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10 Surprising Facts About The White House Vegetable Garden

10 Surprising Facts About The White House Vegetable Garden

The White House is a pretty amazing place. But what happens outside its doors — on the South Lawn, to be exact — also has an impact. It’s the White House Vegetable Garden, and we bet there’s a lot you don’t know about it.

10 Surprising Facts About The White House Vegetable Garden (Slideshow)

The White House’s garden dates back all the way to 1800, when its first tenants, President John Adams and first lady Abigail, decided to grow fruits and vegetables on their own property instead of buying them at local markets. Thomas Jefferson followed him up by adding fruit trees and a flower garden, and John Quincy Adams added more trees, herbs, and vegetables. Andrew Jackson built a hothouse, which was later replaced by a greenhouse, and the garden was a necessity when food rationing made its way to the White House during World War I. Later, during World War II, the Roosevelts planted a victory garden on the property in solidarity with the war effort.

Since then, however, the White House gardens have laid fallow. Jimmy Carter, who was himself a gardener, wasn’t interested in getting his green thumb back while in office, and even though the Clintons were interested in planting a vegetable garden on the grounds, they had to resort to planting a small one on the roof after their requests were denied (it was deemed that a vegetable garden went against the grounds’ formal nature); if they end up moving back into the mansion next year, their garden will be ready and waiting for them.

But when the Obamas moved into the White House in 2009, Michelle wasted no time in setting up the first garden since World War II on the mansion’s grounds. The 1,100-square-foot White House Kitchen Garden is located on the South Lawn, and more than 55 vegetable varieties are grown there and served at the White House, including spinach, chard, kale, lettuce, arugula, cilantro, chile peppers, and tomatillos. Heirloom vegetables and 10 different herbs are also planted here. It’s presided over by the White House’s chef and gardener, and has become a cause célèbre of sorts for Michelle, who uses it to highlight the positive benefits of eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, eating home-cooked meals, and of being more connected to your food sources. She’s even published a book about it, called American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America. Read on to learn 10 surprising facts about the garden.


Background: The White House Gardens and Grounds

In the spring, cherry blossoms bloom, and the landscape of the White House is filled with stunning greenery. In the fall, trees at the White House reflect the changing season by turning beautiful shades of yellow, orange and red, providing a wonderful opportunity to admire the foliage, gardens, and nature surrounding the Executive Mansion.

Interview Opportunity:

Facts about the White House Grounds:

  • One chestnut oak just southeast of the White House may be older than the mansion itself. Chestnut oaks of similar diameter have been found to be over 300 years old. If the tree proves to be similarly old, it would be the only living thing to have seen the comings and goings of every American president since John Adams became the first to occupy the home on November 1, 1800.
  • Thomas Jefferson was the first president with the time and resources to improve the White House gardens and grounds. He organized the grounds and created a barrier against unhealthy swamps. He also leveled out the ground on which the White House was built. Many of his improvements defined the landscape until a decade after the Civil War.
  • President Rutherford B. Hayes began the tradition of planting commemorative trees in the 1870s. Today, the South Lawn features more than three dozen special commemorative trees, which contribute to the wonderful fall foliage of the White House.
  • James Buchanan completed a glass conservatory in 1857 above the West Colonnade. By the turn of the twentieth century, the conservatory had expanded to nine service buildings, including a grapery, fern house, orchid house, geranium house, and rose house. These greenhouses stood until 1902 when they were removed to allow room for the Temporary Executive Office Building, known today as the West Wing.
  • To encourage Americans to conserve resources for the war effort, President Woodrow Wilson replaced lawn mowers with a flock of sheep. Additionally, the flock’s wool was auctioned off to raise funds for the Red Cross.
  • In 1943, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt announced the planting of a victory garden for the White House grounds. 10-year-old Diana Hopkins, who lived at the White House from 1940-1943 with her father Harry Hopkins, a friend and advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, tended to the new garden.
  • President John F. Kennedy asked family friend and celebrated horticulturalist Rachel Lambert “Bunny” Mellon if she would redesign the White House gardens. She oversaw the redesign of the now famous Rose Garden outside the Oval Office, but work on the East Garden was delayed by the assassination of President Kennedy. First Lady “Lady Bird” Johnson called on Bunny Mellon to finish the work, dedicating the garden to her predecessor Mrs. Kennedy.
  • On March 20, 2009, First Lady Michelle Obama created a 1,100-square-foot garden on the South Grounds. During her time in the White House, Mrs. Obama invited children to plant and harvest seasonal vegetables and herbs, teaching them about nutrition and healthy eating.
  • First Lady Melania Trump has continued cultivating the garden and inviting children to help plant vegetables for White House events. The unused produce is donated to local foodbanks and charities in Washington, D.C.

