In May flowering trees and plants festoon Charlottesville in white and pink blossoms. Petals fall like so much confetti. Pink and white dogwood, magnolia, redbud, azaleas. The annual epidemic of Spring Fever returns.
And Thomas Jefferson, besides being one of America’s Founding Fathers and third President, was a brilliant horticulturist and botanist who clearly understood the importance of working with the land, not fighting against it. Jefferson’s Monticello and the University of Virginia undoubtedly boast two of the most famous gardens in America. His garden is a botanic showpiece, a source of food, and an experimental laboratory of ornamental and useful plants from around the world.
“No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden.”
“Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous and they are tied to their country and wedded to its liberty and interests by the most lasting bands.”
At Monticello, he created a nearly completely sustainable existence. His gardens (330 different vegetable varieties!) and orchards (170 fruit varieties!), which are maintained to be fully operational today, served as both the main source food for Jefferson and his family and a place for experimentation and observation.
Jefferson positioned Monticello on the top of a hillock above a river, surrounded by hills and orchards. Monticello was designed to receive multiple sources of natural light, including through numerous skylights. Monticello also incorporated open air living spaces.
There are many reasons to join us in Charlottesville for Founding Farmer: Thomas Jefferson at Home from May 1 – 6, 2011. Pink petals and pastoral vistas and warm spring evenings sitting on a patio are but three. Come catch the fever.