who will work alongside the Farm & Nursery Manager to expand crop production to 2 acres at Tufton Farm! We will be producing more food, featuring more varieties, and are working closely with Monticello’s newly hired Farm Table Manager David Givens to create seasonal menus that highlight Jefferson’s epicurean tendencies, including African American crops that were grown by the enslaved community at Monticello and featured on its tables. We will continue meticulously maintaining our expanded apiaries to “baby the bees” and produce honey and bee products for the Shop at Monticello and Monticello Farm & Garden products.
At the Center for Historic Plants we’re growing as well, and will welcome a full-time Nursery Associate to our team soon. We continue to expand our seed, bare root and potted plant inventories to include more Jefferson-documented and native plants, along with choice selections for home gardens. We’ve stepped up our regular and precise testing of each seed variety and now feature germination rates stamped directly on every packet that we sell in the Shop and online. We hope this provides peace of mind and results in improved performance for everyone who plants our seeds!
A Gardening We Grow
It’s a busy time for our gardeners as well! Our Gardens and Grounds team got a new toy, a Vermeer BC1200XL woodchipper. This will increase our capacity to manage the trees and woods that surround the Monticello Mountain and other areas on the campus. It is capable of chewing up a whole tree in minutes and making fresh woodchips. Later composted woodchips will be used in planting beds.
Peggy Cornett, Curator of Plants at Monticello, has a busy few weeks ahead in South Carolina. On February 8th she’ll be in Greenville at the 19th Annual Symposium of Greater Greenville Master Gardeners Association, presenting with her hero Dr. Doug Tallamy. And just down the road on the 10th you can find her in Spartanburg speaking with Aaron Bertelsen, horticulturist for Great Dixter Gardens in England. https://www.sccsc.edu/explore/arborevents.php. Way to go Peggy!
And finally, in 2020 areas that receive less regular mowing and maintenance around Monticello Mountain will be seeded with native grasses and flowers. This is an attempt to increase diversity and show the grasses that Jefferson would have seen.
Phew – lots in store! Stand by for more updates as we go, and please put us on your 2020 visit list!
As a reminder, all purchases support the non-profit Thomas Jefferson Foundation in our mission to preserve Monticello and interpret and present Thomas Jefferson to the widest audience possible.