Stella Otto: The Backyard Fruit Gardener

Today's Tip: Mow vegetation short around the base of fruit trees and bushes to reduce winter habitat for rodents.

Founding Gardeners: The Revolutionary Generations, Nature, and the Shaping of the American Nation — Book Review

Founding Gardeners book cover

Found­ing Gar­den­ers by Andrea Wulf

Book Review

Title: Found­ing Gar­den­ers: The Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Gen­er­a­tions, Nature, and the Shap­ing of the Amer­i­can Nation

Author: Andrea Wulf

Strong points: Found­ing Gar­den­ers is metic­u­lously researched. It is as much or more an his­toric doc­u­men­ta­tion as it is a hor­ti­cul­tural recount­ing. Agri­cul­ture was inex­orably inter­twined with our country’s early growth and strength. Andrea does a mas­ter­ful job of weav­ing these threads together.

Thomas Jef­fer­son and George Wash­ing­ton come quickly to mind as early agri­cul­tur­ists. Found­ing Gar­den­ers reminds us also not to for­get other, some­times less remem­bered, environmentalists/statesmen/horticulturists — James Madi­son and John Adams.

Andrea Wulf puts the key mes­sage “agri­cul­ture holds a “piv­otal place within the del­i­cate bal­ance between man and nature”” at the fore­front of this impor­tant book.  She also high­lights how the country’s eco­nomic strength is in direct cor­re­la­tion to its agri­cul­tural and envi­ron­men­tal health. This was some­thing our found­ing fathers wisely rec­og­nized and some­thing we ignore today at our peril.

Weak­nesses: This book is not an easy leisurely read because is so exten­sively detailed. I per­son­ally had dif­fi­culty keep­ing up the amount of con­cen­tra­tion and focus to read it in more than short stints.  Avid his­to­ri­ans would likely not see this as a weak­ness, but rather a strength.

My hus­band, also a hor­ti­cul­tur­ist, sug­gested that first read­ing Brother Gar­den­ers might make it eas­ier to keep straight the other botanists and hor­ti­cul­tur­ists whose thoughts and activ­i­ties are inter­wo­ven with the states­men that Found­ing Gar­den­ers highlights.

Note: I had the priv­i­lege of attend­ing Andrea Wulf’s very engag­ing pre­sen­ta­tion on this and her prior book Brother Gar­den­ers. If you get the oppor­tu­nity I would highly rec­om­mend it!

Green thumbs rat­ing:

Book Rat­ing:  

ISBN: 978–0-307–26990-4
# of pages: 349 pgs.
Pho­tos: Yes, small selec­tion of both color and black and white
Illus­tra­tions: Yes, *illus­tra­tions included as part to the Appen­dix
Appen­dix: Yes; exten­sive notes doc­u­ment­ing sources of researched infor­ma­tion. Selected bib­li­og­ra­phy.
Index: Yes
Pub­lisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Pub­li­ca­tion Date: 2011
Price: $30


©2013The Back­Yard Fruit Gardener