Background: The White House Gardens and Grounds

In the spring, cherry blossoms bloom, and the landscape of the White House is filled with stunning greenery. In the fall, trees at the White House reflect the changing season by turning beautiful shades of yellow, orange and red, providing a wonderful opportunity to admire the foliage, gardens, and nature surrounding the Executive Mansion.

Interview Opportunity:

Facts about the White House Grounds:

  • One chestnut oak just southeast of the White House may be older than the mansion itself. Chestnut oaks of similar diameter have been found to be over 300 years old. If the tree proves to be similarly old, it would be the only living thing to have seen the comings and goings of every American president since John Adams became the first to occupy the home on November 1, 1800.
  • Thomas Jefferson was the first president with the time and resources to improve the White House gardens and grounds. He organized the grounds and created a barrier against unhealthy swamps. He also leveled out the ground on which the White House was built. Many of his improvements defined the landscape until a decade after the Civil War.
  • President Rutherford B. Hayes began the tradition of planting commemorative trees in the 1870s. Today, the South Lawn features more than three dozen special commemorative trees, which contribute to the wonderful fall foliage of the White House.
  • James Buchanan completed a glass conservatory in 1857 above the West Colonnade. By the turn of the twentieth century, the conservatory had expanded to nine service buildings, including a grapery, fern house, orchid house, geranium house, and rose house. These greenhouses stood until 1902 when they were removed to allow room for the Temporary Executive Office Building, known today as the West Wing.
  • To encourage Americans to conserve resources for the war effort, President Woodrow Wilson replaced lawn mowers with a flock of sheep. Additionally, the flock’s wool was auctioned off to raise funds for the Red Cross.
  • In 1943, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt announced the planting of a victory garden for the White House grounds. 10-year-old Diana Hopkins, who lived at the White House from 1940-1943 with her father Harry Hopkins, a friend and advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, tended to the new garden.
  • President John F. Kennedy asked family friend and celebrated horticulturalist Rachel Lambert “Bunny” Mellon if she would redesign the White House gardens. She oversaw the redesign of the now famous Rose Garden outside the Oval Office, but work on the East Garden was delayed by the assassination of President Kennedy. First Lady “Lady Bird” Johnson called on Bunny Mellon to finish the work, dedicating the garden to her predecessor Mrs. Kennedy.
  • On March 20, 2009, First Lady Michelle Obama created a 1,100-square-foot garden on the South Grounds. During her time in the White House, Mrs. Obama invited children to plant and harvest seasonal vegetables and herbs, teaching them about nutrition and healthy eating.
  • First Lady Melania Trump has continued cultivating the garden and inviting children to help plant vegetables for White House events. The unused produce is donated to local foodbanks and charities in Washington, D.C.

Background: The White House Gardens and Grounds

In the spring, cherry blossoms bloom, and the landscape of the White House is filled with stunning greenery. In the fall, trees at the White House reflect the changing season by turning beautiful shades of yellow, orange and red, providing a wonderful opportunity to admire the foliage, gardens, and nature surrounding the Executive Mansion.

