The Founding Fathers Were Avid Gardeners

Back in the days when our country was just getting started, there were no Safeways, Wegmans or Whole Foods. People had to grow their own food. Gardening was less a hobby then a necessity. Many of the founding fathers were avid gardeners and studied the garden intensely in order to be better at it. These men were passionate about their gardens and some of these gardens can still be seen today.

“No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden.” wrote Thomas Jefferson.

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, among others, were all avid gardeners. In some ways, they viewed their gardens as expressions of the fledgling country. In their minds, possibly, as their gardens thrived, so would their country.

They each spent considerable time researching, planning and planting their gardens. A visit to Mount Vernon, Monticello and Montpellier will confirm just how much forethought went into these gardens. At Monticello, one can see the log books kept by Thomas Jefferson. It is full of layouts and notes as to what plants were successful and which were not. They also each worked hard to use native plants, something that has once again come into style.

For the most part, these men lived in the country. It was necessary to have gardens to grow food. Their lives depended upon it, and they were very good at growing enough food to survive.

Our Founding Fathers viewed gardening as time well spent. Perhaps they even viewed it as a way to clear their mind and help them envision what the future of America would look like. Although our gardens may not be as large as Washington’s, Jefferson’s or Madison’s, nor are we creating a new country, isn’t it nice to know that we, as gardeners, share a common bond with such great men.


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