Southeast Piazza (Greenhouse)

From Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia

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'''Color:''' White '''Color:''' White
-'''Purpose of Room:''' Greenhouse for growing plants; location of [[Thomas Jefferson|Jefferson's]] workbench, where he is known to have made locks and chains; possibly home to a pet [[mockingbirds|mockingbird]]+'''Purpose of Room:''' Greenhouse for growing plants; location of [[Thomas Jefferson|Thomas Jefferson's]] workbench, where he is known to have made locks and chains; possibly home to a pet [[mockingbirds|mockingbird]]
'''Unusual architectural features:''' Part of Jefferson's suite of private rooms that included his [[Library (Book Room)|book room]], [[Cabinet|writing office (Cabinet)]], and [[Bedchamber|bedroom]]. Flanked by two "venetian porches" '''Unusual architectural features:''' Part of Jefferson's suite of private rooms that included his [[Library (Book Room)|book room]], [[Cabinet|writing office (Cabinet)]], and [[Bedchamber|bedroom]]. Flanked by two "venetian porches"
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'''Furnishings of note:''' work table and tools, as well as flowers, seeds, and flats for sprouting see '''Furnishings of note:''' work table and tools, as well as flowers, seeds, and flats for sprouting see
 +==Primary Source References==
-== "Delicious Flowering Shrubs" and Cape Bulbs in the Monticello Greenhouse ==+'''1807 November 11.''' ([[Ann Cary Randolph Bankhead]] to Jefferson). "Ellen and myself have a fine parcel of little Orange trees from the green house against your return."<ref>[[Short Title List|''Family Letters'']], 314.</ref>
 +'''1808 January 22.''' ([[Ann Cary Randolph Bankhead]] to Jefferson). "I have not been to Monticello since we cane from there but Jefferson was there the other day and says that the green house is not done."<ref>Ibid, 323.</ref>
-On May 24, 1778 Thomas Jefferson noted+'''1808 December 8.''' ([[Ann Cary Randolph Bankhead]] to Jefferson). "In fact the Mimosa Nilotica and Orange are the only things I have ever proposed to have in my Green house."<ref>Ibid, 369.</ref>
-in his ''Memorandum Book'', "pd a gardener at+
-Greenspring for two Acacias. . . ." Green+
-Spring, the family residence of Governor Sir+
-William Berkeley, was a frequent side-trip+
-for Jefferson while en-route to Williamsburg.<ref>This section is based on Peggy Cornett Newcomb,[http://tjportal.monticello.org/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?BBID=15076 "Delicious Flowering Shrubs" and Cape Bulbs in the Monticello Greenhouse"], ''Twinleaf,'' April 12, 1997.</ref>+
-There he could admire the estate's three extensive+
-orchards, its vegetable garden, field+
-of indigo, and orangery or greenhouse. The+
-Acacias (Acacia farnesiana) Jefferson acquired+
-had surely spent the previous winter ill+
-the Green Spring orangery, as he recorded+
-later in his ''Garden Book'', "they are from seeds+
-planted March 1777." Although this tender+
-species has a somewhat straggly habit, formidable+
-thorns and malodorous roots, its small,+
-yellow pom-pom like blossoms are extremely+
-fragrant, and Jefferson would later describe+
-the Acacia as "the most delicious flowering+
-shrub in the world." Unfortunately, it is doubtful+
-Jefferson's young plants thrived beyond+
-September when he measured their heights at+
-18 and 23 inches, since he, at the time, lacked+
-an appropriate structure to sustain them.+
-Jefferson would often return to the idea of growing tender plants in a glass enclosure and+'''1816 November 10.''' (Jefferson to [[Martha Jefferson Randolph]]). "Tell Wormley also to send...about a bushel of Orchard grass seed out of the large box in the Green house."<ref>Ibid, 416.</ref>
-he was well acquainted with the possibilities+
-such structures could afford. Since the early+
-eighteenth century, freestanding greenhouses+
-(later known as orangeries) were important+
-and highly visible architectural features in gardens+
-of the elite in Europe, Britain, and, to a+
-lesser extent, North America. Throughout his+
-lifetime, Jefferson encountered a number of+
-them, both in America and abroad.+
-By the 1790s his trips to Philadelphia included+'''1829 October 7.''' ([[Virginia Jefferson Randolph Trist]] to [[Nicholas Philip Trist]]). "By the way, you never answered my inquiries about...the box of unpacked books in the greenhouse..."<ref>Nicholas Philip Trist Papers. University of North Carolina. http://www.lib.unc.edu/mss/</ref>
