34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
We hear, see and read much of the architecture of Jefferson, his plans and ideas, but little of his love for the garden. This is a nice size coffee table book, easy to handle and read that will educate and show a reader around Jefferson's Monticello garden. There is some information on other gardens of the times and influences on Jefferson.
The photographs are lovely and illustrations well done. There is as much text as there are pictures.
The book contains' Jefferson building and designing his garden, the garden of today, and specific information on Monticello's vegetables, fruits, flowers, roots and leaves. There is an appendix on vegetables mentioned in Jefferson's own garden book and in his correspondence, sources for historic and heirloom vegetables and an index
Photographs show the garden of today, both in close up and aerial photos. There are illustrations of Jefferson's garden diary and planning. One photo is included of the garden in the 1940's - one wishes that more of this interim time would have been included.
We read how Jefferson's garden was built, the terracing that had to be done, his love of vegetables and the amounts harvested and purchased. How Jefferson had a competition with his neighbors... whoever harvested the first spring pea, hosted a community dinner. The varieties and plantings, methods all give an interesting portrayal of this man and his time.
The book itself is interesting for those who love gardens, Jefferson, Monticello and history.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on June 17, 2012
Recommended for its forward thinking and ideas far ahead of the times, this is a delightful book full of useful and fascinating information from this incredible Renaissance man of our very own US of A--Thomas Jefferson--what an enquiring mind and how very wonderful it must have been to have been privileged enough to know him! Many of the suggestions made and horticultural experiments tried are still honored and practiced now--Jefferson was somewhat of a genius! The pictures and story told in this book demonstrating the complete modern revamp of
the garden to demonstrate the beauty as it was in the past is worth many afternoons of pleasant reading.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
This beautiful book, lavishly illustrated and engagingly written, is, I fear, going to fall into the wrong hands. Why? It looks like a so-called coffee table book (lush photos, oversized format). It would be a shame if it ended up on, well, coffee tables, to eventually be covered with old magazines or used as a handy coaster or, in better circles, to perform a merely decorative "house beautiful" function.
It deserves to fall into better hands, specifically those of your favorite vegetable-growing friend or relative. Plenty has been written about Monticello, its architecture and beautiful grounds. This book is about Thomas Jefferson's vegetable gardens.
Might you be interested in what varieties of lettuce Jefferson grew? What sort of insects attacked his crops? How he saved seeds and swapped them with his neighbors? Then this book is for you. You may never live in a house like Monticello, but you can put its vegetable varieties on your table.
The book is divided in two. The first half focuses on Jefferson's interest in gardening and the development and restoration of the Monticello gardens. It presents a well-researched look at the state of American horticulture in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The author, Peter Hatch, Director of Grounds and Gardens at Monticello, also pays homage to the African-American slaves whose labor built Jefferson's gardens and whose own garden plots often supplied the big house.
The second half is a detailed look at many of the vegetables grown in the gardens, including cultural information. It is here where Jefferson's passion for experiment becomes clear. He was always trying new seeds, such as varieties of corn brought back by the Lewis and Clark expedition. His frustrating experiences with melon growing will be familiar to anyone who has tried. This section is organized by botanical families.
Finally, there is a good index, an extensive bibliography, and a guide to sources of heirloom seeds. It's a lovely book; you can't go wrong.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on May 29, 2012
This is a gorgeous book. It is a great for people interested in Jefferson or gardening or how we now have the plants we do have.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2012
I really enjoyed this coffee table style book. I'm not a gardener, but I wanted to read this book for it's historical tidbits. I learned that Jefferson really loved his veggies and introduced a lot of new legumes to the States. He was one of the first gentleman farmers to start growing vegetables based on the seasons and he americanized gardening, and got away from the english style of planting.
This book is truly a treasure and so is it's author Peter Hatch. Hatch has devoted many decades to researching and restoring Monticello's gardens to their colonial glory days and this book is a terrific record of this labor of love.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 17, 2012
A well written and researched book by Peter Hatch, Monticello's Director of Grounds for over thirty years. He recently relinquished this position so he could "retire" and enjoy his own garden.
He was able to recreate the vegetable garden as to the way it was in Jefferson's time, especially during Jefferson's later years in life.
As a gardener and as someone who loves early American history, the book is a slam dunk.
There is much information to be garnered and parleyed into today's gardening techniques. If anything the reader can appreciate the effort that the early farmers of our nation had to endure in order to provide for themselves.
Also, the photography is beautiful and uplifting and there are tidbits of history too.
I have not yet visited Monticello but this book certainly has made it on my list of places to see.
15 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2012
Peter Hatch traces the history of Thomas Jefferson's vegetable garden, which has been painstakingly restored by the author, from the artichokes and asparagus first planted in 1770 through the horticultural experiments of Jefferson's retirement years.
on March 21, 2015
Having lived in Charlottesville, VA for many years I am familiar with Monticello. Just beautiful and I highly recommend making a point of visiting whether passing through the area or you already live here.
The reason I bought this book was because I am a gardener and Thomas Jefferson was a well known gardener and ahead of his time in that arena. I wanted to understand how he planted, what he planted and where he got his seeds and information.
This book combines history and gardening. Just imagine what it took to construct a 1,000 ft. garden bed and then adding 60 wagon loads of manure. Not only do you learn the successes but the failures in the garden. Who were the key contributors. Where and what Jefferson learned in both France and England. He was not a big meat eater. In fact, he is quoted as saying he only used meat as a condiment. He loved vegetables and had great success with lady apples (tomatoes). He also had a yearly contest with his neighbors to see who could produce the first peas of the year. The winner had to host a dinner using his peas. Learn what it took to build and maintain Monticello. The labor and construction will boggle your mind.
I found this book to be fascinating and well worth the price. Do yourself a favor and order " A Rich Spot of Earth", what a delight.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2012
Fascinating intelligent story of a side of our Renaissance Man.
Essential garden history. I missed a local lecture by the author and was glad to get the book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2013
Very interesting and informative book by the longtime head grounds person at Monticello, If you like to garden you'll find this fascinating.