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Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on Poplar Forest Plantings and Geography, 1 February 1811–6 October 1821

Notes on Poplar Forest Plantings and Geography

<Elevations above the height of the eye in the Porticos at Poplar Forest—5’ error of instrumt>

<1811> <E. horison> <W. horison> <S. horison>
<Feb. 1> <0.> < [+3’ –12"?]> < [–5’ –20"?]>
1811. Feb. 27. planted  30. gooseberries. W. end of the patch.
11. grapes of one kind } S. side of do & E. end
21. do of another
rose bushes } N. side of do at W. end
bear grass
pinks. in locks of fence N. & W.
50 cuttings of Athenian poplar. nursery next N. fence between 2. stables1
prepared bed next Southwardly for tomatas
  next do   lettuce
  next do 80. f. long for Asparagus
planted 16. raspberries along side of the gooseberries
25. cuttings of Weepg willow along side of the Ath. poplars
Memm plant on each mound
4.2 weeping willows3 on the top in a square 20.f. apart
golden willows in a circle round the middle. 15.f. apart
Aspens4 in a circle round the foot. 15.f. apart.
plant 6. weeping willows round each Cloacinae.
Aug. 13.  I find growing in the truck patch 30. golden willows
  20. weeping do
  10. Athenian poplars
 3  Lombardy poplars.
 2. Aspens
1812. Jan. planted  Aspens from Monticello. May 19. 5. living.
Calycanthuses. May 19. 1. living.
Alpine strawberries. living
white strawberries. living.
  Nov. plant a double row of paper mulberries from stairways to the Mounds
clump of Athenian & Balsam poplars at each corner of house.
intermix locusts, common & Kentucky, red-buds, dogwoods, calycanthus, liriodendron
  Nov. 20. there are living 31. Golden willows, 19. Weeping willows. 10. Athenian Poplars, 3. Lombardy poplars, & 2 Monto Aspens.
Nov. 26. the road & outer5 gate leading6 from the house to the Waterlick road bears S. 43½ W magnetically 179. po. to the center of the house
25. 27. took from the Nursery & planted in the grounds round the house
  20. weeping willows. 30. golden willows. 10. Athenian poplars
 3. Lombardy poplars. 2. Monto Aspens. 16.7 Calycanthuses.
27. planted in the Nursery. 12. Monto Aspens. 16. paper mulberries.
  Dec. 5. planted Monto Aspens from mr Clay’s. viz
 12. round the Eastern mound & 4. round West do 6. still wanting
planted also 2. European mulberries from mr Clay’s as part of the double row from the Western mound towards the house.

from the wall of the Western stairway to the foot of the western mound 91. feet.

 Eastern do Eastern do 84. feet8

from the N. door along the circular road to the gate due South from the house is 270. yds. conseqly 540. yds round <plant a row of paper mulberries on each side all around> except the curve at the N. door; at 20 f. apart. <will take about 160. trees—>

<plant on each bank, right & left, on S. side of the house, a row of lilacs, Althaeas, Gelder roses, Roses, Calycanthus>

1815. Nov. 2. planted 64. paper mulberries in the nursery
25. planted 5. Calycanthuses on each mound. 4. Monticello aspens at the N. foot of the W. mound & 3 do at the N. foot of the E mound
19 paper mulberries in a clump between the W. Cloacina & fence &
19 do in a clump between the E Cloacina and fence
1816. Nov. 1. planted  large roses of difft kinds in the oval bed in the N. front
dwarf roses in the N.E. oval. Robinia hispida in the N. W. do
Althaeas, Gelder roses, lilacs calycanthus9 in both mounds. Privet round both Necessaries
white Jessamine along N.W. of E. offices. Azedaracs opp. 4 s of the house Aug. 17 15 livg10
22. planted 190. poplars in the grounds. 5 Athenian poplars. 2. Kentucky locusts near house European mulberries in the new garden.
1819. Apr. 23. planted in the garden under the N. wall of the stable 20. cuttings of Balsam poplars from mr Radford (some may live)11

Mountains in the order in which they are seen from Poplar forest, beginning in the S.W. & proceeding N. Eastwardly.

Blue ridge.

No business.12 2 knobs, shewing the blue ridge between them.

Blue ridge.

Rocky mountain, a single point scarcely seen.

Fleming’s mountains. 2 ridges, shewing the bl. ridge between them.

Blue ridge.

Tobacco row.

