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By Stephen Orr
Those who work at Monticello, the Virginia plantation of our third president, go about their tasks with an invisible companion at their sides. And nowhere is TJ -- as Thomas Jefferson is fondly referred to by much of the staff -- more present than in the 2,500-acre estate’s remarkable vegetable garden.
Thomas Jefferson's restored kitchen garden, viewed by half a million visitors a year, stretches over three football fields in length. Jefferson designed the garden temple, which marks the halfway point.
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In 1977, Peter Hatch began the restoration of Jefferson's vegetable garden, transforming it into a museum of heirloom vegetables and fruits.
Hatch is the author of "A Rich Spot of Earth: Thomas Jefferson’s Revolutionary Garden at Monticello," an account of the long (and still ongoing) journey to reclaim and authentically restore the kitchen garden from the flower beds that had replaced it by the time he arrived in 1977.
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Peach tree twigs show up in a variety of functional but beautiful ways to support cucumbers and other climbers.
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Tried and True
Two of Monticello's busy gardeners, Eleanor Gould and Patricia Brodowski, from left, tie up luxuriantly growing long gourd vines on trellises made from red cedar poles found on the property.
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Garden with a View
The classically inspired garden temple, with its oversize double-hung windows, is an airy observatory over miles of unspoiled Albemarle County landscape. Jefferson wrote, "How sublime to look down into the workhouse of nature, to see her clouds, hail, snow, rain, thunder, all fabricated at our feet!"
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Hyacinth beans and morning glories grow up rustically ornamental pergolas. Seeds from these vines and other historical varieties are harvested for sale in Monticello's gift shop.
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Jefferson used terra-cotta forcing cloches similar to these modern examples to blanch stems of sea kale so they would stay pale and tender.
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'Purple Calabash' Tomato
The artwork of Mary Delany -- a British contemporary of Jefferson's, who made elaborate cut-paper botanical collages on black backgrounds -- inspired our photographs of Monticello's historical varieties.
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Green-Striped Cushaw Squash
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'Cow's Horn' Okra
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Salsify or Oyster Plant
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