Saturday, July 2, 2011
On a literary note, this new book, Founding Gardeners, caught my eye, in which Andrea Wulf examines the botanical and agricultural interests of the founding fathers. The book has garnered a number of favorable reviews including this one from the New York Times,
Wulf, a British design historian, traveled to America and practically lived at the founders’ country houses, reading their correspondence about their gardens and their hopes for a country of farmers in the tradition of Virgil’s “Georgics.” The reader relives the first decades of the Republic not only through her eloquent and revelatory prose but through the words of the statesmen themselves, written mostly in private. We see, for example, George Washington briefly leaving his generals, just before the British invasion of New York, so he can compose a letter to his estate manager about planting groves of flowering trees at Mount Vernon. Except for one short visit, he would not be home for eight years.