Blue ridge.

1820. Nov. 25. the flat peak of Otter bears from the top of the house N. 67. W.

<1821. Oct. 6. from the Turnpike on the Waterlick road [it] is 1.47 miles thereunto to the house gate [. . .]>



<the high grounds around the house at Pop. For. taken at the roots of the trees as nearly as could be judged, & constituting it’s sensible horizon, taken in different directions by the spirit level of the theodolite placed 3 f. 6. I. above the floor of the porticoes, Dec. 2. 15 is as follows, all + or elevated. Due W. 32’ N 61½ W 63’—N. 15. W. 60’—Due E 30’ S.E. 30’—due S. 25’—SW 99’?>

MS (ViU: TJP); entirely in TJ’s hand; written on both sides of a single sheet during visits to Poplar Forest between 1 Feb. 1811 and 6 Oct. 1821; some cancellations illegible.

pinks, flowers of the genus dianthus, were popular early in the nineteenth century and available in many forms. The term may refer to the notched, or pinked edges of the petals (Peggy Cornett, “Pinks, Gilliflowers, & Carnations—The Exalted Flowers,” Twinleaf Annual Journal & Catalogue [1998]). cloacinae are privies (OED description begins James A. H. Murray, J. A. Simpson, E. S. C. Weiner, and others, eds., The Oxford English Dictionary, 2d ed., 1989, 20 vols. description ends ). white jessamine is probably Jasminum officinale (poet’s jessamine), and azedaracs are chinaberry (Melia azedarach) (Hortus Third description begins Liberty Hyde Bailey, Ethel Zoe Bailey, and the staff of the Liberty Hyde Bailey Hortorium, Cornell University, Hortus Third: A Concise Dictionary of Plants Cultivated in the United States and Canada, 1976 description ends , 612, 724).

1Preceding three words added in margin.

2Reworked from “3.”

3Preceding two words interlined in place of “Athenian poplars.”

4Word interlined in place of “Weeping willows.”

5Word interlined.

6Manuscript: “lealing.”

7Reworked from “10.”

8Recto ends here.

9Word interlined.

10Preceding four words added in margin.

11Remainder of verso oriented upside down with relation to beginning of page and right-side up with relation to recto, with the final, canceled paragraph appearing between the entries for 1816 and 1819 coming in the other direction (see illustration reproduced elsewhere in this volume).

12TJ here canceled “a single one.”

Index Entries

  • Alpine strawberry search
  • althaea (rose of Sharon) search
  • asparagus search
  • aspen trees search
  • azedaracs (chinaberry) search
  • bear grass search
  • Blue Ridge Mountains search
  • Carolina allspice search
  • Clay, Charles; and mulberry trees search
  • dogwood search
  • Fleming’s Mountains (Blue Ridge Mountains) search
  • food; raspberries search
  • food; strawberries search
  • gardens; at Poplar Forest search
  • gooseberries; at Poplar Forest search
  • grapes; at Poplar Forest search
  • grass; bear search
  • jasmine (jessamine); white search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; Notes on Poplar Forest Plantings and Geography search
  • lilac search
  • locust; bristly search
  • locust; common search
  • locust; Kentucky (honey locust) search
  • mulberry; European search
  • mulberry; paper search
  • Notes on Poplar Forest Plantings and Geography (Thomas Jefferson) search
  • Peaks of Otter, Va. search
  • pinks search
  • plants; Notes on Poplar Forest Plantings and Geography search
  • poplar; Athenian search
  • poplar; balsam search
  • poplar; Lombardy search
  • poplar; tulip search
  • Poplar Forest (TJ’s Bedford Co. estate); Notes on Poplar Forest Plantings and Geography search
  • privies search
  • Radford, William; cuttings sent to TJ from search
  • raspberries; at Poplar Forest search
  • redbud search
  • roads; at Poplar Forest search
  • Rocky Mountain (part of Blue Ridge Mountains) search
  • roses search
  • roses, guelder search
  • strawberries; Alpine search
  • strawberries; white search
  • Tobacco Row (Blue Ridge Mountains) search
  • trees; aspen search
  • trees; dogwood search
  • trees; locust, bristly search
  • trees; locust, common search
  • trees; locust, Kentucky (honey locust) search
  • trees; poplar search
  • trees; redbud search
  • trees; willow search
  • tulip poplar search
  • white jasmine (white jessamine) search
  • willow; golden search
  • willow; weeping search