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Category Archives: Horticulture

THIS is the life!

I am constantly in my garden or farm, as exclusively employed out of doors as I was within doors when at Washington, and I find myself infinitely happier in my new mode of life.
To Etienne Lemaire, April 25, 1809

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
A radical change of scenery can do a leader great good!
Lemaire managed the President’s House during both Jefferson administrations and had since moved to Philadelphia. In this letter, he asked his former butler to secure several cooking ingredients not available nearer to Monticello. His grandson, Jefferson Randolph, was in Philadelphia and would pay for the items. He sent on several other tidbits of common interest and concluded with the sentiment above.

Over the previous 35 years, Jefferson’s time at Monticello was overshadowed by the great events of war, independence, diplomacy and governance. His hands-on involvement with those events was now behind him. He could dig in the dirt and putter around his farms to his heart’s content. He was much happier now, “infinitely” so.

“This is a key thought – you are a serious student of Thomas Jefferson, not just an imitator –
and it quickly became evident that… [we were] listening to Thomas Jefferson,
not Patrick Lee portraying Thomas Jefferson.”

Deputy Executive Director, Missouri Rural Water Association
Your audience will suspend disbelief
and know they are hearing from Mr. Jefferson himself.

Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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The brotherhood of good men is blind to nationality.

Th: Jefferson presents his salutations to Mr. Robert Moore & his acknowledgements for the Jerusalem wheat he was so kind as to forward him from his relation in Ireland … the good men of the world form a nation of their own, and when promoting the well-being of others never ask of what country they are. he hopes the US. will shew themselves worthy of these kindnesses. he tenders to mr Moore his respects and best wishes.
To Robert Moore, March 11, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders recognize the “nation” of good men worldwide.
Jefferson loved botany and especially species related to food. Of those, he esteemed bread grains most of all, for their potential to nourish the greatest number of people worldwide. Here he conveyed his thanks for the gift of “Jerusalem wheat” forwarded to him by Mr. Moore, who received it from a family member in Ireland.

Jefferson recognized that good men worldwide formed “a nation of their own.” Their motivation was “the well-being of others.” When doing that work, it was never their concern to inquire about the nationality of another. Service to mankind superceded borders.

“Your portrayal of Thomas Jefferson …made a significant contribution …”
Executive Director, Professional Land Surveyors of Ohio, Inc.
Mr. Jefferson will make a significant contribution to your conference.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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One daughter died. I fear the other will die, too.

… I have had the inexpressible misfortune to lose my younger daughter, who has left me two grandchildren, & my elder one has such poor health, that I have little confidence in her life. she has 6 children. determined as I am to retire at the end of 4 years, I know not if I shall have a family to retire to. I must learn philosophy from you, & seek in a family of plants, that occupation & delight which you have so fortunately found in them …
To Madam de Tesse′, March 10, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
What private fears do our leaders labor under?
de Tesse′ was the aunt of the French hero of the American revolution, Marquis de Lafayette. She was an accomplished woman and became friends with Jefferson during his service in France in the mid-late 1780s. The two shared a strong interest in horticulture, exchanging plants and seeds for years. All the rest of this letter pertained to that subject. At the end came this surprisingly personal and unusual observation.

Jefferson’s daughter Maria died the year before, leaving his firstborn Martha as the only surviving child of the six born to him and his late wife. Martha was well-educated and capable. Her husband was not an emotionally stable man, and the responsibility for managing the family and estate (and some of her father’s estate, Monticello) fell on her. Everything I have read about Martha has given the impression that she inherited her father’s genes for good health and long life. Here, her already grieving father feared for her life, too. Jefferson confided that his love of plants might be the only the only family he had left when his Presidency ended four years hence.

His fears were unfounded. Martha outlived her father and presented him with 12 grandchildren, 11 who survived him.

“I just wanted to thank you again for the wonderful program …”
Daniel Boone Regional Library
A wonderfully inspiring presentation awaits your audience!
Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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Thomas Jefferson on the garden

I have often thought that if Heaven had given me choice of my position and calling, it should have been on a rich spot of earth, well watered, and near a good market for the productions of the garden. No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden … Under a total want of demand except for our family table, I am still devoted to the garden. But though an old man, I am but a young gardener.
To C. W. Peale, 1811, 3803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
I was jazzed about Monday’s post (May 14, 2012) and decided to stay on the gardening theme. You will recognize the last sentence above. I used it to close Monday’s account.
Jefferson always loved experimenting with plants and did so throughout his life! It wasn’t until his retirement that he could give himself wholeheartedly to that endeavor. At this writing, age 68, Jefferson was two years into that retirement, knowing that nothing would ever draw him away from his beloved lands (and garden!) again for any length of time.
Did you notice that the title of Peter Hatch’s book, A Rich Spot of Earth (from Monday) was drawn from this letter?

Jefferson’s interests will inspire your audience!
Invite him to speak.
Call Patrick Lee, 573-657-2730

Leave a comment Posted in Horticulture, Personal preferences

Thomas Jefferson on NPR

No, this post isn’t Jefferson writing about National Public Radio.
It is an NPR story on Thomas Jefferson’s garden at Monticello. “All Things Considered” aired the account on May 10, 2012. It is an excellent overview!

NPR interviewed Peter Hatch, a Monticello employee for 35 years and director of Monticello’s gardens and grounds. Hatch is the man primarily responsible for re-creating Jefferson’s monumental garden. He has authored a new book, “A Rich Spot of Earth”: Thomas Jefferson’s Revolutionary Garden at Monticello
– Here’s the audio story:  It’s 8 ½ minutes long.
– If you prefer to read it, here’s the text of that story:
– Here’s a companion piece on NPR’s food blog, “The Salt”:  At the top are 11 photos to scroll through.
– Near the bottom of “The Salt” article, is this link, , to some Jefferson-era recipes. (If you back up one page, you’ll find a long but delightful paragraph on the disciplines of running a household. It is attributed to “M. Randolph, Washington, January, 1824.” This is either Jefferson’s daughter Martha Randolph or Martha’s sister-in-law. It is excellent advice yet today.
Jefferson loved gardening! In 1811, at age 68, he wrote to C. W. Peale, “But though an old man, I am but a young gardener.” (3803)

Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak to your audience.
(On gardens, or any other subject!)

Call Patrick Lee, 573-657-2739


1 Comment Posted in Horticulture, Personal preferences