DON RAKOW: Good evening. I thought we'd start this evening with a photo of my house.
I'm Don Rakow, the Elizabeth Newman Wilds Director of Cornell Plantations. And we welcome all of you who read the literature and the publicity and the ads on WSKG to learn that we are, in fact, in the Call Auditorium this evening rather than our usual home at the Statler Auditorium. I would like to announce that our next lecture, which will be given by Scott Black, the Executive Director of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, will be back at the Statler Auditorium two weeks from this evening.
But tonight, we are celebrating our annual lecture in honor of the late Audrey O'Connor. And just yesterday, it was a beautiful day. And I was walking through the Robison York State Herb Garden and thinking about the tremendous legacy that Audrey O'Connor left for all of us. And what a fitting tribute that part of Audrey's legacy is this annual lecture that has been and continues to be supported by the Auraca Herbarists. Those of you interested in herbs, wanting to know more about herbs, wanting to interact with other herbalist folks, should look at the literature on the back table about the Auraca Herbarist, a long-standing group that Audrey had a very strong hand in creating, which continues to meet regularly, often at Cornell Plantations.
The individual who will be introducing tonight's speaker is also the same individual who was instrumental in bringing Peter Hatch to Cornell. Jim Reveal is, himself, a fascinating individual. He is an adjunct professor at Cornell, working through the Bailey Hortorium. He is an emeritus professor of botany from the University of Maryland, where he served for many years. And he is the honorary curator at the New York Botanical Garden. So without further ado, here is Professor Jim Reveal. Jim.
JIM REVEAL: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. And thank you for coming out this evening.
Peter is the just retired director of the gardens and ground of Thomas Jefferson Foundation, and oversaw the interpretation and restoration of some 2,400 acres-- those of you who think you have big lots here, consider 2,400 acres-- from 1977 until 2012.
A native of Michigan, Peter began his work as a horticulturalist at Old Salem before going to Monticello. Took his degrees in English at the University of North Carolina and a degree in horticulture from Sand Hill Community College.
Understand that, at Monticello, he developed numerous education programs and tours for some 35,000 people who annually attended these tours and lecture of the some 450,000 of the annual visitors to the area. So a substantial portion of the people who came to Monticello also came and talked with Peter.
He's the author of the Gardens at Monticello, the editor of Thomas Jefferson's Flower Gardens at Monticello. He's written numerous articles. And unlike most faculty members, he has lectured in some 35 states. Most faculty members are lucky to go to five.
His scholarly studies include a book on the early American pomology, The Flowers and Fruit Tree of Monticello, Thomas Jefferson and the Origin of American Horticulture, published in 1999. Peter's current book, entitled A Rich Spot of Earth, Thomas Jefferson's Revolutionary Garden at Monticello, is the subject of tonight's lecture.
Peter has served as president of the Southern Garden Historical Society from 1998 to 2000. In 2004, he received the Thomas Roland Medal from the Massachusetts Horticultural Society for exceptional skill-- I love that word-- skill in horticulture. In 2012, he was named an honorary member of the Garden Club of Virginia and served informally as a consultant to Michelle Obama's White House kitchen garden.
In 2011, he received the Garden Club of America's Medal for Historical Preservation, amazingly the first horticulturalist to have ever received this award. And in 2012, Peter was awarded the Flora Ann Bynum Medal, the highest honors given by the Southern Garden History Society. Peter and I have been together off and on for many years and it is a delight for me to introduce to you Mr. Peter Hatch. Peter.
PETER HATCH: Thanks a lot, Jim. That was a great introduction. Well, thanks a lot, Jim. It's a real honor and a privilege to be here in Ithaca, this idyllic place, and also at Cornell. Cornell really represents, in many ways, the roots of the study of the history of American horticulture. It was not only the iconic figure of Liberty Hyde Bailey, who I'm sure many of you might be familiar with, but also a number of people who served in Geneva, who were great horticultural historians-- Ulysses P. Hedrick; Edward Sturtevant, who wrote a book on the history of economic plants; and SA Beach, a man who wrote the history of apples that is an amazing and remarkable milestone in the history of study of that great fruit.
So it's a great honor to be here and also to be a guest of Jim Reveal, who's one of the great botanical and horticultural historians in America, following the tradition of some of the great students of the history of natural history. It was also great to tour Cornell Plantations, where I last visited in 1981 when it was just a baby, just emerging. And to see it become such a dynamic and really lovely institution, it was really a thrill for me today. So thanks so much for having me this evening.
I'm going to talk about Thomas Jefferson's vegetable garden. Edmund Bacon was Thomas Jefferson's overseer at Monticello. And he recalled that the flowers of Monticello bloom virtually every month of the year. And when visitors came to visit Thomas Jefferson at Monticello, they were often given tours of what one visitor called Mr. Jefferson's pet trees. Jefferson cultivated 170 varieties of the fanciest fruit cultivars known in the early 1800s.
And his adventures in wine growing and in grape cultivation are constantly recalled by a burgeoning Virginia wine industry today. Jefferson said amazing things, like no nation is drunken when wine is cheap. And wine is indispensable to my health. And this emerging Virginia wine industry is constantly recalling Mr. Jefferson today.
But it was really Jefferson's vegetable garden, a 1,000 foot long terrace that was literally hewed out of the side of the mountain, that was his chief horticultural achievement of his tenure at Monticello. In fact, when Jefferson used the term garden, he was really reserving the term exclusively for this vegetable garden. It was the garden of Jefferson's retirement years between 1809 and 1826, between the ages of 67 and 83. In many ways, it was sort of Jefferson's defiance of age to be able to go into this garden and record when his peas were being sowed in 1809 or when his salsify was recorded and was harvested in September of 1814.
And even at the age of 83 years old, Jefferson read about giant cucumbers in a Cleveland, Ohio newspaper. And he wrote to the governor of Ohio, Thomas Worthington, and asked him for seeds of this mammoth cucumber. And in real Jeffersonian fashion, he got the seeds and sowed them in his garden and passed them around to his friends and measured how long each one was. Jefferson once wrote that, although I'm an old man, I am but a young gardener. And here he was at the age of 83 very much playing that particular role.
Jefferson was a lifelong slave owner. He regarded slavery as an abominable crime, but never resolved the issue himself. And much of the garden labor, and the plantation labor, was carried out by enslaved African Americans, though there were a lot of exceptions. There were a series of itinerant European gardeners who worked in the gardens. And Jefferson's daughters and granddaughters worked.
