The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

Visit us on FaceBookGenerations of Memories
from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

New Historic Plant Center at Monticello, Charlottesville, VA

By Matthew V. Gaffney © 1987

Issue: March, 1987

The Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants, a new venture that will distribute historically relevant plants and inform the public about the evolution of horticulture in America, is projected to open at Monticello in the fall of 1987.

The Center, the first of its kind in the nation, is primarily an educational project. It will include interpretive gardens, exhibits and a retail store where visitors can purchase the offspring of original Monticello plantings; eighteenth century cultivars of fruits, roses, and herbaceous ornamentals; the wild forms of commonly cultivated plants like peonies and gladiolus; and choice native plants, such as twinleaf, or Jefferson diphylla, which was named in 1793 in honor of Jefferson's botanical skills and achievements.

Heritage fruits and perennial vegetables will also be available, including the "Newton Pippin" and "Esopus Spitzenberg" apples, two of Jefferson's favorites.

Interpretive exhibits, slide presentations, and brochures will address plant exploration, the evolution of cultivars and native plants, Jefferson's numerous gardening experiments at Monticello and other topics related to the history of plants and gardening

The Center will be supported by the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, Inc., the non-profit organization which owns and operates Monticello, and by the sales of the plants themselves. The Foundation has recently completed the restoration of Jefferson's vegetable garden, orchard and vineyard at Monticello.

John T. Fitzpatrick, a former Research Horticulturist at the White Flower Farm in Connecticut and Curator at Bressingham Gardens in Norfolk, England, was named to direct the center in April 1986. According to Fitzpatrick, the Center "will complement the public's growing interest in plants and gardens, and their history as well." The Center for Historic Plants is a fitting tribute to Jefferson's lifelong quest for useful and ornamental plants for American gardens.

For further information please call:

Matthew V. Gaffney
Director of Public Affairs
P.O. Box 316
Charlottesville, VA 22902


Luisa Kreisberg or
Patrick Milliman
The Kreisberg Group
333 West 56th St., Suite 1C
New York, NY 10019