As Heard on The Daily Gardener Podcast:
A Rich Spot of Earth by Peter J. Hatch
The subtitle to this book is "Thomas Jefferson's Revolutionary Garden at Monticello."
The author of this book, Peter Hatch, was responsible for the maintenance, interpretation, and restoration of the 2400 acre landscape of Monticello from 1977 until 2012.
Alice Waters wrote the forward to this book. She said,
"I first met Peter Hatch in 2009 when he took me around the gardens of Monticello on a crisp, sunny, autumn day. No one knows the land’s story better than Peter. Thomas Jefferson‘s garden, Peter writes, ‘was an Ellis Island of introductions, filled with a whole world of hearty economic plants: 330 varieties of 99 species of vegetables and herbs.’ I’m so impressed by this biodiversity which is exactly what our country so urgently needs right now - a vegetable garden that is, as Peter frames it, a true American garden: practical, expensive, and wrought from a world of edible immigrants.”
The president of the Thomas Jefferson foundation wrote this in the preface to Peters book:
"Peter is a man of the earth. Annie Leibovitz Photographed his hands when she came to Monticello. For 34 years, Peter has plunged those hands into the earth on the mountainside of Monticello. Each year, coaxing, wresting, and willing an ever more copious renaissance of Jefferson's peerless garden. Monticello is Jefferson's autobiography, his lifelong pursuit, the greatest manifestation of his genius, And the only home in the united states listed on the United Nations list of World Heritage Sites. We have Peter to thank for devoting his career to the revelation of Jefferson's passion for plants and the significance of our founder’s horticultural pursuit of happiness.”
Peter Hatch opens the book with this quote from Jefferson. It's from a letter he wrote to the Philadelphia Portrait Painter Charles Wilson Peale. Jefferson said,
“I have often thought that if heaven had given me a choice of my position and calling, it should have been on a rich spot of earth, well-watered, and near a good market for the productions of the garden. No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth and no culture comparable to that of the garden. Such a variety of subjects, some one always coming to perfection, the failure of one thing repaired by the success of another, and instead of one harvest a continued one thro’ the year. Under a total want of demand except for our family table I am still devoted to the garden. But tho’ an old man, I am but a young gardener.”
Peter went on to write that,
“Thomas Jefferson's Monticello vegetable garden was truly a revolutionary American garden. many of the summer vegetables that we take for granted today — tomatoes, okra, eggplant, lima beans, peanuts, and peppers— were slow to appear in North American gardens around 1800. European travelers commented on the failure of Virginia gardeners to take advantage “of the fruitful warmth of the climate” because of the American reliance “on the customary products of Europe”: cool-season vegetables. Jefferson's garden was unique in showcasing a medley of vegetable species native to hot climates, from South and Central America to Africa to the Middle East and the Mediterranean. few places on Earth combined tropical heat and humidity with temperate winters like those at Monticello. Jefferson capitalized on this by creating a south-facing terrace, a microclimate that exaggerates the summer warmth, tempers the winter cold and captures an abundant wealth of crop-ripening Sunshine. Peter’s book is beautiful. It's lavishly Illustrated and the writing is engaging. The first half of the book focuses on Jefferson’s gardening and then the second half focuses on the development and the restoration of the gardens at Monticello."
You can get a used copy of A Rich Spot of Earth by Peter J. Hatch and support the show, using the Amazon Link in today's Show Notes for under $7.
SI HORTUM IN HORTORUM PODCASTUM IN BIBLIOTEHCA HABES, NIHIL DEERIT.