But what's remarkable, I think, in some ways, was Jefferson's own personal participation in the gardening process. This is Isaac Jefferson, who was freed after Jefferson died and became a blacksmith in Petersburg, Virginia, when this photograph was taken in the 1850s. And Isaac left an oral history of life at Monticello. And he recalled how Jefferson himself would work in the garden at a right hard place in the cool of the evening, in right good earnest.
One of the visitors to Monticello was a was a woman named-- was a woman named Margaret Bayard Smith. And she recalled that there was a portable seed rack that was carried from planting site to planting site. And on the seed rack were hundreds of tin canisters and glass vials of seed. And Jefferson would take the seed himself and actually sow the garden with his own hands.
Jefferson was regarded often as among the most cerebral figures in American history, but he was also really good with his hands. He was the son of a surveyor. And he also had this love of Euclidean geometry. And he was always out in the fields, measuring things and mapping things.
And throughout the retirement years, Jefferson was constantly shifting the beds in his vegetable garden. And he was out there himself, often in February, at the age of 67, 71, and 72-- he was probably a little bent with age, a little arthritic. The muddy red clay was probably covering his boots. He was out there with a theodolite, which is kind of like a transit. It measures angles. And he also had a chain that measured distances.
And he was inevitably out there with Wormley Hughes, who was an enslaved African American, sometimes called Monticello's head gardener, a larger than life figure at Monticello. And one can see Jefferson moving the theodolite from one place to another with the chain and instructing Wormley to strike a stick in this particular place, and to go over 15 feet and strike another stake.
Isaac, who I showed an image of earlier, said that Jefferson was as neat a hand as any man I've ever seen to make locks, keys, small chains, with iron and brass in the blacksmith shop at Monticello. So another dimension to America's essential central Renaissance man was the fact that he did things actually with his hands himself.
I think another remarkable feature of Thomas Jefferson was, he was this great recorder of the natural world. Jefferson kept a diary called the Garden Book. And it was 67 pages long. And today, it resides at the Massachusetts Historical Society, and bound in leather. One can go home this evening and Google Jefferson's Garden Book and read it online.
And this remarkable document that reveals Jefferson as a garden scientist, counting up how many Carolina beans, which would fill a quart jar, which would in turn plants so many feet of row in his garden. And this is also one of the remarkable pages from the Garden Book, in which Jefferson is organizing his entire vegetable garden to three sort of tidy categories according to which part of the plant was being harvested, or the fruits, roots, or leaves.
And Jefferson was a child of the Enlightenment. He believed in the scientific method, that measuring and organizing and defining the world around you would lead to human progress and, ultimately, to human happiness. And he was always cataloging things. And this was kind of a clever way of organizing the whole vegetable world, kind of akin to the way Carl Linnaeus organized the whole animal and vegetable world into the two names, a genus and species. Here, we have fruits, roots, and leaves, a real window into the Enlightenment mind of Thomas Jefferson.
Now, this is another page from Jefferson's Garden Book, from 1809. And it shows the repetition of the word failed some 23 times down one of his columns of the plantings that took place right after he retired from the presidency. And one might say that few gardeners failed as often as Thomas Jefferson, or at least wrote about failure as often as he did. He wrote on one occasion that if he failed 99 times out of 100 in his horticultural experiments at Monticello, that one success was worth those 99 failures.
Jefferson had almost a holistic view of the gardening process. When the Hessian fly was devouring his wheat crop at Monticello, he seemed much more interested in learning the life cycle of this destructive insect rather than the fact that his wheat crop was about to go down the drain. He wrote, about gardening, that in gardening it's the failure of one thing that is repaired by the success of another. A wonderful mantra not only about gardening, but about a lot of other things as well.
When Jefferson was serving as Secretary of State and living in Philadelphia, he got a letter from his daughter Martha. And she complained about the insects that were ravaging her cabbage plants in the vegetable garden at Monticello. And Jefferson wrote back to her and said the problem with the plants was that they were growing in poor soil. And he said the two of them that winter would cover the entire garden with a heavy coating of manure. He said when plants are growing in rich soil, they will, in turn, in Jefferson's words, they'll bid defiance to all sorts of droughts and pests and diseases and weeds and all the things that befall us in a gardening summer in central Virginia.
So he believed in this balance between wild nature on the one hand and the cultivated garden on the other. Sometimes, today, we think of gardening as being almost a war-like. We're out to blast these weeds and wipe out these groundhogs. So it's nice to fall back upon Jefferson's more benevolent view of that tension that exists between wild nature and the cultivated garden.
But the Garden Book reflects how, for Jefferson, gardening was kind of a fun adventure. It reflects, really, one man's dance with the elements. Jefferson planted different flowering beans along an arbor along a long walk of the garden. He described the plants like the caracalla bean as the most delicious flowering bean in the world.
He planted purple and white eggplants in adjacent rows in his garden, and purple, white, and green sprouting broccolis. And he edged his tomato square with okra-- culinary companions, but kind of a bizarre juxtaposition of plant textures. He delighted in the odd colored vegetables and multi-headed cabbages and other curiosities of the vegetable world. So gardening for Jefferson was really a true adventure in many ways.
The Monticello vegetable garden was really an American garden in so many different kinds of ways. It was American in its scale and scope. This 1,000 foot long terrace was literally hewed out of the side of the mountain between 1806 and 1809 as Jefferson was anticipating his retirement from the presidency. And he hired seven slaves from a Fredericksburg, Virginia farmer. And over a period of three years-- and they were involved a lot of other plantation activities-- they moved some 350,000 cubic feet of earth with a mule and a cart to create this artificial platform that's what one visitor called a hanging garden.
It was under the direction of Monticello's overseers, Edmund Bacon. And as Jefferson neared retirement, which he constantly talked about releasing himself from the shackles of the presidency and returning to his books and his family and his gardens in Monticello, he yearned for this terraced garden that was supported by 1,000 foot long stone wall that in some places was 15 feet in height. And below the wall was a 400 tree orchard that surrounded two vineyards and also berry squares of currants and gooseberries and raspberries and figs. And it was all surrounded by a 10 foot high salad board fence that ran for nearly 1,000 feet in length. So really a big garden, American int its scale and scope in a lot of different ways.
