As America celebrates July 4, author Andrea Wulf discusses her new book, and the role of native plants in the founding fathers’ first gardens. Featured on NPR’s All Things Considered podcast, check out the story below:
As British troops closed in on New York City in the fall of 1776, Gen. George Washington had something crucially important on his mind. Congress had ordered him to hold the city, but on the eve of the battle, he set aside his maps and documents and began a letter to the steward of his estate, Mount Vernon, detailing the construction of a new garden.
"What is more remarkable than the timing, really, is that he's asking for only native species," author Andrea Wulf tells All Things Considered guest weekend host Linda Wertheimer. "As if he wants to create an all-American garden where no English tree is allowed to claw its roots in the soil."
Wulf is the author of a new book, “Founding Gardeners: The Revolutionary Generation, Nature, and the Shaping of the American Nation.” She describes a side of the Founding Fathers not often seen: Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and James Madison were all avid — even obsessive — gardeners.