Saturday, March 28, 2015

Growing a New Nation with the Founding Gardeners

Barbara de Wilde's jacket perfectly matches the text.
I have no recollection of buying Founding Gardeners, but that happens often when you are a profligate book buyer. I found it when I was reshelving The Founders on the Founders, and packed it in my travel bag for a recent trip. Let me be frank about Founding Gardeners: it is not your typical, light "beach read." Author Andrea Wulf's scholarly writing style requires intellectual engagement, which is just fine with me. While being scholarly, the book is far from distant. Wulf weaves together a fabric which reveals just how much of a role gardening and agriculture played in the founding of our nation, and in the relationships among the founders. Focusing on Washington, Jefferson, John Adams, and Madison, she bids the reader join them on their various garden tours, both domestic and abroad. She reveals to the reader how, in the midst of crises, these great men turned to the earth for solace and inspiration. She shares with the reader their real passion these statesmen held for their gardens and how they used them to express their political ideals.

Very traditionally bound with full-color "plates" bound together.
I must reiterate that this is a scholarly work--of its 350 pages, only 214 are text and the remainder appendices, footnotes (80-odd pages), bibliographies, end matter, and an index. But, for the student of history and of gardening, Wulf's work is that rare work which, as a well-designed garden is multi-sensory, feeds multiple interests simultaneously. I recommend it highly.

What are you reading?