Jefferson noted sowing seeds of "Prezzemolo. parsley." on March 15, 1774. This was very likely the flat-leaved Italian Parsley. Several weeks later, on May 2nd, he noted sowing another variety, which he listed as "Curled Parsley." While he was President, parsley was bought frequently at the Washington market. In 1794, he included parsley in his "Objects for the garden this year.'" He noted additional plantings in 1778, 1809, 1811, and 1817, and listed it in his 1823 "Compend[ium] of a Calendar."
Parsley is native to southern Europe and has a history of garden use dating back to the ancient Greeks, who associated it with death. From that mythology came the saying "to be in need of parsley," meaning to be dangerously ill and near death. The curled forms were described by Pliny in the first century C.E. Farmers even had faith that it cured certain sheep diseases.
In Virginia, plain-leaved and curled varieties of parsley were abundant in the nineteenth century. The herb was used for garden edging and as a staple in broths and sauces, essential for French cuisine.
Parsley is a hardy biennial herb grown as an annual with flavorful, deep green foliage.
Visit Monticello’s Online Shop to check for seeds or plants of Italian Parsley.