With Independence Day coming up on Thursday here are a few interesting facts about Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and third president of the United States.
Did you know he died on July 4, 1826? -exactly 50 years after penning the Declaration of Independence. Interestingly, John Adams, our second president, died the same day.
Jefferson wore many hats throughout his life- lawyer, farmer, diplomat, governor, president, …and gardener. At Monticello, his beloved home, Jefferson grew 330 varieties of vegetables and 170 varieties of fruit. Peas were his favorite food.
Jefferson was also a water gardener, of sorts. He had a fish pond at Monticello where he stored freshly caught fish and eels until they could be used at the dinner table- just one example of Jefferson’s practice of ferme ornee, the “interspersing of articles of husbandry with the attributes of a garden.”
Monticello Gardens- Courtesy Monticello.org
In addition to architecture, Jefferson also practiced what would today be called landscape architecture. He designed and planned the gardens at Monticello. He also sketched plans for a series of waterfalls for Montalto, the high mountain visible from Monticello. His gardens at Monticello were (and still are) a botanic showpiece, a source of food, and an experimental laboratory of ornamental and useful plants from around the world.
Thomas Jefferson was one of the first advocates of the value of native plants. He collected native plants from throughout the New World, and sent examples to friends in Europe. One of the primary purposes of the Lewis and Clark Expedition was to collect native plants. Jefferson featured native plants prominently in his gardens.
Jefferson also had a greenhouse at Monticello, just off his library. It featured five giant double-sashed windows and a southeastern exposure.
So, if you enjoy gardening you are in good company. Thomas Jefferson- President and Plantsman.