And secondly, I think it was an American garden in sort of its experimental character. Jefferson wrote that the greatest service which can be rendered to any country is to add a useful plant to its culture. And he documented in this garden the culture of some 330 varieties of 89 different species of culinary vegetables. It was really an Ellis Island, if you will, of new and unusual plants from around the world.
And Jefferson himself became the sort of seedy missionary, as he would obtain rare seeds from around the world and pass them around to his friends and neighbors and other great American plantsmen-- from the Texas bird pepper that Jefferson got from a San Antonio, Texas Army captain that he passed around to some of the great gardeners in America at the time, to the sesame plant. Jefferson was primarily a vegetarian. He said he ate meat only as a condiment to his meals.
And he was forever seeking a good salad oil for the preparation of his vegetables. And when he was president, he had a blind tasting of salad oils in the White House. And the people found the sesame oil preferable to olive oil. And that set off his typically grand Jefferson obsession with growing sesame year in and year out in his vegetable garden. He developed three different presses to extract the oil from the seed itself. He failed numerous times, but continued planting sesame to the very last years of his life, and encouraged Congress members to give away medals to Southern production of sesame oil.
To the rose [INAUDIBLE] cabbage, which Jefferson sent home from Paris, a beautiful cabbage that has-- a Savoy cabbage with variegated leaves-- to the rutabaga, among the root crops in the upper right hand corner of this image. And it's really hard to prove that Jefferson actually introduced, himself, for the first time, any vegetable into American gardens. But probably the best argument could be made that rutabaga. It was only being grown a year before in England in 1792 when Jefferson began growing it in 1793 at Monticello. So among Jefferson's many accomplishments-- the Lewis and Clark expedition, and the third president of the United States, and penning the Declaration of Independence-- we might include Thomas Jefferson as the rutabaga man.
I think the garden was also-- I think the garden was also American in a sort of continental panorama, the way it was sliced into the hillside of this mountain in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, giving you this 60 mile view across the Piedmont of Virginia toward Richmond, Virginia to the southeast. Or if you looked to the southwest, you see the dramatic uplift of a mountain Jefferson called Montalto, Montalto meaning the high mountain as opposed to Monticello, which means the little mountain.
And the garden pavilion was constructed in 1812 at the halfway point of the garden. It was also called a temple by Jefferson. The two people who came to Monticello referred to it as an observatory. So you get a sense about how this garden was really this consciously designed perch to look off into the distance.
And Jefferson sited Monticello, in many ways, for its intimacy with what he called the workhouse of nature. He said and wrote, "how sublime to look down upon the workhouse of nature-- clouds, thunder, lightning, all fabricated at our feet." And this garden was consciously designed for that view of the workhouse of nature.
I think the garden also was not just an American garden, but it was a revolutionary garden in the sense that one wonders if any man had grown so many different kinds of vegetables before Jefferson assembled this lifetime over a collection-- or a lifetime or vegetable gardening at Monticello.
And most gardens in Virginia were really bare in the middle of summertime around 1800. Gardeners were generally relying on what Jefferson called the esculent plants of Europe, old-world cool season vegetables-- root crops, lettuce family members, cabbage family members, that thrive in cool temperatures but suffer a lot in the hot humid summers of Virginia. And the what Jefferson did that was really special was growing a lot of things that we can take for granted today, beginning with the tomato or tomatoes, to hot peppers, to eggplants, to okra, from Lima beans, to sweet potatoes, to peanuts, to Crowder peas. And again, we kind of take these things for granted today, but they're really hot seasoned vegetables that thrive in the microclimate of the south-facing garden at Monticello.
The garden was also really revolutionary because it really broke from the traditions of the old-world European kitchen garden. And in its pragmatism, in its practicality, this garden was kind of different in many different ways. And the old-world kitchen garden was expressed in the gardening literature that was in Thomas Jefferson's library at Monticello. And particularly in England, these kitchen gardens were really bustling, sophisticated villages of horticulture. And a lot of the energy that was devoted to the gardening was energy to bring vegetables to the table out of season and, really, in some ways, to defy the cold, cloudy European, particularly the British climate.
And gardeners used a variety of techniques to bring things out of season to the table. They used brick walls to grow fruit upon in order to use the heat radiating from the walls to hasten the fruiting of things like pears and peaches and apples. They used bell jars and hothouses and greenhouses.
But really, the central technique was what were called hotbeds. And in this image on the lower left hand side is a hotbed. It's basically a cold frame that is dug out and filled at the very base with about a foot of unfermented raw manure or raw [INAUDIBLE]. And then it's covered with soil. And then these windows are put over the frame. And you create this warm greenhouse as the fermentation of the manure heat up this little glass house and enables gardeners to harvest asparagus in December, or bring melons to the table in late March.
And this tradition was alive and well in Virginia. And Jefferson had seen it when he was serving as minister to France. And he went to these great kitchen gardens like at Versailles. These were really sophisticated gardeners and really expressed the greatest hits of the gardener's skill.
And it was expressed some in early American gardens in Virginia around 1800s among the wealthiest Virginians. People like George Washington at Mt. Vernon or John Tayloe at Mount Airy, who had European gardeners and they used hotbeds. And if you look at the work reports of some of these gardeners at places like Mount Vernon, you see they're doing also a lot of tidying superficial jobs in the garden. They're edging beds. And they were weeding walkways. And they were mowing the lawns.
Jefferson never talks about how he took care of plants at Monticello. It's all about sowing things and bringing them to the table. One Virginia horticulturist wrote in 1838, comparing this gardening styles in England with those in America, and he said, well, the Englishman prepares his borders while the American digs his holes, an apt, I think, image of the differences in the styles of the two continents in some ways in the gardening process.
The real genius of Jefferson's garden at Monticello was this microclimate that enabled Jefferson to grow vegetables all winter long and also to reserve the summertime for a lot of these hot season vegetables that hadn't really been introduced into American gardens. And this wasn't a very fussy garden. Like I said, Jefferson never took-- in his garden notes, never talked about how he took care of things or whether he watered them, or whether he manured them, or whether he used this particular technique to get rid of aphids on his fava beans. It's all about sowing, and experimenting, and harvesting, and bringing things to the table. So an interesting perception.
