Peter Jonathan Hatch
Peter Hatch is a gardener and historian living in Albemarle County, Virginia, where he gardens, lectures, consults, and writes about garden history. Now the Director of Gardens and Grounds Emeritus for the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Hatch was responsible for the maintenance, interpretation, and restoration of the 2,400-acre landscape at Monticello from 1977 to 2012. Mr. Hatch managed important restoration projects, such as the eight-acre Vegetable and Fruit Garden, and the Grove, an ornamental forest of eighteen acres. In 1987 Peter initiated the Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants, a unique nursery to preserve historic and Jefferson-related garden plants.
Peter Hatch also conceived and oversaw numerous educational programs, including Monticello Garden Tours (for 35,000 annual visitors); the Saturdays in the Garden program of natural history walks, lectures, and horticultural workshops; and the Historic Landscape Institute, a two week field school for students from around the nation. In 1993 Mr. Hatch initiated and managed the Evening Conversations series, which honors the legacy of Thomas Jefferson with after-hours symposia on a variety of topics. He was also Project Manager for the Thomas Jefferson Parkway, a $7 million federally and privately funded highway project to create a park along the entrance corridor to Monticello, and for Saunders Bridge, a stone-arch bridge that now serves as the new entrance to Monticello.
Click here for "Retrospective: The Gardens and Grounds Department at Monticello, 1977 -- 2012," for a complete review of Peter's responsibilities and achievements as Director of Gardens and Grounds for Monticello.
A native of Michigan, Peter Hatch obtained an English degree from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and an A.A. in Landscape Gardening from Sandhills Community College, Southern Pines, North Carolina. Between 1974 and 1977 he served as Horticulturist at Old Salem in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Here, between 1974 and 1977 he recreated the historic, eighteenth-century gardens of this Moravian community, cared for 80 landscaped acres owned by Old Salem, Inc., and developed interpretive programs for the public. Among his design and consulting commissions was a project to restore the gardens of Adena, the home of Ohio governor, Thomas Worthington, that was designed by Benjamin Latrobe. Hatch’s plan for the flower and vegetable gardens, and the Adena Grove, was installed by the Ohio Historical Society in 2002 at a cost of $5 million.
Hatch is the author of The Gardens of Monticello, the editor of Thomas Jefferson's Flower Garden at Monticello (University Press of Virginia), and has written numerous articles, and lectured in thirty-seven states, on Jefferson and the history of garden plants. His scholarly study of early American pomology, The Fruits and Fruit Trees of Monticello, Thomas Jefferson and the Origins of American Horticulture, was published by the University Press of Virginia in 1999. Hatch’s latest book on the Monticello vegetable garden of Jefferson’s retirement years, ‘A Rich Spot of Earth’: Thomas Jefferson’s Revolutionary Garden at Monticello (Yale University Press), appeared in book stores in April, 2012.
Currently in its third printing, A Rich Spot of Earth has received numerous awards. The Colonial Dames of America presented Peter with its the Book of the Year award in May, joining other recent books written by David McCullough, Nathaniel Philbrick, and Doris Kearns Goodwin. Booklist, the oracle of the National Library Association, named ‘A Rich Spot of Earth’ one the “Top 10 Books on Sustainability for 2013." The book also received the American Horticultural Society's Book Award for 2012, and is one of two finalists for the Gold Medal, Best Book of 2012, awarded by the Garden Writer's of America.
Mr. Hatch served as the President of the Southern Garden History Society from 1998 – 2000. In 2004 he received the Thomas Roland Medal from the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, “for exceptional skill in horticulture.” In 2010 he was named an Honorary Member of The Garden Club of Virginia, and has served as an informal consultant and source of plants for Michelle Obama’s White House Kitchen Garden, which has a discrete section honoring the garden legacy of Thomas Jefferson.
In 2011, he received The Garden Club of America’s Medal in Historic Preservation, the first horticulturist to receive the award, and in 2012, Peter Hatch was awarded the Flora Ann Bynum medal, the highest honor bestowed by the Southern Garden History Society. Garden & Gun magazine included him among “Southern Heroes, 11 Visionaries Saving the South’s Wild Places,” in its April, 2012 issue. In 2015, Peter received an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from St. Lawrence University, Canton, New York. His commencement address can be read at http://www.stlawu.edu/commencement/peter-hatch-p15-remarks-graduates.
The Massachusetts Horticultural Society awarded Mr. Hatch its highest honor, the George Robert Smith Medal of Honor, in October 2016. Established in 1909, the Medal recipients represent an all-star pantheon of horticultural worthies, from Frederick Law Olmsted to Gertrude Jekyll, from Liberty Hyde Bailey to Michael Dirr.
In 1993 Peter initiated the Evening Conversration series at Monticello as a way to celebrate Thomas Jefferson's 250th birthday. Best described as a garden party focused around a scholarly lecture, the Peter J. Hatch Evening Conversation was named and endowed in his honor in 2019.
He is married to Lucile Brandt Hatch, and they have two daughters, Rosemary and Olivia.