When we finished the HEAV conference in Richmond, Virginia, I spent Sunday with my daughter Megan touring Monticello. I learned so many things about Thomas Jefferson. I didn’t realize that when he sent Lewis and Clark to explore and map the Louisiana Purchase territory, he also instructed them to send back examples of plants and animals that aren’t found in the eastern United States. Lewis and Clark carefully bundled plants and saplings and sent them back to Virginia. Jefferson had these planted at Monticello. He also instructed the sailors of the US Navy to send him unusual plants they found in other countries. Many of these plants and trees are still thriving at Monticello.
Jefferson was also a naturalist and studied the natural healing qualities of plants. Many of the trees at Monticello are imports from other countries and were chosen specifically for their therapeutic qualities. Our tour guide told of a delegation from China that was in awe when they saw trees that they consider essential for health and well being. They quickly gathered up the fallen leaves and flowers, which were very expensive in China and had been left on the ground at Monticello. The Chinese delegation quickly told their guides of the plants’ importance and the gardeners helped them gather extra fallen leaves and flowers. I must admit, I don’t remember the names of all these plants. I hope to learn more this winter. If you have the chance to visit Monticello, please take the garden tour. It’s fascinating.
My knowledge and information is admittedly limited and largely based on the stories told by our tour guide. More photos of the gardens are coming. Until then, check out more information on Jefferson’s Monticello at www.monticello.org. It’s a wonderful site to learn more about Jefferson and his home.
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