Gotta Garden

Monday, April 09, 2007

Garden Education: Peggy Cornett from Monticello on Thomas Jefferson

After our garden tour by Belmont's garden expert, Beate Nelsen, we proceeded into the new facility for our luncheon and lecture. Naturally, we went through a couple of the galleries and enjoyed some of Gari Melchers' paintings before making our way to the lecture site. It was a beautiful setting for a buffet lunch. The food was quite good, even wine for those so inclined. A tasty and filling meal was had and then we settled back to learn.

Ms. Cornett's topic was "Jefferson's Belles of the Day-The Bulbs that Bloom at Monticello". As the Director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants and the editor of Twinleaf, the journal and catalog of same, knowledge and a love of Jefferson's plants were easily conveyed.

For gardeners, hearing and learning of Jefferson's efforts make one appreciate Monticello even more. A generous gardener, he enjoyed sharing bits of plants, roots and bulbs with his friends. He took great pride in their successes, even when it/they exceeded his own. We know, from seeing excerpts of his garden journals, that Jefferson was brutally honest about his own failures and that, like a lot of us, he never let them discourage him.

Sounding familiar, Mr. Jefferson, upon hearing of a new plant, was eager to try it and sought seeds, clippings and starts from all over. Like you and I, he wanted the newest bulbs in his gardens and enthusiastically ordered and planted tulips, for example. He had specific beds for his bulbs, hoping to make it clear which things would be hardy and which would not. Hyacinths, Frittillaria, and Poet's Narcissus (Narcissus poeticus) were among the bulbs he chose.

Every spring, he engaged in a fun effort with friends to see who could produce the first pea. One friend in particular usually won and even when (according to family) Jefferson actually produced the first pea, preferred that his friend win.

Twinleaf, Jeffersonia diphylla, for which the journal is named, is a wild flower that is available from the Center. Very fitting that its small white flowers will often bloom around April 13th, Thomas Jefferson's birthday.

Hearing Ms. Cornett was an interesting and informative experience. Going to the Center will have to be something I do this year. In fact, I could take the bus trip organized through Belmont in June.

I was ticked to see the quote I couldn't quite remember inside Twinleaf.

It is Jefferson to Charles Wilson Peale, 1811...."The failure of one thing repaired by the success of another..."

I also like this one that Ms. Corbett uses "...instead of one harvest, a continued one through the year."

Well, that's the goal, at least.


sisah said...

What a coincidence I just posted about my Twinleaf plant in my garden which is starting to bloom in a few days, maybe it will be the 13th of April!Thanks you for that really interesting information. Do you mind if I set a link to your blog?

Kate said...

I loved reading this post and going back and reading the earlier February post. The quotes are wonderful and so true ... gardeners are eternal optimists and constant learners.

Now I'm off to see the daffodils from yesterday ... still freezing here although the sun is warm.

I am glad that you are enjoying 'The Red Queen' - it is such a good read. I have another one to tell you about ... just working through it!!!

Gotta Garden said...

Oh Sisah! You have twinleaf! Lucky you! I'm thinking of ordering one. Of course, I would be thrilled if you would link!

Kate, I'm so pleased it is always wonder!

Oh yes, I love books! I will look forward to hearing about it!

Lol! There's even a appropriate Thomas Jefferson quote, "I cannot live without books."...letter to John Adams, June 10, 1815.

Carol said...

I visited Monticello several years ago and thorougly enjoyed seeing the gardens, even though it was 100+ degrees that day.

I've added a link to your blog from mine just now!

Gotta Garden said...

That was quick! Thanks, Carol!

Ki said...

I like that forward looking quote of Jefferson - "The failure of ...." I'll try to remember it when things go wrong and I'm swearing. ;)

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