And I think this revolutionary garden really inspired a revolutionary cuisine in the kitchen at Monticello. And we know a lot about the food at Monticello because Jefferson's granddaughters wrote down the family recipes from their mother, who was Jefferson's daughter, Martha Jefferson Randolph. And among the recipes is a wonderful interesting recipe for okra soup or, in effect, gumbo. And this has vegetables that were grown by North American and Virginia Indians when the Europeans first arrived, like pattypan squash, which Jefferson called simlins, and lima beans. It also had tomatoes that were found by the Spanish in Central America and actually became pretty popular very early on in the Mediterranean countries and France and Italy and Spain.
There were potatoes in this gumbo recipe. And potatoes, of course, are an Andean vegetable that were introduced into Europe by the Spanish and became very popular, not in southern Europe, but in northern Europe, in the Scandinavian countries and the British Isles.
Then this dish was all brought together by an African plant, okra, that was brought to the Caribbean in slave ships and Creolized in terms of its cuisine by the French in the Caribbean. Then okra seeds were brought into the young United States by slaves. And then this whole dish was put together in the Monticello kitchen by enslaved African Americans who were trained in the finest arts of French cuisine, both in the president's house in Washington, but also in the kitchens of Paris when Jefferson was serving as minister to France.
So what a great amalgam of all these different traditions that not only went into the vegetable garden at Monticello, but also went into the kitchen at Monticello to kind of define what many call a new American cuisine. Began to define who we are as Southerners and Virginians, as Americans-- this sort of great internationalism in many ways.
The cuisine at Monticello was described as being half Virginian and half French. And Monticello probably represented more the French side, while they-- the Virginia side, excuse me, while the president's house in Washington probably represented more of the French side. And Jefferson, while he was president, kept what's been called a master plan of presidential meals. And it's written down in French and probably copied verbatim from his French chef, a man named Honore Julien. And among the many recipes was one for what could be called French fries. And one of the great food historians in America, a woman named Karen Hess, a tough cookie who constantly lambasts food fake lore, makes a good case that this could really be a Jefferson introduction to American cuisine of the French fry, at least by way of his French chef.
When Jefferson was president, he also kept a chart over the eight years of his presidency of the very first and last appearance of 37 different vegetables in the farmer's market of Washington DC. [INAUDIBLE] will document a real window into early American vegetable cuisine. And according to one of his friends, a woman named Margaret Bayard Smith, Jefferson would go around to foreign embassies when he was president. And they would vie with each other to give Jefferson the most unusual type of vegetable. And he would get the seeds and pass them out to local farmers with directions on how to grow these things.
And then he in turn ordered his French household administrator, a man named Étienne Lemaire, to pay the highest prices for the best looking tomatoes or the earliest cauliflowers that came into market. And in turn, Lemaire kept a log of all the purchases for president's house meals in 1806. And it's amazing to see how lettuce was purchased 107 times. And parsley was bought 93 different occasions from this farmer's market. But of course, we're always looking for models for the things we're interested in today-- local food and farmers' markets-- and here was Thomas Jefferson fostering these markets and setting a real foundation for local farmers some 200 years ago.
And Jefferson's garden wasn't the only garden at Monticello. Enslaved African Americans had their own gardens out on the plantation on the 5,000 acres that Jefferson owned, where they'd cultivate crops and grow chickens and eggs for sale to the Jefferson family, and also probably to eat themselves. And this sort of underground economy was mostly expressed on Sunday mornings when members of Jefferson's family would go out and actually purchase cucumbers and squashes and cabbages and potatoes from slaves at Monticello. And many of the purchases were taking place when the Monticello vegetable garden was relatively dormant, when Jefferson was away, or early on in his career at Monticello, or very late in his lifetime.
But when Jefferson was president, his granddaughter, a woman named Ann Cary-- Ann Cary Randolph-- between the ages of 14 and 17, between 1805 and 1808, her job was to go out on Sunday morning and make these purchases. And it was sort of a rite of passage. And one wonders at this real intersection of black and white worlds-- you know, who was driving a hard bargain, this 14-year-old girl or else one of these wizened expert slave gardeners at Monticello? In some ways, the more you know, the more you think and more you speculate about them, the worlds of the past.
There was a garden right here, where that cattle guard is today. In the distance is Jefferson's little mountain there, Monticello. And the gardens were taken care of by slaves, usually on Sundays or in the evenings.
One of the interesting facets of the purchase is that a lot of things were sold to the Jefferson family out of season. That is, apples were sold in April, or a cucumber was sold to the Jefferson family in February. And the cabbages were sold every month of the year. And there was really a conscious effort to store and preserve a lot of these vegetables so they'd be more valuable out of season to the Jefferson family. But an interesting case of sort of this alternative economy that was going on at Monticello that was very, very interesting.
Jefferson had a lot of favorite vegetables. It's hard to find a vegetable he didn't like. Often the garden pea is regarded as his favorite. He grew some 27 different varieties of English pea. And he reserved uncommon amount of garden real estate to cultivating peas. And he had this heavily choreographed planting season, where he planted different times of the season, early, mid, and late season peas. He'd not only write about when his peas were planted, but he'd write about when they came out of the ground and when they first flowered and first formed pods.
Jefferson had famous contests with his neighbors to see who could bring the first English pea to the table in the springtime. The winner is hosting the losers over for a community dinner that include a feast on the winning dish of peas. And the family tradition is that Jefferson rarely won the contest, except for 1814. And there was a Jefferson neighbor, who was probably Jefferson's best friend outside the world of politics. He was a man named George Divers, who lived at what is now Farmington Country Club. And Jefferson designed the octagon part of the front of that house. And the story goes that Jefferson won the contest in 1814, but he didn't want to divulge the fact to Mr. Diver's, in fear of rocking the pride of his good friend. And according to Jefferson's granddaughter, Jefferson was the least competitive gardener of any man she'd ever known.
And Divers had an important role at Monticello. Jefferson would get these seeds from all over the world. And he'd sow them at Monticello, but he also passed them around to his friends and his neighbors. And so when Jefferson would kill them at Monticello, he can always go back to Mr. Divers or one of his other neighbors and get replacement supplies. It's a good lesson for all gardeners, that you share what you have, and it can come back to benefit you in the future.
And we also know a lot about food at Monticello from a cookbook that was written by this woman, Mary Randolph. It was called The Virginia Housewife. And it was published in Richmond, Virginia in 1824. And she was Thomas Jefferson's second cousin.
