Thursday, October 15, 2009

Weekend Fall Gardens Tour at 1600

Just outside the Oval Office and the Cabinet
Room the Rose Garden in fall bloom.  Most only see the grass during
press conferences but the area is trimmed in trees , pruned hedges and
a variety of flowers and of course, Roses.  Photo courtesy The Los Angeles Times

In November 2008, President Bush and President-elect Obama walk past a gorgeous visage of fall roses and flora on the West Colonnade past the Rose Garden.

Pat Nixon started the idea of a garden tour for the White House.  These 18 acres are one of the glowing crown jewels of the National Park System.  For two days each fall and spring the White House opens its doors to the public to see and tour the botanical landscape in two vastly different seasons, yet with stunning blooms. Someday I will actually arrange to take this tour and stand outside and wait for my first come first serve ticket on the Ellipse. (Fall 2008 Rose Garden courtesy all natural annie)

Burnished autumn leaves and bountiful cornucopias herald the arrival of the fall season.  Michelle Obama's bees are slowing down. The first lady has her resident carpenter/beekeeper to thank for granting her the ability to bestow a unique White House gift of homegrown local honey upon the G20 wives for her debut as international hostess.  One can only goggle what her honey would go for on the open market on eBay.  Yet, the tranquility of fall is a beautiful time at the White House as the crisp air warns of the coming holiday season and the upcoming social season in the executive mansion.  Now is the last time for 2009 to take in the tour - weather permitting, of the White House in its seasonal splendor.  Perhaps, there may be other tours once the holiday decorations go up but that is for the inside of the manor.  October 17th and 18th are the days set aside to bask in the air outdoors to view the blooms in the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden, Rose Garden, Children's Garden, the South Lawn and a better look than the spring of Michelle Obama's Kitchen Garden.

The pergola is just barely visible where a great place to sit and contemplate or host a tea party in the gardens on the East side of the White House with the perfectly shaped topiary trees.
Vivid blooms will be found in the East Garden, more formally known as the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden.  The Children's Garden with its climbing tree, little iron sitting spots and the cement preserved hand prints of presidential kin is charming.  It leads to the garden most discussed around the world, Michelle Obama's Kitchen Garden.  That garden is only eight months old and produced a bumper crop of greens and vegetables that made it to the family plates and in salads a number of guests consumed, including members of congress.  On the White House website, Michelle Obama and chef Sam Kass give an overview of the idea and their thoughts about eating locally. 

Tuesday was Latina Fiesta night for an Evening at the White House performance broadcast tonight on PBS.  As a chef with two successful restaurants in New Jersey his menu blended Latin foods from a variety of geographical zones and ethnic identity.  The rare oooh & ahh moment came for Chef Maricel Presilla as he was able to go to the Kitchen Garden and harvest greens, tomatillos for spicy pepper sauce and use some of the honey.  Part of the bumper crop from the White House gets donated to a local nonprofit to feed the hungry and the homeless.  Its popularity leads to Michelle Obama kicking off the 40th season of Sesame Street on November 10th talking about gardens and local food.  It is this garden that many in the public are anxious to get a closer look atm but it is strictly look, don't touch.  You would be eating Malia & Sasha's food for next week!

This is the Children's Garden during a spring Garden tour.  The little ones are fascinated by the handprints of many of the first children started by President & Ladybird Johnson and the fish pond.

Handprints in the Children's Garden flagstone of President & Barbara Bush's granddaughters done during his time in office and not while their parents were in the White House.  Photo courtesy the Bush White House (We do not know if Sasha & Malia did their handprints over the summer - maybe someone on the tour can report back and let us know!)
It would not be the White House, rich with presidents who were farmers first, to not tie in famous quotes on the land and its use.  Thomas Jefferson rotated crops and found good crop yields at Monticello.  He brought the idea of the formal English style gardens to the White House along with the colonnades as an eighteenth century garage for horses.The magnolia tree planted by Andrew Jackson, the trees dedicated by President and Mrs. Hillary Clinton, the South Lawn treehouse loving built by grandpa, otherwise known around the world as President Jimmy Carter.

This is the Thomas Jefferson quote placed in the Obama Kitchen Garden by the White House culinary staff.  Photo courtesy Obama Foodorama.
The garden tour is almost forty years old now.  It is a ticket that will take advantage of seeing the White House scenery at its best for fall. Here is the link to the Spring Garden tour, exactly 6 months ago, Gardens of the White House.


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