All the Presidents' Gardens

An Evening Program with Book Signing
with author Marta McDowell

Thursday, June 29, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)

A Smithsonian Associates Program
Presented in Collaboration with Smithsonian Libraries and Smithsonian Gardens

Tickets: $20 Member / $30 Non-Member
To purchase tickets, please click here.

Marta McDowell, author of All the Presidents' Gardens (Timber Press), offers a survey of American garden history as seen through the changing grounds at the White House, featuring the presidents, first ladies, and their gardeners. Copies of her award-winning book are available for purchase and signing.

The White House grounds have mirrored American garden history, with modifications over time reflecting changing fashions in horticulture and design. George Washington employed Pierre Charles L'Enfant, who brought a French classical aesthetic to the original site selection. Thomas Jefferson, with the help of architect Benjamin Latrobe, introduced an English romantic sensibility to the South Lawn. In its more than 200 years of history, the White House grounds have had rows of vegetables, extensive glasshouses, Victorian carpet bedding, and styles ranging from colonial revival to Italianate to the elegant horticultural palette of the Rose Garden.

Because the presidents and first ladies want to show the best that the country has to offer, many luminaries of American garden design have shaped the 18 acres that surround the White House. Andrew Jackson Downing made recommendations to President Fillmore. Beatrix Jones Farrand designed a garden for Mrs. Woodrow Wilson. Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. wrote a landscape plan for Franklin Delano Roosevelt that is still in use. Michael Van Valkenburgh and his firm MVVA redesigned the Pennsylvania Avenue entrance between 2002 and 2004.

Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Gardens, Perry H. Wheeler Collection. Signed by Jacqueline Kennedy. 
Wheeler worked on numerous private Georgetown gardens and redesigned the White House Rose Garden alongside Bunny Mellon during the Kennedy administration.