Inspire

Mother’s Day Gift Guide

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Give Mom a Gift as Unique and Beautiful as She Is

The Shop at Monticello’s Gifts for Her collection is inspired by Jefferson’s passions for elegant, functional design and nature’s beauty. From classic decor to exclusive garden supplies, a gift from this collection is sure to delight each Mom on your list. Shop the entire collection now >>

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Author Signed Copies of “The Invention of Nature”

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Andrea Wulf, the acclaimed author of Founding Gardeners, reveals the forgotten life of Alexander von Humboldt, the visionary German naturalist whose ideas changed the way we see the natural world-and in the process created modern environmentalism. Von Humboldt (1769-1859) was an intrepid explorer and the most famous scientist of his age. In North America, his name still graces four counties, thirteen towns, a river, parks, bays, lakes and mountains.

In 1804, at the end of a five year expedition in Central and South America, von Humboldt visited Washington, D.C., specifically to meet President Thomas Jefferson. President Jefferson was thrilled ot welcome Humboldt, and was eager to hear all about the lands south of the newly-acquired Louisiana Purchase. These meetings were the start of a 21-year friendship and correspondence on topics including science, politics and nature.

andreawulfANDREA WULF was born in India and moved to Germany as a child. She lives in London, where she trained as a design historian at the Royal College of Art. She is the author of Chasing Venus, Founding Gardeners and The Brother Gardeners. She has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times.

 

ORDER A COPY NOW>>

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Snail Flower, “the most beautiful bean in the world”

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Heirloom flowers are cultivating a devoted following. This spring planting season, choose tried-and-true historic plants over mass-market plants like Jefferson’s beloved Caracalla Bean Vine (aka Snail Flower) just featured in The Wall Street Journal article “A Guide to Planting Heirloom Flowers-With Links to Thomas Jefferson and More.” Read the article >>

snail-flower-vigna-caracalla-4In 1792, Thomas Jefferson wrote to Benjamin Hawkins, “The most beautiful bean in the world is the caracalla bean which, though in England a greenhouse plant, will grow in the open air in Virginia and Carolina.” Imported from tropical South America, it was found in American gardens by the 1830s, when Robert Buist wrote in The American Flower Garden Directory, “Snail-Flower is a very curious blooming plant, with flowers … all spirally twisted, in great profusion when the plant is grown well.” This spectacular flower was popular in florists’ corsages by the late 19th-century.

The Snail Flower ships in late April, so order yours today! Shop our entire collection of hard-to-find plants now >>

Shop Spring 2016 Plants Now

Monticello Seed Sampler Mix Up

This little guy is coming in a weird angle.

During the Heritage Harvest Festival last year I purchased the Monticello Herb Sampler seed pack. This collection of ten herbs included oregano, lavender, basil, mint, dill, parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme.

It was amidst the dreary frozen days of February that I began to sprout my tiny collection in hopes that new life could thaw some of the ice weighing me down. I selected 10 petite pots and with the help of my girlfriend, painted unique designs for each one. I carefully selected the seeds and kept the packets in the same order as the pots so I could easily label the new plants after they were all potted.

However, my ever so graceful cat decided he would help too, knocking all of the seed packets onto the floor and breaking one of the pots…

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This survivor managed to live through the fall and is taking to its emergency home nicely.

With the shattered fragments of clay swept away, and the soil moved to an emergency jam container, I sat and tried to remember which seeds I had put where. I thought about digging them up, but some of the seeds are so impossibly small, I knew I would never be able to find them.  Down, but not out I collected the jars and placed them my southern window and resolved to wait for the sprouts to come. After a couple of weeks, the sprouts have sprung up despite the snow outside, though as of now I am still at a loss as to what they are. It looks like what I should have purchased was this.

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These guys look like fine sprouts, but its too early to tell what they are.

 

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I am almost certain that this is basil. By far the healthiest plant

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A little slow out of the gate, but progress is progress.

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Not sure what these could be, but I am thinking lavender.
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Seems to like the sun and is a fast grower.

 

 

 

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One baby sprout just barely poking its head out.

 

 

 

 

 

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No signs of life yet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Alex Bryant is a graduate of the University of Virginia with dual degrees in biology in music. He started at Monticello as an intern and now works as the Assistant Coordinator of Monticello’s Heritage Harvest Festival. 

If you would like to grow your own garden with historic seeds from Monticello, here are some helpful links to get you started.

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Somewhere to keep all of those precious seeds.

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A safe place to begin your garden

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Handy tool to help space out seeds and plants.

 

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Win Our Holiday Favorites

pinitGlobeFlutes1The Shop at Monticello is offering a NEW holiday contest this year! Anyone can head on over to Pinterest and Pin to Win a Monticello Musical Snow Globe.

