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All the Presidents' Gardens: Madison’s Cabbages to Kennedy’s Roses—How the White House Grounds Have Grown with America
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All the Presidents' Gardens: Madison’s Cabbages to Kennedy’s Roses—How the White House Grounds Have Grown with America

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  225 ratings  ·  63 reviews
The eighteen acres that surround the White House have been an unwitting witness to history—a backdrop for soldiers, suffragettes, protestors, and activists. Kings and queens have dined there; bills and treaties have been signed; and presidents have landed and retreated. The front and back yard for the first family, it is by extension the nation’s first garden. All the Pres ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published April 27th 2016 by Timber Press
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Average rating 4.07  · 
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 ·  225 ratings  ·  63 reviews

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Laura Harrison
Jan 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I LOVE this book! It is meticulously researched and covers typical and extremely atypical gardening problems. Fascinating throughout as well as entertaining. Chock full of amazing photos and illustrations. This would make a perfect gift for anyone who loves history, flowers and gardens. My new favorite non-fiction title!
Sarah -  All The Book Blog Names Are Taken
I received this as an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Wonderful volume about a subject I am not typically interested in. Extensive use of contemporary sources, including the list of gardeners and an exhaustive list of everything ever planted on the White House grounds. Full review to come.


Rating: 5 Stars

I received this as an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an ho
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Really interesting and well written. The photographs are drawings are great!
N.N. Light
This book is ostensibly about the White House Garden. The portions of the book that deal specifically with the White House Garden are brilliant. There are so many interesting points and asides that come from the creation, maintenance and re-imagining of the White House Garden. If the book was solely about the White House Greenery then I might have rated it 5 stars.

The problems here stem from the admirable attempt of the author to offer context. The need for context takes the reader far from the
Amy T.
Mar 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
As soon as I saw this book listed in a seed catalog, I wanted to read it. Then I realized it is by the same author that wrote a book about the gardens of Beatrix Potter, which I found to be quite charming. This book, covering the history of the gardens at the White House, is obviously much broader in scope. Some highlights:
1. John Quincy Adams’ live oak reserve near Pensacola, Florida. (We recently vacationed there, and I wish I would have known about it at the time.)
2. The enormous greenhouses
Feb 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Very detailed, however the author had the tendency to jump around in narrative which is complicated because inherently, the book is a categorical account of presidents, gardeners, and of course, plants. I found it interesting that each president and First Lady seemed to feel obligated to take part in the physical symbol of our nation. I think we can surmise that the status of the garden and the house itself becomes impregnated on their consciousness. So however much we may (loathe) agree or disa ...more
Patricia Romero
Starting with the plant-obsessed George Washington and ending with Michelle Obama's kitchen garden, All the Presidents' Gardens is a rich and compelling narrative that masterfully reveals how the White House grounds reflect what is happening in the country.

The book is written in chronological order beginning with George and Martha Washington in the years 1789 to 1797, the original inhabitants of what was called Versailles on the Potomac.

Ms. McDowell takes us through the centuries and how those
La La
This book is informative and interesting. The gardening history is presented in chronological order, and augmented with images of original diagrams, drawings, newspaper and periodical illustrations, paintings, and photographs. The information was given in a way that was both easy and entertaining to read. A wonderful book for both history buffs and gardeners.

I was approved for an eARC, via Edelweiss, in return for an honest review.
Rebekka Steg
Feb 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
I love history, and this was a fascinating way to learn more about American history, politics and gardening. Full of beautiful pictures and fascinating facts and bits of trivia, I highly recommend it whether you are into history, politics, gardening or all three.

*I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*
Aidan Owen
Dec 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016, history, gardening
I didn't think there could be a garden book more delightful than Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life . I was wrong. McDowell's charming history of the White House gardens was a joy to read: thorough and detailed without being ponderous. ...more
Ellen Klock
Jun 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
All I can say about All the President's Gardens: Madison's Cabbages to Kennedy's Roses - How the White House Grounds Have Grown With America by Marta McDowell is "What an amazing book!" - filled with illustrations (maps/plans/designs, drawings, charts, paintings, portraits, photographs, ) and a rambling history of the building of the White House and its gardens with a lot of little tidbits reflecting the life and times of our country.

