Garden Inspiration from Famous Presidential Gardens

President’s Day is on Monday, February 18, this year, and what better way to honor our former presidents than by looking at all they’ve grown. Literally. As presidents moved into the White House, so too they took over the gardens. Depending on a president’s particular taste, the White House Gardens would take on new styles. It is truly a fascinating intersection of horticulture and politics/popular culture.

garden inspiration

The 18-acres surrounding the White House have been re-created and re-designed over the years, starting as far back as our first president! So, happy President’s Day… Now, let’s look at some of the most beautiful presidential garden designs throughout history.

3 Beautiful Past Presidential Gardens

Want to gather inspiration from a few of the most stunning presidential gardens? You’ve come to the right place; see more about our favourite garden designs below.

1. The Kennedy Rose Garden

President John F. Kennedy’s rose garden was well-known, and for good reason. Kennedy specifically requested that the Rose Garden be designed to include other plants. Tulips and crabapples soon mixed into the space. For interesting insight into how the garden was created, read his gardener’s first-person account.  

2. The Obama Kitchen Garden & Pollinator Garden

If you like cooking up your own garden-to-table fare, you would love the Kitchen Garden the Obamas added. Today, it has more than 50 vegetable varieties growing in it, complete with beautiful plant labels by White House calligraphers. The adjacent pollinator garden simply added to this homegrown feel, with life blooming all around.

3. The Johnson Children’s Garden

One of the best feelings a garden can provide is peacefulness. And, often, peacefulness comes from privacy. Ladybird Johnson was no stranger to beautifying the White House grounds, and one of her projects—the Children’s Garden—was a bit hidden from the public. With fun features such as a goldfish pond and an apple tree, this place was an oasis for kids.

Interesting Facts About the Presidential Gardens

There are so many intriguing tidbits about these gardens and how they’ve been cared for over the years! Below are a few of some  interesting facts about the presidential gardens at the White House.

  • The head gardener during the first Bush administration, Irvin Williams, used savvy ways to keep pests out of the garden: Fertilizer laced with Louisiana hot sauce and baskets of Georgia peanuts strapped to tree trunks.
  • President Lincoln’s sons had pet goats to go with the country-style garden, and the goats loved to eat the flowers.
  • Squirrels have long been welcome on the White House grounds. In the 1920s, one squirrel was so tame that members of the press corps nicknamed him Pete.

Finding Inspiration for Your Own Garden Design

Some past presidents were bigger gardeners than others, proving that it’s OK to have your own gardening style. Whether you like a wild-and-free look like cottage gardens or you prefer something more modern and structured, there are plenty of garden designs that can suit your personality and your home. There is all kinds of garden inspiration to go around!

If you’re just starting out with defining your garden design, check out these garden design ideas to give you some inspiration. It is not uncommon to hire a professional to make landscaping suggestions for you—even the presidents used the help of gardeners!

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