The White House Kitchen Garden

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” 

― Marcus Tullius Cicero

I couldn't agree more with Cicero! Now, if I could only find my missing green thumb :) 

Last Friday, Aaron surprised me with tickets to the White House Garden. This opportunity comes only twice a year, and we were off to see where the First Lady potters about, no pun intended, in her spare time.  The tour is self-guided and one gets to walk through the grounds, in front of the White House directly looking at the South Lawn.  I tried my best to  use my zoom lens to see the Obamas, or at least their dog, Bo, who apparently made an appearance at the last Garden tour. No such luck. 

Former First Lady Patricia Nixon first opened the grounds for seasonal tours and since then, guests from all over the world have visited the South Lawn. The White House grounds are the oldest and most continually maintained landscape in the United States. 

John Adams was the first president to live in the White House and requested a garden to be planted before he arrived there. But, he was defeated shortly after by Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson made plans for planting trees and establishing pathways that wound around the grounds. John Quincy Adams formally established the gardens, and is claimed to have planted over a thousand plants during his time in the White House. Andrew Jackson added an orangery to grow fruit in the winter. 

The weather started out a bit overcast but seemed to clear up quite a bit as the sun came out to play. It was lovely to be standing on the White House grounds with the imposing building of power behind you, and looking over a wide expanse of lush green grass and a view of the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial in the far off distance.  Incredible! 

Rutherford B. Hayes started the Easter Monday tradition of children rolling eggs on the South lawn, and now draws 30,000 guests every year. 

We walked up the path to the Rose Garden, where many a press conference had been held, announcements made, and meetings with world leaders had transpired. The West Wing of the White House was the backdrop to the Rose Garden.  It is quite something to wander around in places where decisions that have changed the course of nations have been made. Well, not really wander, if you take into consideration all the security guards scattered around the grounds :) They are part of the landscape :D

A closer view of the West Wing.

The Oval Office. 

Off the south end of the Oval Office is a putting green, private pool and even a playground. 

In March 2009, the First Lady and two dozen local students broke ground on the White House Kitchen Garden on the South Lawn. It features over fifty varieties of seeds including many heirloom seeds. In its first nine months, the garden yielded over a thousand pounds of produce. Not bad, eh? 

There is one bed in the garden that is named for Thomas Jefferson and the plants in this area are from seeds that have been passed down from those Jefferson planted at this home Monticello.  In addition to the garden, the White House also has a beehive on the grounds,  on the opposite side of the garden. 

While we toured the garden, we were entertained by the United States Army Band who played several patriotic tunes. We took in the beauty of the flowers around the grounds, and walked out of there with the strains of music floating through the trees. 

A wonderful tour.  Hope you enjoyed it too!


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