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'Founding Gardeners' - a Book Review

Updated on June 28, 2014

Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison: The Founding Gardeners shaped our nation

Andrea Wulf provides a distinctive view of the founding of our nation focusing on the first four United States Presidents and their roles as farmers and nature lovers at the same time as they were providing leadership to the founding of the USA.

Approaching this book as a bit of a skeptic, I quickly became a fan and supportor of the concepts presented. I will expand on these feelings and observations as we move through this lens together.

The Intro photo is of Mount Vernon as seen from the Potomac River including gardens and groves: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:MTVernonseenfrom...

Amazon Spotlight Personal Review - Founding Gardeners - Andrea Wulf, Author

Founding Gardeners
Founding Gardeners

This book is sub-titled: "The Revolutionary Generation, Nature, and the Shaping of the American Nation." This is very accurate in that Wulf demonstrates how each of the Founders she highlights, Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and to a lesser extent, Benjamin Franklin relied heavily on their interest in nature and being 'farmers' in their actions and decision-making during the founding of our nation.

Her stories of their constant search for better seeds and methods of agriculture before, during and after their political 'careers' are especially compelling. This was highlighted by her documentation of how James Madison may well have been the first 'national environmentalist.'

 

George Washingtion, Virginia Planter

George Washington as Farmer at Mount Vernon
George Washington as Farmer at Mount Vernon

From the book: "Mount Vernon was his private statement of independence and republican simplicity, wrought from the soil and trees of his country."

Mount Vernon Gardens on Amazon

Washington's Gardens at Mount Vernon
Washington's Gardens at Mount Vernon

Learn more about George Washington's gardens here.

 

Did you know? - Leave a comment of what you really thought! Thanks!

Did you realize each of the first four USA Presidents was a farmer/planter?

John Adams birthplace on the farm in Quincy, Massachusetts
John Adams birthplace on the farm in Quincy, Massachusetts

John Adams' farm was his base throughout his long life

Admas National Historic Park preserves the Adams family history

I really enjoyed the portion of the book devoted to the tour Adams and Jefferson took of English gardens while the awaited negotiations with the English early in the history of our nation. In their later years, when Adams and Jefferson resumed their earlier friendship after years of political separation they resumed discussions that included reflecting back on the garden tour of England, many years earlier. In his later years, Adams was especially interested in how various types of manure could be used as fertilizer to improve the soil on his farm.

View of the West Front of Monticello
View of the West Front of Monticello

The Gardens of Monitcello

Thomas Jefferson was a very hands-on designer of these gardens

Thomas Jefferson sought and traded seeds and other natural species throughout his life, whether on the European Continent or in the colonies or the United States. He sent Lewis and Clark west on their expedition with clear instructions to send back all manner of natural specimen - which they did in abundance. Jefferson shared this bounty widely as well as insuring that many of the flora and fauna from the expedition found their way to Monticello.

Dr. Bill's Book Bazaar Blog - Books I have read and am reading

Each Monday around the time I start reading a new book, I record it in a "It's Monday: What are you Reading?" post - next Monday will be # 38 of this series. The blog also has reviews, promotion items for my books, occasional giveaways, and other typical 'book blog' items. Stop by, follow, and enjoy reading... or totally ignore, as you wish! ;-)

Gardens at Montpelier
Gardens at Montpelier

Gardens of Montpelier - James Madison's home plantation

In May 1818, Madison gave a seminal speech: 'Address to the Agricultural Society of Albemarle' which was reprinted across the country. Madison spoke of what we today call our 'fragile ecological system.' He was speaking specifically to the clearing of forests and the management of the natural resources we now recognize as finite... not unlimited as was assumed in his day by most people.

Montpelier invites interested participants

I enjoyed writing about Montpelier. I honestly hadn't paid that much attention to Madison... the book really changed that point of view. His speeches and actions, later in life, demonstrate he was, what we call today, an 'environmentalist' - amazing! ;-)

Which President would you like to read more about?

Gardens of Monticello
Gardens of Monticello

Which of the 4 first USA Presidents would you like to learn more about?

See results

Your Comments are Appreciated! - What did you think of this lens?

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      MarcellaCarlton 3 years ago

      I really like that someone had the foresight to write a book about this subject. In our modern world it sometimes escapes us that these men were tied so closely to the land.

    • DrBillSmithWriter profile image
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      William Leverne Smith 3 years ago from Hollister, MO

      @Heidi Vincent: Thank you. It was really interesting to add that additional point of view to very special fellows! ;-)

    • Heidi Vincent profile image

      Heidi Vincent 3 years ago from GRENADA

      Thanks for sharing this new and profund side of these 4 leaders, drbilltellsexcitingstories!

    • DrBillSmithWriter profile image
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      William Leverne Smith 4 years ago from Hollister, MO

      @DeborahDian: It was a great read. Especially if you enjoy learning more about these folks, as I do! ;-)

    • DeborahDian profile image

      Deborah Carr 4 years ago from Orange County, California

      This is really interesting. They were not the politicians we think of today. I think I would enjoy this book.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 4 years ago from Colorado

      I would like to read this book. We sometimes forget the importance that the natural world had in shaping some of our most eminent leaders. I can see that this would be a very thought-provoking read. Thanks for introducing me to Founding Gardeners. Appreciated!

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      Birthday Wishes 4 years ago from Here

      I have learned a few things here! Thanks a lot for sharing another wonderful lens!!!

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      William Leverne Smith 5 years ago from Hollister, MO

      @RinchenChodron: Certainly a great majority... ;-)

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      RinchenChodron 5 years ago

      Great approach to looking at our Presidents. Of course, back then almost everyone was a farmer, weren't they?

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      William Leverne Smith 5 years ago from Hollister, MO

      @Rangoon House: Thanks for comments, and blessing! ;-)

    • Rangoon House profile image

      AJ 5 years ago from Australia

      Men before their time. Blessings.

    • DrBillSmithWriter profile image
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      William Leverne Smith 5 years ago from Hollister, MO

      @anonymous: Thank you for your comment, and blessing! ;-)

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      This is an interesting book review. The book must be also.

      We have much to thank the founders of gardens for.

      You've caused me to think about some in a different light. :)