Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Book Review: Founding Gardeners

As the name implies, Founding Gardeners by Andrea Wulf is a book about the 4 'original' gardeners of America: Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison.  This was a book that my sister picked up for me for Christmas, and I have got to say that I LOVED it.  4 Stars, 2 thumbs up, the whole shebang.  But then, of course, I'm both a garden nerd and a history nerd. 

The book never was dry (some can be - the book '1776' comes to mind), though I'm sure to some, it may be.  My biggest problem with the book was the amount of information that is jam packed into it - footnotes, the bibliography (which makes up almost half of the book), and an appendix.  It seems to me that these 4 gentlemen (along with select others that were not in the politics game), were the original garden bloggers - there were tours of gardens, there were letters, plants and seeds exchanged, there was even research on best practices for crop rotation and manures.  Jefferson and Adams took a tour of English gardens while Adams was serving as ambassador (makes me wonder if Jenny at RockRose saw any of the same gardens when she did her England Garden tour a few years back), and this is where they first became friends (they had a falling out years later over politics, they eventually, in their retirement, became friends again - all because of gardening).  Washington insisted on using American plants at Mount Vernon and wanted his plantation to be something wholly American.  Madison was considered what today would be a conservationist and called for people to step lightly on the land lest it be entirely destroyed in the rush to grow wheat and tobacco.  Jefferson was more excited about the Louisiana Purchase and the plants that would be found than he was about the land itself. And Adams never felt more at peace than he did when he was in his orchards in Quincy, Massachusetts.

As I said, I loved it and I highly recommend the book - good reads, good reads...


NotSoAngryRedHead said...

Have you seen "The National Parks: America's Best Idea"? It would probably be right up your alley!

katina said...

@Red - We did watch some of those episodes - I would have liked it better had I known beforehand it was more about the people behind the parks than the parks themselves. I thought it was going to be more like "here is this park" like the PBS Yellowstone special.