-periodic visits to the Woodlands, William+
-Hamilton's country estate on the banks of+
-the Schuykyll River. Within the Woodland's+
-expansive gardens, which Jefferson would describe+
-as "the only rival which I have known+
-in America to what may be seen in England,"+
-stood an enormous greenhouse measuring onehundred-+
-forty feet in length and divided into+
-a series of compartments. Hamilton was an insatiable+
-collector and, at its peak, his carefully+
-arranged collection was estimated to contain+
-ten thousand plants from every explored corner+
-of the globe, including the East Indies, Botany+
-Bay, Japan, and the Cape of Good Hope. He+
-went to great lengths to procure some of the+
-most unusual and rare plants of his time, and,+
-apparently he had the reputation of being quite+
-protective of them. Although Jefferson, on+
-several occasions, requested seeds of various+
-greenhouse plants, including the Sweet Acacia+
-and Venus's Flytrap, he would eventually admit "I have from time to time given Mr. Hamilton a great variety of plants, and altho' he is in+
-every other respect a particular friend of mine,+
-he never offered me one in return."+
-There were also other large estates with+'''1828 August 10.''' ([[Mary Jefferson Randolph]]) to [[Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge]]). "Then we have the sitting room adjoining in which two more can be comfortably lodged, and the green house a very convenient little appendage to our bed chambers."<ref>University of Virginia. http://www.lib.virginia.edu/small/ </ref>
-greenhouses in the tidewater regions of Virginia+
-and Maryland besides Green Spring most notably George Washington's home,+
-Mount Vernon. Washington's substantial or angery was, in turn, inspired by Margaret Carroll's greenhouse at Mount Clare, outside Baltimore.+
-In 1789, upon the completion of Mount Vernon's structure, Mrs. Carroll sent President+
-Washington pots and boxes of oranges, lemons,+
-"one fine balm s(c)ented shrub," aloes, and+
-tufts of knotted marjoram. Other references+
-indicate that Washington also grew what he called the "opopantax," or Sweet Acacia. Jefferson's+
-visits to Mount Vernon during the+
-1790s coincided with this active period in+
-Washington's orangery.+
- +
-Jefferson had twice envisioned a greenhouse+
-for himself at Monticello. A free-standing, two-story+
-structure on Mulberry Row was first designed+
-during the late 1770s and again c.1805.+
-His second, more elaborate design included a+
-terrace on the kitchen garden side and an eentrance+
-on two levels. Ultimately, however, Jefferson decided to incorporate his greenhouse+
-within the body of Monticello as a small, glass+
-enclosed arched loggia, which he called the+
-South Piazza, and it was not until shortly before his final retirement to Monticello that his+
-dream was realized. Construction began in+
-October 1804 when he contracted James Oldham+
-of Richmond to build five semicircular+
-sashes and five pairs of square sashes "for the+
-South Piazza as a Green house" which were+
-sent by boat to Monticello in April 1806. The+
-double-sashed windows functioned as doorways,+
-opening onto the South Terrace and to+
-the East and West Fronts. Jefferson's simple+
-yet elegant enclosure was balanced by an open+
-gallery on the north end of Monticello.+
- +
-While the completion date for the greenhouse+
-is not known precisely, the event was+
-anticipated by 1807 when Jefferson's granddaughter+
-Anne Cary Randolph wrote from+
-Edgehill to him in Washington: "Ellen and+
-myself have a fine parcel of little orange trees+
-for the green house against your return." A+
-year later, however, after which time the+
-oranges had been ravaged by grazing sheep,+
-Anne Randolph reported that "the green house+
-is not done." It was not until 1809 that Jefferson's+
-South Piazza seemed complete, according+
-to Margaret Bayard Smith. Mrs. Smith+
-was a noted Washington socialite and close+
-friend of Jefferson's during his presidential+
-years. She was particularly fond of the plants+
-Jefferson kept while in Washington, especially+
-his pot of geraniums, which she entreated him+
-to leave with her in 1808 upon his retirement+
-to Monticello, writing: "I cannot tell you how inexpressively precious it will be to my heart."+
-Jefferson obliged her with the geranium in+
-March 1809, apologizing for its neglected+
-condition, but assured of her nourishing hand,+
-observing, "If plants have sensibility, as the+
