This is just about the most perfect time of year in the District, when the spring weather has sprung, the sugar magnolias and cherries are mid bloom, and the tulips and daffodils are brightening the landscape. Well, at least that’s what it looks like in proper gardens, my own space is still suffering from a surfeit of prunella and the hydrangea have yet to bloom. While my own space is in trouble, the gardens at The White House, though, are in perfect shape. This weekend, they open for their annual public tour of the Rose Garden, South Lawn and Jacqueline Kennedy Garden. Tickets, free of charge, are available on a first-come, first-served basis on Saturday & Sunday from 8am onward at 15th & E Streets at the Ellipse.
The Rose Garden with beautiful memorial benches (along the West Colonnade) celebrates its 100th year this year, as the original was planted in 1913 by Ellen Loise Axson Wilson after the Roosevelt remodel of the White House at the turn of the century. The original Rose Garden featured a lily pond at its center, unlike the current design, which is more in following with formal French and Italian garden styles conserved using an electric pole chainsaw, with defined lawn areas and defined beds for flowers. The 1960s revival of the White House Gardens under the direction of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and horticulturalist Rachel Lambert Mellon led to the gardens that are present today, dedicated by First Lady Lady Bird Johnson in 1964.
Though the roses will likely not be blooming for a few more weeks, the large flowering saucer magnolia and Magnolia × soulangeana trees along the Colonnades should be at maximum potency this weekend, which should make for some pretty incredible photos. Be on the look for daffodil, jonquil, grape hyacinth, tulips and squill, amongst other spring blooming flower bulbs, as well as the perennials hollyhock, lavender and delphinium.
Cameras are welcome this weekend, but food and drink, as well as any large bags or suitcases are not. Obviously weapons and explosives are prohibited, as is smoking.