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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Updated: White House Fall Garden Tour

I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed today's White House Fall Garden Tour.

Not only did the weather cooperate, (unlike the weather for last week's Korean State Visit), the grounds were meticulously manicured and flowers were freshly planted, seemingly for the occasion.  Fall hues of purple, orange, yellow and white permeated the Rose and Jacqueline Kennedy gardens of roses and chrysanthemums.

First Lady Michelle Obama's vegetable garden was brimming with heart-healthy, good-for-you, vegetable products including red chili peppers, budding egg plant, onion, tomato and delightful garden herbs.

Our tour guide, 'Will', was very accommodating, allowing us to take lots of pictures as he ushered us around the grounds where about 8-10 members of the media got an exclusive, first peek of the garden and the fall foliage. 

Also along the way were several photographs of former U.S. presidents that were placed at various points along the route indicating placement of an official presidential tree, or other commemorative planting.

Seeing the Children's Garden, a display of hand prints from the grandchildren of presidents past, was a delight.   The garden was added to the South Lawn by Lady Bird Johnson.

 Finding out that we won't soon see any Obama children hand prints until either Sasha or Malia grow up, marry, and have kids of their own, was a bit of a let down.  Hopefully the White House will modify the rules to not only include grandchildren, but children of presidents.  (Jenna Bush is the obvious exception as she is both the granddaughter of a former U.S. president, and daughter of a former U.S. president). 

It was fascinating seeing the White House tennis court, which doubled also as a basketball court.   The children's playground, complete with swings and sliding board, built when the girls first came to live at the White House, sits midway along the tour route.  One can certainly see that the First Family has several choices when it comes to getting physical exercise.

Seeing the White House bee hive was a treat as well.  We've heard about the White House honey that has been gifted to dignitaries, but seeing those busy bees at work was a piece of art, in motion.

We would be remiss if we did not mention the musical stylings from the U.S. Military Band, who sounded delightful and added a nice touch to the tour. The various musical selections, from jazz to classical, was music to our ears.

The White House Fall Garden Tour continues through Sunday, October 16.

The National Park Service will distribute free, timed tickets at the Ellipse Visitor Pavilion located at 15th and E Streets on each tour day beginning at 8:00 a.m. Tickets will be distributed - one ticket per person - on a first-come, first-served basis.

See our White House Fall Garden Tour photos here.

White House Garden Trivia
President John Adams requested that a garden be planted before his arrival as the first U.S. president.  He was defeated by Thomas Jefferson and never got the chance to enjoy the produce.

Since the 1870's most presidents have planted a commemorative tree while in office.  Noting most recent presidents, George H.W. Bush planted a Purple Beech in 1991.  Bill and Hillary Clinton planted a Willow Oak in 1993, and again after Clinton's reelection, this time choosing a White Dogwood in 1994, planted by his wife, Hillary.  President Obama selected a Little Leaf  Linden in 2009.

Also in 2009 First Lady Michelle Obama, along with local students, broke ground for the first ever White House Kitchen Garden.  Since 2009, the garden, with over 50 varieties of seeds, has yielded over a thousand pounds of produce.

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