Amid the excitement (terror?) of the Republican National Convention, First Lady Melania Trump has taken the time to redesign the White House's Rose Garden ahead of her Tuesday evening address. In late July, Trump announced that she would be overhauling the existing Rose Garden, which was cemented in 1962 by Jackie Kennedy. Critics were skeptical of this decision — not just because it was announced during the second coronavirus wave and mass unemployment in the U.S. Now that the results are finally here, many are wondering, what exactly happened to our rose garden?
Images of the Melania Trump Rose Garden have captured public attention this week, showing a drastically different depiction of Kennedy's original fixture. While the garden was once teeming with trees and flowers and bright colors, it now looks like an empty lawn with a few white flowers sprinkled throughout. Arrays of tulips have now been replaced with white roses and hedges, with little to be desired or imagined in between.
The garden looks much less like a garden and more like a field (cemetery? memorial park?), and is missing almost any sign of life. According to CNN, the renovation was designed specifically to “fulfill the dynamic needs of the modern presidency.”
“The very act of planting a garden involves hard work and hope in the possibility of a bright future,” Melania Trump said when she announced the changes to the garden last month. “Preserving the history and beauty of the White House and its grounds is a testament to our nation’s commitment to the care of this landscape and our dedication to American ideals, safeguarding them for our children and their children for generations to come.”
Well, if Trump's vision for the presidency is devout of color and life, who are we to argue. On Twitter, writer Jennifer Wright called the garden “devoid of color or joy,” while others pointed out that it looks like an average front yard. "Melania modeled the Rose Garden after the Trump family. Cold and empty," one Twitter user wrote.
One thing that truly set people off, though, is the removal of Jackie Kennedy’s crab apple trees. “She cut down Jackie’s trees! I hope @DrBiden returns it to the way it was,” Republican commentator Ana Navarro-Cárdenas exclaimed on Twitter, voicing the shock many feel over such a huge change. According to reports, the trees, which were essential to the original design and a central part of the garden, are now being exported somewhere else on the White House grounds.
More prominent criticism of the entire redesign of the White House Rose Garden compared Melania to Marie Antoinette's "let them eat cake” when she decided to use resources for home decor while illness and poverty run rampant across the country. Though many have complained that the decorative project was a waste of taxpayer money, the White House has stated that the project was entirely funded by "private donors" and not the public. Some have pointed out that the garden desperately needed an update, and this is long overdue.
Whatever the reasons for Melania’s changes to the garden, the cold and lifeless image of the White House is pretty evocative of the entire Trump presidency. So, Melania, good job on staying true to your brand, I guess?