Travels: Thomas Jefferson's Monticello

This weekend the opera gig is in Charlottesville, VA, so I spent most of Saturday touring Monticello.  I started at the gardens - Jefferson was very interested in finding out which varieties grew best in the American climate as well as experimenting with "new world" crops.  The gardens are on a south facing terrace so they get a lot of sun.  Many of the plants that are just starting to take off in Maryland have already bolted at Monticello.

According to the guide, even though Jefferson kept meticulous records, it can be hard to know exactly which varieties were planted.  Jefferson often named plants after the person he got the seeds from or an identifying characteristic rather than a standard name, but the varieties grown in the garden today are at least likely "heirloom" types for the region and time period. And just so we're clear - Jefferson wasn't out digging and weeding things himself, the gardens were tended by his enslaved people.  ("enslaved people" is a term used on all the exhibits, I'm testing it out. Emphasizing that the slaves were people seems good, but maybe it is just politically correct white-washing?) 

Lots of Lavendar - probably very useful for keeping things smelling nice. Though quite luxurious for its time, Monticello didn't have running water and only the most basic privy system.

Photography is not allowed inside the house but the tour was great.  I saw all the exhibits and did lots of nerdy learning. Crews were setting up for a VIP wine-tasting event so this was the best shot I could get of the house with artistic foliage blocking out the white banquet tents.

Weather was great and the grounds provided some good birding opportunities.  I racked up 3 or 4 new life birds: Summer Tanager, Scarlet Tanager, Baltimore Oriole, and Black-throated Green Warbler.  I don't usually buy stuff at the gift shop, but I made an exception for this Brandywine seedling and some "Brown Dutch" lettuce seeds.