Interview Opportunity:

Facts about the White House Grounds:

  • One chestnut oak just southeast of the White House may be older than the mansion itself. Chestnut oaks of similar diameter have been found to be over 300 years old. If the tree proves to be similarly old, it would be the only living thing to have seen the comings and goings of every American president since John Adams became the first to occupy the home on November 1, 1800.
  • Thomas Jefferson was the first president with the time and resources to improve the White House gardens and grounds. He organized the grounds and created a barrier against unhealthy swamps. He also leveled out the ground on which the White House was built. Many of his improvements defined the landscape until a decade after the Civil War.
  • President Rutherford B. Hayes began the tradition of planting commemorative trees in the 1870s. Today, the South Lawn features more than three dozen special commemorative trees, which contribute to the wonderful fall foliage of the White House.
  • James Buchanan completed a glass conservatory in 1857 above the West Colonnade. By the turn of the twentieth century, the conservatory had expanded to nine service buildings, including a grapery, fern house, orchid house, geranium house, and rose house. These greenhouses stood until 1902 when they were removed to allow room for the Temporary Executive Office Building, known today as the West Wing.
  • To encourage Americans to conserve resources for the war effort, President Woodrow Wilson replaced lawn mowers with a flock of sheep. Additionally, the flock’s wool was auctioned off to raise funds for the Red Cross.
  • In 1943, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt announced the planting of a victory garden for the White House grounds. 10-year-old Diana Hopkins, who lived at the White House from 1940-1943 with her father Harry Hopkins, a friend and advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, tended to the new garden.
  • President John F. Kennedy asked family friend and celebrated horticulturalist Rachel Lambert “Bunny” Mellon if she would redesign the White House gardens. She oversaw the redesign of the now famous Rose Garden outside the Oval Office, but work on the East Garden was delayed by the assassination of President Kennedy. First Lady “Lady Bird” Johnson called on Bunny Mellon to finish the work, dedicating the garden to her predecessor Mrs. Kennedy.
  • On March 20, 2009, First Lady Michelle Obama created a 1,100-square-foot garden on the South Grounds. During her time in the White House, Mrs. Obama invited children to plant and harvest seasonal vegetables and herbs, teaching them about nutrition and healthy eating.
  • First Lady Melania Trump has continued cultivating the garden and inviting children to help plant vegetables for White House events. The unused produce is donated to local foodbanks and charities in Washington, D.C.

Background: The White House Gardens and Grounds

In the spring, cherry blossoms bloom, and the landscape of the White House is filled with stunning greenery. In the fall, trees at the White House reflect the changing season by turning beautiful shades of yellow, orange and red, providing a wonderful opportunity to admire the foliage, gardens, and nature surrounding the Executive Mansion.

Interview Opportunity:

Facts about the White House Grounds:

  • One chestnut oak just southeast of the White House may be older than the mansion itself. Chestnut oaks of similar diameter have been found to be over 300 years old. If the tree proves to be similarly old, it would be the only living thing to have seen the comings and goings of every American president since John Adams became the first to occupy the home on November 1, 1800.
  • Thomas Jefferson was the first president with the time and resources to improve the White House gardens and grounds. He organized the grounds and created a barrier against unhealthy swamps. He also leveled out the ground on which the White House was built. Many of his improvements defined the landscape until a decade after the Civil War.
  • President Rutherford B. Hayes began the tradition of planting commemorative trees in the 1870s. Today, the South Lawn features more than three dozen special commemorative trees, which contribute to the wonderful fall foliage of the White House.
  • James Buchanan completed a glass conservatory in 1857 above the West Colonnade. By the turn of the twentieth century, the conservatory had expanded to nine service buildings, including a grapery, fern house, orchid house, geranium house, and rose house. These greenhouses stood until 1902 when they were removed to allow room for the Temporary Executive Office Building, known today as the West Wing.
  • To encourage Americans to conserve resources for the war effort, President Woodrow Wilson replaced lawn mowers with a flock of sheep. Additionally, the flock’s wool was auctioned off to raise funds for the Red Cross.
  • In 1943, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt announced the planting of a victory garden for the White House grounds. 10-year-old Diana Hopkins, who lived at the White House from 1940-1943 with her father Harry Hopkins, a friend and advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, tended to the new garden.
  • President John F. Kennedy asked family friend and celebrated horticulturalist Rachel Lambert “Bunny” Mellon if she would redesign the White House gardens. She oversaw the redesign of the now famous Rose Garden outside the Oval Office, but work on the East Garden was delayed by the assassination of President Kennedy. First Lady “Lady Bird” Johnson called on Bunny Mellon to finish the work, dedicating the garden to her predecessor Mrs. Kennedy.
  • On March 20, 2009, First Lady Michelle Obama created a 1,100-square-foot garden on the South Grounds. During her time in the White House, Mrs. Obama invited children to plant and harvest seasonal vegetables and herbs, teaching them about nutrition and healthy eating.
  • First Lady Melania Trump has continued cultivating the garden and inviting children to help plant vegetables for White House events. The unused produce is donated to local foodbanks and charities in Washington, D.C.