-analogy of their organisation with ours seems to indicate, it cannot but be proudly sensible+
-of her fostering attentions."+
- +
-Mrs. Smith gave a lengthy account of her+
-visit to Monticello that summer in which she described Jefferson's "suite of apartments" consisting of the [[Library (Book Room)|library]], his [[cabinet]], and "a green+
-house divided from the other by glass compartments+
-and doors; so that the view of the plants+
-it contains, is unobstructed. He has not yet+
-made his collection, having but just finished+
-the room, which opens to one of the terraces." Mrs. Smith also described a walnut and mahogany+
-seed press, crafted in the Monticello+
-joinery, which stood in Jefferson's cabinet+
-adjacent to the greenhouse, noting: "He opened+
-a little closet which contains all his garden+
-seeds. They are all in little phials, labled and+
-hung on little hooks. Seeds such as peas, beans,+
-etc. were in tin cannisters, but everything+
-labeled and in the neatest order." +
- +
-Jefferson's "collection" of greenhouse specimens+
-was never as extensive or elaborate as that of his colleagues. Indeed, in a letter to Thomas Lomax written before leaving Washington, Jefferson reasoned that the Acacia "is+
-tile only plant besides the Orange that I would take the trouble of nursing in a green house. I+
-rely on the garden &farm for a great portion+
-of the enjoyment I promise myself in retirement."+
-Nevertheless, Jefferson apparently did+
-try to start a variety of seeds in wooden boxes+
-and to attend plants in his South Piazza. The+
-"several sprigs of geranium (stuck) in a pot"+
-that he sent to his daughter Martha in 1807,+
-likely taken from the very plant given to Mrs.+
-Smith, were surely intended for the greenhouse.+
-In November 1809 he tried again the+
-delicious but temperamental Acacias, along+
-with an orange and a lime. That same year+
-another noteworthy Garden Book reference regarded+
-his planting of fourteen Goldenrain+
-Tree seeds (''Koelreuteria paniculata'') in boxes+
-and pots. The seeds of this small Asian tree,+
-which bears lovely spikes of yellow blossoms+
-in mid-summer, were sent to him from France+
-by his good friend, Madame de Tesse. The tree+
-was introduced to Europe in 1753, but was not+
-likely grown in America until Jefferson's successful planting. By year's end, he happily announced+
-to his granddaughter, Anne Banlrhead,+
-"the plants in the green-house prosper."+
- +
-Jefferson's long association with Philadelphia+
-seedsman and gardening writer Bernard+
-McMahon yielded more opportunities for+
-greenhouse plants. With the publication of+
-his book, The ''American Gardener's Calendar''.+
-in 1806, [[Bernard McMahon|McMahon]] became Jefferson's gardening+
-mentor and major source of seeds, bulbs, and plants for his gardens. Jefferson studied+
-McMahon's monthly instructions carefully and+
-directed his family to follow them as well in+
-their gardening endeavors at Monticello.+
- +
-[[Bernard McMahon|McMahon's]] ''Calendar'' was quite precise in+
-distinguishing the essential differences between greenhouses, hot-houses or stoves, and+
-conservatories. He specified that the "Greenhouse is a garden-building fronted with glass,+
-serving as a winter residence, for tender plants+
-(that) require no more artificial heat, than+
-what is barely sufficient to keep off frost, and+
-dispel such damps as may arise in the house."+
-The hot-house, according to [[Bernard McMahon|McMahon]], required+
-continual heat for the survival of its+
-tropical Rora. Furthermore, whereas the hothouse was designed to maintain humidity, the+
-greenhouse was meant to dispel it.+
- +
-The conservatory, on the other hand, was+
-something entirely different, as [[Bernard McMahon|McMahon]] explained:+
-"In the Green-house, the trees and plants are either in tubs or pots, and are placed+
-on stands or stages during the winter. . . . +
-In the Conservatory, the ground plan is laid+
-out in beds and borders, made of the best+
-compositions of soils that can be procured,+
-three or four feet deep."+
- +
-This distinction is important for understanding that Jefferson never intended his South+
-Piazza to be anything more than a greenhouse+
-in the purest sense-an area for growing in+
-pots "some oranges, Mimosa Farnesiana (Acacia) & a very few things of that kind." In fact,+
-McMahon must have realized that Jefferson's+
-greenhouse could potentially provide an environment+
-perfectly suited to the needs of many+
-semi-arid South African species, which, in+
