White House Garden Update

by Susan Harris on April 10, 2011

Today I paid a return visit to the White House garden and grounds and the tour was really too early this year, with very little in bloom and plenty of trees not even leafed out yet.   And if I were the complaining type I’d mention that it was chilly with cloudy skies – but hey, it didn’t rain!  (My spring 2010 visit is recorded here.)

So I don’t have much to show blog readers this time – except the brand-new look of Michelle Obama’s vegetable garden.   According to the gardener (that would be Jim Adams) the raised beds were installed for just one reason – to level the growing area in order to stop water from running downhill.   So Adams and the White House landscape architect came up with this design, which is an attempt to be organic despite the straight lines of the wood.  I stopped short of asking Jim where they bought them – ha!  – because naturally they have carpenters right there on the grounds.  Must be nice.

Chatting with top White House Gardener Jim Adams

The White House Beehive is always photogenic, no matter the weather.

Middle photo by Linda Starke.


Karin/Southern Meadows April 11, 2011 at 5:55 am

Nice raised beds. I didn’t know the White House had a beehive. Do they have a bee keeper on staff too?

commonweeder April 11, 2011 at 2:03 pm

It is so good to be reminded that the WH garden still exisits! I’ve been reading the Founding Gardeners by Andrea Wulf and have a whole new appreciation for the garden passions of Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Madison. It took a lot of work to get the first WH garden in place – the last half of Jefferson’s second term.

Pam J. April 15, 2011 at 3:48 pm

There’s a nice story here (http://obamafoodorama.blogspot.com/2010/06/new-video-sam-kass-charlie-brandts-buzz.html) about the beehive at the White House. The on-staff beekeeper is actually a White House carpenter named Charlie Brandts who offered to install and keep the hive just after the Obamas moved in. I saw Charlie on Wednesday night at the monthly meeting of the Montgomery County Beekeepers Association! (He lives, as do I, just north of the White House in Maryland.)

RaisedBeds April 18, 2011 at 1:54 am

I think its sort of odd that the primary reason for instituting the raised beds for the sake of levelness, there are many other benefits including higher soil temperature and better crop yields. I think its great they have the beds, might consider adding some mulch, especially something hot to get the soil temperature up.

susan harris April 18, 2011 at 6:30 am

Another benefit of the raised beds that Jim Adams mentioned is that it keeps people (esp kids) out of the beds.

Patty H. May 7, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Nice raised beds – - I’m just getting started with my landscaping for the season, so I’m out and about on the net checking things out, and I came across your site.

I didn’t know about the beehive either!

Kevin Koenig May 19, 2011 at 1:33 pm

These raised beds are fantastic. For durability, I’d think they would need to be made from redwood or cedar, or perhaps they are taken out in the winter? Regardless, the geo-based design of these beds is quite attractive, and I plan to approach some of my customers with this idea.
Thanks for Sharing! -Kevin

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