And there was this repetition of a lot of the recipes in Mary Randolph's cookbook and the recipes found in the Jefferson family documents at the University of Virginia, suggesting that there was a relationship between the two families. Mary Randolph was living in hard times. She ran a boarding house in Virginia.
But her book is remarkable. The Virginia Housewife, probably the most influential cookbook of the 19th century because of the recipes for the preparation of a lot of these unusual vegetables Jefferson was growing at Monticello. And she has a lot of recipes for peas. She boiled them with onion, mint, and lots of butter, a common way of eating fresh peas today, although fresh peas you don't see in people's gardens as often as you used to.
And Jefferson's granddaughter, who I showed you an image of earlier, she boiled and sauteed the peas with egg yolk, onion, cloves, and brown sugar to make a sort of sweet custardy sauce. I don't know if it sounds that good to me, but-- bless her heart.
Lettuce was a favorite of Jefferson's. He recorded harvesting lettuce every month of the year at Monticello. And one year, he sowed it 25 times in one year. He loved lettuce, and he had to have it all the time.
Lettuce in Virginia gets bitter, milky. It's sappy in the summertime. And it was inevitably probably boiled like you would spinach maybe today.
Jefferson compiled this gardening calendar in a national publication in 1824 called The American Farmer. And The American Farmer was published in Baltimore. And it was sort of a journal of progressive agriculture. And he penned this garden calendar, which was a common way of dispensing gardening advice in the early 19th century. Every month of the year, you do certain things.
And among the words of advice that Jefferson had for this national audience was to sow-- a thimbleful of lettuce, he said, should be sowed every Monday morning from February 1 until September 1. So think about that a little bit. The first thing you do when you get up for the work week is to go out and sow a thimbleful of lettuce, as if that's a life lesson akin to cleaning your dinner plate or brushing your teeth every day, in that sowing that Monday morning lettuce will lead to moral virtue and longevity and all the good things in life.
And in fact, looking at the documents, Jefferson sowed lettuce some 140 times, and 80 times it was on a Monday. So he was kind of following what he preached to some extent. But later in his life, he started disregarding the summertime plantings of lettuce for just planning it in the cool season.
The brown Dutch lettuce was a favorite of his to sow in September for harvesting through the winter months. And the tennis ball lettuce was another favorite variety of Jeffersons, but he reserved it for this other house of his at Poplar Forest, which is 60 miles south of Monticello. He built it in his retirement years to get away from all the celebrity tourists who were coming to Monticello. And he would visit there for months at a time.
Going back to the peas, when Jefferson would go to visit Poplar Forest, his neighbors would go out of their way to start their gardens really early so they could have fresh peas to give to Jefferson when he arrived in this Lynchburg second home. And it became associated with Jefferson like jelly beans were with Ronald Reagan. I guess a lot of the current presidents don't like certain vegetables, and so we know more about that than what we like.
The cabbage was a real garden workhorse for Jefferson. He [INAUDIBLE] documented planting some 35 different varieties of cabbage. Mary Randolph wrote in her book that cabbage should be as beautiful dressed that its cooked as when growing in the ground in the garden. And Jefferson has a personal recipe for stuffed cabbage, where he cut out the heart of it and filled with meat and other sorts of vegetables. One of his few recipes.
On Christmas Eve of 1823, Jefferson noted in his account book buying 79 cabbages from Gil Gillette, one of the more productive family of enslaved gardeners of Monticello. And again, at this intersection of black and white worlds, one wonders what Jefferson was doing with 79 cabbages on Christmas Eve. Were these presents for the community? Were they decorations for the house? Were they for a huge quantity of a Virginia style coleslaw?
When Jefferson was about to retire to Monticello from serving as Secretary of State in Philadelphia, he wrote to his daughter Martha and said, well, I can't wait to come home to Monticello to my family, my books, and my friends. And I can't wait for us when we can sow our cabbages together. And so this sort of modest, humble vegetable is used as an image for familial happiness.
Another favorite-- kind of an unusual vegetable-- sea kale, which is a perennial cabbage that grows along the beaches of Great Britain. In the springtime, the sea kale comes up out of the ground along the beaches and is covered by shifting beach sand. And that prevents the production of chlorophyll. And it makes the leaves, when they're cut off and cooked, a little less bitter tasting.
And in the garden, people would use artificial means to blanch the sea kale by using, in most cases, sea kale pots. And Jefferson ordered sea kale pots from a Richmond potter. And then later in the season, like with an asparagus, you let the plants out into the sun and let them grow to produce food for the following year.
And it's a interesting vegetable. Jefferson would send it away-- seeds away-- to friends and say, well, cook it like you would asparagus. When the plants get to be eight or 10 inches high, it's cut off. But Jefferson spent a lot more time in the garden than he did in the kitchen. And a constant thing he'd tell people when he'd send them vegetables-- he's, well, just make it like you would asparagus.
And Jefferson got seed of this from his favorite nurserymen, who was a Philadelphian named Bernard McMahon. And McMahon was a source of a lot of plants for the gardens of Monticello. He also wrote the best book on gardening published in the first half of 19th century, a book called The American Gardener's Calendar.
But Jefferson got the seed of the sea kale. And he sowed it in his garden, and there's no references to harvesting it in his Garden Book. And then a few years later, he got plants from this man, who was another neighbor. His name was John Heartwell Cocke. And he lived in a place called Bremo, a beautiful place along the James River. And suddenly, Jefferson's Garden Book is filled with the dates upon which sea kale was harvested every year. My sea kale chapter is titled "Friends to the Rescue." And again, that's how a lot of successes came about at Monticello.
The tomatoes were spelled by Jefferson T-O-M-A-T-A-S, suggesting he was pronouncing it like "toh-mah-tas." I think that's right. And he cultivated it as a culinary vegetable for some 20 years in the gardens at Monticello. And there's 19 recipes in Mary Randolph's Virginia Housewife cookbook for preparation of tomatoes.
Tomatoes were introduced into Europe in the 1500s. I think they really blew away the earliest commentators on plants, who were basically almost medieval in their awe of the natural world. And here's a plant with this strong growing, vining, stinky leaves and this really large [? lap-wetting ?] fruit with really red colors to it and also gold colors. So I think it struck a lot of the early herbalists as being almost too sensuous for its own good. And so it became associated with a lot of unpleasant other nightshade family plants.
