Tag Archive | gardening

All The Presidents’ Homes–Part 3

This morning is pretty much like the morning that Jeff and I visited Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson.  It was grey, it was cold and it was rainy.  The sun wasn’t out making it feel colder than it was. But even in the grey, gloomy mist, Monticello shone brightly, surrounded by the beauty of the blooming flowers around her.

Thomas-Jefferson

Best known as the author of the Declaration of Independence, our third President was also a historian, philosopher, and plantation owner who served his country as a public official for more than five decades.  Thomas Jefferson was also the author of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom and founder of the University of Virginia.

Son of Peter Jefferson and Jane Randolph, he inherited a sizeable estate from his father and at the age of 26, began building Monticello.  Just three years later he married Martha Wayles Skelton.  They had six children with only two surviving to adulthood.  Sadly they only had 10 years together when she died.  Jefferson never remarried and continued to maintain Monticello as his home for the rest of his life.  He was always expanding and changing it.  He also inherited slaves from his father and father-in-law and owned about 200 slaves, about half of whom were under the age of 16.

Jefferson spent his adult life in public service whether as a lawyer, Governor of Virginia from 1779 go 1781, Trade Commissioner in France (1784) and then as Benjamin Franklin’s successor as minister, and Secretary of State under George Washington in 1790 and after a loss in the presidential race against John Adams, becomes Vice President in 1796. A two-term President, Jefferson defeated John Adams just four years later to become President of the United States in 1780. After his friend, James Madison, succeeds him as President in 1809, Jefferson lives the remaining 17 years of his life at Monticello.  It was during this time he sold his books to begin the Library of Congress collection and founded the University of Virginia at the age of 76.  He led the legislative campaign for its charter, secured the location, designed the buildings and planned the curriculum and also served as the first rector.

Jefferson dies at the age of 83 on July 4, 1826, just hours before his friend, John Adams and also on the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.

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Jefferson’s beloved Monticello sits nestled in the mountaintop hills southeast of Charlottesville, Virginia, just down the road from the home of his friend, President James Madison. Open every day of the year except Christmas Day, Monticello’s hours gives you a choice of when you want to visit her.  We chose to visit in the early Spring month of April and while on our honeymoon several years ago.

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Construction of Monticello began in 1769 and the original design had fourteen rooms in the home which included the six in the cellar, five on the first floor and three on the second.  In 1796, Jefferson began work on a new design for remodeling and enlarging the house and was completed by 1809.  There are not a total of 43 rooms in the entire structure which includes 33 in the house itself and 4 in the Pavilions and 6 under the South Terrace.

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The ride on the bus from the Visitor’s Center to the house atop the hill is impressive, even in the rain! Of course, the excitement was building for me as I’d never been to Monticello.  No photography is allowed inside the house, so we decided to walk the grounds first before going on the tour.  All the photography and video you want to take is allowed on the grounds as long as it’s for personal use. 

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Tulips, pansies and bluebells line the walkways in the West Lawn garden. I saw varieties there that, for me, had only existed in books prior to our visit.  Needless to say, I wanted pictures of them all!

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Deep oranges, yellows, reds and whites and many more colors as well as other flowers can be found all over the grounds.  Lilac bushes, pansies…this is a flower gardener’s dream!

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We loved the rain drops on the flowers and tired to capture them on camera as beautiful as they were in person.

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Pansies are another one of my favorite flowers.

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Jefferson used the grounds of Monticello as a botanical laboratory utilizing not only the ornamental but also useful plants from all over the world. These flower gardens were not cared for by professionals but by his daughters and granddaughters and sometimes an elderly slave.

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I have always loved the reds and yellows of tulips, but the bi-colored ones hold a really special place for me.

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This is the fish pond where Jefferson’s cook would “catch” the fish for dinner.  Thus allowing them to have fresh fish at their meals.

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About one-third of the windows are original to the house.  They are nice, big and allow a lot of sunlight into the rooms.  And they are absolutely beautiful from the outside!

