Saturday, April 11, 2015

Richly Entertaining "A Rich Spot of Earth"

Thomas Jefferson, in addition to being President, was, arguably, one of the most famous gardeners in America and his Monticello served as the canvas of his masterwork. I visited the President's aerie a number of years ago, and so ordered Peter J. Hatch's "A Rich Spot of Earth": Thomas Jefferson's Revolutionary Garden at Monticello when it was published in 2012. I started it then, as my bookmark attests, but have only now taken the time to finish it. I hope you read it without delay.

Hatch is a renowned author, professional gardener, and historian who spent 35 years as Monticello's Director of Gardens and Grounds, supervising restoration of the grounds and gardens to a condition that Jefferson would recognize. In his book, he tells that story with the historian's mind, but the gardener's heart--so that the reader begins to feel the warmth of Virginia's rich earth. Woven into the story of the restoration is the story of Jefferson's foibles--and growth--as a gardener.

The book is divided into two sections: the story of the restoration and information about the plants grown at Monticello throughout the years. Some varieties are still grown, some are unidentifiable due to Jefferson's surprisingly vague descriptions ("early" & "forwardest"), and some are lost to time.

Thankfully, the story of the restoration of Monticello's gardens is not lost to time; it is engagingly written, beautifully illustrated, and handsomely published. It is a richly entertaining read.

What about you? What's on your reading table?


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