And I think over the years, also, there was this real sort of European nativism about the tomato. It was consumed in great quantities, of course, in the Mediterranean countries. But for Northern Europeans, particularly the British, this was always something that just, well, the Spanish would eat, or the Italians would make, but no civilized Northern European would eat the tomatoes. So I think there was sort of a nativism in regard to the acceptance of the tomato.
Jefferson's son-in-law was a man named Thomas Mann Randolph. And he went on to become the governor of Virginia. But in 1824, he gave a speech before the local Albemarle Agricultural Society, which was the organization of progressive farmers. And his speech was on plant introductions and how they would improve people's lives.
He talked about how in 1814, 10 years earlier, no one in Charlottesville and the surrounding communities was eating tomatoes. But by 1824, he said everyone was eating them, because they believe they quickened the blood in the summertime, whatever that might mean. You can see these furrowed and lopsided tomatoes that express the character of a 18th and 19th century tomato.
This is a favorite variety of mine called purple calabash. And here's a purple calabash, which sometimes turn almost black. And beyond it is an Italian variety called Cotoluto Genovese. But the history of the tomatoes is really a rich one.
And the turnip, in the early 19th century, however, was kind to the 19th century garden what the tomato is to our garden today. It was really the queen of the garden in so many different ways because of its versatility and ability to have turnips almost every month of the season.
And the richest man in Virginia around the time of the American Revolution was a man named Landon Carter, who lived at Sabine Hall along the Rappahannock River. And he had really elaborate gardens, and these terraced gardens that went down to the Rappahannock. And the top most garden was a very fancy flower garden, illustrated here in this conjectural image, or reconstruction of it.
And Landon Carter was-- he was kind of a cranky guy. And one summer, he got really depressed. There was a long drought and his flowers weren't doing well. And he had gout and wasn't feeling too good.
And so he decided to plow up his formal flower garden and plant turnips. And this gave Mr. Carter a lot of satisfaction. He said, well, at least I can eat the turnips.
And the turnip was-- there was two other instances by contemporaries of Jefferson of them tearing up their lawns and planting turnips right around the house. John Heartwell Cocke, who I showed you an image of earlier, and another contemporary of Jefferson who lived in Orange, Virginia, about 25 miles away. Both of them plowed up their lawns to plant turnips. And of course, today, we have these edible landscaping people who urge us to tear up our lawns to plant vegetables. And here's another example where they're doing it 200 years ago.
Now, the salsify was a favorite-- the oyster plant was a favorite of Jefferson's. His daughter, Ann Cary Randolph, had a series of recipes for preparing it. One recipe involved boiling the roots and then squashing them up and breading them a little bit, and frying them like sausages. And it's a nice cross between an artichoke heart and an oyster. And salsify was big in the Jefferson family table.
A favorite turnip recipe for the Jefferson family was turnips with cheese, suggesting maybe a little bit of Jefferson's 19th century comfort food.
People have asked me, what was Jefferson's-- what was a vegetable he didn't like? And I've always struggled with that particular question. Jefferson described cucumbers as a great favorite, but there's a family sort of joke about how Jefferson, on July 1 of 1826, went out into his garden and ate a cucumber. And he was never well after eating that cucumber. And he died three days later. So my cucumber chapter is titled "Killed by Cucumbers."
And the stories of cucumber contests were legendary in Virginia before Jefferson was even born. In the 1730s, there was an avid gardener in Williamsburg, Virginia, named John Custis, who got cucumbers of great size from his plant mentor, a man named Peter Collinson.
Custis gave him to his son-in-law, who lived near Richmond. And his son-in-law grew these cucumbers. And they were five and six feet long. And The Virginia Gazette, which was the newspaper in Williamsburg, reported about how people were riding 10 or 12 miles to see these giant cucumbers.
And this guy in Boston read about these stories about these giant Virginia cucumbers, and he wrote a letter to the editor saying, well, yeah, I'd like to see your giant cucumbers, but wait til you see my 500-pound watermelons. So it set off this mock civil war between these two entities about who had the biggest vegetable. And my original cucumber chapter title was going to be "Boys Will Be Boys," but I decided that "Killed by Cucumber" might be more interesting.
This is 16th century image of a cucumber, showing sort of how the smooth cucumber we know today day was not in cultivation, at least at that point. This was a favorite summer vegetable for Jefferson, the West Indian gherkin. And these were pickled. It was another common plant that he'd plant in the heat of summertime at Monticello. His French maitre d recorded buying barrels of gherkins for the president's house in Washington. And obviously, guests of the White House were served pickled gherkins in the barrel, just like we often do today.
This garden was put back at Monticello in the early 1980s, between 1978 and 1979. And this is an image of Monticello in 1975. And it shows parking lots, the asphalt parking lots, that really went up right to the very porch of the house itself, where large buses were surely running their air conditioners 25 feet from the east portico of Monticello.
And this garden was restored, like I said, in the early 1980s, based on Jefferson's wealth of documentary record, but also on years of archaeological excavations. Every time you disturb our heavy red clay soil, you leave some sort of lasting imprint in terms of the texture or the color of the soil itself, so that archaeologists, by very carefully troweling off the soil, can see stains where trees were growing hundreds of years ago, where fence posts were planted hundreds of years ago.
And this image shows an aerial view. And it shows, in the left center of your screen, where the archaeologist put newspapers over where they found tree hole stains that suggested where Jefferson's South Orchard trees were planted. And it formed, actually, a pattern, a grid pattern, that was pretty close to a 1778 map that Jefferson had drawn of this South Orchard, as he called it.
Along the left hand part of your screen, you can see a closer spacing of white dots. Every 10 feet apart was where the archaeologists found stains of fence posts. And these fence posts were representing Jefferson's solid board fence that ran for nearly 4,000 feet surrounding this entire fruit and vegetable garden complex. It was 10 feet high and had boards so close together that, according to Jefferson, not even a young hare could get between them.
And this was actually-- right here was the entrance to the garden. It had a lock and a key. The fence was there to keep out wild and domestic animals, but also probably to keep out people.
And this whole terrace was supported by a stone wall that had disappeared in the late 1970s and early 1980s. And here, archaeologists uncovering remnants of the wall, but also the foundation for that garden temple or the garden pavilion that was restored in 1984. And it's a classical building, 12 and 1/2 feet square, with triple sash windows and a pyramidal roof and a Chinese railing along the top. It's the only garden structure that Jefferson built that was an independent structure.
