Influential and Gardeners, Too

In Atlantic Monthly, they did a feature on the top 100 most influential figures in American history.

The famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead was the 49th person listed. He gave us city parks like Central Park in New York City and created grand estates like the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina.

Other gardeners on the list include #2 George Washington and #3 Thomas Jefferson. Both took solace in their gardens in between doing great and lofty things like running a new country and drafting the Declaration of Independence.

Jefferson, especially, took much pride in his gardens, and is quotable for many comments related to the virtues of tending the earth. My favorite Jefferson related quote is:

“No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth and no culture comparable to that of the garden.” (1811)

I wonder which other influential Americans were gardeners at heart?


  1. I am not sure of the answer to your question, but it will be interesting to find out some more names!

    I was surprised last winter when I turned over my 'Black Watchman' hollyhock seed packet and read this line: "This beautiful heirloom variety, grown by Thomas Jefferson on his Monticello estate..."

  2. The only other famous gardener I can think of is Monet, and he wasn't American.

    I read a biography of Olmstead. he was an interesting man.

  3. No way Lyndon could have lived with our beloved Lady Bird Johnson all those years without a little of it rubbing off! Any garden bloggers who come to Austin would love the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

    Carol, you sent me looking for others, and I discovered that cranky old Henry Ford not only brought garden-type stuff to Greenfield Village, like the floral clock, he hired Jens Jensen to design the Fords' estate, including a peony garden.

    Rachel Carson, Silent Spring author, had a flower garden in Silver Spring Maryland, according to her obituary.

    Okay that's my three - has anyone else found more?

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  4. Oh, I actually love the Lady Bird Johnson website! I should have thought of her.

    Okay, if we want to stretch... the Divine Miss M has been involved in community gardens in NYC:

    "My whole life had been spent waiting for an epiphany, a manifestation of God's presence, the kind of transcendent, magical experience that lets you see your place in the big picture. And that is what I had with my first compost heap."
    Bette Midler


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