Sunday, May 22, 2016

The White House Spring Garden Tour

Every year (possibly since the 70s), in spring and fall the white house throws open its gates to the general public so they may have a glimpse of its garden. We were one of the lucky ones to visit this year, reaching at around 8:00am to join the line for tickets.

I quite liked the design of the ticket with its doodle of flowers and leaves, green and white. Very elegant!

And so we strolled in, admiring the lawns and huge trees, each of which had a signboard in front of it showing which president or first lady was the one who planted it. Quite a few were by the Bushes - senior and junior, and some by the Clintons.
We were handed a booklet during the tour, a publication that was made possible through the generosity of the White House Historical Association, a private, non- profit educational organization. Here is some information from this excellent resource:
"The White House grounds are the oldest continuously maintained landscape in the United States.
The White House's first resident, John Adams, requested that a garden be planted before his arrival in 1800. Unfortunately, he was defeated shortly thereafter by Thomas Jefferson and never enjoyed the produce from the White House Grounds. While in office, Jefferson made plans for planting trees and established winding pathways surrounded by rhododendron and other American shrubbery.
In the 1820s, John Quincy Adams formally established a White House gardening program. It is said that he liked to dig in the flower beds early in the morning and claimed to have planted over a thousand plants during his tenure. His successor, Andrew Jackson, continued to develop the gardening program, adding an orangery in which to grow fruit during the winter."
We were excited to be so up close; apparently in one of the past tours President Obama had come out and waved to the crowds. No such thrills this time though.
 This sight was familiar, thanks to the media coverage of the President's addresses.
It was nice to have the band playing while we waited in the lines

The most recent addition to the grounds is the kitchen garden, established in 2009 by First Lady Michelle Obama along with students from local schools. I read (again in the lovely booklet provided along with the ticket) that the food grown here is used to provide for the first family and State dinners. One third of it is donated to a local charitable organization that provides services around homelessness.
We thought we were done with the sights for the day as we strolled out, but there was more - horses from the National Parks service, standing outside, much to the amusement and excitement of all the kids (and some adults).

Monday, May 9, 2016

Chilli seedlings

Sometime in the middle of April, I scattered five seeds of the dried red chillies that I have been using in my cooking and have been watching the emergence of the seedlings with great interest and enthusiasm.
Im hoping the spring showers we've been having give way to sunshine as these little babies now need some light.