The Author

Derek Baxter graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in history. He is writing a book about his experience following the route through Europe that Jefferson set out in Hints to Americans. After years of research, Derek made nine separate trips abroad on Jefferson's trail. 

 

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Landscapes

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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.

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.