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From it’s beginning in 1770, the vegetable garden evolved over many years.  This 1,000-foot-long terrace was literally cut from the side of the mountain by slave labor and is supported by a massive rock wall.  At the half-way point is the infamous garden pavilion with its double sash windows.  This was used by Jefferson as a quiet retreat in the evenings.  Reportedly blown down in a violent storm in the late 1820s, the pavilion was reconstructed in 1984 through the use of Jefferson’s notes and archeological excavations.

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Jefferson was quite observant of the natural world.  He was always studying and recording, with remarkable detail, the events of the gardens.  In 1812, the twenty-four “squares” that divided the garden were arranged in part as to which part of the plant was being harvested: fruits, roots or leaves, etc.  And although the garden was a functional part of the plantation, Jefferson experimented with imported squashes and other vegetables and fruits from various parts of Europe.

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It was interesting to learn that Jefferson ate very little meat and used it as a compliment to the vegetables and legumes from his own gardens.  I loved the fact that salads were an important part of his diet as they are for me as well!

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Exiting from the house, you will step onto a beautiful walkway that leads into the garden.

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We loved our visit at Monticello and learned so much about Jefferson’s life here.  If you ever get the chance to visit Monticello, you should.  It’s well worth the afternoon.

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June Garden Delights

There hasn’t been much rain, but watering almost every day has really helped my garden. Here are a few views of it as of this morning. Enjoy!!!

These marigolds are from seed pods from last season.  I collected as many as I could before digging up the dead plants.  Many more pods dropped into the soil of the garden and came up as soon as the weather warmed! An annual that is working like a perennial!

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The catnip has come up! Can’t wait to dry it and make some kitty toys!!!

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The parsley and sweet basil is also growing well.

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This is the first time I’m trying Brandywine tomatoes.  They are looking pretty good!

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These cosmos are all from last season’s seeds that fell into the garden soil. They work with the marigolds to help keep horn worms and other bugs at bay. This allows me to keep my garden pesticide free for the 3rd season in a row.

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The Big Boys are really doing well! Can’t wait to pick these and have them in salads or piled high on sandwiches!

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Gladiolas have always been one of my favorites! Needless to say, when a different color pops up every season, I get so excited! It’s almost like Christmas!

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Garden Delights

Each year for the past 3 or so, I’ve started dabbling in the garden. I have many wonderful childhood memories of eating wonderful things from my parent’s garden. My mom has a green thumb like no other and it’s amazing how, even to this day, her zest and energy to work in the yard puts me to shame!

My childhood gardens were filled with cauliflower, 10-lb. cabbage heads, broccoli, sweet corn, green beans, peas and so much more. I remember mom used to chase me out of the garden for standing there and eating the peas! There is nothing as good as fresh peas straight from the garden!

I’m not as much a green thumb as my mother, but I sure try! My garden is much, much smaller than hers ever was, but the bounty from it is plenty enough for me and my husband. Last summer I came across this wonderful book at my local library and just had to take it home with me. The book is by Brett Markham, Mini-Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 acre.  It is a wonderful book for refreshing your knowledge or for explaining gardening and giving wonderful tips on how best to use up the space in a small yard. The book is through Skyhorse Publishing and you can click here to see their website: Mini-Farming.

My garden is just 3 raised beds that are 4-ft. x 8-ft. x 6-in. high.  We bought a composite board kit that we found at Sam’s Club. I wanted to use the composite boards for a couple of reasons…I didn’t want any treated wood around my garden, thereby decreasing the chance of having any arsenic leech into the ground and I didn’t want to have to replace the boards any time soon.  And since I am no longer allowed to lift anything over 10 pounds, using concrete blocks was out of the question.

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We started out by putting a scoop of mushroom compost in these boxes followed with some top soil and I added a big bag of Miracle Grow garden soil to each block. I strongly believe that this combination has resulted in a much healthier and bigger plant.  Last summer my tomato plants had stalks about 1.5-2 inches in diameter! My green pepper plants had stalks that were nearly 1-inch in diameter!