Monticello is truly beautiful after a new snow. Our highly collectible snow globe is an accurate three dimensional view of the home of Thomas Jefferson. The semicircular globe sits on a faux wood resin base. The snow globe plays Mozart’s Eline Kleine Nachtmusik, a song well known to Jefferson. 4 1/2″ diameter, 5 1/4″ high. Available for $56.

Attending a Monticello Holiday Event? Pin a photo from your visit with the hashtag #MonticelloHoliday and you could win the Monticello Musical Snow Globe and a Monticello Toasting Flutes Gift Set! Anyone who participates in a Wreath or Gingerbread House Workshop, the Holiday Open House, our Holiday Classic 5K, Handmade for the Holidays or a Holiday Evening Tour is eligible to enter.

cvr_champagne_smallJefferson was a true connoisseur. Monticello champagne flutes, with their clean forms and exquisite engraving, speak volumes about his taste for fine design. Very little of the glassware Jefferson purchased between 1767 and 1821 survives. Our stemware, based on a rare original, is mouth-blown full lead crystal, cut and etched by hand with a sprig and wheel band.

Each exclusive Toasting Flutes Gift Set includes two handmade champagne flutes nestled in a black velvet-lined gift box tied with Monticello ribbon. Toast the new year with style and celebrate weddings, anniversaries or other momentous occasions with our sophisticated stemware. Each 5-oz. glass is 9″h and the set is a $149 value.

For more of The Shop’s seasonal favorites, visit http://www.monticelloshop.org/home-decor-seasonal.html

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Modern Uses for Monticello Classics

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The house was in an unfinished state, and when Mr. Seymour observed it, Mr. Jefferson replied—“And I hope it will remain so during my life, as architecture is my delight, and putting up, and pulling down, one of my favourite amusements.” –Thomas Jefferson (as told by Margaret Bayard Smith)

Thomas Jefferson was constantly designing and reinventing furnishings and devices to improve day to day living. As a “Founding Tastemaker,” Jefferson remains a source of inspiration for contemporary home decor. Modern, alternative uses for these Jeffersonian classics reveal both Jefferson’s ingenuity and the continued functionality of his designs.

Revolving BookstandAmong the many fascinating devices found in Jefferson’s Cabinet, this one perhaps most clearly suggests Jefferson’s passion for knowledge. The Revolving Bookstand, once thought to be a music stand, was probably made or adapted to Jefferson’s design and specifications in the joinery at Monticello. The cube-shaped stand has five adjustable rests that can be folded down to form a cube. A central pole enables the stand to rotate at the bottom and as many as five books could be placed on it at a time. Jefferson may have conveniently placed it next to his chair in his reading-and-writing arrangement.

Swap the books for framed photos and this remarkable device can display your friends, family and favorite moments. Made of solid mahogany with a soft, hand-polished finish, the rotating stand holds multiple picture frames at adjustable angles on rests that fold down to form a 12″ cube.Canterbury

An excellent accompaniment to the Revolving Bookstand is the Monticello Canterbury. The Jefferson family kept favorites from their enormous collection of sheet music in this portable rack. It has four compartments and a lower open shelf. Corner pieces, each topped with small turned finials, extend into turned legs ending in brass casters. The casters and the “hand hole” at the middle divider allowed the Canterbury to be “run in under the pianoforte.”

The Canterbury is still quite handy, though you’re just as likely to use its four compartments and lower shelf as convenient storage for your most cherished books and magazines. The casters on the legs and handgrip at the top make it easy to move around, allowing your stacks of reading to come with you. Mahogany, with brass casters.

How would you use these two timeless Jeffersonian pieces in your home? Post your favorite alternative use below!

Jefferson in France: Then and Now

The five years that Thomas Jefferson lived in Paris, France made for some of the most influential times in his life. While abroad, Jefferson had the opportunities to experience great art and architecture, some of which followed him back to the states. The Hôtel de Salm, which currently houses the headquarters of the Legion of Honor, was a building that greatly intrigued Jefferson. Jefferson wrote about this Parisian architecture to Madame de Tessé: “While in Paris, I was violently smitten with the Hôtel de Salm, and used to go to the Thuileries almost daily, to look at it.” He saw the remodeled Palais Royal, the Halle aux Bleds, and various cathedrals, including Sainte-Genevieve (the Panthéon) and the Madeleine. These structures, in particular the dome of Hôtel de Salm, were the inspiration for Monticello design.

Today, Jefferson’s admiration of the Hotel de Salm remains through a 10-foot bronze statue on the left bank of the Seine River in Paris. The statue is situated so that Jefferson’s eyes point towards his inspiration, holding a piece of paper showing his first vision of Monticello.