George Washington, a serious gardener, selected the location
Kathleen Salisbury
Jan 17, 2020 rated it it was ok
This is an interesting book. It is an attempt to cover a lot of time, a lot of change, a lot of decision making and a lot of history and fails to do so in any significant way. It is interesting to think about the history of the US in the context of the changes and decisions in the White House Garden and this book ALMOST gets there. It’s interesting to think about national trends in horticulture reflected in the White House garden and this book ALMOST gets there. There is a definite ignoring of t ...more
Aug 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
So many interesting factoids about the White House grounds and gardens! Great history, McDowell succinctly stuck to the history of the gardens the whole book. Did more at the very end on the many gardeners (so many of Scottish descent!). I just loved it. Enough to buy a copy to go with her book, Beatrix Potter’s Gardenjng Life. I honestly didn’t know she wrote the latter until I was one-third of the way into this book!
Jul 14, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kathy-s-shelf, kindle
It was amazing that when a new president got into the White House, they almost all made significant changes in the landscape. Some of the changes were very personal, which, if it were I, I don't think I would've done, knowing I would only be there four years. Pools, putting greens, tennis court....
I read this book on a kindle. The kindle is not very kind to photographs & this book had quite a few. I would not suggest reading it this way, since the kindle did not do justice to the photos.
Jacqueline M.
Feb 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I just loved this book that combines two of my great loves: American political history and gardening. I especially adored all the pictures, maps, and sketches of the White House and its gardens throughout the years. For this reason I'm very glad I had a hardcover and not Kindle version of this book and would recommend the same for you. I'm now looking forward to checking out some of the author's other books. ...more
Mandy Burkhart
Jun 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book was delightfully written, beautifully researched, and so well organized. I particularly enjoyed reading the little tidbits of trivia about the First Families and wish that there was more info available about the White House Gardeners. I particularly enjoyed the author's sense of humor. ...more
Apr 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Our master gardener book club book, this was a very interesting read. I love history and I love gardening. What more could you ask for?

Not enough to make me want to visit D C though. I took a garden tour on line.
Wonderfully written with well curated pictures and illustrations this book about the important developments in the White House gardens was a fun read. I found it illuminating and thought provoking about how the gardens reflect the changing tastes of America.
May 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
The history of the White House Gardens from Washington to Obama was interesting, especially as I’d recently been to DC. The author did a very nice job of relating what occurred in the gardens and events , as well as personal aspects of the different presidential families.
Oct 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: garden
LOVED this book! It hit all the notes for me as a history buff (former history major back in the day) and gardener. So many facts and little tidbits that kept me reading. It was also interesting to see (read about) the progression of the gardens at the White House and why those changes were made.
T. Rose
Sep 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I always wondered...

...and now I know. Everything you would ever want to know about the White House gardens, lawns and trees, not mention pests and pets... It is all pretty much covered in this book. History at its most beautiful from simplicity to elegance. A great read!
Sue Roselle
Dec 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
History of the development of the White House lawn and gardens from the each administration from George Washington through Barack Obama. Beautifully written and illustrated overview of the grounds of the "People's House." Engaging and gentle. Highly recommend. ...more
Apr 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
4.5 The writing isn't university press level, but the author has done a ton of research, presents many illustrations, and the details of past presidents' gardens at the Whitehouse and its gardeners is fantastic. This book was such an enjoyable and interesting read. Highly recommended. ...more
Patricia Kerster
Apr 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Wonderfully researched with great pictures and illustrations. A joy to read!
Trish Remley
Aug 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Lots & lots of very interesting tidbits and history about the families, grounds, and buildings. The conservatory where the West wing is now was phenomenal.
Aug 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Wish there had been more pictures.
Apr 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
A wonderfully interesting light history book. A total balm for stressful pandemic days.
Julian Rebelo
May 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Very well researched an pretty amazing book especially if interested in horticultural history.
Sara Goldenberg
Jan 23, 2021 rated it liked it
I really liked it and I am not that interested in gardening! It's got history, intrigue, humor and more. ...more
Mar 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
A great combination of American history and horticulture brought to life through politic-free fun facts and quirky characters.
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I live, garden and write in Chatham, New Jersey where I share my garden with my husband, Kirke, assorted wildlife and approximately 10,000 honey bees. You will often find me at the New York Botanical Garden, where I teach landscape history and gardening courses. My new book, All the Presidents' Gardens, is coming out from Timber Press in October 2016. (I'm excited!) When I'm not gardening I like t ...more

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