Sunday, April 18, 2010

White House Garden Tour

The White House was open today for a special garden and grounds tour. Angela, Meredith and I spent the afternoon on the White House grounds learning about the rich history of the South Lawn, Children's Garden, Rose Garden, and the Jaqueline Kennedy Garden (neither appeared to have roses in them.)

The White House Garden Tours have been a tradition since 1972 when Pat Nixon first opened the White House gardens to the public. Along with the excitement of being in at the President's house, the seat of the executive branch of our government, we experienced what the First Family experiences on their grounds. As a tourist looking onto the grounds from outside the gates, the majesty of looking at the people's house includes the glimmer of serene green lawns across to the pearly white walls, but you never expect the personal family experience. The South Lawn is the Obama family back yard, as it has been for first families since (back when President John Adams and his wife Abigail moved-in in 1800.) The South Lawn has a family feel, and somehow is free of the noise of the busy DC streets. The Children's Garden offers a serene escape with a pond and bronze hand and feet prints of the grandchildren of presidents (mostly Bush I and II), the kitchen garden provides organic vegetables for the first family, and the rushing fountain to the front provides the iconic back drop representing the White House, and the presidency.

Today's tour included the history of the many trees on the grounds. Each fist family has contributed a tree to the grounds, along with many renovations and style. The Obama's had a playground installed, and we found many basketball hoops for our president's favorite pastime.

The grounds are opened up twice a year for this garden tour, both offering unique views of the White House grounds. The event is open to the public (though you have to arrive early to receive a ticket). The event occurs yearly in April and October. If you work at a government agency or for a member of Congress, it is likely that they will receive tickets that might go to you!

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