The Monticello Linden

The Monticello Linden




This large Linden stood directly beside the front entrance to Monticello, overarching the portico.



In the winter it still towered over the house, dominating it once the massive tulip poplar that
stood on this side of the walkway had come down.

Peggy Cornett, Curator of Plants at Monticello, wrote the following:

The European Linden,
 Tilia x europaea, which stood next to the East Front portico of Monticello, was a naturally occurring hybrid between two distinct European Linden species. Also known as the Common Lime, this cross occurs occasionally in the wild where the two parent species are native. Like its European cousins, it produced clusters of creamy-white, extremely fragrant flowers in spring and its deep green foliage provided a magnificent shade at the entrance to Monticello. This specimen towered over the house and, based on early twentieth-century portraits of Monticello now in the University of Virginia’s special collections library, it was a young tree at the time the photographs were taken. This documents the tree to the Levy Era, making it around 120 years old when it fell during an intense storm that hit Monticello on April 26, 2011.


Here is what it looked like after that storm.   The sugar maple may be seen in the background.



The root snag up close gives you an idea of the size of the tree.



During the cleanup the grounds crew placed the larger log sections down by the compost bins.  Notice the snag that was vertical in the previous photo now lying across the jumbled logs, and above the main root ball with red clay visble.



Here I am working on that root ball section, which is from only one side of the tree.



And here I'm splitting out some of the interior parts.  Notice the encased brick to the left of my wedge. 



The last load out with Monticello visible behind. My van is weighted down inside before the trailer is factored in.

Linden is basically the same as basswood, very soft, mostly white with an even texture.  This wood down towards the base has a denseness and richness of color that reflects it's age.  Other pieces have remnants of the lightening cable spikes and of the spalting from inner decay that add to the interest.  I have always felt that my bowls essentially preserve a bit of the soul of a tree.  They are thin curved sections through the wood, often going from heart to bark, dried and polished smooth, and in the arcing surface you can read the history of the tree as well as see some of the stresses it might have undergone.   Once completely finished and put in a house, they can last forever.

The Monticello Linden bowls are sold primarily by the Monticello Museum Shop.  There are two other turners working with the wood.  Each piece is numbered sequentially by the artist, documented by photograph, and is accompanied by a certification card from Monticello.  Sales have been brisk over the years as people can appreciate the sense of history they get with these elegant sections of the tree.   You may contact the Museum Shop  at 434-984-9840 or 1-800-243-1743 to check for availability if you are interested. 

For a bit of Jefferson's own thoughts on trees, go to the Monticello website  http://www.monticello.org/site/house-and-gardens/trees-monticello