More than 20 years ago we had the pleasure of a guided tour of Monticello’s incredible gardens given by Peter Hatch, the Director of Gardens and Grounds from 1977 until his retirement earlier this year.
We were delighted to re-connect with Peter when he recently spoke at the Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain at the invitation of Pamela Thompson, the Manager of Adult Education.
A resident of Charlottesville, Virginia, for 35 years Peter was responsible for the maintenance, interpretation, and conservation of the 2,400-acre landscape at Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, where the president lived for some 50 years.
The subject of Hatch’s presentation was his latest book, “A Rich Spot of Earth: Thomas Jefferson’s Revolutionary Garden at Monticello” (Yale University Press), which specifically focuses on the 1,000-foot-terraced vegetable garden.
According to Hatch, were Thomas Jefferson to walk the grounds of Monticello today, he would no doubt feel fully at home, where the very vegetables and herbs he favored are thriving.
We were told that Jefferson was “a handy guy” who could even make keys. He grew at least 170 different varieties of fruits and veggies in his gardens, from giant cucumbers to rutabagas, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce and peanuts. He kept meticulous notes and charts, some of which Hatch shared with his audience via excellent images.
According to William (Ned) Friedman, the Director of the Arboretum, there are many more “extraordinary” lectures scheduled for all of us to enjoy. In fact, he noted that anyone can sign up for their e-News, even if not a member. For more information, be sure to visit www.arboretum.harvard.edu.