The plants you see to the left are all my volunteer tomatoes that have popped up from last year’s crop! Turns out we have 8 volunteers this year! Essentially doubling my crop this year. Because about 3 weeks before they pushed through, Jeff came home from the farmer’s market with 4-Brandywine and 4-Big Boy plants. I’ve never had Brandywine, so thought it would be a wonderful addition to the mix. I believe we have Beefsteak, Roma and Big Boy volunteers based on the location where they popped up.

To help control the hornworms and other pests, I have planted marigolds (also from the seeds I’ve gathered from seasons past) and cosmos in and around the tomatoes. Doing this for the past few years has allowed me to not use any pesticides of any kind on my garden.  This year, I’m afraid of some contamination because with the mild winter, the county has taken to spraying our neighborhoods with pesticides for bug control. We’ve already noticed how bad the pests are this year and worried about how it will affect the garden.

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I’ve also begun to plan my potted garden for this season. Since I’ve been including more fresh herbs in my cooking as well as drying and making my own herb seasonings, it seemed like having a garden near the kitchen would be a grand idea. We recently added a grill to our “outdoor kitchen” and I’ve started cooking outside during the hot summer months leaving the kitchen and house inside much cooler.  As these herbs grow, the pictures will follow!

At the end of the season last year, we purchased two peach trees. The dollar value was 2-for-1 at that time, so we were able to plant more by waiting until the end of the season when the prices get slashed.  The trees appeared to be about 2-3 years old, so I figured in about 1-2 seasons, we would start seeing fruit. Well, this year we have fruit! I wasn’t sure if I should cut them off and let the tree grow another year, but in the end, we decided to see what happens.

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For now, enjoy some photos of my garden as it stands now!

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It’s official…..summer has officially started! Here’s to happy gardening and warm, lazy days filled with family, friends and lots of good food!

Garden Eye Candy

This morning was absolutely beautiful and these are a few of the shots I captured. None of these shots have been retouched.

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These marigolds are from seeds I collected last summer from the marigolds in my garden!

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Tiptoe Through the Tulips

Smile! You’re on Jeffery Camera, it’s March 20, 2012!

We were married in April 2009 and for our honeymoon, we decided on a road trip that encompassed our nation’s Capital City, Washington, D.C., Richmond, Virginia, and Appomattox Court House. One of our first stops was in Charlottesville, Virginia. I’d always wanted to see Monticello, the home of our 3rd President, Thomas Jefferson. So, on the way to D.C., we stopped to see Mr. Jefferson’s home.

Our day was a rainy one. The fog sat heavily on the ground, hiding most of the views. Lucky for us, the rain let up for a while and we were able to walk the grounds of Monticello.  What a lovely place it is! I could almost imagine it all those years ago when Mr. Jefferson lived there!

Tulips are my favorite flower, which is why I chose a Spring wedding. I was able to carry them in my bouquet as well. Wouldn’t you know, walking around the grounds of Monticello I see beds and beds of beautiful flowers lining the walkways, including my wonderful tulips!

My super special new Hubby/ Hot Groom decided to take several photos of my favorite flower. As you will see, they turned out beautifully! We’ve begun framing our photography as art in our home. So, now we share them with you!

Enjoy while you tiptoe through the tulips…

Yellow Tulip 4-2009

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Are these not just some of the most beautiful tulips ever? I’ve been to Europe and saw the beautiful tulips there, but I enjoyed these every bit as much, if not more! (Could it be that it was because I was on a vacation with the Love of my life?)

We didn’t mind the misty rain at all. As a matter of fact, I think it made our photos that much better!

There were some varieties of tulips that I’d never seen up close and in person. So this walk around the garden – where Thomas Jefferson once strolled – was particularly delightful for me!

I hope you enjoy these as much as I do. Every time I look at them my heart and soul is flooded with wonderful memories. And, I can almost smell them!

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This is one of my favorite shots of Monticello. The mist hanging around it, just hugging it, while the tulips stand at attention drinking in every drop of the rain! Simply breathtaking!

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I don’t know about you, but I could just “tiptoe through the tulips” all day! So, let’s keep strolling, okay?

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Wishing you and yours a very Happy First Day of Spring! May your days be as beautiful our stroll!

“If I had a flower for every time I thought of you, I could walk in my garden forever.”

