At some point in President Joe Biden’s administration, we knew this topic was going to come up — returning the White House Rose Garden to its former glory. That’s exactly what a new Change.org petition is asking of current First Lady Dr. Jill Biden after the former First Lady Melania Trump took the garden from colorful to monochromatic. Much of the criticism emphasized the fact that the Rose Garden was one of Jacqueline Kennedy’s biggest contributions during her time as First Lady and that history was destroyed.
The Rose Garden was created in 1962 to replicate the beautiful gardens of France, but Melania chose to have the “iconic and colorful foliage removed, including a cherry blossom tree that was a gift from Japan.” That’s why petition creator Liz Tapanes is asking Dr. Jill to restore the garden to its original design. “Jackie’s legacy was ripped away from Americans who remembered all that the Kennedy’s meant to us,” wrote Tapanes in the Change.org petition.
The renovation of the Rose Garden was a source of great pride for the Trump administration, but it was met with a lot of social media discourse. “Excited to honor history & celebrate the future in our beautiful @WhiteHouseRose Garden this evening,” Melania tweeted as First Lady last August. “Thank you to all who helped renew this iconic & truly gorgeous space.” The garden looked green, but barren, unlike its former incarnation with bursts of red and yellow roses throughout the space.
It’s important to note that the Rose Garden renovation was paid through private donors and did not come at the taxpayers’ expense. The beloved cherry blossom trees were also not removed, it was crab apple trees that were replanted in other areas of the White House property. And paved walkways were added for greater accessibility, so there were some benefits to the renovation.
Almost 40,000 people have signed the petition at this point, but it would be a big project for Dr. Jill to undertake, especially during a pandemic when there are other priorities for the administration. It’s understandable as to why many were upset about the changes made the historic grounds, but then it becomes a political fight between the Democrats and the Republicans — and is that something the Biden administration wants to take on?
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