On Saturday, March 16, 2013, the Southeastern Horticultural Society gave Atlanta garden lovers a rare treat: a glimpse into one of the greatest gardens of all time, and by a man who can boast a special connection to it. And no, it wasn’t P. Allen Smith, although he appreciates the skill and knowledge of the man in question, issuing the following quote about Peter Hatch’ most recently published book.
Peter Hatch brings the horticultural legacy of Thomas to life. A Rich Spot of Earth affords us a clear and compelling view into the revolutionary thinking of Jefferson, illuminating for the reader his approach to food, diversity, democracy, and freedom—making the genius of Jefferson, perhaps, as relevant today as at any other time in history.”
And if the measuring stick on Saturday was the presentation Hatch gave on the topic of Jefferson’s Monticello, then the historian is worth his weight in gold. And that might explain why Michelle Obama and her daughters took the time to visit him and the historic site during President Obama's first term in office.
In a style that hinted at his academia prowess, Hatch lured lecture attendees at the annual horticultural event to walk the grounds of Jefferson’s prized possession with him, pointing out the subtle details that make the garden unique.
The slideshow presentation included breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape that drove the country’s third president to garden atop it, but it was the speaker’s skill that drove the lecture on Saturday, as Peter J. Hatch is nothing if not eloquent.
And Peter Hatch isn’t just an author, historian or lover of gardening. He’s the man credited with restoring Jefferson’s prized possession to its 1812 appearance. And once the garden has been viewed in its entirety it makes the feat that he accomplished that much more impressive.
I was hired by Monticello in 1977 to be superintendent of grounds, basically the job I had for 35 years,” he said.
Yet Monticello was not Hatch’s first restorative effort. He also played a major role in revitalizing Old Salem Museums and Gardens in North Carolina.
I instituted a landscape restoration program, involving the restoration, maintenance, and interpretation of the Moravian gardens in this 18th century historic village,” he said.
Peter Hatch told this Examiner that what he is doing as a follow-up to restoring these two important historic gardens is concentrating on traveling and promoting his most recent book about Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, as well as caring for his own new garden at Lickinghole Creek in western Albemarle County.
In addition, and to the benefit of gardeners around the country, Peter says, “I consult on the care of the landscapes on historic and modern estates and public gardens.”
The South Bend Tribune.com reported recently that those interested in hearing the next lecture to be given by the esteemed historian will have an opportunity during the upcoming Garden Symposium at Fernwood. And as one of the members of the lecture audience in Atlanta on Saturday during Hatch's presentation, I highly recommend you attend, if you can.