-America were still considered novelties from+
-abroad. +
- +
-Unusual species from the Cape of Good+
-Hope filtered into Europe by the 1500s, after+
-the Portuguese sailor, Barthlolomeu Dias first+
-rounded the Cape in 1488. Some of the earliest were grown by British herbalist John Gerard+
-in his London garden during the late sixteenth+
-century. By the mid-seventeenth century the+
-Dutch had established a trading post on the+
-Cape and plants began to reach Amsterdam.+
-The eighteenth-century Swedish botanist Carl+
-Linnaeus, who developed the binomial system+
-of nomenclature used internationally in the+
-biological sciences, described this rich floristic+
-region as, ". . . that paradise on earth, the+
-Cape of Good Hope, which the Beneficient+
-Creator has enriched with His choicest wonders."+
- +
-Exploration of this region accelerated during+
-the 1770s when a great wave of botanical+
-discovery was issued by London's Royal Botanical+
-Garden at Kew, shortly before Jefferson's+
-tour of English gardens in 1786. Under+
-the direction of Sir Joseph Banks, plant collectors+
-sent from Kew imported beautiful and+
-extraordinary specimens from South America, Mexico, and western North America. But, it+
-was the species from South Africa that garnered+
-particular interest. The most familiar+
-plants from this region are our common garden+
-and scented geraniums (''Pelargonitim'' spp.) ,+
-but other species such as heaths and a great+
-multitude of bulbs also intrigued garden enthusiasts.+
-Scottish botanist Francis Masson,+
-the first collector engaged by Banks in 1772,+
-made his maiden voyage to the Cape of Good+
-Hope aboard Captain James Cook's ship, the+
-''Resolution''. Two Swedish plant collectors-+
-Anders Sparrman and Carl Peter Thunberg - arrived at Cape Town at the same time and,+
-among the three, they discovered most of the+
-Cape bulbs known today. Their introductions+
-fostered a new fashion in British gardening,+
-and inspired plant devotees such as William+
-Curtis of London, who featured them in his+
-highly influential ''Botanical Magazine.''+
- +
-In February 1812, [[Bernard McMahon|McMahon]] sent to Jefferson+
-a particularly significant shipment of+
-bulbs and plants. Among the various European+
-perennials and the currant and snowberry+
-bushes from the [[Lewis and Clark Expedition]],+
-McMahon included in the box "2 Roots Amaryllis+
-Belladonna" from the Cape of Good+
-Hope.+
- +
-The ''Amaryllis belladonna'', or Cape Belladonna,+
-was first introduced into Britain by.+
-way of Portugal in 1712, but was not likely+
-available through American nurseries until after 1800. By the nineteenth century it was+
-cultivated abundantly in Italy and exported+
-to northern Europe. Linnaeus gave this lovely+
-bulb the species name, ''belladonna'', or beautiful+
-lady, for the "exquisite blending of pink+
-and white in that flower, as in the female complexion. Because the foliage, following the+
-rhythms of the southern hemisphere, grows+
-throughout the winter months and dies to the+
-ground by late summer when the leafless,+
-bronzy green flower stalks emerge, the bulb+
-is most commonly known as Naked-lady Lily.+
-Throughout the arid, mountainous regions of+
-the southwestern Cape Province, these heavily+
-scented blossoms burst suddenly from the heatbaked+
-soil in just a few days during early+
-spring, corresponding with early fall in North+
-America. Thus, when [[Bernard McMahon|McMahon]] sent a second+
-parcel of three more "roots" of the "Belladonna+
-Lily" in October his directions noted: "if their+
-strong succulent fibers or roots retain their+
-''freshness'' on receipt of them, do not have them+
-cut off, but let them be planted with the bulbs+
-in pots of good rich mellow earth; the Rowers+
-are beautiful and fragrant; their season of+
-flowering is Septr. and Octr." indicating that+
-the fleshy roots were still actively growing and+
-that they had likely just finished flowering.+
- +
-[[Bernard McMahon|McMahon's]] packages to Jefferson sent on+
-October 24, contained other South African+
-bulbs as well. "With this lettern he wrote, "I+
-expect you will receive a small box containing, 6 Roots Watsonia Meriana . . . 6 do. Trittonia+
-fenestrata (''Tritonia hyalina'') . . . 6 Morea flexuosa+
-(''Hexaglottis longiflora'') All Cape of Good+
-Hope bulbs and consequently, with you, belonging to the Green-house department." The+
-three somewhat obscure species are all members+
-of the Iris family. Of the three, the Windowed-+
