The first day of spring arrives this week — Wednesday, March 20 — and perhaps none of our forefathers knew more about gardening and the joys of the season than Thomas Jefferson. In 1816, he made a botanical request of his daughter, Martha Randolph, to send “daffodils, jonquils, and Narcissuses.” A guy who cared about flowers; they don’t make them like they used to.
Next month, at Jefferson’s beloved Monticello, not only can you frolic in the lush beauty of Charlottesville, but you can gain firsthand tips from Monticello gardeners during Virginia’s Historic Garden Week, one of our favorite events.
Jefferson’s legacy as a green thumb extraordinaire is the Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants, a must-see while you’re experiencing Historic Garden Week, which runs from April 27 through May 4.
Monticello is one of 250 homes and gardens included in the annual tour, sponsored by the Garden Club of Virginia.
Jefferson’s home is allowing guests access to plantation experts like Pat Brodowski, who will lead visitors through Jefferson’s vegetable garden on April 30, one of several specialized tours around the mountaintop property.
Jefferson’s other favorite pastime was being an inveterate Francophile, which is easy to do in Charlottesville at a number of elegant French bistros.
New to the area is Brasserie Saison on East Main Street, offering lunch and dinner daily, with late-night service and brunch on the weekends. Although executive chef Tres Pittard and chef de cuisine Devin Murray focus on regional Belgian fare, the menu — from the country paté to the coq au vin — has a decidedly French vibe. The wine list and genteel atmosphere would win Mr. Jefferson’sapproval.
Our friends in Charlottesville also recommend Public Fish & Oyster, Red Pump Kitchen and the Downtown Grille, all on Main Street.
Stay the night at the Clifton, Charlottesville’s top boutique hotel, set on 100 acres of bucolic countryside. This spring, the hotel is offering 20 percent off your rate, plus a $25 dining credit for the Clifton’s 1799 Restaurant or Copper Bar.