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Melania Trump unveils White House Rose Garden restorations

The first lady announced late last month that the Rose Garden, established by former President John F Kennedy, would be renovated just in time for the 2020 RNC.

Melania Trump unveils White House Rose Garden restorations
Image Source: FLOTUS / Twitter

Over the weekend, first lady Melania Trump unveiled the restorations she oversaw to the Rose Garden, an iconic part of the White House which borders the Oval Office. This is where she is scheduled to deliver her address at the 2020 Republic National Convention, set to take place from Monday through Thursday this week. The White House Rose Garden has been under renovation since late last month, making the announcement of all the changes she has brought forward highly anticipated. It is believed that the restoration resembles the original formation of the Rose Garden as established by former President John F Kennedy, CNN reports.



There have been no renovations to the Rose Garden ever since horticulturist and philanthropist Rachel "Bunny" Mellon implemented Kennedy's plans for the area in 1962. The first lady thus announced that she wished to "fulfill the dynamic needs of the modern presidency" through a restoration of the garden. Part of the "upgrade," so to speak, therefore includes modern features for audio and visual capabilities, enhanced lighting, and access for television cameras. The latter is especially important as the White House Rose Garden is a popular choice for receptions and media events. There have also been additions and changes to the garden in terms of improving accessibility for the disabled. This is a welcome move as the area has been used more frequently over the course of the pandemic as it allows White House staff, journalists, and other guests to practice social distancing more safely.



The renovation, paid for through private donations, was formally revealed at an intimate closed reception later on Saturday following the announcement. Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence were in attendance, though other guests were also invited. American citizens, nonetheless, will get to view the garden in all its glory during Trump's address at the 2020 Republican National Convention, which many have claimed could actually be a violation of ethics; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stated during an interview with MSNBC last week that holding RNC events on federal property "should be rejected right out of hand."



The renovations to the Rose Garden have received criticism for another reason as well: it's nothing like Kennedy's vision. While the contents of his Rose Garden, including a seasonal rotation of plants and flowers and a dozen Katherine crab apple trees, were chosen carefully, the present first lady's decor choices have left American citizens puzzled and wanting more. The Rose Garden looks bare and wanting of, well, roses. Claire Lampen writing for The Cut described, "Melania’s [garden] by contrast, is much more muted, with white and pastel roses. She uprooted the crab apple trees—which the administration says will be replanted 'elsewhere on the grounds'—and went heavy on the hedges, replacing the brightly colored flowers with pale blooms that, for Twitter at least, do not spark joy."



Trump has also been the target of criticism for announcing the restorations at a time when the country is dealing with a perfect storm of political issues. Not only did she make the announcement a day before CARES Act unemployment benefits ran out, but also during a "dramatic resurgence" in new coronavirus deaths and infections. Her husband, United States President Donald Trump, had in addition to this just set the secret police on a group of peaceful protesters. It will be interesting to see how all this plays out as the Presidential elections loom closer.



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