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Thomas 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 other observations.


Garden Book, inside front cover
by Thomas Jefferson

1766. Shadwell.
Purple hyacinth begins to bloom.

Narcissus and Puckoon open.

Puckoon flowers fallen.

a bluish colored, funnel-formed flower in lowgrounds in bloom.

purple flag blooms. Hyacinth & Narcissus gone.

Wild honeysuckle in our woods open. -- also the Dwarf flag & Violets

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

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.

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. & from 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.

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 chimneys & the tops of houses in Philada & N. York, & destroyed a great deal of timber in the country.