The story goes it was blown down in a rather violent windstorm in the 1820s, a year after Jefferson died. And it really is perch kind of precariously atop that stone wall. The story also goes it was a favorite place for Jefferson to read in the cool evening.
And I came to Monticello in 1977. So it's been-- I have an interesting sort of perspective, because not only was I active in restoring the garden as a young buck back in 1978, but also taking care of that garden for some 35 years as the director of gardens and orchards.
And the garden is important. Its legacy, I think, is really particularly profound. It's inspired a lot of art today. This is an overhead view of the garden, an aerial view. And this woman, a number of years ago, did a tapestry that was 20 feet long of that aerial view of the garden itself. And it was displayed at the Chicago Institute of Art. And it's really a beautiful thing. I can't remember her name right offhand. She did a wonderful tapestry of the harvest from the gardens, of the roots, fruits, and leaves. This is actually all roots in this image.
The really famous photographer Annie Leibovitz came really just a year and a half ago to take pictures of Monticello for a book called Pilgrimages. And she was really interested in the garden, because she was a disciple of this mid-20th century English photographer named Edward Jones, who takes these really stark basic photographs of a potato, or of a turnip, or of a cabbage. And so I go into the garden with Andy Liebovitz, and I pull up a bunch of beets. And I'd throw them on the ground, and she'd take a picture. I'd pull up a bunch of-- dig some sweet potatoes and throw them on the ground.
She said, oh, you have great hands. And I looked at my-- I have the grubbiest little hands you've ever seen, so she was obviously trying to get more vegetables out of me. This is a picture she took.
And then I started complaining about my book, how I had trouble getting a professional photographer to be at the right time at the right place in the garden. She said, oh, you have a great eye. You should be taking your own pictures. Here, take my camera. You can have my camera. So she gave me her camera. It was like Babe Ruth's bat. It hasn't helped my photographic skills, unfortunately.
But I was suggesting how the garden inspires people today. Alice Waters, sort of the mother of vegetarian cuisine with fresh organic produce, came to Monticello. She wrote an introduction to this book that I'm talking about, but she also came to Monticello this past April and made a dinner for 350 people on the West Lawn at Monticello.
And she brought 12 world-class chefs with her, and washed the lettuce from the garden herself. And she milked a cow on the West Lawn for the dinner. It was a great, great meal, but she said that was the most important meal she'd ever made because of a testament to Jefferson as the American figure. He was first in food, and first and wine, and really first in gardening in so many different ways.
And Michelle Obama said that this White House kitchen garden is perhaps the most important thing she'd ever done in her life. And I've made friends over the years with the White House chefs. And they were kind of novice gardeners. And they would come down to the Monticello gardener. And I'd inspire them about Thomas Jefferson and show them how to plant beets.
And they'd go back and they cooked a lot of Jefferson varieties, because we have this collection of Jefferson varieties of seed. And they reserved a special part in the garden for a garden tribute to Thomas Jefferson, in Jefferson's honor, with this quote about the failure of one thing being repaired by the success of another.
And the last three springs, I've gone up for ceremonial plantings with schoolchildren. That's always been quite exciting. When the world is falling apart, it's nice to dig your hands in the earth of the White House garden, and all these earthworms, and it's just sort of a positive affirmation of a man's best spirits. Good soil makes for a good civilization.
Until today, we have a festival at Monticello in the fall every year, in September, which tries to exploit people's interest in organic gardening and local food, and seed saving, and sustainable agriculture. We have a big festival with-- this year, we had 5,000 or 6,000 people on the West Lawn with hundreds of educational programs and vendors and cooking demonstrations, using the gardens as a laboratory, but also as a way to look to the past in order to define the future ahead in many ways.
So that's about the end of my formal remarks, but I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have. Thank you.
Do you have any quest-- yes, sir.
PETER HATCH: Yeah, we don't know anything about hop varieties. Hops were hops for Jefferson. So we don't have any clue. I wonder how many hop cultivars were around in around 1800. It's something that I haven't explored. I probably should have.
But hops were a big success story in the sense that Jefferson is always-- he's recalled by this burgeoning Virginia wine industry today, but mostly as a failed grape grower and wine maker. But he made a great cider. And there was a lot of beer made at Monticello.
He actually had a brewmaster who arrived at Monticello in 1814. He was an English sailor who was very involved in the War of 1812. And he was shipwrecked on the coast of Virginia. But for some reason, he came to Monticello. And Jefferson hired him as a brewmaster.
And he made a Monticello ale that was really the toast of the local community. A lot of Jefferson's neighbors would send their overseer to learn how to make beer from this guy. And he went away. And Jefferson never wrote down the recipe for his beer.
But his wife Martha also has a recipe for making beer at Monticello. Hops were grown in the garden. There was a good space reserved for the hops in the vegetable garden. And there were also unusually heavy purchases of hops from slave gardens-- pounds and pounds of hops. And a pound of hops is a lot of hops.
Squire was a was a slave at Monticello, who had probably the most sophisticated garden, the most wide range of types of plants. And he grew hops that were sold to Jefferson family.
But hops was a big success story. But I don't know what kind of-- people ask me all the time. And I have to go back and look at that, because I really don't think that hops were-- I'm sure there were varieties of hops, but I'm not sure they were appearing in American nurseries.
Any other questions? Yes. Yes, sir, in the back. Oh, it's ma'am. Excuse me. My eyes are not that good.
AUDIENCE: Do you rotate the vegetables in the [INAUDIBLE]?
PETER HATCH: Yeah, we do. We do that pretty much. But Jefferson-- it's really interesting-- Jefferson was this great believer in rotation of crops. And when he returned from being minister to France, he came back to Monticello and was just-- the farms were just really a mess-- erosion, impoverished soil. So he became sort of a reformist in terms of agriculture, and really devoted himself to at least writing down all these different proposals for the revolution in reviving his farms. And contour plowing and the rotation of crops was really integral to the system.
But in the Monticello vegetable garden, in his retirement years, he planted his peas and his beans and his beets in the same place every year. And it's always kind of blown my mind, really, that he would do that. But in fact, he kept doing it and doing it and doing it. It wasn't like-- I think it kept working. I don't think he would have kept doing it if it hadn't worked well. So I don't know what to say, but it's kind of interesting.
Yes, ma'am, in the back.
PETER HATCH: Is there what-- any?