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From my own time in France it was easy to see how Jefferson was so heavily influenced by Paris. Jefferson described what he gained from France as a “treasure of art, science and sentiment.” I believe anyone could agree on this statement, even in today’s world. Paris is one of the cleaner cities I’ve encountered, and also one of the greenest. There are many parks, including the royal Tuileries, Jefferson’s preference, that give the city a more peaceful feel. Also, nearly all of central Paris is built of beautiful, timeless buildings. After a visit, it was clear why Jefferson loved spending time there and was so inspired.

France was not only an influence on Jefferson’s architecture preferences, but also his everyday life. After his five year stay, he had 86 crates arranged to be shipped back to Philadelphia, including chairs, clocks, and goblets. Today you can find French-inspired items and Jeffersonian reproductions through The Shop at Monticello.

 

 

5 Favorites from an American Top Landmark

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In celebration of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello being named one of Trip Advisor’s Top 25 Landmark Attractions in 2014, here’s a list of five of our favorite Jeffersonian keepsakes. These selections, both stylish and useful, were chosen for their link to Jefferson and his historic home. Your purchase of these classic gifts from The Shop supports Monticello. Help preserve this World Heritage site, visit, and give the gift of history today!

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Tulip Poplar Twist Pen

For 200 years, Tulip Poplars planted by Thomas Jefferson stood sentinel by Monticello’s west lawn portico. Then, in 2008 and 2011, the enormous trees succumbed to age and illness and were taken down. Dennis Hippen is one of several local artisans The Thomas Jefferson Foundation has entrusted to honor their beauty and historic significance. He uses the wood from these majestic trees has been used to create this handsome pen. Bring this authentic souvenir home and use it as a reminder of your visit.

liberty-jefferson-cup-11Liberty Jefferson Cup

This pewter cup is a patriotic souvenir whose design goes back to 1810, when Jefferson commissioned a silversmith to make eight cups from his own design, he probably never imagined how popular they would become. Exquisitely simple, extremely versatile, they are as suitable for serving a festive punch as they are for holding cufflinks or paper clips. This cup is engraved with “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” of course there is a variety of different quotes you can pick from on our website or you can engrave your own initials!

 

monticellostore_2272_94086775Wheel Cypher Secret Decoder

This gift will please any espionage enthusiast or individual looking to send a secret message. While serving as President George Washington’s secretary of state (1790-1793), Thomas Jefferson devised an ingenious and secure method to encode and decode messages: the wheel cypher. During the American Revolution, Jefferson had relied primarily on messengers to hand-carry sensitive letters, but codes became an essential part of his correspondence when he was America’s minister to France (1784-1789) since European postmasters opened and read all letters passing through their command.

 

monticellostore_2272_85438907Monticello’s Kitchen Garden Sampler

Take home seeds from Jefferson’s garden to start your own Thomas Jefferson grew nearly 300 varieties of vegetables in his 1000 foot kitchen garden terrace, once described as a hanging garden. The following collection of eight 19th century culinary delights will provide a bountiful harvest for the table throughout the summer season. All are grown in Monticello’s kitchen garden today.

 

monticellostore_2271_46204808Monticello Fruit Butter Gift Basket

Enjoy this basket of selected preserves from Jefferson’s garden. Mrs. Margaret Bayard Smith, a frequent Monticello visitor, once wrote that Jefferson’s breakfast spread was a tantalizing affair. She described his breakfast table as being “as large as our dinner table,” complete with “muffins, hot wheat and corn bread, cold ham and butter.” Sweeten your own breakfast table or delight a toast, biscuit or waffle-loving friend with 9 oz. jars of Monticello Apple Butter, Peach Butter, Strawberry Butter and Sweet Potato Butter packed in a handsome lidded wooden-slat basket with brass hinges and clasp.

For information on how plan a visit to this historic destination, visit www.monticello.org.

“the spirit of our people…”

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On This Day in History: Lewis & Clark

modernrecreations Recreations of artifacts sent to Jefferson by Meriwether Lewis hang in the Hall of Monticello[/caption]

Thomas Jefferson commissioned the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1803 to explore the northwest territory in order to observe a transcontinental route and natural resources. In 1804, about 45 men led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark moved up the Missouri River, crossed the Rocky Mountains, and from the Columbia River, reached the Pacific Ocean by November 1805. They returned to St. Louis by September 1806 with great fanfare and important information on native people, plants and animals, and geography.

On June 19, 1803, Meriwether Lewis wrote William Clark inviting him to help lead the exploration of the Louisiana Territory. Lewis concluded his letter with the following:

“If therefore there is anything under those circumstances, in this enterprise, which would induce you to participate with me in it’s fatiegues, it’s dangers and it’s honors, believe me there is no man   on earth with whom I should feel equal pleasure in sharing them as with yourself.”

Commemorate their historic expedition with exploration themed accents and learn more about their journey’s legacy with books available from The Shop at Monticello!