This morning I got to visit the Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants for a garden tour! The center was established in 1987 to build upon Thomas Jefferson's legacy of studying plants. The location used to be one of Jefferson's satellite farms that bordered Monticello. The name of this one was Tufton.
By the time I arrived, the tour was in the rose garden...
When we arrived at this spot in the tour, I began to furiously take notes. We have an identical spot in our yard. The center called this a Rain Garden, because it always becomes a bit marshy after rain. A corner of our backyard is just like this. I wrote down a list of all the plants that would grow well in these conditions.
The front view. Some of the plants are spent, being late October. The center tends to let plants remain past their prime so the dried flowers can spread seeds, which is a very natural thing to happen.
After the official tour I talked to the tour guide for a few minutes about Rain Gardens, then I took a more leisurely tour of the property while waiting for the guest speaker to arrive.
I'm always amazed at the huge fig trees I see on other properties. Ours are still small. My guess has been they get too cold. This would be one of the key topics of the upcoming talk with the guest speaker.
I stumbled upon this 19th century house, which was to be the site of the talk that I was waiting for.
The guest speaker was Michael McConkey from Edible Landscaping. It was a lot of fun when he looked directly at me and said he recognized me. Where had we met? I had no idea if he was serious or teasing so I just tried to play along. It was funny but I don't know if we've met or not. When I got home and told my family my son said maybe he had read my blog. I told him that was a possibility but didn't know if I should bring that up or not. lol
McConkey's talk was wonderful! Fascinating! Interesting! Informational! (Just the day before I had been at my daughter's college to sit in on one of her classes for parent weekend and the professor put me to sleep. She sublimal message was highly apologetic for trying to impart information to the students. As a teacher I just rolled my eyes. Students are at college to learn. Make it interesting and they will have fun gaining knowledge. (gasp) Interestingly this was a class on public speaking. The professor busted all the elements she was trying to convey but McConkey was the epitome of them! He was a huge example of how a straight lecture can be highly entertaining and hugely educational. I took notes galore!!!
Apparently we are not the only fig growers suffering in the commonwealth of Virginia. All of Virginia is suffering from the polar vortex that seems to descend every winter. That late burst of abnormal below freezing temperatures has shut down the production of many figs. We talked about ways to keep the fig plants warm, which is a bit difficult in that we don't know if they need these extreme measures until the last minute.
Many fruits were addressed in the lecture, tips were given for optimum growing and yield...and I took notes galore.
We even had a few samples...I never had persimmon until that day. Yum!
Oh yes! McConkey had all the tips for organic fruit gardening and optimum harvests based on what has already worked in Virginia, today...and in the past. This is the legacy of the Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants to introduce local businesses such as Edible Landscaping to us!