The blooming White House garden in March 2020, before Melania Trump’s renovation (via the White House/Flickr)

Politics aside, one has to acknowledge a grudging sense of admiration for the sheer totality of the Trump administration’s determination to destroy every vestige of US beauty and achievement that preceded it — from its attacks on a huge number of Obama-era policies and practices, to an endless pageant of mustache-twirling villains nominated to head organizations to which their interests are diametrically opposed, to suggesting that perhaps the abomination of Mt. Rushmore could be made more abominable by including our current president (no rock on Earth could support that ego, fortunately). Not to be left out of the fun, Melania Trump has undertaken her latest act of aesthetic sabotage: a renovation of the White House Rose Garden, revealed earlier this week.

Based on the Nightmare-Before-Christmaslike severity and horror of the First Lady’s 2017 Christmas decorations, it should come as truly no surprise that the Rose Garden reveal includes many aesthetic missteps, as well as those — as with all things Trump — that seem specifically designed to undermine the intended and named purpose of space. First the relocation of crabapple trees, perhaps to celebrate the laundry list of damages inflicted by her husband’s attacks on our National Parks and conservation efforts. Next, the complete stripping away of eye-catching multicolored flowers in favor of a highly toned-down, almost all-white palette, to symbolize the abolishment of the diversity that founded our nation through restrictive and punitive immigration policies; with dashes of pastels to connote the $105 million in taxpayer dollars that have gone to fund presidential golf outings.

Public backlash is, unsurprisingly, fierce, with critics taking to Twitter to point out the gross prioritization of media infrastructure — because who needs bees when you’re trying to build buzz for your latest misinformation campaign — and the deforestation of the garden’s flowering trees, cut back to reveal the stark columned walkways of a house built by slavery. Even Chasten Buttigieg wandered into the fray, to remind us all what could have been…

A series of before-and-after images show the sharp contrast in the space, and reinforce Melania’s reputation for a heady combo of tastelessness and severity in her style choices. While the First Lady claimed to be attempting to pay homage to the vision of the Rose Garden implemented by Jackie Kennedy in the last major refurbishment of the space in the 1960s, she did so by installing harsh concrete sidewalks and stripping away all of the color that her predecessors made the convention of the garden. As such a mean style icon, Melania Trump doesn’t resemble Jackie O so much as Cruella Deville — or perhaps, given her deleterious effect on roses, the Queen of Hearts.

Sarah Rose Sharp is a Detroit-based writer, activist, and multimedia artist. She has shown work in New York, Seattle, Columbus and Toledo, OH, and Detroit — including at the Detroit Institute of Arts....

8 replies on “Melania Trump’s Revamped Rose Garden Is Rough Around the Hedges”

  1. All this was accomplished for their WH convention circus so they could make an entrance with no distractions to their presence. Minimize any natural backdrop and emphasize the columns you are walking under for your grand entrance. Maybe she has trouble distinguishing colors–premature cataracts from all that sunning in Florida or she’s actually color blind, and/or it’s the after effects of growing up in an aesthetically drab and visually stark former Eastern Block.

  2. I’m trying to find true before and after comparisons, but this article doesn’t qualify since it’s based on what SNOPES calls false and misleading info. I’ll keep looking, since I’m a stickler for the real thing.

  3. After seeing Melania’s speech, it became clear to me that she scraped the Rose Garden to give a clear shot for the TV cameras.

  4. Like her or hate her, this article is way beneath Hyperallergic. It is filled with inaccuracies and bad mostly debunked reporting. It is really too bad to sully your reputation with such trash.

  5. This version with a sidewalk around the perimeter makes it useable for people in wheelchairs, using walkers or canes. I like it.

  6. I’ll quote Melania’s wardrobe: “I don’t care, do U?” Voting really, really matters!

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