Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Dear Mr. Jefferson: Letters from a Nantucket Gardener by Laura Simon

Thomas Jefferson was an avid gardener. For 58 years, even when he was in Europe in service to his country, he kept gardening diaries. In his letters home, he always asked for detailed accounts about the gardens and the harvest of fruits and vegetables. He often commented on the varieties of plants that he found while traveling. He even smuggled seeds out of Italy.

It seems natural that author and gardener Laura Simon feels akin to Jefferson. Every winter she receives dozens of seed catalogs, and wanting to try new varieties in her large Nantucket garden, she orders from many of them. Then she turns her guest room into a greenhouse to start her seeds. Like Jefferson, she keeps annual gardening plans, ledgers and journals. Her actually writing letters to the long deceased Jefferson is not surprising.

In Dear Mr. Jefferson: Letters from a Nantucket Gardener, Simon recounts one gardening year in Nantucket. In the process, she also lovingly comments on all that she has learned from reading Jefferson and visiting Monticello. Published in 1998, it is still a delight to read. Add it to your list.

Simon, Laura. Dear Mr. Jefferson: Letters from a Nantucket Gardener. Crown Publishers, 1998. 224p. ISBN 0609600974.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello, Rick. Just now I came across your review of Laura's book which I've read and reread many times. In 1998 after reading the new book which I found in the gardening section of my local library, I wrote Laura a fan letter. She replied, and thus began a pleasant correspondence that lasted until I received an email from her husband Jimmy, with the sad news that Laura had died on September 25, just a few weeks ago.

In 2010 my late husband and I visited Nantucket and spent several hours touring her garden and getting acquainted. She was a cheerful, kind and very engaging person. It was a delight to meet Laura and Jimmy. Her garden was every bit as amazing as she described it in her book.