Landscapes

Jefferson thought landscaping was as important an art as painting or statuary. And one in which Americans of his day were particularly well-suited. We had more plants than painters back then. In his guide, Jefferson recommends the English-style landscape gardens of Italy. We go one further, though, and find this style of gardens in their natural habitat: England. We hunt down the 19 gardens that Jefferson visited in 1785 to see how they’ve fared. Most still are landscape gardens, but others are now humble municipal parks. Some took some creativity (perhaps a euphemism) to get into: the high security home of the BBC World Service, the private golf course, and the trade union training center. Jefferson drew inspiration from these estates for his own landscaping at Monticello, where he sought to create a truly American garden.

Blenheim, Oxfordshire
Blenheim, Oxfordshire

The great Palladian bridge. Kind of a Bridge to Nowhere-- it's a massive structure over a small stream (later flooded to bring more proportion to the scene). Jefferson was not impressed.

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We sneak into Blenheim, through a nondescript gate that led to a secret public easement. We feel like trespassers, although it is legal. Jefferson found Blenheim too ostentatious, and we agree, at least in terms of its entry prices.

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Kew Gardens, London
Kew Gardens, London

How a nine-year old feels about spending her summer vacation visiting 19 landscape gardens. It builds character.

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Blenheim, Oxfordshire
Blenheim, Oxfordshire

The great Palladian bridge. Kind of a Bridge to Nowhere-- it's a massive structure over a small stream (later flooded to bring more proportion to the scene). Jefferson was not impressed.

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