A new book explores a collection of stories behind the nation’s most notable grounds: the White House gardens. Can you imagine the scrutiny of planting a presidential garden? Discover this amazing world of Presidential gardens with Design Limited Edition.
The presidential gardens have long captivated the public imagination. Now, Marta McDowell’s All the Presidents’ Gardens explores the untold stories of America’s best-known lawn. Here, we share ten interesting facts about the White House gardens and other presidential plots, revealed in the book.
1. At Mount Vernon, George Washington’s Virginia home, the president planted so many roses that it took 12 days each June to pick the petals, which his wife, Martha, distilled into rosewater.
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2. Thomas Jefferson scaled back the presidential gardens, an act he felt would reinforce his ideas about small government. He cut off more than 70 acres that were part of the presidential palace, designating the area as a more democratic public common.
3. Dolly Madison was not inclined to garden but she may have invented the flower crown.
4. James Madison planted the first documented presidential vegetable garden. At the time, presidents paid the expenses of feeding guests out of their own pockets, and Madison’s list of seeds to purchase included several varieties of cabbages and radishes, as well as carrots, beets, parsnips, broccoli, and more.
5. John Quincy Adams had a thing for trees. He collected chestnuts and elm samaras, planted them, and monitored their growth.
6. John Watt, the head gardener during Abraham Lincoln’s administration, and Mary Lincoln became enmeshed in garden-related fraud. To support her expensive shopping habit, Watt would often pad the bills to give her a little extra spending money, meaning the manure fund often assisted with the acquisition of china, crystal, wallpaper, carpets, and paint.
7. During the Clinton administration, a series of sculptures was installed in the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden in homage to Bill and Hillary’s first date, in which they walked through a Henry Moore exhibition in a sculpture yard.
8. Under president Woodrow Wilson, a herd of twenty Hampshire sheep kept the White House lawn closely shorn while much of the nation’s workforce was off at war. Ninety-eight pounds of wool was shorn from that flock and auctioned to benefit the American Red Cross.
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9. During the Obama administration, White House carpenter Charlie Brandt created the first White House beehives on record.
10. Irvin Williams, head gardener during the first Bush administration, created inventive ways of keeping pests from entering the garden: Fertilizer laced with Louisiana hot sauce discouraged moles and voles, and baskets of Georgia peanuts were strapped to tree trunks to distract marauding squirrels from the precisely planted tulip bulbs.
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