-Alfred Lord Tennyson

Color My World Beautiful

Over seasons past, our little corner of the world has bloomed into something quite colorful each Spring and Summer. This year, things are a little off due to the super mild winter (can we say summer?) and lack of cold for the bulbs to rest for their normal time period. It is not yet officially Spring, but everything around us says it is! From my previous post, Spring Has Sprung Talbott Style, you saw a glimpse of those beautiful flowers that have already popped up!

Now, they are nearly gone, and there is not much left to share. One of the peach trees has some buds popping out and I’ve noticed that the lilacs have buds as well as many other plants. Just this week, I have repotted my aloe and planted some of my marigold seeds from last season in a pot on the deck. Dare I say it? My gardening season has begun!

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You know the two little munchkins are excited when we can open the doors and windows again! The fresh spring air is filled with pear blossom scent (choke, sputter, achoo on my part!) and the songs of birds fill the air. This is the time of year I keep the camera close by to catch everything I can!

I moved their normal “chair” to another window, but as you can see, that doesn’t stop them from taking a look at the action outside!

These two run from window to window and door to door to drink it all in. I sometimes take them out to enjoy the sunshine on the deck with me. However, because we have a coyote and fox that hangs around they are indoor pets. I don’t want to hand those two over as a “scrumptious kitty” dinner on a platter! Kacey and Ivan are hilarious to watch sometimes and if you keep looking, you’ll see what they get to watch!

Know that I am bound and determined to catch the ever elusive creature whom I have named Papa Cardinal. I’ve tried and tried to get a good shot of him on more than one occasion. He stands there and sings his little heart out and eats from the plate, but when I reach for my camera, he darts away. With a stroke of luck this morning, I caught the little bugger and boy is he GORGEOUS! Must be that stroke of Irish luck that’s working for me today?

Have a little peak at my handsome friend, Papa Cardinal! Isn’t he just beautiful? He’s got his mouthful of seeds, too! That’s something I like to see!031

I just love the beautiful reds and black of the Cardinal. Once Mama Cardinal starts to come around, I hope to capture her beautiful self as well! And maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to get the little ones this year, too! At this moment, Papa Cardinal is perched on top of my crepe myrtle and is singing his little heart out! What a lovely sight he is from here.

But not to be out done, the other bird friends have started hanging around too. Could it be that it’s because I remembered to fill up their plates yesterday? Ha! I did! And I cleaned out their water bowl, filling it with fresh water. But I think the rain storm last night filled it up to overflowing!

Shortly after Papa Cardinal went on his way, another one of his friends stopped by to sing a good morning song to me. I couldn’t believe my luck! So I grabbed the camera and just waited to catch a great pose. And you know what? I got it! See for yourself!

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This one looks like a young Mockingbird. He still has some baby tufts but his song was beautiful! Unlike some of our other feathered friends, Mr. MB didn’t dance around. He preferred to stay front and center and perform for me. I had the best seat in the house!

He just sang and sang for a full 5 minutes before stuffing his mouth full of seed and flying off to join his friends in our fir tree.

Lucky for me, the cats were pre-occupied with some goings on at another window and didn’t scare him off!

This morning started off quite foggy, but the sun has peeked through and burned most of it off. I hope you enjoy some of the other friends who stopped by to sing for me!

 

A Black-Capped Chickadee also stopped by to have some breakfast. I haven’t seen one in such a long time!

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And now for some color from the past! These are photos of our garden from Spring/Summer 2010 and 2011. I can’t wait for these to bloom again this year!

Azaela Spring 2011   Iris Spring 2011

Yellow Iris Spring 2011

Lilac Spring 2011Rose Spring 2011

Hydrangea Summer 2010

Yellow Lily Spring 2011

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Needless to say, the flowers in my garden are absolutely beautiful and I cannot take credit for planting them, because they were here long before I was. I just try to feebly maintain them and hope they last for many years to come!

I am in the process of mapping out my vegetable garden for this season and look forward to charting its progress in the future!

Until next time….keep a song in your heart and take the time to stop and smell the flowers!