PRESIDENTS IN THE GARDEN

THOMAS JEFFERSON

#3 (1801-1809)


No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden. -Thomas Jefferson

His gardens at Monticello became a model for sustainable gardening even though his neighbors called him the worst farmer in Virginia.  His meticulously recorded garden ledgers are filled with the words "failed."  Yet, thankfully he persevered.  Seeds from heirloom peas that Jefferson planted were used in Michelle Obama's White House vegetable garden!

Jefferson may be considered one of the best landscape designers, with master planning skills (inspired by Mansart and LeBrun at the Chateau de Marly.)  Jefferson had a notion of an "academical village", where "the whole (was) arranged around an open square of grass and trees."  The library or as he called it -- "Temple of Knowledge" at the head of a lawn, the various schools flanking the lawn. The landscape design for the University of Virginia became the classic landscape design for college campuses with his mastery of Palladian architecture. 

The Lawn, the Rotunda, the axial alignment were the model for many similar designs of "centralized green areas" at universities across the country -- most notably those at Duke University in 1892, Johns Hopkins University in 1902, Rice University in 1910, Peabody College of Vanderbilt University in 1915, the Green at the University of Delaware in 1916, and Killian Court at MIT. Smaller colleges campuses such as Colby College in Maine, also echo this design. Ironically, James Madison University is a direct copy of the campus design of Jefferson's UVA.

UVA. Serz illustration 1856

UVA. Serz illustration 1856

John Hopkins University

John Hopkins University

James Madison University

James Madison University