Efforts to erase the Trump family legacy have reached the White House potting sheds and nurseries with Jill Biden being urged to restore the mansion’s garden to a state that predates ex-First Lady Melania Trump’s 2019 makeover.
An online petition calling on the first lady to return the Rose Garden to its “former glory” has been signed by more than 54,000 people. The petition says Biden’s predecessor “had the cherry trees, a gift from Japan, removed as well as the rest of the foliage and replaced with a boring tribute to herself”.
Restorationists urge that the garden be returned to a state that was created in the early 1960s by Jacqueline Kennedy with the help of famed designer Bunny Mellon.
“Jackie’s legacy was ripped away from Americans who remembered all that the Kennedys meant to us,” the petition reads, and notes that her husband, the president, had said that “the White House had no garden equal in quality or attractiveness to the gardens that he had seen and in which he had been entertained in Europe.”
In July 2020, as her husband fought for re-election and the coronavirus pandemic raged, Trump announced that her renovation project, which included electrical upgrades for television appearances, a new walkway and new flowers and shrubs, would be an “act of expressing hope and optimism for the future”.
The changes to the garden were the first since Michelle Obama initiated a project in 2009 to dig up an 1,100 square foot plot on the South Lawn adjacent to the tennis courts for a vegetable garden.
The plan included replacing crab apple trees, introducing a new assortment of white “JFK” and pale pink “peace” roses, and a new drainage system. “In a way, the metaphor of openness and improved access became our overall plan concept,” wrote Perry Guillot, the landscape architect overseeing the project.
But the renovation met with criticism focused on Trump’s decision to go ahead with her project during the Covid-19 pandemic. There is no indication, as yet, that Jill Biden plans to act on the petition’s recommendations.
On Thursday, her husband was spotted by the White House press corps picking a dandelion for his wife from the White House lawn before they boarded a helicopter.
A day later, on Friday, the first lady commemorated Arbor Day by planting a linden tree on the north lawn of the White House. Her press office said it was to replace one removed last month that was deemed a risk and had not been planted by a historical figure.
“Who doesn’t plant trees in high heels?” she said.
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