The White House Rose Garden is a garden bordering the Oval Office and the West Wing of the White House in Washington, D.C., United States. The garden is approximately 125 feet long and 60 feet wide (38 meters by 18 meters). It balances the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden on the east side of the White House Complex. It is commonly used as a stage for receptions and media events due to its proximity to the White House.
The White House Rose Garden was established in 1913 by Ellen Louise Axson Wilson, wife of Woodrow Wilson, on the site of a previous colonial garden established by First Lady Edith Roosevelt (wife of Theodore Roosevelt) in 1902. Prior to 1902, the area contained extensive stables, housing various horses and coaches, on the grounds of the present-day Oval Office, Cabinet Room, and Rose Garden. During the 1902 Roosevelt renovation, First Lady Edith Roosevelt insisted on having a proper colonial garden to help replace the conservatory rose house that had formerly stood there.
In 1961, during the John F. Kennedy administration, the garden was largely redesigned by Rachel Lambert Mellon concurrently with extensive repair work to the East Garden. Mellon created a space with a more defined central lawn, bordered by flower beds that were planted in a French style whilst largely using American botanical specimens. The present-day garden follows the same layout first established by Mellon, where each flower bed is planted with a series of 'Katherine' crabapples and Littleleaf lindens bordered by low diamond-shaped hedges of thyme. Additionally, the outer edges to the flower bed which face the central lawn are edged with boxwood, and each of the four corners to the garden are punctuated by Magnolia × soulangeana; specifically, obtaining specimens that were found growing along the banks of the Tidal Basin by Mellon.
Ever since then, roses have served as the primary flowering plants in the garden, including large numbers of 'Queen Elizabeth' grandiflora roses, along with the tea roses 'Pascali', 'Pat Nixon', and 'King's Ransom'. A shrub rose, 'Nevada', also serves to add a cool note of white coloration to the landscaping. Seasonal flowers are further interspersed to add nearly year-round color and variety to the garden. Some of the Spring blooming bulbs planted in the present-day Rose Garden include jonquil, daffodil, fritillaria, grape hyacinth, tulips, chionodoxa and squill. Summer blooming annuals are changed on a near yearly basis. In the fall, chrysanthemum and flowering kale bring color leading all the way up until the early winter days. In something of a decidedly odd tradition, each and every summer sees garden gnomes taken and placed throughout the Rose Garden on July 1st - the number of which representing the number of living presidents at that particular moment in time.
Beginning with the establishment of the garden in the early twentieth century, the Rose Garden has been used for events. President Wilson met there with the press for informal questions. President Herbert Hoover began a tradition of welcoming and being photographed with prominent citizens there. Calvin Coolidge used the garden for making public announcements about policy and staffing decisions. President John F. Kennedy welcomed Project Mercury astronauts in the garden. Many presidential news conferences take place in the garden, as well as occasional White House dinners and ceremonies. The marriage of President Richard Nixon's daughter Tricia to Edward F. Cox took place in the Rose Garden in 1971. In recent years, joint news conferences with the president and a visiting head of state have been held in the Rose Garden. Presidents frequently host American Olympic and major league athletes in the Rose Garden after winning in their respective sport. George W. Bush welcomed the Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes to the Rose Garden after their victory in 2006.
The phrase "Rose Garden strategy" (such as a re-election strategy) refers to staying inside or on the grounds of the White House as opposed to traveling throughout the country. For example, Jimmy Carter's initial efforts to end the Iran hostage crisis (1979-1981) were a Rose Garden strategy because he mostly held discussions with his close advisers in the White House. On July 25, 1994 a declaration of peace between Israel and Jordan was signed in the Rose Garden.
Although the Rose Garden is used frequently to greet distinguished visitors and for special ceremonies and public statements, the contemplative setting is often a very personal and private place for the president. In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt commissioned Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. to redesign the gardens, and he installed cast iron furniture pieces.