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All the Presidents' Gardens: Madison’s Cabbages to Kennedy’s Roses—How the White House Grounds Have Grown with America

By Marta McDowell

McDowell unearths little-known stories and vivid details to illuminate important personalities and provide insight into our gardening past.…[An] informative gem of a book.”

Library Journal

The 18-acres surrounding the White House have been an unwitting witness to history—kings and queens have dined there, bills and treaties have been signed, and presidents have landed and retreated. Throughout it all, the grounds have remained not only beautiful, but also a powerful reflection of American trends. In All the Presidents' Gardens bestselling author Marta McDowell tells the untold history of the White House Grounds, starting with plant-obsessed George Washington and ending with Michelle Obama's kitchen garden. History buffs will revel in the fascinating tidbits about Lincoln’s goats, Ike's putting green, Jackie's iconic roses, and Amy Carter's tree house. Gardeners will enjoy the information on the plants whose favor has come and gone over the years and the gardeners who have been responsible for it all. And readers everywhere will delight in the historical and contemporary photographs, vintage seeds catalogs, and rare glimpses into Presidential pastimes.

Media reviews

"Given its timeless grace, the visitor today might think that the Rose Garden was always a part of the grounds of America’s first garden, but as Marta McDowell’s absorbing book drives home, the 18 acres around the executive mansion have been constantly tweaked, changed and replanted over the past two centuries."

Washington Post

"A delightful dig through White House gardens. [McDowell] plots their history from the Washington administration to the Obamas ... Her descriptions of the grounds and evolving garden tastes are complemented with a colorful array of illustrations. McDowell fills the book with juicy tidbits: the last cow to graze on the White House lawn (1912) was named Pauline Wayne; Herbert Hoover wanted ‘the help’ to seem invisible, so they hid behind hedges when he passed by."

Publishers Weekly

"History is often best learned from stories, and there are plenty of anecdotes here ... The writing is conversational and inviting, as one might find when visiting a garden with someone who knows it well. Photographs, line drawings, paintings, maps, and other documents add to the interesting stories ... a delightful and elucidating work."

Booklist

"Long may there be erudite and entertaining books like All the Presidents’ Gardens to enlighten and educate about American garden history."

American Gardener

"McDowell’s entertaining look at the gardens at America’s premier residence illustrates the nation’s horticultural aspirations, trends, and history… A thorough researcher, McDowell unearths little-known stories and vivid details to illuminate important personalities and provide insight into our gardening past. ... [An] informative gem of a book."

Library Journal

About the author

Marta McDowell

Marta McDowell lives, gardens, and writes in Chatham, New Jersey. She writes and lectures on gardening topics and teaches landscape history and horticulture at the New York Botanical Garden, where she studied landscape design. She also consults for public gardens and private clients. Her particular interest is in authors and their gardens, the connection between the pen and the trowel.

Read more about Marta McDowell

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