The historic Rose Garden of the White House is receiving an update for the first time in nearly 60 years. First Lady Melania Trump faced a backlash after revealing restoration plans on Monday, just a few months before the election, as coronavirus cases continue to rise in many states.
Mrs. Trump said she wants to return the garden to its original 1962 glory, when it was designed by Rachel Lambert Mellon, a friend of President John F. Kennedy. Mellon wrote that she was found inspiration during an October walk on Fifth Avenue in New York City, when she was amazed by the magnolia trees outside the Frick Museum.
Plans are already underway to restore the famous garden, the first lady said during a rare appearance Monday. It has not been renovated since the Kennedy era, but the announcement emphasized the need for a renovation after decades of use and modern updates, in order to “appreciate the elegant symmetry of the Mellon plan.”
“The very act of planting a garden involves hard work and hope for a bright future,” said Mrs. Trump in the announcement. “Preserving the history and beauty of the White House and its grounds is a testament to our nation’s commitment to caring for this landscape and our dedication to American ideals, protecting them for our children and their children for generations to come.”
The project is expected to be completed in about three weeks. Work has already begun, with tarps and curtains seen hanging from the west wing and the Oval Office, reports The Associated Press.
Perry Guillot, the landscape architect working on the project, told AP that the biggest change in the garden will be the addition of a 3-foot-wide limestone walking path that borders the central lawn.
The project will also make the garden more accessible to people with disabilities. Other changes will be made to drainage, infrastructure, plantations, and audiovisual and broadcasting technologies.
The Rose Garden, which borders the Oval Office and the West Wing, has been used for weddings, state dinners, and presidential press conferences, among other historical events. Mrs. Trump herself used the space to advertise it. ““in May 2018 and, more recently, President Donald Trump has used space to contain his coronavirus .
Following the announcement, “Marie Antoinette” set the trend on Twitter, comparing the First Lady to the French Queen for her announcement as millions of Americans are losingand .
“I wonder if Marie Antoinette rebuilt the gardens of Versailles when the revolution was coming,” writer Gary Legum tweeted.
“Marie Antoinette FULLY nodded at Melania Trump’s deaf tone tone if she still had her head,” writer Majid M. Padellan tweeted.
Ms. Trump has previously made changes to the Red Room, Blue Room, and White House Bowling Alley. She also faced backlash for announcing the construction of a privately funded tennis hall in South Lawn during the start of the pandemic.
She stepped back, tweeting at the time: “I encourage everyone who chooses to be negative and question my work at @WhiteHouse to take the time and contribute something good and productive in their own communities.”
The Rose Garden will be supervised by the National Park Service and will be paid for with private donations.