Background: The White House Gardens and Grounds

In the spring, cherry blossoms bloom, and the landscape of the White House is filled with stunning greenery. In the fall, trees at the White House reflect the changing season by turning beautiful shades of yellow, orange and red, providing a wonderful opportunity to admire the foliage, gardens, and nature surrounding the Executive Mansion.

Interview Opportunity:

Facts about the White House Grounds:

  • One chestnut oak just southeast of the White House may be older than the mansion itself. Chestnut oaks of similar diameter have been found to be over 300 years old. If the tree proves to be similarly old, it would be the only living thing to have seen the comings and goings of every American president since John Adams became the first to occupy the home on November 1, 1800.
  • Thomas Jefferson was the first president with the time and resources to improve the White House gardens and grounds. He organized the grounds and created a barrier against unhealthy swamps. He also leveled out the ground on which the White House was built. Many of his improvements defined the landscape until a decade after the Civil War.
  • President Rutherford B. Hayes began the tradition of planting commemorative trees in the 1870s. Today, the South Lawn features more than three dozen special commemorative trees, which contribute to the wonderful fall foliage of the White House.
  • James Buchanan completed a glass conservatory in 1857 above the West Colonnade. By the turn of the twentieth century, the conservatory had expanded to nine service buildings, including a grapery, fern house, orchid house, geranium house, and rose house. These greenhouses stood until 1902 when they were removed to allow room for the Temporary Executive Office Building, known today as the West Wing.
  • To encourage Americans to conserve resources for the war effort, President Woodrow Wilson replaced lawn mowers with a flock of sheep. Additionally, the flock’s wool was auctioned off to raise funds for the Red Cross.
  • In 1943, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt announced the planting of a victory garden for the White House grounds. 10-year-old Diana Hopkins, who lived at the White House from 1940-1943 with her father Harry Hopkins, a friend and advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, tended to the new garden.
  • President John F. Kennedy asked family friend and celebrated horticulturalist Rachel Lambert “Bunny” Mellon if she would redesign the White House gardens. She oversaw the redesign of the now famous Rose Garden outside the Oval Office, but work on the East Garden was delayed by the assassination of President Kennedy. First Lady “Lady Bird” Johnson called on Bunny Mellon to finish the work, dedicating the garden to her predecessor Mrs. Kennedy.
  • On March 20, 2009, First Lady Michelle Obama created a 1,100-square-foot garden on the South Grounds. During her time in the White House, Mrs. Obama invited children to plant and harvest seasonal vegetables and herbs, teaching them about nutrition and healthy eating.
  • First Lady Melania Trump has continued cultivating the garden and inviting children to help plant vegetables for White House events. The unused produce is donated to local foodbanks and charities in Washington, D.C.

Background: The White House Gardens and Grounds

In the spring, cherry blossoms bloom, and the landscape of the White House is filled with stunning greenery. In the fall, trees at the White House reflect the changing season by turning beautiful shades of yellow, orange and red, providing a wonderful opportunity to admire the foliage, gardens, and nature surrounding the Executive Mansion.

Interview Opportunity:

Facts about the White House Grounds:

  • One chestnut oak just southeast of the White House may be older than the mansion itself. Chestnut oaks of similar diameter have been found to be over 300 years old. If the tree proves to be similarly old, it would be the only living thing to have seen the comings and goings of every American president since John Adams became the first to occupy the home on November 1, 1800.
  • Thomas Jefferson was the first president with the time and resources to improve the White House gardens and grounds. He organized the grounds and created a barrier against unhealthy swamps. He also leveled out the ground on which the White House was built. Many of his improvements defined the landscape until a decade after the Civil War.
  • President Rutherford B. Hayes began the tradition of planting commemorative trees in the 1870s. Today, the South Lawn features more than three dozen special commemorative trees, which contribute to the wonderful fall foliage of the White House.
  • James Buchanan completed a glass conservatory in 1857 above the West Colonnade. By the turn of the twentieth century, the conservatory had expanded to nine service buildings, including a grapery, fern house, orchid house, geranium house, and rose house. These greenhouses stood until 1902 when they were removed to allow room for the Temporary Executive Office Building, known today as the West Wing.
  • To encourage Americans to conserve resources for the war effort, President Woodrow Wilson replaced lawn mowers with a flock of sheep. Additionally, the flock’s wool was auctioned off to raise funds for the Red Cross.
  • In 1943, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt announced the planting of a victory garden for the White House grounds. 10-year-old Diana Hopkins, who lived at the White House from 1940-1943 with her father Harry Hopkins, a friend and advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, tended to the new garden.
  • President John F. Kennedy asked family friend and celebrated horticulturalist Rachel Lambert “Bunny” Mellon if she would redesign the White House gardens. She oversaw the redesign of the now famous Rose Garden outside the Oval Office, but work on the East Garden was delayed by the assassination of President Kennedy. First Lady “Lady Bird” Johnson called on Bunny Mellon to finish the work, dedicating the garden to her predecessor Mrs. Kennedy.
  • On March 20, 2009, First Lady Michelle Obama created a 1,100-square-foot garden on the South Grounds. During her time in the White House, Mrs. Obama invited children to plant and harvest seasonal vegetables and herbs, teaching them about nutrition and healthy eating.
  • First Lady Melania Trump has continued cultivating the garden and inviting children to help plant vegetables for White House events. The unused produce is donated to local foodbanks and charities in Washington, D.C.

Background: The White House Gardens and Grounds

In the spring, cherry blossoms bloom, and the landscape of the White House is filled with stunning greenery. In the fall, trees at the White House reflect the changing season by turning beautiful shades of yellow, orange and red, providing a wonderful opportunity to admire the foliage, gardens, and nature surrounding the Executive Mansion.

Interview Opportunity:

Facts about the White House Grounds:

  • One chestnut oak just southeast of the White House may be older than the mansion itself. Chestnut oaks of similar diameter have been found to be over 300 years old. If the tree proves to be similarly old, it would be the only living thing to have seen the comings and goings of every American president since John Adams became the first to occupy the home on November 1, 1800.
  • Thomas Jefferson was the first president with the time and resources to improve the White House gardens and grounds. He organized the grounds and created a barrier against unhealthy swamps. He also leveled out the ground on which the White House was built. Many of his improvements defined the landscape until a decade after the Civil War.
  • President Rutherford B. Hayes began the tradition of planting commemorative trees in the 1870s. Today, the South Lawn features more than three dozen special commemorative trees, which contribute to the wonderful fall foliage of the White House.
  • James Buchanan completed a glass conservatory in 1857 above the West Colonnade. By the turn of the twentieth century, the conservatory had expanded to nine service buildings, including a grapery, fern house, orchid house, geranium house, and rose house. These greenhouses stood until 1902 when they were removed to allow room for the Temporary Executive Office Building, known today as the West Wing.
  • To encourage Americans to conserve resources for the war effort, President Woodrow Wilson replaced lawn mowers with a flock of sheep. Additionally, the flock’s wool was auctioned off to raise funds for the Red Cross.
  • In 1943, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt announced the planting of a victory garden for the White House grounds. 10-year-old Diana Hopkins, who lived at the White House from 1940-1943 with her father Harry Hopkins, a friend and advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, tended to the new garden.
  • President John F. Kennedy asked family friend and celebrated horticulturalist Rachel Lambert “Bunny” Mellon if she would redesign the White House gardens. She oversaw the redesign of the now famous Rose Garden outside the Oval Office, but work on the East Garden was delayed by the assassination of President Kennedy. First Lady “Lady Bird” Johnson called on Bunny Mellon to finish the work, dedicating the garden to her predecessor Mrs. Kennedy.
  • On March 20, 2009, First Lady Michelle Obama created a 1,100-square-foot garden on the South Grounds. During her time in the White House, Mrs. Obama invited children to plant and harvest seasonal vegetables and herbs, teaching them about nutrition and healthy eating.
  • First Lady Melania Trump has continued cultivating the garden and inviting children to help plant vegetables for White House events. The unused produce is donated to local foodbanks and charities in Washington, D.C.

