Why The White House Rose Garden Has The Internet Seeing Red

First Lady Melania Trump is the subject of the internet's ire after after a newly renovated White House Rose Garden has been unveiled. The renovations were reportedly undertaken to correct problems that were plaguing the iconic garden commissioned by President John Kennedy nearly six decades before in 1962. 

Town and Country reported that the renovations would modernize the lawn's electrical and watering facilities, and to make the area easier to navigate for those with disabilities; the most visible change would be the removal of the Rose Garden's iconic crab apple trees. The renovations were undertaken in three weeks, and finished in time for Melania Trump's speech to be delivered at the Republican National Convention.

On Saturday, the new-look Rose Garden was unveiled to the the public, and the Twitterverse's reaction to the changes were swift... and angry, particularly over the perceived loss of the much-beloved trees. One user tweeted: "... those were Jackie Kennedy's crab apple trees. My grandmother would be *sobbing* if she lived to see this." Another user said, "I'm really pissed about the Rose Garden. It's a minor thing, I know, but it's our house not Melania's and the garden was designed by Jackie Kennedy and was still beautiful."

The timing of the Rose Garden renovation is being questioned, too

Melania Trump's decision to renovate the Rose Garden wasn't popular to begin with. CNN says she reportedly decided on the renovation several months ago, when the coronavirus pandemic was just beginning to sweep the country. At the time, author Kate Anderson Brower warned, "I think that the first lady should be aware that this could certainly look like another 'let them eat cake' moment." 

"I think it's important for her to point out that this is a restoration that has nothing to do with the Trump administration, but about making sure that the White House is a pristine and beautiful home for any president who occupies it. But, yes, the timing could not be worse as the country is being ravaged by Covid and there is major economic and social upheaval," Brower told CNN.

Sure enough, social media was angry about the timing, too. One Twitter user said, "The point is not that Melania ruined Jackie Kennedy's garden. It's that she ruined Jackie Kennedy's garden while spending taxpayer money in the middle of a pandemic that has killed over 175,000 Americans to date." Even New York Times columnist Charles M Blow took to Twitter to weigh in: "If this isn't a Marie Antionette moment I don't know what is. Who cares about a redesigned rose garden when we're in the middle of a pandemic, 175k+ people are dead and millions are out of work?"

The original Rose Garden was commissioned by President John F. Kennedy

The original garden was designed by Rachel "Bunny" Mellon who was specific about what the garden needed. "The trees we chose were Katherine crab apples. Crab apples belong to the rose family and would blend well with the roses, perennials, annuals, and herbs that would grow beneath and around them," she wrote in the magazine White House History, published in 1983. 

"In spring there would be flowering bulbs, such as tulips, with a border of lapis blue Mùscari. In summer the border would be changed to plants of dark lavender heliotrope, while larger sections would have pale pink geraniums, lilies, white dianthus, blue salvia, lady's mantle, cosmos, and lemon verbena, to mention a few. In fall the plants would be lifted again to allow for planting of chrysanthemums, Anemone japonica, and Michaelmas daisies. As winter approached, the garden would be put to bed, only the roses would remain, while the soil was being fertilized and turned over."

Melania Trump promised to stay true to the original design

When the renovations were announced, Melania Trump had said in a report, "Protecting the historic integrity of the White House landscape is a considerable responsibility, and we will fulfill our duty as custodians of the public trust." And while the Associated Press has said the iconic, nearly 60-year old crab apple trees will be replanted elsewhere, it may be a while before we get used to the new-look Rose Garden. 

As former Fox News anchor Megan Kelly tweeted, "I think the new Rose Garden is beautiful. Understated elegance and a classy look. It will be amazing once it grows in a bit too. People need to calm down."