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Wednesday, November 20, 2019

The Gardens at Monticello

By Becky Lower

My father, being the enterprising man that he was, planted a vegetable garden every year, in order to help feed his growing family. My mother grew the beautiful flowers that surrounded the vegetables and entered her award-winning irises each year in the township fair.  It’s from them and their early instruction on how to care for and grow things that I became familiar with the joy of sinking my hands into the dirt. 

I already had a love of roses, having spent several years in Texas and paid annual visits to the Antique Rose Emporium (
 Then, I moved to Virginia and discovered Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello, near Charlottesville, VA. (

I especially loved the fact the plantings on Jefferson’s estate produced seeds and cuttings that were available to the public. I took a bit of Thomas Jefferson home with me each year. Over time, my backyard grew into a miniature version of Jefferson’s, with roses, hyacinths and bottlebrush plants, as well as seeds from a myriad of plants. I carefully cultivated each, calling them my “TJ” collection, after Thomas Jefferson. I cried more at leaving my plants than I did at leaving my house, when I moved away.
Thomas Jefferson

I’ve relocated again, this time to balmy North Carolina, and am trying  to find new roses that are heat-tolerant, to brighten the little spit of land surrounding my condo.  After eight years of suffering through the harshness of Ohio winters, finding roses that prefer warmth is a welcome challenge, but a challenge, nonetheless. My first two attempts have been unspectacular. Maybe I need a TJ rose instead of an Antique Emporium one. 

Author Bio: Amazon best-selling author Becky Lower has traveled the United States in search of great settings for her novels and picking up a love for plants along the way. At various times, she’s cultivated bonsai plants, cacti, roses and various herbs she’s never found a way to use. She loves to write about two people finding each other and falling in love amid the backdrop of a great setting, be it in America on a covered wagon headed west or in Regency England. Winning Violet, her first Regency, is mildly spicy, but what else can be expected when discussing the propagation of roses? And Thomas Jefferson's love of them? Becky loves to hear from her readers at Visit her website at


  1. Becky, I loved the pictures of your miniature Monticello garden and I can empathize with you about having to leave all that hard work behind.
    My dad, like yours, was big into gardening. As well as a vegetable garden, he also grew roses down in the orchard where they could get a lot of sun. I don't know where you lived in Texas, but supposedly, Tyler Texas grows the best roses in the US. They have dry weather and a sandy loam type soil. Roses love water, but don't like their "feet" to stay wet. North Carolina has heavy red clay soil which roses don't like and the humidity here makes black spot a constant threat. I wish I could tell you his formula for growing those roses, but I don't know what they were. I do know that his Red Blaze roses seemed to have an easier time tolerating the soil and humidity. A local nursery is the best place to find the answers. I wish you luck with that.
    I wish you all the best, Becky...

    1. I'll keep trying, Sarah. There's nothing like the scent of a rose.

  2. Aw! What a lovely garden. No wonder you were heartbroken to leave it. I hope you can re-create it and wish you every happiness in your new home.

    1. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your POV, I don't have a big yard to tend here in my little condo. But there is enough for me to recreate something that looks better than what's here now. Next year, I keep telling myself, will be soon enough.