A couple of years ago Andrea Wulf published an excellent book about the way the modern English obsession with gardening sprang from the activities of a small group of eighteenth-century botanists, professional horticulturists and amateurs of the spade. The Brother Gardeners was peopled with memorable characters and equally memorable plants, the story it told richly woven with politics and social history. Now, in The Founding Gardeners, she undertakes to write a companion volume concerned with horticultural affairs on the other side of the Atlantic.
This is a book with an argument to make. Wulf’s theory is that the nature of the newly independent states was largely formed by the rural predilections of the Founding Fathers. George Washington, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams all owned country estates; all were more or