Jefferson's garden book
This manuscript volume, Thomas Jefferson's
Garden Book, forms part of the Coolidge Collection
of Thomas Jefferson Manuscripts. In the Garden
Book, Jefferson kept records of his gardens at
Monticello and Shadwell. The volume contains
information about the varieties of vegetables,
fruits, flowers and trees planted, sowing
locations, harvesting dates, and notations about
weather conditions. The volume spans the years
1766 to 1824; the entries for the first three
years (1766-1768) primarily relate to gardening
activities at Shadwell, the home Jefferson
inherited from his parents. The entries dating
from 1769 to 1824 describe gardening activities at
Monticello, the property that became Jefferson's
primary home after Shadwell burned in February
1770. Because Jefferson was away from Monticello,
the Garden Book does not contain entries for the
years 1784 to 1789; there is also a gap between
1795 and 1801, and there are no entries for
several other years.
The Garden Book contains two types of entries.
The entries for the years 1766 to 1806 consist of
brief notations arranged by date. The records for
1809 to 1824 include both notations arranged by
date and tables (Jefferson called them "Kalendars")
with columns in which he listed the vegetables in
his garden, where they were planted, when the
seeds were sowed, when the ripe vegetables
"came to table" (were harvested), and
Garden Book, inside front cover
by Thomas Jefferson
Purple hyacinth begins to bloom.
Narcissus and Puckoon
a bluish colored, funnel-formed flower in
lowgrounds in bloom.
purple flag blooms. Hyacinth &
Wild honeysuckle in our woods open. -- also
the Dwarf flag &
blue flower in lowgrounds vanished.
The purple flag, Dwarf flag, Violet &
wild Honeysuckle still in bloom.
went journey to Maryland, Pennsylva.
New York. so observations cease
Garden Book, page 26
by Thomas Jefferson
1783 2d. &
White frosts which killed vines in this
neighborhood, killed tobo.
in the N. Garden, fodder &
latter corn in Augusta, &
forward corn in Greenbriar
a cold wind in this month killed all the
peaches at Monticello. the other species
of fruits escaped tolerably well.
in making the road from where it begins
to rise 1. f.
in 10. a little above the negro houses,
up to the upper roundabout in front of
the house (N.E.) 5. hands did 127. yds
the 1st. day and 165. yds
the second. it was 12. f.
wide, and they crossed three or four
considerable gullies which they filled
up with stone.
1791 Sep. 28.
Estimate of a road rising 1.f.
in 10.f. from
the Secretary's ford. begun at the point
of a ridge making into old road at head
of little wet meadow. stepped rising 1.f.
in 10. f. by
guess as nearly as I could. to the upper
end of a rock 414 yds.
[this rock dropping far down the hill &
being impassable, it would be better to
begin here &
work downwards &
upwards from it's head.] to the
plantation fence 264. yds.
[so far thro' woods.] into the road
about 200 yds
above Overseer's house 426.yds
thro' the open feild. in all 1104 yds.
where it enters the road up to the house
about 700 yds.
in all about 1800.yds
from Secretary's ford to the house. it
would probably be about 85 days work
on trial with the level, descending from
the rock above mentioned 1.f.
in 10 would have crossed the antient
country road half way up the hill from
the Secretary's ford. rising from the
rock 1.f. in
10. to the right, it struck the fence
opposite the stone spring, 376 yds
from the rock.
1792 July 1.
Sunday. The thermometer at Dr. Walker's
was this day at 96°. which he says is
3° higher than he ever knew it since he
lived at the mountains. there was no
thermometer at Monticello; but I have
observed when I had one here, that it
was generally about 2°. below Dr.
Walker's. & mr
Maury's. so we may suppose it would have
been 94°. It was at 97°. at mr
Madison's, in Orange on the same
day, and at 99°. in Richmond. this was
probably the hottest day ever known in
Virginia. on the same day was a violent
hurricane from about the capes of
Virginia Northwardly. it overset vessels
& blew down
the tops of houses in Philada
destroyed a great deal of timber in the