Jefferson also noted “Plane-tree” (or Sycamore, Platanus occidentalis) in a list of ornamental plants in his only published book, Notes on the State of Virginia. In 1812 he sowed Plane-tree seeds in his nursery, eventually intended for the Monticello landscape. Jefferson was captivated by the quality of shade that different species afforded.
Jefferson’s observations likely informed the Garden Club of Virginia’s decision to plant the American Sycamore next to the South Terrace when they restored the Monticello Flower Gardens in 1939-41, and a young sapling was planted on the West Lawn close to the South Wing’s stone retaining wall. The roots of this cherished source of shade eventually burrowed under the 1802 Jefferson-era wall, threatening it with collapse. To ensure the preservation and restoration of Monticello’s original South Wing the sycamore was removed in the summer of 2017.
Frederick Williamson has done various turnings for Monticello since 1997, both architectural pieces and bowls from two other significant trees on the property. Known for his one-of-a-kind bowls, he has turned bowls and been a full time woodworker since 1972. Fred works at his studio in White Hall, Virginia, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Each bowl is signed and numbered by the artist.