More than 53,000 people have signed an online campaign imploring First Lady Jill Biden to undo the controversial changes made by Melania Trump to the White House Rose Garden.
The petition on Change.org was started in March but has gained significant traction in the past week. It is aiming for 75,000 signatures.
Titled Restore Jackie Kennedy's Rose Garden, the petition features “now” and “then” pictures of the garden, highlighting how Trump stripped it of much of its colour and character.
A before and after showing former president Barack Obama taking a stroll through the White House Rose Garden in 2009 and then the garden today (Photos: White House):
Brightly coloured flowers in vibrant yellows and reds were substituted with pale-hued roses, while a seating area on the east side of the garden was replaced with a sculpture. She also had many of the trees removed in the first major overhaul of the garden since the Kennedy era.
The timing of the renovation, in the midst of a global pandemic and subsequent economic crisis, also drew criticism.
The Change.org petition is scathing in its summation of Trump’s renovation efforts – and the sentiments have clearly struck a chord. “In 2019, Melania Trump had the cherry trees, a gift from Japan, removed as well as the rest of the foliage and replaced with a boring tribute to herself.
Slide to see the garden in 2015, left, and today, right (Photos: AFP and The White House):
Jackie's legacy was ripped away from Americans who remembered all that the Kennedys meant to us. We want Jill Biden and Doug Emhoff to take this on and restore the Rose Garden to Jackie's original design.”
The famous garden is just outside the Oval Office, and is often home to press conferences and events. It dates back to 1913, and had its last full redesign in 1962. That reworking was overseen by then first lady Jacqueline Kennedy.
“In 1961 President and Mrs. Kennedy had just returned from a state visit to France, followed by stops in England and Austria,” explains the petition. “The President had noted that the White House had no garden equal in quality or attractiveness to the gardens that he had seen and in which he had been entertained in Europe. There he had recognised the importance of gardens surrounding an official residence and their appeal to the sensibilities of all people.
“To honour Jacqueline Kennedy's contributions to the White House and its grounds, her immediate successor, First Lady Lady Bird Johnson, renamed the East Garden as the ‘Jacqueline Kennedy Garden’ during a ceremony on 22 April 1965.”
Trump responded to widespread criticism of her garden with a tweet that read: "I encourage everyone who chooses to be negative and question my work at the White House to take time and contribute something good and productive in their own communities. #BeBest”.
Jill Biden hasn’t yet commented on whether she’ll be overhauling the Rose Garden herself.