Renowned Gardener and Historian to Deliver CSU Lecture on Thomas Jefferson’s Revolutionary Garden Oct. 27

A renowned gardener and historian will visit Colorado State University for an invited talk about Thomas Jefferson’s garden at Monticello.

Peter J. Hatch, director of Gardens and Grounds Emeritus for the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, will be the featured speaker at CSU’s 14th annual Thornton-Massa Lecture. The talk, “Thomas Jefferson’s Revolutionary Garden at Monticello,” is set for 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27, in the Behavioral Sciences Building Auditorium, Room 131, on campus. The event is free and open to the public and will be followed by a book signing at 5p.m.

“Thomas Jefferson wrote that ‘the greatest service which can be rendered any country is to add a useful plant to its culture,’” said Hatch. “His gardens at Monticello were an experimental laboratory, an Ellis Island of useful and ornamental species of plants from around the world. Jefferson’s enduring legacy in gardening, wine and food was founded on a plant collection that included 330 varieties of 89 species of vegetables and 170 varieties of the finest fancy fruit known in the early 19th century.”

Hatch will discuss how Jefferson’s exemplary stewardship provides a lesson in the value of preserving genetic diversity, and many of the jewels in his collection offer promising qualities worthy of passing on to future generations of gardeners and farmers.

Hatch has initiated numerous historic restoration projects throughout the United States. He is a professional gardener and historian with 38 years’ experience in the restoration, care and interpretation of historic landscapes. A celebrated author of four books on the gardens of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, where he served as Director of Gardens and Grounds for 35 years, Hatch has lectured in 36 states on Jefferson and the history of garden plants. Presently, he gardens and botanizes from his home on Lickinghole Creek in Crozet, Virginia; travels extensively to promote his latest work, “A Rich Spot of Earth: Thomas Jefferson’s Revolutionary Garden at Monticello;” and consults on the installation and maintenance of both public gardens and private estate landscapes.

“The annual Thornton-Massa lecture series, now in its 14th year, has brought world-class researchers who have made important contributions to the science of plant genetics and biodiversity to Fort Collins,” said Tom Holtzer, lead organizer of the 2013 Thornton-Massa Lecture and head of the CSU Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management. “Peter Hatch’s contributions stand apart from our past lectures. As the director of one of the nation’s foremost public gardens he developed a unique perspective on plant diversity and the historical significance of gardening in the young United States. I am excited that he will be here to share his experiences and views with us.”

Hatch’s 38-year horticultural career has instilled a finely tuned and highly skilled knowledge of vegetable and fruit gardening, the planting and care of trees, and the creation of native plant habitats, as well as a comprehensive understanding of the care of both private and public landscapes.

About the Thornton-Massa Lecture

The lecture honors the late Dr. Emil Massa of Denver and the late Bruce and Mildred Thornton, who shared a common interest in biodiversity, plant genetics, agriculture and horticulture.

These commonalities led their families to endow an annual public lecture through the CSU College of Agricultural Sciences and College of Natural Sciences.

Massa earned a medical degree in 1953 from Northwestern University and worked at Denver’s St. Joseph’s Hospital from 1960 to 1991. After retiring from orthopedic surgery, Massa spent his time feeding his love for plants at the Denver Botanic Gardens.

Bruce and Mildred Thornton shared a lifelong interest in and commitment to the study, identification and preservation of seeds. Mildred Thornton attended then-Colorado State College, and after receiving her master’s degree in botany, went to work as a junior botanist at the Federal Seed Laboratory in Washington, D.C. Bruce Thornton served on the Colorado State College faculty and the Agricultural Experiment Station staff from 1927-1962, and he headed the Colorado State Seed Laboratory from 1940-1961. They married in 1930, and when Bruce retired in 1961, Mildred took over the directorship of the State Seed Laboratory, where she had worked occasionally for 20 years.

For more information about the Thornton-Massa Lecture, visit