Skip to Content

Explore the Gardens

The West Pavilion Gardens

Pavilion Garden I

Pavilion Garden I has a symmetrical serpentine walk and small oval flower beds. In the center of the garden is an example of Jefferson's attempt to use carved capitals for the Rotunda from Virginia stone. The stone proved too difficult to sculpt and was not used. Shrubs and trees, including azaleas, a sweetgum tree, and purple leaf plums, border the walk.

The simple geometric design of the Hotel Garden is typical of Jefferson's period, with border rows of fruit trees and rectilinear beds once used for vegetables and herbs.

Pavilion Garden III

Because no additions have been made to the back of this pavilion, this is one of the largest remaining gardens. Two Biltmore ashes shade the meandering walk and oval beds, similar to garden beds Jefferson saw at Blenheim in England. He noted the favorable effect of "small thickets of shrubs in oval raised beds,... [with] flowers among the shrubs" and used it at Monticello. Garden seats are placed throughout for enjoyment and viewing. The plantings in this garden include neviusia, a great silverbell tree, and a goldenrain tree.

Pavilion Garden V

Two "Albemarle Pippin" apple trees, bearing one of Jefferson's favorite apples, thrive in the center of each square of the Hotel Garden. Illustrations of similar formal fruit gardens with turf parterres and gravel walks are found in The Theory and Practice of Gardening, published in 1724 and listed in Jefferson's collection.

The upper garden, entered through the middle gate, is conceived as an elegant boxwood garden. The purple flowering hostas and pink crepe myrtles provide radiant color in summer, while the green boxwood invites contemplation. It is an appropriate garden for meetings of students and teachers.

Pavilion Garden VII

Garden VII is one of the smaller gardens due to many additions that have been made onto the back of the pavilion. Used by the University's faculty club, this garden provides lawn and trees for large gatherings, as well as intimate gardens for discussion and reflection. The secluded benches are connected by serpentine walks bordered by various roses and bulbs which add a romantic touch, especially popular in Jefferson's day.

Outside the garden stands a cast iron capital that once ornamented the annex to the Rotunda. The annex and the Rotunda burned to the ground in 1895. The Rotunda was restored in 1900.

Pavilion Garden IX

An arbor of "Cox Orange" and "Pippin" apple trees cast a cool shadow as one enters through the lower gate to the hotel garden. Pomegranate shrubs border the walls, with a large fig in the corner.

The pavilion garden includes Persian lilacs, peonies, and viburnums. The large lawn was initially designed around the McGuffey ash, which succumbed to disease in 1989, more than one hundred and fifty years after it was planted. The shrub borders include amelanchier, cranberry viburnum, and clethra.

The East Pavilion Gardens

Pavilion Garden II

Many of the trees in this garden, including the umbrella magnolia and the large pecan tree, were planted by the late Dean Ivy F. Lewis, professor of biology from 1915 to 1953. On the middle terrace, blueberries and grape vines serve as a reminder of the utilitarian nature of these gardens. In the hotel garden, four heirloom varieties of plum grow, while crabapple trees blossom along the walls. Daylilies cascade down the lower bank.

Pavilion Garden IV

Maxmilian Schele de Vere, professor of modern languages, lived in Pavilion IV from 1845 to 1897. His boxwood garden was initially restored by the Albemarle Garden Club in 1916. Part of this design was retained in the later restoration. Tree peonies and roses blossom in the perennial flower beds. Southern magnolias shade the lawn.

The flat middle terrace reflects the geometric simplicity of utilitarian gardens while the lower garden is an informal flower garden. The shrub-like French marigolds were grown by Jefferson. As with this parent of today's marigolds, eighteenth-century plants were often larger plants with smaller flowers than our modern hybrids.

Pavilion Garden VI

The lower garden is one of the best known because of the presence of the Merton Spire in the center, carved for Oxford's Merton College Chapel in 1451. In 1928 it was given to the University to honor Jefferson's educational ideals. The wilderness of the native trees and shrubs is reminiscent of the groves at Monticello, and includes sweetbay, rhododendron and mountain laurel.
The Pavilion Garden exhibits an orchard in the middle terrace and an open lawn edged in boxwoods at the top.

Pavilion Garden VIII

Near the upper entrance, intimate flower gardens can be discovered behind the large boxwood. At the end of each garden are setting stones, similar to those at Monticello, which Jefferson described as "benches or seats of rock or turf."

The main garden blooms primarily during the summer months, and includes crepe myrtle, rose of sharon, and chaste trees. The "hourglass" walk is bordered by shrub beds of oakleaf hydrangea and roses.

Above the lower bank, goldenrain trees form an aerial hedge similar to one Jefferson saw in England. The formal orchard includes apples, plums, and walnuts set in "old" style turf parterres.

Pavilion Garden X

One of the largest gardens, Pavilion Garden X is one hundred and fifty feet wide. The design of the oval lawn with "elephant ears" was based on the gardens in another Jefferson-era book, as well as on Jefferson's ideas for Monticello. The large hollies remain from an earlier garden.
The Hotel Garden is a collection of tree boxwoods established long before the restorations. Iron benches are placed around the Kentucky coffee trees in a romantic setting popular in eighteenth-century gardens.