PETER HATCH: Yeah, my book has a whole chapter, if you want to buy the book. You probably can get information on our website, as well. If you don't want to buy the book, you can get it free over the internet.
PETER HATCH: What's that?
PETER HATCH: Oh, yeah. Yeah. He was a great-- he loved olive oil. He described as manna from heaven. And early on in his tenure at Monticello, he experimented with olive trees. And olive trees will often grow at Monticello. They'll never produce olives, but they sometimes will grow and then get killed in the ground, and then come up from the roots every year.
And years ago, in 1993, there was an olive oil convention in New York City. And this olive oil company imported a 60-year-old olive tree from Santa Barbara, California and showed it off at this convention in New York City. And the end of the convention, they didn't know what to do with the olive tree, so this guy called me and said, well, do you want our olive tree? And I said, sure. And I thought it would at least, if it didn't-- it would at least sucker up from the roots and make an olive bush every year.
And so this guy hired a tractor trailer to bring this is 10-ton tree down to Charlottesville and hired a crane to put it in the ground. Put in the ground around June and it had olives in the tree itself. It was 30 feet high. And the tree produced-- it produced a lot of olives that September.
And my second daughter was born in that September. We named her Olivia in honor of the olive harvest. And then that winter, it was the coldest winter we've ever had. It went to 12 below zero. And the olive tree was not just killed at the ground, it was killed permanently.
So despite the demise of her namesake Olivia remains the feistiest of children. She turns 19 tomorrow, and she goes to college at St. Lawrence University, where I'm going to visit her tomorrow, in Canton. So that's my story of Jefferson the olive.
But he loved-- he liked olive oil. He loved the olive tree, but you can't really-- we grow it today in pots. And they'll withstand cold temperatures. We have some olives that-- we usually keep them out until it goes below 20 degrees.
PETER HATCH: Yeah, that's a good question about getting plants from Native Americans. But no, there's no record of him getting plant-- but he got a lot of traditions from Native Americans. And in doing this book, you'll see, for example, that the most regal of the Virginia aristocrats, people like George Washington, or this fellow named John Tayloe, they had these garden diaries. And they never talk about, for example, planting hills, which Europeans got from the Indians, that practice.
But Jefferson was always planting things in hills. And more vernacular middle class gardeners were always talking about hills. They were more attuned, I guess, to the tradition that became an American tradition of planting cucumbers, and melons, and squashes, and lima beans, in hills-- manured, often filled, and often composted in specially prepared sites.
But oh, there's other greats. There's the Lewis and Clark plants. Gosh. So he did get plants and seeds from the Indians. When Meriwether Lewis went North, or went West, they collected a lot of seeds, agricultural seeds, from Northern Plains Indian tribes-- the Mandan, the Arikara, the Hidatas tribes.
And in the winter of 1804, 1805, they stayed at a place called Fort Mandan in what's now North Dakota. And this was really a sophisticated Indian agriculture in the sense that a lot of these bean and squash and corn varieties, and even tobacco varieties, were heavily bred and improved by the North American Indians to grow in this really harsh climate in the Northern Plains, where there is no rainfall hardly in the summertime, and there's a two-month growing season.
And so Jefferson got seeds of Arikara bean, and four or five different Indian corn varieties, and tobacco, and even a squash variety, that were brought back by Meriwether Lewis from the Lewis and Clark expedition. He grew them in his garden at Monticello. And this yellow Arikara bean was really a short season bean, so it had a lot of desirable products. It would produce a bean in, I don't think, I think it was 40 days or something. And Jefferson wrote to his favorite nurseryman and said, well, this Arikara bean is a great bean, but I've got one that's a little bit better, so I'm going to discard it. It could have been a moon rock. And here he was discarding it because it wasn't quite good enough to his high standards.
PETER HATCH: Yes, sir.
AUDIENCE: Did Sally Hemings [INAUDIBLE]
PETER HATCH: Yes, Sally Hemings-- y'all know who Sally Hemings is? Sally Hemings was Jefferson's-- she was the half-sister of his half-sister, actually. And the story goes that Jefferson fathered children by Sally Hemings.
And she is mentioned in Jefferson's records, but not in any kind of special way. She was like among-- she was Sally, she was working in the weaver's cottage. She was given so much corn this year and so much wheat and so many yards of cloth.
And I think five years ago, we actually broke the story at Monticello. A man did a DNA study of the Jefferson family and compared it to the Hemings family, and the DNA suggests very strongly that Sally Hemings' children were the result of a Jefferson male member. And it was probably Thomas Jefferson, but we'll probably never actually know for sure.
But you know, the last question-- in the end of all dinner parties, it always ends up talking about Sally Hemings.
So it's a fascinating story. Monticello is-- we pride ourselves that scholarship drives our mission. And so wherever the story goes, we follow it. And so it's a fascinating story. And it gives a little of the humanity of Thomas Jefferson, but also opens yourself to this world of speculation about these intersections of black and white worlds.
AUDIENCE: Well, Peter had--
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Thomas Jefferson wrote that "the greatest service which can be rendered any country is to add a useful plant to its culture," and his 1,000-foot-long, terraced vegetable garden at Monticello was an experimental laboratory, an Ellis Island of 330 varieties of vegetables.
Jefferson himself was a seedy missionary of new and unusual novelties, and his legacy in food, wine, and gardening provides us today with a profound model in vegetable cuisine, sustainable horticulture, and a passion for the earth.
This was Jefferson's personal garden, but it was also a family garden where he sowed cabbage seed with his daughter, Martha; a community garden where Jefferson competed in friendly "pea competitions" with his neighbors; a national garden of seeds from the Lewis and Clark expedition, the Spanish southwest, and America's finest plantsmen; and an international garden of vegetables from around the globe.
Thomas Jefferson liked to eat vegetables, which "constitute my principal diet," and his role in linking the garden with the kitchen into a cuisine defined as "half French, half Virginian" was a pioneering concept in the history of American food.
Peter Hatch examines a full sample of Jefferson's favorite vegetables, from salsify to peas, by discussing both how they were grown and prepared at Monticello but also their history and place in the horticultural world of early nineteenth-century Virginia. Finally, Hatch explores the precedent-setting vegetable garden restoration of the early 1980's and the compelling Jefferson legacy in food and gardening today.
This was part of the 2012 Cornell Plantations Lecture Series.