352 pages, ~200 colour illustrations
Were Thomas Jefferson to walk the grounds of Monticello today, he would no doubt feel fully at home in the 1000-foot terraced vegetable garden where the very vegetables and herbs he favoured are thriving. Extensively and painstakingly restored under Peter Hatch's brilliant direction, Jefferson's unique vegetable garden now boasts the same medley of plants he enthusiastically cultivated in the early nineteenth century. The garden is a living expression of Jefferson's genius and his distinctly American attitudes. Its impact on the culinary, garden, and landscape history of the United States continues to the present day.
Enriched with nearly 200 full-colour illustrations, A Rich Spot of Earth is the first book devoted to all aspects of the Monticello vegetable garden. Hatch guides us from the asparagus and artichokes first planted in 1770 through the horticultural experiments of Jefferson's retirement years (1809-1826). The author explores topics ranging from labour in the garden, garden pests of the time, and seed saving practices, to contemporary African-American gardens. He also discusses Jefferson's favourite vegetables and the hundreds of varieties he grew, the half French/half Virginian cuisine he developed, and the gardening traditions he adapted from many other countries.
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As Director of Gardens and Grounds at Monticello since 1977, Peter J. Hatch has been responsible for the maintenance, interpretation, and restoration of the 2400-acre landscape. He has written several previous books on Jefferson's gardens and is an official consultant for First Lady Michelle Obama's White House kitchen garden. He lives in Charlottesville, VA.