Saturday, April 18, 2009

Gardens of the White House

Today and tomorrow the White House is holding a garden party of sorts with a first come, first served Spring Tour from 10 am to 4pm. Beautiful timing as the colorful blooms are experiencing a peak blossoming period with cherry trees filling in handsomely. Very picturesque were the Obamas, with one member of the family on a leash, as they took a very public frolic across the rolling South Lawn on Tuesday. The day before, that same White House Lawn hosted the Easter Monday Egg Roll with almost 30,000 pairs of feet, big and small, running and rolling across it all day with scads of green picket fences marking paths. (Top L Photo from Lafayette Park showing North Portico, Top R - Rose garden, Photo Malia Obama out for first public dog walk/run)

As the tour goes through the boxwood hedges of the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden, dedicated as a floral tribute on April 22, 1965 by our first Environmental Activist First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson, in honor of all of Mrs.Kennedy's award winning work in preserving the history and artifacts of the White House, the precision and and the layering of the gardenwill be awesome. It is quite the spot for First Lady tea parties. Mrs. Hillary Clinton turned it into a statuary art project surrounded by hollyhocks.

Little known is Jackie Kennedy's other excavation project at the White House. The beautiful Rose Garden as the outdoor green Oval Office we all know today shows her and the president's landscape design work. Caroline used to ride by on her pony Macaroni as the bulldozers ripped the area out to compose the garden. So in a manner, on the White House's East Wing, The Jacqueline Kennedy Garden is an elegant balance to the majesty of the Rose Garden outside the West Wing. The white cast iron Rococo Revival bench shown often in photographs of the garden has held residence in the spot since a decade before President & Mary Todd Lincoln took up residence.

Mrs. Obama's new circa 2009 Victory Garden will not be a feature on the tour. It can be glimpsed on the tour, but probably a little better opportunity is the wrought iron fence as its closer towards the fountain. I would love to get in the dirt in that garden and discover the secrets of the White House compost pile. But hidden before Michelle's new Garden is the child friendly and charming Children's Garden. Malia & Sasha, maybe Bo, will get to do the honors soon of placing their prints next to the other children and grandchildren of presidents for posterity. The Children's Garden is the invention of President Lyndon Baines Johnson. It sits between the Tennis Court and the basketball half court.

(Photo courtesy of White House Museum/Erinzone)


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