Design and Horticulture
The White House Rose Garden was established in 1913 by Ellen Loise Axson Wilson, wife of Woodrow Wilson, on the site of a previous colonial garden established by First Lady Edith Roosevelt (wife of Theodore Roosevelt) in 1902. Prior to 1902, there were extensive stables, housing horses and coaches, located on the grounds of the present-day Oval Office, Cabinet Room, and Rose Garden. During the 1902 Roosevelt renovation, First Lady Edith Roosevelt insisted on a proper colonial garden to help replace the conservatory rose house that had stood here. In 1961, during the John F. Kennedy administration, the garden was redesigned by Rachel Lambert Mellon. Mellon created a space with a more defined central lawn, bordered by flower beds planted in a French style, but largely using American botanical specimens. The present garden follows a layout established by Mellon. Each flower bed is planted with a series of 'Katherine' crabapples and Littleleaf lindens bordered by a low diamond shaped hedges of thyme. The outer edge of the flower bed facing the central lawn is edged with boxwood. The four corners of the garden are punctuated by Magnolia × soulangeana; these specimens were found growing along the Tidal Basin by Mellon. Roses are the primary flowering plants in the garden and include large numbers of "Queen Elizabeth" grandiflora roses, and the tea roses "Pascale," "Pat Nixon," and "King's Ransom." A shrub rose, "Nevada Rose" adds a cool note of white. Seasonal flowers are interspersed to add nearly year round color. Spring blooming bulbs planted in the rose garden include jonquil, daffodil, fritillaria, grape hyacinth, tulips, chionodoxa and squill. Summer blooming annuals change yearly. In the fall chrysanthemum and flowering kale bring color until early winter.
Official and informal use
The phrase "Rose Garden strategy" (such as a re-election strategy) refers to staying inside or on the grounds of the White House as opposed to traveling throughout the country. For example, Jimmy Carter's initial efforts to end the Iran hostage crisis (1979–1981) were a Rose Garden strategy because he mostly held discussions with his close advisers in the White House. On July 25, 1994 a declaration of peace between Israel and Jordan was signed in the Rose Garden.
Although the Rose Garden is used frequently to greet distinguished visitors and for special ceremonies and public statements, the contemplative setting is often a very personal and private place for the President. In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt commissioned Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. to redesign the gardens, and he installed cast iron furniture pieces.
Front porch campaign
- History of the White House Gardens and Grounds
- Additional pictures of the Rose Garden at the White House Museum