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Welcome to "Ask the White House" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Administration officials and friends of the White House. Visit the "Ask the White House" archives to read other discussions with White House officials.

Spring Garden Tours

April 21, 2005
Sara Armstrong and Dale Haney
Thanks everyone for joining us. We look forward to taking your questions on the Spring Garden Tours, which will be held this weekend. We invite you to watch " " video. Let's get started.

page, from arlington writes:
can anyone go on the tours? I would like to go.

Sara Armstrong and Dale Haney
Everyone is welcome to attend as long as you have a ticket. The National Park Service will distribute free, timed tickets at the Ellipse Visitor Pavilion located at 15th and E Streets on both tour days beginning at 7:30 a.m. Tickets will be distributed -- one ticket per person -- on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more information, please visit: /news/releases/2005/04/20050405-8.html

Marianne, from Holland, Michigan writes:
Here in Holland, Michigan we have the Tulip Time Festival and there are a ton of beautiful tulips. Do you all have lots of tulips at the White House?

Sara Armstrong and Dale Haney
We plant about 35 varities of tulips. We have about 3,000 tulips in the Rose Garden, which are bordered by 8,000 grape hyacinths. And at the South Fountain, we have 8,000 tulips bordered by 16,000 grade hyacinths.

So to answer your question, yes, we have a lot of tulips for guests to see!

Will, from Austin, Texas writes:
I remember when The President and Mrs. Bush were in the Governor's mansion and I remember the flowers looking pretty there. Do they both like to garden and do they help pick the flowers at the White House?

Sara Armstrong and Dale Haney
Mrs. Bush is an avid gardener. She enjoys gardening both at the White House and at their ranch in Crawford, Texas where she does lots of the gardening herself. Recently, she has been working to establish Bluebonnets at the ranch and hopes to have full fields of them in the near future.

While President Bush was Governor, Texas A&M honored their First Lady by creating and naming the "Laura Bush Petunia." We look forward to them blooming in the flower window boxes again this summer.

Jimmy, from Iowa writes:
Dale, The gardens at the White House are some of the most beautiful in the world. What steps do you have to take in order to maintain that level of magnificence?

Sara Armstrong and Dale Haney
The White House has three seasonal (spring, summer, and fall) displays. The groundskeepers work many months in advance to prepare for the next seasonal display. As a result, gardening is a year-round event at the White House.

Margaret, from Kirkwood, Missouri writes:
The tulips on the front page of look great Are there lots of tulips on the WH lawn? And if so is it hard to work with them because they bloom so quickly?

Sara Armstrong and Dale Haney
We will have many tulips for guests to enjoy on the Spring Garden Tour. This is because we plant early-spring, mid-spring, and late-spring bulbs. This keeps the gardens full even if we have an unseasonably warm spring. Currently, due to the warm weather we have had, the mid-spring bulbs are now blooming.

Dan, from Spokane, WA writes:
Who was responsible for holding the first White House Garden Tour for the public?

Sara Armstrong and Dale Haney
Mrs. Nixon first opened the gardens to the public in 1972. Since then, the garden tours have been an annual tradition at the White House in both the fall and the spring.

Ellie, from Virginia writes:
Dear Sara and Dale,What are your favorite flowers in the garden that are blooming right now?

I bet the flowers are beautiful

Sincerely, Ellie

Sara Armstrong and Dale Haney
Dale: My favorite flowers are the hyacinths and the Spanish bluebells. They are planted throughout the grounds in the more natural areas, such as in the Children's Garden as well as the knolls of the North and South Grounds. I enjoy these flowers because each year they return on their own and are often fuller and brighter than the previous year.

Sara: I love the tulips! They are a sure sign of spring. In addition, the colors of the tulips go wonderfully with the different varieties of pansies that are planted throughout the flowerbeds.

Dorothy, from Columbia, SC writes:
What variety of flowers, trees and shrubs will be available for viewing at the Spring Garden Tour? Do you plant only American varieties, or are other countries' specimens included as well.

Sara Armstrong and Dale Haney
In addition to the tulips, grape hyacinths, and other flowers, guests will be able to see red buds, crab apples, dogwoods, as well as the commemorative tree plantings (a tradition dating back to 1876 by President Hayes).

Guests will also be able to see the two trees that President and Mrs. Bush have planted. They are the cutleaf silver maple and the little leaf linden, which are both located as the South Lawn. We invite guests to specifically check those out!

While there are many different trees on the South Lawn, guests will be able to enjoy a brochure distributed by the National Park Service that will identify the commemorative tree plantings as well as the President and Mrs. Bush's tree plantings.

We also invite guests to check out the wisteria on the South Portico, which should be in full bloom this weekend!

Linda, from Baltimore writes:
Dear Miss Armstrong and Mr. Haney,I was fortunate enough to get tickets for the White House Easter Egg Roll, but unfortunately the weather did not allow us to attend.

I plan on getting tickets for the Garden tours this weekend as well--will they be cancelled if bad weather occurs like the Easter Egg Roll?

Thank you, Linda from Baltimore

Sara Armstrong and Dale Haney
With a light rain, we will definitely be able to have the tours this weekend. But if the rain becomes heavier and the roads become slick, we will unfortunately have to cancel the tours.

Before you arrive at the White House, you can call (202) 456-7041 to check the status of the event.

Paulette, from Washington, DC writes:
What are best flowers to plant that would probably last through the summerfall with low maintenance. We have tulip coming up now from what the previous owner planted, and I am not sure how to take care of them.

Thanks for your suggestions.

Sara Armstrong and Dale Haney
Dale: I would recommend using salvias and lantanas, which do well through the summer and fall. They both like the heat and the sun and are low-maintenance.

Tulips tend to not multiply and the bulbs usually need to be replaced every 2-3 years. If you are looking for a spring-flower that is relatively low-maintenance and gets better every season, I recommend either daffodils or Spanish bluebells. The daffodils in Rock Creek Park in the District are a perfect example of this.

Mike, from Wayne, PA writes:
How can I get tickets to the tours, and when are they? What is it like to work on the historic grounds of the White House and how many committees do you have to go through to decide on what to plant where? Thanks for your time.

Sara Armstrong and Dale Haney
The White House Spring Garden Tour will be held on Saturday, April 23, from 10am-4pm and Sunday, April 24, from 12-4pm. For information about tickets, click here: /news/releases/2005/04/20050405-8.html

We go by the Olmsted plan, which was established during President Franklin Roosevelt's administration. He brought the Olmsted brothers to the White House and they developed the plan and landscaped the grounds.

The National Park Service maintains the grounds of the White House and determines the color schemes for the seasonal displays. Mrs. Bush always enjoys their hard work.

Paula, from Catholic University, DC writes:
Sara and Dale,I will be coming to the Garden Tours this year. I come every year and think they are beautiful.

The real question is...will Barney be there???

Sara Armstrong and Dale Haney
Thank you for enjoying the garden tours every year. We especially look forward to next spring's tulips, when we will feature for the first time the "Tulipa Laura Bush." The Royal Dutch Wholesalers Association created this tulip in honor of Mrs. Bush. She visited the Dutch Embassy in Washington, D.C., last spring to accept this great honor. Click here to see a photo: /news/releases/2004/04/images/20040422-13_tulipsigningwebp398-515h.html

To see Barney enjoying the gardens, we invite you to watch video.

Sara Armstrong and Dale Haney
We look forward to seeing everyone on the garden tours this weekend. Thanks so much for you interest and wonderful questions!

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