-or Open-flowered Tritonia was the most+
-recent introduction, having just arrived from+
-- the Cape in 1801. The flowers of this species are widely cup-shaped and bright, fiery orangered. What is most intriguing is the base of+
-each petal, which is nearly translucent, like a+
-clouded glass.+
- +
-In an earlier shipment that fall, [[Bernard McMahon|McMahon]]+
-also sent "3 Roots of Antholyza aethiopica+
-(''Chasmanthe aethiopica'') a Green House bulb,"+
-again, another South African Iris species. This+
-particluarly stately plant forms a lush stand of sword-like leaves two to three feet tall. Its+
-curved and hooded, scarlet and green flowers+
-Open like the mouth of an enraged animal,+
-hence the derivation of its genus name, from+
-the Greek ''chasme'', meaning "gaping." If Jefferson+
-had any success with his South African+
-bulbs, it would surely have been with this+
-species, for it grows so easily and abundantly+
-that it is widely considered a weed in southern+
-California.+
- +
-Whether or not these strange species from a+
-distant land thrived or were even planted remains+
-a mystery. As with a multitude of plants+
-Jefferson received from his friends thronghout+
-his life, he did not record their fate. What+
-Jefferson did record made the prospect of maintaining+
-any sort of tender plant doubtful. His [[Weather Observations|weather observations]] from January 1810 noted his bedroom temperature at 37 degrees Fahrenheit+
-and the greenhouse at 21 degrees. In April 1811, a+
-year before the Cape bulbs arrived, he wrote+
-to [[Bernard McMahon|McMahon]]:+
- +
-"You enquire whether I have a hot house,+
-greenhouse, or to what extent I pay attention+
-to these things. I have only a green house and+
-have used that only for a very few articles. My+
-frequent and long absences at a distant possession+
-render my efforts even for the few+
-greenhouse plants I aim at abortive. During+
-my last absence in the winter, every plant I+
-had in it perished."+
- +
-Jefferson's admission to McMahon himself+
-of this inhospitable environment suggests that+
-perhaps [[Bernard McMahon|McMahon]] was encouraging Jefferson+
-to make an effort to provide some heat. In any+
-case, by 1816 most references to plants for the+
-"green house department" were in the distant+
-past. Jefferson's South Piazza was serving+
-more as a storage space and utilitarian room+
-where he kept his large rectangular work bench+
-and chest of tools that he had acquired in London.+
-On November 16 Jefferson wrote to his+
-daughter [[Martha Jefferson Randolph|Martha]] from [[Poplar Forest]], directing her to "tell Wormley also to send . . . about a bushel of Orchard grass-seed out of the large box in the Greenhouse."+
- +
-Correspondence between Jefferson's granddaughters+
-in later years indicated that plants+
-were actually removed from the frigid greenhouse+
-during winter months. Cornelia Randolph+
-wrote to her sister Virginia on December+
-1, 1820, "I had all our plants moved into the+
-dining room before I left home and yours+
-along with them. I hope they may be able to+
-bear this bitter cold weather." Again, on October+
-31, 1825, Cornelia would write, this+
-time to her sister Ellen, "Mary and myself are+
-established in mama's room with all her furniture+
-and the sunny window in which I shall+
-range my green house plants when the weather+
-is cold enough to take them in . . ."+
- +
-By the end of his life, Jefferson's greenhouse+
-appears to have functioned more as an enclosed+
-porch, Seven months after his death, Mary+
-Jefferson Randolph wrote to Nicholas Trist+
-that "the green house had been used so long as+
-a common sitting room for the whole family+
-that there were many of our things in it and+
-in packing up some may have escaped our observation."+
-The following year she described+
-again the transformation of the greenhouse+
-space in a letter to Ellen Randolph Coolidge:+
-"How often I wish I could see your two sweet+
-babies, added to the four that now run about+
-the house or roll and tumble on the floor in the green house, which serves as a very pleasant little sitting room for us, during part of the day (when the sun does not shine upon the windows) and is at all times a favourite play place for the children."+
==Footnotes== ==Footnotes==
Line 407: Line 30:
[[Category:Monticello (House)]] [[Category:Monticello (House)]]
[[Category:Agriculture and Gardening]] [[Category:Agriculture and Gardening]]
---[[User:Jackie|Jackie]] 10:20, 19 June 2007 (EDT) 

