Since many of us spent this past weekend grilling, lounging, and blowing things up in celebration of Independence Day, you may have missed a great, somewhat-related article and accompanying slideshow that ran in the New York Times Home & Garden section late last week. The topic? The legacy of experimental gardening at Thomas Jefferson’s historic Virginia estate, Monticello.

The article delves into how Jefferson, an avid and adventurous (but perhaps not very skilled by modern standards) gardener, wasn’t scared of screwing up when it came to tending to his expansive garden filled with 170 varieties of fruit and 330 varieties of veggies and herbs.

Says Peter Hatch, director of garden and grounds at Monticello and author of the upcoming book Thomas Jefferson’s Revolutionary Garden, of the Founding Father and “seed-y missionary:”

He was experimental and had a lot of failures. But Jefferson always believed that ‘the failure of one thing is repaired by the success of another.’ 
It’s a fascinating article — with some killer photos — that's sure to appeal to organic gardeners, seed-swappers, American history buffs interested in Jefferson's pastoral post-presidential life, and, umm, Michelle Obama. Jeffersonian gardening tips and tidbits that are mentioned include seed-saving, planting in a quincunx pattern, and adding sturdy posts to a garden so that plants are lifted and less exposed to insects and disease. Perhaps most importantly, the article is inspirational if you yourself have encountered — or are even plagued by — gardening mishaps but keep on plugging, or shall I say, planting, away until you get it just right. 

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Thomas Jefferson: Founding gardener?
The New York Times heads to Monticello where lessons can still be learned from Thomas Jefferson's experimental gardening techniques centuries later.