Jefferson divided his 1000 foot, arrow-straight garden laboratory into three main sections: fruits, roots, and leaves. I love the tension between the organic forms of the individual plants and the rigourous geometry of the garden layout. This geometry then contrasts again with the rolling forms of the distant landscape. Even though it's a historical garden these contrasts give it the freshness of a large scale contemporary artwork.
According to Hatch, The microclimate of the garden provides the true genius of place. Though the garden experiences Virginia's hot summers, the winters are mild, as cold air collects at the bottom of the mountain. The summer heat allows tropical vegetables like lima bean and tomatoes to intermingle with traditional European vegetables. Compared with the typical Virginia vegetable garden which focused on cold weather crops like kale, cabbage and turnips, it was, as Mr. Hatch says, revolutionary.
Jefferson's garden was extremely important to him—he worked in it daily, and Mr. Hatch said that Jefferson ranked the introduction of new crops as some of his greatest accomplishments, right up there with his career in government and his founding of the University of Virginia. Jefferson dearly enjoyed the harvest of his garden as well. Mr. Hatch said Jefferson lived primarily as a vegetarian; meat was more like a condiment to him. This love of produce is evident in his Garden Book, which tracked daily events in the garden, meticulously noting when various vegetables were ready to "come to table".
Something else that Mr. Hatch mentioned, was that the garden of Monticello was a endevour of Jefferson's later life—he worked on it from the ages of 67-83. Mr. Hatch called it a "defiance of age". I find this very encouraging...I guess I've still got plenty of time to really accomplish something.
For further reading on Mr. Hatch and Monticello, check out these articles:
A Conversation on Landscape Restoration: Excerpts From Cullen Murphy's Interview With Peter Hatch from The Atlantic
To find out more about the 2010 Winter Symposium, take a look here.