FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - November 22, 2016
Media Contact: Alexandria Tyre

Monticello’s Historic Gardener and Curator of Plants Peggy CornettMonticello’s Historic Gardener and Curator of Plants Peggy Cornett

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA— Last month, The Garden Club of America (GCA) awarded Monticello’s Historic Gardener and Curator of Plants Peggy Cornett the 2016 Zone VII Horticulture Commendation.

“It was surreal,” Cornett says about receiving the award at the 2016 meeting of GCA clubs in Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Kentucky.

The commendation is awarded for significant contributions to horticulture. The award recognizes Cornett’s expertise, generosity in sharing her knowledge, and dedication to the preservation of Thomas Jefferson’s botanical legacy.

“Peggy has made significant contributions to the world of horticulture throughout her entire adult life, as a researcher, author, editor, international lecturer, and educator,” Barbara Tuffli, chairman of the GCA’s Horticulture Committee, said at the event. “Her fierce commitment to the integrity of the Monticello landscape is greatly admired and highly valued.”

Barbara Tuffli of Garden Club of America (left) with Peggy Cornett, recipient of the 2016 Garden Club of America Zone VII Horticulture CommendationBarbara Tuffli of Garden Club of America (left) with Peggy Cornett, recipient of the 2016 Garden Club of America Zone VII Horticulture Commendation

Cornett joined the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello in 1983 as an associate director of gardens and grounds. From 1992 to 2009, she served as the director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants before assuming her current role as curator of plants at Monticello.

“I continue to be inspired by Jefferson’s love of gardening,” Cornett said of her tenure at Monticello. “I am so fortunate to not only pursue my personal passion for botany and horticulture but also to have the chance to share this facet of Jefferson’s complex life with others. Like Jefferson wrote, ‘there is not a sprig of grass that shoots uninteresting to me …’”

Cornett shares her knowledge in horticulture as a frequent guest on NPR and PBS. She also writes articles and lectures nationwide on vegetable gardens and historic plants.

In addition to managing the historic plant collection, Cornett oversees educational programs at Monticello including the Garden and Grounds tour and the Garden Tasting Tours as well as natural history walks, lectures, and horticultural workshops throughout the year. She is the co-director of the Historic Landscape Institute, a unique one-week educational experience in the theory and practice of historic landscape hosted at Monticello.

Cornett earned degrees in Botany and English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and received a master’s degree in Public Garden Administration and Museum Studies from the Longwood Graduate Program of the University of Delaware.

About The Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello

The Thomas Jefferson Foundation was incorporated in 1923 to preserve Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, in Charlottesville, Virginia. Today, the foundation seeks to engage a national and global audience in a dialogue with Jefferson’s ideas. Monticello is recognized as a National Historic Landmark and a United Nations World Heritage Site. As a private, nonprofit organization, the foundation’s regular operating budget does not receive ongoing government support to fund its twofold mission of preservation and education. About 440,000 people visit Monticello each year.