Current revision

Southeast Piazza
Southeast Piazza

Dimensions: 21' 7"x 12' 4"; ceiling 11' 7 3/4"

Color: White

Purpose of Room: Greenhouse for growing plants; location of Thomas Jefferson's workbench, where he is known to have made locks and chains; possibly home to a pet mockingbird

Unusual architectural features: Part of Jefferson's suite of private rooms that included his book room, writing office (Cabinet), and bedroom. Flanked by two "venetian porches"

Furnishings of note: work table and tools, as well as flowers, seeds, and flats for sprouting see

Primary Source References

1807 November 11. (Ann Cary Randolph Bankhead to Jefferson). "Ellen and myself have a fine parcel of little Orange trees from the green house against your return."[1]

1808 January 22. (Ann Cary Randolph Bankhead to Jefferson). "I have not been to Monticello since we cane from there but Jefferson was there the other day and says that the green house is not done."[2]

1808 December 8. (Ann Cary Randolph Bankhead to Jefferson). "In fact the Mimosa Nilotica and Orange are the only things I have ever proposed to have in my Green house."[3]

1816 November 10. (Jefferson to Martha Jefferson Randolph). "Tell Wormley also to send...about a bushel of Orchard grass seed out of the large box in the Green house."[4]

1829 October 7. (Virginia Jefferson Randolph Trist to Nicholas Philip Trist). "By the way, you never answered my inquiries about...the box of unpacked books in the greenhouse..."[5]

1828 August 10. (Mary Jefferson Randolph) to Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge). "Then we have the sitting room adjoining in which two more can be comfortably lodged, and the green house a very convenient little appendage to our bed chambers."[6]

Footnotes

  1. Family Letters, 314.
  2. Ibid, 323.
  3. Ibid, 369.
  4. Ibid, 416.
  5. Nicholas Philip Trist Papers. University of North Carolina. http://www.lib.unc.edu/mss/
  6. University of Virginia. http://www.lib.virginia.edu/small/