White House Rose Garden Over 60 Years—Pictures From 1961 to 2021

In 2021, the White House Rose Garden marks 60 years since it was redesigned back in 1961 during John F. Kennedy's presidency.

Located just outside the Oval Office, the Rose Garden has been a regular setting for various events, from formal receptions to press briefings and other occasions. Its grounds have hosted several public figures, from world leaders to athletes and others.

The first plans for a garden at the White House can be traced back to George Washington, the country's first president, who wanted to plant a botanical garden, according to an archived White House website from the George W. Bush administration.

"Washington purchased the land for what is now the South lawn from a tobacco planter named Davy Burns, while the North grounds originally belonged to the Pierce family.

"As the first President to occupy the White House, John Adams ordered the first planting of a garden. Thomas Jefferson then undertook a complete redesign of the garden," the website says.

In the years following, the garden grounds of the White House continued to bloom, with the planting of various flowers as well as ornamental and commemorative trees.

The Rose Garden was first launched in 1913 by Ellen Wilson, the first wife of former president Woodrow Wilson. In 1961, President Kennedy launched the redesign of the garden for use as a space for outdoor ceremonies.

According to Rachel Lambert Mellon, the late horticulturist who redesigned the Rose Garden, the rose has been the flower of choice for the Rose Garden for most of the 20th century because "the one flower that unites all the occupants through the history of the White House is the rose," she wrote in an article published by The White House Historical Association.

In 1961, Kennedy wanted the garden "restored in spirit," but revised to become more than just a private garden, according to Mellon.

According to Mellon, Kennedy was inspired to revamp the garden following his trip to Europe where he came across some extravagant gardens.

The designer recalled: "He and Mrs. Kennedy had just returned from a state visit to France, followed by stops in England and Austria. 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. He wanted to start, in the greatest haste, to remake the area near his office at the west end of the White House, known as the Rose Garden, into an area both useful and attractive," Mellon wrote.

Here we look back at the White House Rose Garden in pictures from 1961 to 2021.


The White House Rose Garden in 1961.
Former President John F. Kennedy (right) and former Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson (left) speaking to the press at the White House Rose Garden in March 1961. Abbie Rowe/PhotoQuest/Getty Images
The White House Rose Garden in 1963.
Flowers in full bloom at the White House Rose Garden in April 1963. Bettmann via Getty Images


Tricia Nixon's wedding at the White House.
Edward Finch Cox escorts his bride Tricia Nixon (the daughter of former President Richard Nixon) down the aisle following their wedding in the White House Rose Garden in 1971. Bettmann via Getty Images
The White House Rose Garden in 1978.
Former Vice President Walter Mondale (left) and former President Jimmy Carter (right) talking at the Rose Garden in April 1978. White House via CNP/Getty Images


The White House Rose Garden in 1982.
Brazilian soccer legend Pelé (left) doing a demonstration for a children's soccer team at the Rose Garden in October 1982. Dirck Halstead/Getty Images
The White House Rose Garden in 1989.
Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (right) speaking at the Rose Garden in April 1989, in Washington,DC, as former President George Bush looks on. Jerome Delay/AFP via Getty Images


The White House Rose Garden in 1991.
Queen Elizabeth II pictured during a state visit at the White House Rose Garden, seen next to former President George Bush in 1991. John Shelley Collection/Avalon/Getty Images
The White House Rose Garden in 1993.
Former President Bill Clinton names Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg as associate justice of the Supreme Court in the Rose Garden in June 1993. Ron Sachs/CNP/Getty Images


The White House Rose Garden in 2000.
Former Palestinian President Yasser Arafat (left) walks with former President Bill Clinton in the Rose Garden in April 2000. Tim Sloan/AFP via Getty Images
The White House Rose Garden in 2014.
The Rose Garden pictured in April 2014, as former President Barack Obama and his family gear up to host the annual Easter Egg Roll event. IImageCatcher News Service/Corbis via Getty Images
The White House Rose Garden in 2014.
Attorney General Merrick B. Garland (right) and former President Barack Obama (left) pictured at the Rose Garden in March 2016. Mark Wilson/Getty Images
The White House Rose Garden in 2021.
President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the country's COVID-19 response and the vaccination program from the Rose Garden of the White in May, as Vice President Kamala Harris looks on. Nicholas Kamm / AFP via Getty Images