Background: The White House Gardens and Grounds

In the spring, cherry blossoms bloom, and the landscape of the White House is filled with stunning greenery. In the fall, trees at the White House reflect the changing season by turning beautiful shades of yellow, orange and red, providing a wonderful opportunity to admire the foliage, gardens, and nature surrounding the Executive Mansion.

Interview Opportunity:

Facts about the White House Grounds:

  • One chestnut oak just southeast of the White House may be older than the mansion itself. Chestnut oaks of similar diameter have been found to be over 300 years old. If the tree proves to be similarly old, it would be the only living thing to have seen the comings and goings of every American president since John Adams became the first to occupy the home on November 1, 1800.
  • Thomas Jefferson was the first president with the time and resources to improve the White House gardens and grounds. He organized the grounds and created a barrier against unhealthy swamps. He also leveled out the ground on which the White House was built. Many of his improvements defined the landscape until a decade after the Civil War.
  • President Rutherford B. Hayes began the tradition of planting commemorative trees in the 1870s. Today, the South Lawn features more than three dozen special commemorative trees, which contribute to the wonderful fall foliage of the White House.
  • James Buchanan completed a glass conservatory in 1857 above the West Colonnade. By the turn of the twentieth century, the conservatory had expanded to nine service buildings, including a grapery, fern house, orchid house, geranium house, and rose house. These greenhouses stood until 1902 when they were removed to allow room for the Temporary Executive Office Building, known today as the West Wing.
  • To encourage Americans to conserve resources for the war effort, President Woodrow Wilson replaced lawn mowers with a flock of sheep. Additionally, the flock’s wool was auctioned off to raise funds for the Red Cross.
  • In 1943, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt announced the planting of a victory garden for the White House grounds. 10-year-old Diana Hopkins, who lived at the White House from 1940-1943 with her father Harry Hopkins, a friend and advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, tended to the new garden.
  • President John F. Kennedy asked family friend and celebrated horticulturalist Rachel Lambert “Bunny” Mellon if she would redesign the White House gardens. She oversaw the redesign of the now famous Rose Garden outside the Oval Office, but work on the East Garden was delayed by the assassination of President Kennedy. First Lady “Lady Bird” Johnson called on Bunny Mellon to finish the work, dedicating the garden to her predecessor Mrs. Kennedy.
  • On March 20, 2009, First Lady Michelle Obama created a 1,100-square-foot garden on the South Grounds. During her time in the White House, Mrs. Obama invited children to plant and harvest seasonal vegetables and herbs, teaching them about nutrition and healthy eating.
  • First Lady Melania Trump has continued cultivating the garden and inviting children to help plant vegetables for White House events. The unused produce is donated to local foodbanks and charities in Washington, D.C.

Background: The White House Gardens and Grounds

In the spring, cherry blossoms bloom, and the landscape of the White House is filled with stunning greenery. In the fall, trees at the White House reflect the changing season by turning beautiful shades of yellow, orange and red, providing a wonderful opportunity to admire the foliage, gardens, and nature surrounding the Executive Mansion.

Interview Opportunity:

Facts about the White House Grounds:

