In a previous post, I compared my father taming the wilds of his suburban yard to that of the colonists first arriving in the New World. It’s an interesting idea, when you stop to think of the immense responsibilities facing those early Americans. Imagine – an entire continent to landscape, the creation of a national identity for a fledgling nation. Someone should probably write a book about it.
Fortunately for us, Andrea Wulf has. Her recently published Founding Gardeners has been well-received by critics, and rightly so. It is an impressive work that takes an in-depth look at the great figures who shaped a young nation – and she does this by weaving moments in early American history with the beliefs and philosophies of our Founding Fathers, most of whom were avid gardeners, botanists, landscapers and farmers. In fact, they were as passionate about the idea of the United States as they were about seed exchanges and experimenting with new agricultural methods.
Rich in historic detail, each chapter is devoted to a revolutionary, starting with George Washington. Her insight and descriptive style paints a new portrait of the men we’ve only considered to be statesmen, generals, or lawyers. As readers, we are treated to each man’s creation of their personal gardens, such as Mt. Vernon and Monticello.