Behind The Scenes: Secrets of Monticello

What does it take to capture one of the South's most iconic gardens? A lot of time and patience. Staff photographer Robbie Caponetto spent nearly a week at Monticello to capture Thomas Jefferson's gardens in their best light.

"For three days, we woke up every morning at 5 a.m. to figure out the exact angle, setup and time to capture the sunrise on the grounds," Robbie says. "We knew we had to time it perfectly, because there are only a few minutes to be able to shoot into the sun at the angle we wanted. On the fourth day we went back to the precise spot we planned."

This is what he shot, which is featured in the opener of "Breaking Ground" on page 82 in the September issue.

"It was such a privilege to stand where Thomas Jefferson once stood," he says.

Robbie was guided through the gardens by Monticello's Director of Gardens Peter Hatch. "Peter -- and the entire staff -- is so passionate about preserving Jefferson's legacy."

"It was fascinating to walk throughout the gardens and learn about the origins of these plants and Jefferson's logic in growing each one."

To see all of Robbie's images, and read the story of the Monticello gardens, pick up a copy of the September issue of Southern Living.

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