W. Atlee Burpee
Sowing Seeds to Remain Close to its Roots
By Ilene Dube
If you’re a gardener, have ever planted a single seed, or even knew of someone who planted a single seed or read a book about such a person, you’ve undoubtedly heard of the Burpee Seed Company.
Fordhook Farm, Doylestown, Pa. (Smithsonian Postal Museum)
What you may not have known was that founder W. Atlee Burpee started the company in nearby Philadelphia. In fact his Fordhook Farm, on 60 acres in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It operated as an inn for a number of years, and was the subject of an Architectural Digest feature in 2001, but is now a site where vegetables, annuals, and perennials are grown, tested, and evaluated. This year there are three days it is open: on June 21 for the International Master Gardener Conference; and on August 10 and October 5 for public viewing. (For further details, visit www.gardenconservancy.org.)
The Burpees were a well-established Philadelphia family descended from French Canadian Huguenots. The original family name, Beaupe, evolved with an Americanized spelling and pronunciation over the course of several generations. more