Jonathan Prisca, Andrew Jackson, 1989 discussed on C-SPAN Programming


Good sense to tread lightly, no pun intended on the grounds and respect the history and add to it rather than subtract from it. And this evening. This definitely includes, uh, first Lady Trump's, um, recent renovation, Rachel Lambert Melon Bunny Mellon. Specifically, even in 1989, she returned to the to the White House to spruce up the Rose Garden under Mrs Mellon, the original creator of the Rose Garden, was was actually advocating for the removal of all or some of those crab apple trees that which was sort of the crux of criticism that Mrs Trump received. And this was because, well, the roses and the other plants underneath it needed more light. I mean, it's kind of, you know, bigger. The bigger tree gets as it grows, the more the more it's going to shake things out. And so she Mrs Mellon was even in in favor. Of removing some of them. And those trees that were removed just last year were actually the second or third iterations of the crab apples. They were not the historic trees from April of this year in Compton, formerly with ABC News. The conversation with Jonathan Prisca, author of the book A Garden for the President. Well, I must confess I don't take sides on politics, but I missed the trees, especially when I was doing a new stand up in the Rose Garden. And you had the beautiful blossoms behind you or those beautiful magnolias in the corner, But the but the trees all around. It also gave the the the Rose Garden a bit of, uh, of seclusion. It gave it part. It gave it a definition so You as an historian have a phrase that I don't really know how to translate into average that, um, what does the phrase to professional historians mean? A period of significance isn't the last 230 years a period of significance for the White House? Well, you took the words right out of my mouth in at the risk of maybe summarizing this a little bit too much for some of my fellow his story. And a period of significance is basically a fancy way of saying when the historic thing happened for a lot of historic places in the United States, Uh, think Gettysburg National Battlefield Park Well, the place there is more or less significant because of the two day battle fought in 18 63 during the American Civil War, So it's pretty easy to wrap your head around a period of significance in a place like that, But with the White House, it's different with the White House grounds. It's different. The Entire 200. Plus odd years of the White House grounds is the period of significance, and there's very few places in the nation that you can say that about even more significant to me is that the period of significance is open ended, but but simply because it is the White House. Whatever happens tomorrow or next week or next month or next year is going to be historically significant. Can I tell you one will Story that affected me and that this has to do with the beautiful Jackson Magnolias, which are how old now the Oh well, if you believe that if you believe the story associated with them they were planted by Andrew Jackson sometime around 18 28. So they are gigantic and what you what we see close up is there are huge metal poles going up the entire life. And they are wired together because the president's Marine one helicopter comes out the downdraft beats against them. But one morning I got a call from the ABC News desk it about 1 10 in the morning. They said a plane has crashed into the White House. Get there quick. Well, I got there. It turned out was a little tiny, ultra light plane and it had a kook had tried to land at one o'clock in the morning on the South Lawn of the White House, But there were bleachers set up for a police event the next day, so he pulled up, hit the ground Gaza and went straight up through the Jackson. And smashed in, broke the windows in the White House Medical office right underneath the president's bedroom. That kind of moment. It damaged the tree a little bit. It damaged the window. But my goodness is scared all of us. Absolutely. And I My hat's off to you because I write about things after they've happened. You're there covering it live, and I can only imagine what that was like It was during the Clinton administration. Correct. And I believe the thankfully the president and first lady weren't home at the time. Which is why I wasn't at the White House at one o'clock in the morning, right? Real quickly. The Jackson Magnolias. Um there are lots of trees on the White House grounds that presidents have planted for very significant historic reasons. Do you have any favorites? Yeah, I wish I the Gerald Gerald and President Gerald Ford and first lady Betty Ford planted a American elm to mark the bicentennial of the United States. Unfortunately, that tree no longer survive. But it was a very important moment and a great way to celebrate the 2/100 anniversary of the nation. Was it Dutch elm disease? Was this the era where we're losing so many elms? I believe so, yes, unfortunately, And the good news is that there are some genetically resistant hybrids available now one of which was originally discovered literally on the National Mall. So those are beginning to be planted at the White House and Laura Bush when they redesigned Pennsylvania. Avenue, asked that there be American elms. Perhaps these hybrids planted all up and down literally at the address of 1600, Pennsylvania Avenue, and some people said that was bringing about kind of the restoration of elms, which had died off and oaks had become. Had become so so predominant but the but the historic nature or the whole historic importance of presidents planting trees. Um, it that's a real legacy for the White House. Absolutely the For many years, the oldest tree with a known presidential association was an American elm planted by John Quincy Adams in about 18 26 front or back lawn South Lawn. It was actually on one of the large mounds. On the South Lawn. You probably remember it The it's an enormous tree in a section of it is actually on display at the White House Visitors Center the so so that was the oldest tree with its presidential association, and you can see how far back that goes. But currently there are 33 plantings that were either planted by a president or first lady. The the Jackson Magnolias are the oldest. But some of their their history is a little bit in doubt, because they, in fact, don't show up in early photographs of the White House, So it's a beautiful story that they're associated with Jackson, but it might not be entirely historically accurate..

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