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Virginia Voyage Follow-Up

by Mary Jasch

Guests on the DIG IT! Rollin’ Garden Party Bus enjoyed a three day mini-vacation to Virginia this September. On Day 1, after savoring a sumptuous breakfast buffet, we traveled south and stopped at Ladew Topiary Gardens in Maryland for a tour of the gardens with a knowledgeable guide. We saw the famous fox hunt topiaries of Harvey S. Ladew, traveler, artist, foxhunter and creator of the gardens. We saw sculptures, butterfly house and meadow, waterlily and lotus ponds, many garden areas including a pink garden and a multitude of topiaries. Lunch was served in the café.

On Day 2, we visited Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia, with their annual Heritage Harvest Festival in full swing. We enjoyed tastings aplenty – heirloom tomatoes, melons, peppers, American heritage chocolate, more chocolate, the yummiest blue cheese I ever had (pointreyescheese.com), the best sausage I ever had (stockprovisions.com), demos, vendors, lectures galore. With a guided tour of Jefferson’s mansion and strolls through the garden and vineyard that once were his, we filled the day.

Little known facts learned on the trip:
Jefferson and James Adams both died on July 4. Five years later, James Monroe died on July 4.
Jefferson died $107,000 in debt, which took his grandson 50 years to pay off. Jefferson wrote 19,000 letters.
He had a telescope on his roof to monitor the construction of the University of Virginia.
He played the violin.

Day 3, we headed north and stopped at George Washington’s Mount Vernon for a guided tour of his mansion and free time to wander the property and experience two gardens: the Upper Garden with lots of plants to attract pollinators in the parterres surrounded by boxwood, and a formal boxwood knot garden. a majestic brick and glass greenhouse commands the view.

The Lower Garden, a Colonial Revival Garden, was recreated to demonstrate what Washington would have had planted within its formal beds that are now filled with vegetables, grape vines and espaliered fruit trees. in the center a cistern collects rainwater and sunken brick "hot beds" were used similarly to today's cold frames. A small orchard, woodland walk, slave cabin, and historic farm buildings rounded out the visit. At the Potomoac Wharf, some of us took a boat ride down the Potomoac River.

More little known facts:
George Washington's Mount Vernon has 21 rooms, 13 fireplaces and 10 bed chambers.
He had 300+ slaves. His will stated that they should be freed upon his death.
In the Old Tomb pictured on the right, 22 bodies were interred there and all were eventually moved to the new tomb.

Near the river and near the animal pens and slave cabins, Sara Marie dressed in period clothing, teased us with a cast iron skillet of omelet covered in creamy green beans. Her recipe: Make an omelet with with heavy cream. Top it with creamed green beans made with butter, shallots, heavy cream and egg yolks.

Join us on our day and overnight trips. Check them out in Garden Bus Trips!

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