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Quotations on Gardens and Gardening

1786 May 4.  (Jefferson to John Page).  "The gardening in that country [England] is the article in which it surpasses all the earth. I mean their pleasure gardening. This indeed went far beyond my ideas."1

1788 June 19.  (Jefferson's Hints to Americans Travelling in Europe).  "Gardens. Peculiarly worth the attention of an American, because it is the country of all others where the noblest gardens may be made without expence. We have only to cut out the superabundant plants."2

1791 February 9.  (Jefferson to Martha Jefferson Randolph).  "I hope you are getting well, towards which great care of yourself is necessary: for however adviseable it is for those in health to expose themselves freely, it is not so for the sick. You will be out in time to begin your garden, and that will tempt you to be out a great deal, than which nothing will tend more to give you health and strength."3

1800 January 27.  (Jefferson to Joseph Priestley).  "to all this I add that to read the Latin & Greek authors in their original is a sublime luxury; and I deem luxury in science to be at least as justifiable as in architecture, painting, gardening or the other arts."4

1809 April 19.  (Jefferson to James Madison).  "Dinsmore & Neilson set out yesterday for Montpelier. if mrs Madison has any thing there which interests her in the gardening way, she cannot confide it better than to Nielson. he is a gardener by nature, & extremely attached to it."5

1809 April 25.  (Jefferson to Etienne Lemaire).  "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."6

1809 April 27.  (Jefferson to John Barnes).  "the total change of occupation from the house & writing table to constant emploiment in the garden & farm has added wonderfully to my happiness."7

1809 September 22.  (Jefferson to Benjamin Rush).  "I am endeavoring to recover the little I once knew of farming, gardening Etc. and would gladly now exchange any branch of science I possess for the knolege of a common farmer. too old to learn, I must be contented with the occupation & amusement of the art. already it keeps me so much without doors that I have little time to read, & still less to write."8

1810 March 17.  (Jefferson to William Johnson).  "all of these articles [Benni seed, Egyptian grass, and acacia seed] are highly acceptable. they bring nourishment to my hobby horse: for my occupations at present are neither in reading nor writing. the culture of the earth in the garden, orchard & farms engage my whole attention."9

1811 August 20.  (Jefferson to Charles Willson Peale). "I have often thought that if heaven had given me choice of my position & 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, & no culture comparable to that of the garden. such a variety of subjects, some one always coming to perfection, the failure of one thing repaired by the success of another, & instead of one harvest a continued one thro’ the year. under a total want of demand except for our family table I am still devoted to the garden. but tho’ an old man, I am but a young gardener."10

  • 1. PTJ, 9:445.
  • 2. Ibid., 13:269.
  • 3. Ibid., 19:264.  Martha had just given birth to her first child Anne on January 23.
  • 4. Ibid., 31:340.
  • 5. PTJ:RS, 1:155.
  • 6. Ibid., 1:162.
  • 7. Ibid., 1:166.
  • 8. Ibid., 1:559.
  • 9. Ibid., 2:301-2.
  • 10. Ibid., 4:93.


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