Sunday, May 15, 2011

The White House is Home to a Long Line of Serious Gardeners and Tree Lovers

In an article written by Melanie Choukas-Bradley, she describes the series of Presidents and First Ladies who have contributed to the beauty and essence of the national park known as President’s Park. This park, which is located on the grounds of the White House, has been considered a national park since 1933. The current collection of trees at the White House is comprised of 37 official commemorative tree plantings by presidents and first ladies. The collection of commemorative trees is mixed in with hundreds of other trees within the 18 fenced acres of the White House grounds. For many years it has been a tradition for presidents and their first ladies to add to President’s Park. Many of these additions were made to commemorate people or events, and others were planted out of shear appreciation for trees and gardens.

Thomas Jefferson was considered a passionate and highly accomplished horticulturist. According to White House Historical Association author Dr. William Seale, “The glory of the White House grounds would one day be its trees, and although none of Jefferson’s is known to survive, he started the tradition.” A quote from Jefferson states, “I wish I was a despot that I might save the noble, the beautiful trees that are daily falling sacrifices to the cupidity of their owners, or the necessity of the poor…The unnecessary felling of a tree, perhaps the growth of centuries, seems to me a crime little short of murder; it pains me to an unspeakable degree.”

In 1913 the first wife of Woodrow Wilson chose the site for America’s most historic garden when she planted roses outside of her husband’s West Wing office. However, John F. Kennedy was the one who inaugurated the modern-day Rose Garden and took a great interest in its growth. According to Wolf Von Eckardt, Washington Post architecture critic at the time, “He would always walk through it on his way to his office and back for lunch or dinner. …As his garden grew, so did his knowledge of its plants and wonders…It was the only thing he ever bragged about.” In 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis, President Kennedy described the Rose Garden as the “brightest spot in the somber surroundings of the last few days.” During Johnson’s administration, First Lady Bird Johnson chose to honor Jacqueline Kennedy by dedicating to her the garden just opposite the Rose Garden.

When Laura Bush was asked which of the White House trees was her favorite she replied, “The most magnificent is the Andrew Jackson magnolia.” This tree, which is actually two trees growing very closely together, is the oldest commemorative presidential tree at the White House. Andrew Jackson is said to have brought these trees from his home near Nashville and planted them at the White House as a way to remember his late wife Rachel.

Here is a list of the 41 trees and gardens planted by presidents and first ladies:

1. Purple Beech - George Bush (1991)
2. White Dogwood - Bill and Hillary Clinton (1996)
3. White Dogwood - Bill and Hillary Clinton (1995)
4. Patmore Ash - George Bush (1989)
5. Northern Red Oak - Dwight D. Eisenhower (1959)
6. Eastern Redbud - George Bush (1990)
7. Little-Leafed Linden - George Bush & Queen Elizabeth II (1991)
8. Willow Oak - Ronald Reagan (1988)
9. Silver Linden - George W. and Laura Bush (2008)
10. Jacqueline Kennedy Garden 1965
11. Southern Magnolia (2) - Andrew Jackson (1830)
12. Saucer Magnolia (4) - John F. Kennedy (1962)
13. Rose Garden (1913)
14. Willow Oak - Lyndon B. Johnson (1964)
15. Little-Leafed Linden - Bill Clinton (1993)
16. Pin Oak - Dwight D. Eisenhower (1958)
17. Little-Leafed Linden - George W. and Laura Bush (2003)
18. White Oak - Herbert Hoover (1931)
19. Cedar of Lebanon - Jimmy Carter (1978)
20. Cutleaf Silver Maple - George W. and Laura Bush (2001)
21. White Dogwood (3) - Hillary Rodham Clinton (1994)
22. Children’s Garden (1969)
23. American Elm - Bill and Hillary Clinton (1993)
24. Japanese Maple - Frances Folsom Cleveland (1893)
25. White House Kitchen Garden (2009)
26. Japanese Maple - Rosalyn Carter (1978)
27. Willow Oak - Bill and Hillary Clinton (1993)
28.White Oak - Herbert Hoover (1931)
29. American Elm - John Q. Adams (1826, replaced B.Bush1991)
30. Southern Magnolia - Franklin D. Roosevelt (1942)
31. Southern Magnolia - Warren G. Harding (1922 replaced 1947)
32. White Oak - Franklin D. Roosevelt (1935)
33. Little-Leafed Linden - Barack Obama (2009)
34. Red Maple - Jimmy Carter (1977)
35. White Saucer Magnolia - Nancy Reagan (1982)
36. English and American Boxwood* - Harry S. Truman (1952)
37. Jefferson (American) Elm - George W. and Laura Bush (2006)
38. American Elm - Betty Ford (1975)
39. Fern Leaf Beech - Lady Bird Johnson (1968)
40. Fern Leaf Beech - Patricia Nixon (1972, replaced 2005)
41. Sugar Maple - Ronald Reagan (1984)

1 comment:

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