Despite no longer holding the position of First Lady in the White House, Melania Trump still remains a subject of intense public opinion. Since President Joe Biden took office, Melania has chosen to stay away from public appearances and maintain a low profile on social media.
Therefore, it came as a surprise when Melania Trump openly criticized an individual who had been a source of annoyance for her over an extended period.
Throughout history, presidential wives have often left their personal mark on the White House, whether through new interior designs or renovations. One of the most renowned examples is Jackie Kennedy’s iconic Rose Garden.
Originally established by First Lady Ellen Wilson, the Rose Garden replaced the colonial garden created by First Lady Edith Roosevelt, wife of President Theodore Roosevelt.
In 1962, Jackie Kennedy enlisted the help of landscape designer Rachel Lambert Mellon to transform the Rose Garden into a stunning and vibrant space, adorned with colorful flower beds and captivating roses.
The Rose Garden has served as a significant sanctuary for presidents to reflect and find solace during times of crisis, which have been abundant throughout history.
During President Trump’s administration, the Rose Garden often served as a backdrop for press conferences and special occasions.
When Melania Trump revealed her renovations to the garden in 2020, many welcomed the decision to enhance this lush oasis.
Her improvements involved strengthening the garden’s infrastructure by incorporating new cameras, audiovisual equipment, paving, drainage, and lighting. Melania also made sure to make the garden more accessible for individuals with disabilities.
The White House stated in a press release, “Decades of use and necessary changes made to support the modern presidency have taken a toll on the garden and have made it more difficult to appreciate the elegant symmetry of the Mellon plan.”
Perhaps the most visually striking addition was the majestic limestone walking path encircling the central lawn, flanked by treeless beds.
Melania’s redesign was one of her final acts as First Lady. However, it received mixed reactions, with some perceiving the new layout as resembling a grand television stage rather than a flourishing garden.
Critics expressed their anger, particularly over the removal of ten crabapple trees that were planted during John F. Kennedy’s time in office. The social media sphere echoed with resentment.
Andrea Mitchell, NBC News Chief and Washington Correspondent, questioned, “What happened to the trees? If this isn’t a Marie Antoinette moment, I don’t know what is. Who cares about a redesigned rose garden when we’re in the middle of a pandemic, 175k+ people are dead, and millions are out of work?”
New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow tweeted, “If this isn’t a Marie Antoinette moment, I don’t know what is. Who cares about a redesigned rose garden when we’re in the middle of a pandemic, 175k+ people are dead, and millions are out of work?”
However, there were legitimate reasons for Melania’s changes. Reportedly, the crabapple trees had to be removed due to the excessive shade they cast on the other flowers. C-Span stated that the trees would be replanted elsewhere on the White House grounds.
Nonetheless, most people overlooked this fact, and many remained dissatisfied with the controversial update. An online petition to restore the Rose Garden to its original state garnered over 80,000 signatures.
Melania Trump chose to remain silent amid the harsh criticism, maintaining her composure. However, as the one-year anniversary of the renovations approached in August 2021, critics resurfaced.
Presidential historian and author Michael Beschloss harshly criticized Melania’s garden redesign, describing it as an “evisceration” of the historic space. His tweet gained significant attention and engagement.
rarely comments on such matters, Melania felt compelled to address Michael Beschloss and clarify a few points, as many had anticipated.
She pointed out that the historian had shared a misleading picture, depicting the Rose Garden in its early stages before the roses she had carefully selected had fully bloomed. The Office of Melania Trump responded to Beschloss with a tweet, stating, “@BeschlossDC has proven his ignorance by showing a picture of the Rose Garden in its infancy. The Rose Garden is graced with a healthy & colorful blossoming of roses. His misleading information is dishonorable, and he should never be trusted as a professional historian.”
Interestingly, Melania found support from First Lady Jill Biden, who in May shared a picture of Melania’s roses in full bloom, declaring, “Spring is here at the @WhiteHouse!” This gesture subtly echoed a message of unity among former and current First Ladies.
Today, Melania has established an office in Palm Beach, Florida, following her time in the White House. According to CNN, she will continue her work with the “Be Best” initiative, which focuses on children’s health and well-being, online safety, and the prevention of social media bullying.
Regardless of one’s opinion on Melania’s redesign of the Rose Garden, it is important to treat her with respect, just as we would treat any other individual. Each person deserves to be acknowledged and regarded with decency and dignity.