Fun Plant Facts You May Not Know About Presidential Gardening Traditions

18 February 2019  
Many of our Presidents were garden nerds!
  • George Washington was titled “The Botanist President.”
  • John Adams planted the first vegetable garden on the White House grounds.
  • Rutherford B. Hayes inaugurated the tradition of planting commemorative trees.
  • Theodore Roosevelt was entitled “conservationist president," and created the U.S. Forest Service.
  • Woodrow Wilson signed the “Organic Act,” which established the National Park Service.
  • Franklin Roosevelt created the Civilian Conservation Corps that planted millions of trees.

The tradition of planting and gardening at the White House dates back to George Washington, who was a bit plant crazy and earned the title of “The Botanist President." 

John Adams planted the very first vegetable garden on the White House grounds. But the tradition of planting trees around the White House was started by Thomas Jefferson. President Jefferson planted a grove of trees on the lawn. Over the past 200 years, numerous U.S. presidents have carried this tradition forward, whether by planting a memorial tree or updating the grounds with new tree plantings.

Here are some fun facts you didn't know about our Presidents and their tree aspirations:

  • The original White House was burned and then rebuilt in 1814 by James Monroe who dramatically increased the number of trees planted on the grounds based on plans by architect Charles Bulfinch.
  • Bulfinch designed and oversaw planting of a thick grove of trees in 1824-1825.  The park was in the square north of the White House and named in honor of General Lafayette. 
  • In 1825 John Quincy Adams developed the first flower garden on the White House grounds and planted many new ornamental trees.
  • Andrew Jackson created the White House orangery, an early type of greenhouse, where tropical fruit trees and flowers could be grown.  He then added more trees, including the famous Jackson Magnolia, to the White House grounds in 1835.

In 1853 President Franklin Pierce expanded the White House orangery into a true greenhouse.

Rutherford B. Hayes (1878 to 1880) commissioned hundreds of trees to be planted, and inaugurated the tradition of planting commemorative trees on the White House grounds.

Theodore Roosevelt, is known as the “conservationist president” because he laid the foundation for the conservation movement. During his presidency Roosevelt established 230 million acres of national parks and public lands to be protected from intervention.  More than half of these areas was set aside as national forests. He then established the U.S. Forest Service to ensure that the newly designated forests be safeguarded and maintained.  Roosevelt shared his love for the woods in a penned Arbor Day phrase, “A people without children would face a hopeless future; a country without trees is almost as helpless.”

Thankfully, President Roosevelt wasn’t alone in protecting our country's natural wonders.

In 1916 Woodrow Wilson signed the “Organic Act” which established the National Park Service. Less than two decades later, Franklin Roosevelt created the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) with the intent to promote environmental conservation and build on the country's stewardship. There was particular emphasis on reforestation.  Participants in the CCC planted millions of trees on barren land affected by wildfires, erosion, and deforestation.

These are just a few of the interesting facts about our presidents and their love of gardening and trees.  We might like to remember our favorite presidents as we celebrate Presidents' Day.  

Until next week, I'll be here at Watters Garden Center helping gardening friends select and plant just the right trees in their own backyards.
Ken can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd in Prescott, or contacted through his web site at    WattersGardenCenter.com  or  FB.com/WattersGardenCenter .
Watters Garden Center is a locally owned and operated garden center that specializes in providing avid gardeners and novices alike with the expertise and products to get things growing in the mountains of Arizona.


Ken Lain, the Mountain Gardener

Ken Lain is attracted to sunshine, beauty, happiness, success and health through gardening, and wishes to point the way to others. Throughout the week Ken can be found at Watters Garden Center located at 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd, Prescott, or contacted through his web site at www.wattersgardencenter.com

Website: www.wattersgardencenter.com