  • One chestnut oak just southeast of the White House may be older than the mansion itself. Chestnut oaks of similar diameter have been found to be over 300 years old. If the tree proves to be similarly old, it would be the only living thing to have seen the comings and goings of every American president since John Adams became the first to occupy the home on November 1, 1800.
  • Thomas Jefferson was the first president with the time and resources to improve the White House gardens and grounds. He organized the grounds and created a barrier against unhealthy swamps. He also leveled out the ground on which the White House was built. Many of his improvements defined the landscape until a decade after the Civil War.
  • President Rutherford B. Hayes began the tradition of planting commemorative trees in the 1870s. Today, the South Lawn features more than three dozen special commemorative trees, which contribute to the wonderful fall foliage of the White House.
  • James Buchanan completed a glass conservatory in 1857 above the West Colonnade. By the turn of the twentieth century, the conservatory had expanded to nine service buildings, including a grapery, fern house, orchid house, geranium house, and rose house. These greenhouses stood until 1902 when they were removed to allow room for the Temporary Executive Office Building, known today as the West Wing.
  • To encourage Americans to conserve resources for the war effort, President Woodrow Wilson replaced lawn mowers with a flock of sheep. Additionally, the flock’s wool was auctioned off to raise funds for the Red Cross.
  • In 1943, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt announced the planting of a victory garden for the White House grounds. 10-year-old Diana Hopkins, who lived at the White House from 1940-1943 with her father Harry Hopkins, a friend and advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, tended to the new garden.
  • President John F. Kennedy asked family friend and celebrated horticulturalist Rachel Lambert “Bunny” Mellon if she would redesign the White House gardens. She oversaw the redesign of the now famous Rose Garden outside the Oval Office, but work on the East Garden was delayed by the assassination of President Kennedy. First Lady “Lady Bird” Johnson called on Bunny Mellon to finish the work, dedicating the garden to her predecessor Mrs. Kennedy.
  • On March 20, 2009, First Lady Michelle Obama created a 1,100-square-foot garden on the South Grounds. During her time in the White House, Mrs. Obama invited children to plant and harvest seasonal vegetables and herbs, teaching them about nutrition and healthy eating.
  • First Lady Melania Trump has continued cultivating the garden and inviting children to help plant vegetables for White House events. The unused produce is donated to local foodbanks and charities in Washington, D.C.

Background: The White House Gardens and Grounds

In the spring, cherry blossoms bloom, and the landscape of the White House is filled with stunning greenery. In the fall, trees at the White House reflect the changing season by turning beautiful shades of yellow, orange and red, providing a wonderful opportunity to admire the foliage, gardens, and nature surrounding the Executive Mansion.

Interview Opportunity:

Facts about the White House Grounds:

  • One chestnut oak just southeast of the White House may be older than the mansion itself. Chestnut oaks of similar diameter have been found to be over 300 years old. If the tree proves to be similarly old, it would be the only living thing to have seen the comings and goings of every American president since John Adams became the first to occupy the home on November 1, 1800.
  • Thomas Jefferson was the first president with the time and resources to improve the White House gardens and grounds. He organized the grounds and created a barrier against unhealthy swamps. He also leveled out the ground on which the White House was built. Many of his improvements defined the landscape until a decade after the Civil War.
  • President Rutherford B. Hayes began the tradition of planting commemorative trees in the 1870s. Today, the South Lawn features more than three dozen special commemorative trees, which contribute to the wonderful fall foliage of the White House.
  • James Buchanan completed a glass conservatory in 1857 above the West Colonnade. By the turn of the twentieth century, the conservatory had expanded to nine service buildings, including a grapery, fern house, orchid house, geranium house, and rose house. These greenhouses stood until 1902 when they were removed to allow room for the Temporary Executive Office Building, known today as the West Wing.
  • To encourage Americans to conserve resources for the war effort, President Woodrow Wilson replaced lawn mowers with a flock of sheep. Additionally, the flock’s wool was auctioned off to raise funds for the Red Cross.
  • In 1943, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt announced the planting of a victory garden for the White House grounds. 10-year-old Diana Hopkins, who lived at the White House from 1940-1943 with her father Harry Hopkins, a friend and advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, tended to the new garden.
  • President John F. Kennedy asked family friend and celebrated horticulturalist Rachel Lambert “Bunny” Mellon if she would redesign the White House gardens. She oversaw the redesign of the now famous Rose Garden outside the Oval Office, but work on the East Garden was delayed by the assassination of President Kennedy. First Lady “Lady Bird” Johnson called on Bunny Mellon to finish the work, dedicating the garden to her predecessor Mrs. Kennedy.
  • On March 20, 2009, First Lady Michelle Obama created a 1,100-square-foot garden on the South Grounds. During her time in the White House, Mrs. Obama invited children to plant and harvest seasonal vegetables and herbs, teaching them about nutrition and healthy eating.
  • First Lady Melania Trump has continued cultivating the garden and inviting children to help plant vegetables for White House events. The unused produce is donated to local foodbanks and charities in Washington, D.C.