One of the most surprising things about the Trump White House is that Donald Trump never found a way to destroy the White House Kitchen Garden built by Michelle Obama. It was one of the first things Michelle did as First Lady, and the WH Kitchen Garden is so bountiful, the veggies are used for all of the White House meals and events, and the excess is given away to local public schools. One of the few things Melania Trump did when she finally moved to the White House was quietly assure everyone that Michelle’s garden was safe. Well, it’s still safe, but Melania is definitely trying to put her “personal stamp” on the White House grounds in general. Not only is she building a tennis pavilion, but now she’s redesigning the Rose Garden.
Melania Trump, the first lady, will announce a plan on Monday to renovate the White House Rose Garden, a signature showcase of power used by presidents for decades, as her husband enters a crucial stretch of his re-election effort. The project, which includes electrical upgrades for television appearances, a new walkway and new flowers and shrubs, is meant to be an “act of expressing hope and optimism for the future,” according to remarks Mrs. Trump plans to deliver to the Committee for the Preservation of the White House later Monday morning. “Our country has seen difficult times before, but the White House and the Rose Garden have always stood as a symbol of our strength, resilience and continuity.”
Mrs. Trump’s husband has not exactly focused on those principles during his many appearances in the Rose Garden, repeatedly breaking norms on how presidents use the space as it has become his preferred venue for announcing executive actions, boasting about the economy and extending political battles.
Mrs. Trump’s project is taking place as Mr. Trump is employing the so-called Rose Garden strategy, coined by political strategists to describe the tactics incumbent presidents use to bolster their campaign efforts: ceremonial signings, dedications, executive announcements and, yes, press availabilities in the Rose Garden. But with his campaign-rally-like appearances, Mr. Trump has pushed the boundaries further than his predecessors.
Mrs. Trump’s project, which will be supported by the National Park Service and funded by private donations, according to the White House, began in earnest last year and should take three weeks to complete, an administration official said. Updates to the electrical infrastructure will make it easier to televise the president. According to a landscape report submitted by the preservation committee and shared with The New York Times, the plan will also add two limestone walkways, one to the inner perimeter of the garden. The second, 85 feet long with a diamond pattern, will stretch from the Palm Room to the south grounds.
The plan will also replace crab apple trees with white rose shrubs and add new drainage systems. A new assortment of white “J.F.K.” and pale pink “peace” roses will also be planted.
From the way this sounds, it’s like Melania is just the face of a renovation which has been in the works or on the schedule for a while. Some presidents and first ladies don’t get much of a say in the renovations to the White House or grounds because they’re needed structurally or to improve functionality, which is what the Rose Garden reno sounds like. So… I’m not actually going to make fun of Melania for fiddling with rose bushes while the country is one big throbbing virus. I don’t think this was really her call. It’s just something that was given to her as a “project.” Something like “busy work.”
This is the only time she was photographed in Michelle’s vegetable garden, in 2017. She seemed to enjoy it.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Getty.