Petition to Reverse Melania Trump's White House Rose Garden Changes Passes 50K Signatures

An online petition asking that former first lady Melania Trump's changes to the White House Rose Garden be reversed has now surpassed 50,000 signatures and is aiming to reach as many as 75,000.

The Change.org petition is addressed to first lady Jill Biden and second gentleman Doug Emhoff. It asks them to restore the garden to its famous appearance from the Kennedy years.

Trump's redesign proved controversial, with many criticizing the lack of color and the removal of crab apple trees. Trees of that kind had been a feature since former first lady Jackie Kennedy overhauled the Rose Garden in 1962, though the originals had been replaced several times.

"In 1961 President and Mrs. Kennedy had just returned from a state visit to France, followed by stops in England and Austria," the petition says.

"The President had noted that the White House had no garden equal in quality or attractiveness to the gardens that he had seen and in which he had been entertained in Europe. There he had recognized the importance of gardens surrounding an official residence and their appeal to the sensibilities of all people."

"In 2019, Melania Trump had the cherry trees, a gift from Japan, removed as well as the rest of the foliage and replaced with a boring tribute to herself," the petition goes on, though it wrongly calls the crab apple trees "cherry trees."

"Jackie's legacy was ripped away from Americans who remembered all that the Kennedy's meant to us. We want Jill Biden and Doug Emhoff to take this on and restore the Rose Garden to Jackie's original design."

The petition had garnered more than 53,000 signatures at the time of writing.

Trump oversaw a redesign of the Rose Garden before her speech to the Republican National Convention on August 25, 2020. She delivered her remarks in the garden.

The garden's facelift was a month-long project that involved replacing colorful flower beds with white and pastel roses, removing the crab apple trees and laying paved walkways. Reports at the time indicated that the trees would be relocated to some other spot on the White House grounds.

Trump's redesign quickly garnered widespread criticism on social media, with some users arguing the "before" images were preferable to those taken "after." There were also some false claims circulating about what Trump had done to the garden, according to Reuters.

Petition to reverse Melania Trump Rose Garden
The petition to reverse the changes Melania Trump made to the White House Rose Garden while she was first lady has received over 50,000 signatures. Getty Images

President John F. Kennedy wanted the Rose Garden to be "useful and attractive" and wanted a variety of flowers, according to a first-person account from Rachel Lambert Mellon, the gardener and horticulturalist who was commissioned to design the garden.

"The President loved flowers and asked if a variety of other types could be mixed with the roses. He had read the published garden notes of Thomas Jefferson and hoped for flowers used in Jefferson's period," Mellon wrote.

"The trees we chose were Katherine crab apples. Crab apples belong to the rose family and would blend well with the roses, perennials, annuals, and herbs that would grow beneath and around them," she said.

Newsweek has asked the White House for comment on this article.