No matter whether you are Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, there is something invigorating about Washington, D.C.. And though you can walk mile after mile and feel the history surround you , there is but one house which symbolizes so much of our American history.
The White House.
And when an invitation from the White House arrives in your inbox……..
Let’s just say you might have heard a squeal or two from somewhere within the State of Texas before unequivocally replying YES!
Within the week I was on a plane bound for D.C., somewhere I hadn’t been since before 9-11. This was a town I felt a deep connection to. A town I almost called home after college. I was heading back and it felt really, really good. But despite all my adventures in D.C. during my 20s, the hours spent perusing the Smithsonian and admiring the various memorials, I never once had stepped on the grounds of the White House.
That was about to change.
Along with other social media correspondents from around the country, I was invited to attend The White House Spring Garden Tour 2015.
Twice a year the White House opens the historic grounds, in both the Spring and Fall. This is a tradition that was started by First Lady Patricia Nixon well over 40 years ago.
I was so proud to be a part of this tradition. So few American citizens get to actually visit Washington, D.C., much less the White House. This was an opportunity for me to take you on a virtual tour, through my camera lens.
The White House grounds have such a historic place in our minds. After all, we routinely see the President leaving in Marine One from the South Lawn and the Rose Garden stands out in my memory as the place I’ve seen Presidents over the years walk from the Residence to the Oval Office.
FACT: Did you know that the White House grounds are the oldest continually maintained landscape in the United States?
In 1913, First Lady Ellen Wilson (wife to President Woodrow Wilson) replaced an old colonial garden with what we now call the Rose Garden. During the Kennedy Administration it was redesigned to serve as a Presidential reception area.
The Rose Garden was breathtaking. While the roses certainly were not in bloom (might I say despite the late April date and Spring label, it was freezing cold), the tulips planted next to the rose bushes were stunning in color. I can certainly see why one Presidential daughter had her wedding in the garden.
And while there are many receptions in the Rose Garden, you often see the President at work here with bill signings and press conferences. The podium was set up the day I was there. Yes, the President was working and at the White House. In fact, I’m sure President Obama was working on his speech for the White House Correspondents’ Dinner later that evening.
Opposite the Rose Garden is the Jacqueline Kennedy garden, dedicated so by First Lady Lady Bird Johnson in 1965. This garden is filled with flower beds, boxwood and topiary trees in addition to lavender and rosemary herbs (actually used by the White House Chef)! Here the standouts were the topiary trees, so I took this wider image for you to see. (The First Lady has an office to the right)
I’m always in awe of the places that social media has taken me……and now this building, inhabited by all Presidents except one, George Washington.
I can just imagine the talks that have happened here. Apparently, President Lincoln would often lie on a sofa in the Blue Room and listen to the concerts from the President’s Own Marine Band through the windows.
While I spotted wisteria throughout Washington, D.C., the most inviting by far was located on this staircase at the White House.
I thought you’d like to see some lesser known areas of the White House grounds.
Here is the White House Putting Green! It looked as if the President was ready for us as it’s not far from the Oval Office. See the bucket of balls and golf clubs?
In recent years there have been plenty of children in the White House. Check out this playground!
I’d heard the story about President Obama having to tell children at the recent Easter Egg Roll not to worry about the bees.
Now I know why.
Did you know that the White House has an actual beehive that they maintain?
Nestled within the trees, the White House beehive is home to 70,000 bees.
In 2009, First Lady Michelle Obama and several local students began the White House Kitchen Garden. While not as large as I’d imagined, the garden features over 50 varieties of seeds.
The garden is actually used in meals for the First Family and events such as official State dinners. But what I love most is that one-third of the harvest is donated to Miriam’s Kitchen, a local charity that deals with the homeless.
While there I spied many vegetables like lettuce, kale, and even artichokes.
The South Lawn was stunning with the Washington Monument in the background and a large fountain surrounded by colorful blooms. I couldn’t imagine a more beautiful view for the First Family.
My daughter would have loved the Presidential ducks…….that’s what I called a family of ducks I spotted floating in the fountain down by the Garden Kitchen.
The President’s Own Marine Band played for us and later on the Army Band would too.
Though it was an overcast and cold day, the rain held off until my time at the White House was over.
I took hundreds of photos, made new friends, and walked among history.
It was an amazing day, one that I won’t soon forget.