CAROLINA ALUMNI REVIEW 53
Peter Hatch ’ 71 understands, as did
a president, ‘the humbling nature
of working with the land.’
The long road flanked with mulberry and honey locust leads to the domed estate, groves bursting with native and exotic plants and the sweep of shade trees gracing the summit. Thomas Jefferson’s
beloved Monticello brings a half million visitors to
these hallowed grounds each year.
The first thing he’d recognize if he returned would
be the garden.
A man for his country and of the world, Jefferson
must have dreamed regularly of the terrace at his home
— three football fields long, supported by a stone wall,
facing the brutal Virginia summers and the breathtaking
valley below. He designed Monticello’s garden as his
haven from the madness of politics, and he retired there
in 1809 to indulge his meticulous side, his passion for
competition, his boundless inquisitiveness and a palate
for which meat was a mere condiment.
in Mr. Jefferson’s
Peter Hatch ’ 71 is, like Jefferson, somewhat of a
Renaissance man. Groundskeeping was hardly the career
Hatch set out for himself when he graduated. He soon
found himself with “no job, no girlfriend, no prospects”
and an organic garden. “I figured I could garden in the
day and write bad poetry at night,” he said.
He attracted attention from Monticello when he
worked for a time as a horticulturist in the carefully
preserved Moravian village of Old Salem. He arrived
in Virginia in 1977 to find the house beautifully preserved — but 40 percent of Jefferson’s garden asphalted
for parking and the rest planted in zinnias, roses, peonies
and the like. Thirty-five years later, Hatch had written
four books channeling Jefferson’s role as America’s first
foodie. And his restoration of the garden — what Hatch
calls his grand adventure — would leave the third president fairly drooling.
The scope of Jefferson’s work is difficult to compre-