Thomas Jefferson grew the curled variety of parsley and plain-leaf or Italian parsley as early as 1774, with additional plantings recorded in 1778, 1809, 1811, and 1817.1 In 1794, he included parsley in his "Objects for the garden this year."2 While he was President, parsley was bought frequently at the Washington market.3 Jefferson also listed it in his 1823 "Compend[ium] of a Calendar."4
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.5 The curled forms were described by Pliny in the first century A.D.6 Farmers even had faith that it cured certain sheep diseases.7
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.8
Parsley is a hardy biennial herb grown as an annual with flavorful, deep green foliage.
Primary Source References
1823 March 1. (Compend[ium] of a Calendar). "Hotspurs. Marrow fats. spinach. parsley ...."9
1824 March 21. (Seed & Grain committed to the care of W. McAndrews for Mr. Jefferson). "... Radish, Parsly, Turnips."10