Maybe you heard the big Melania Trump news yesterday: three months out from the presidential election, the First Lady is on the verge of renovating parts of the White House Rose Garden. This is the first renovation of the garden in 58 years, according to the Washington Post, the first since Jackie Kennedy tapped Washington socialite Bunny Mellon to help make it over in 1961.
But this time, the lead on the project is not a Washingtonian: Trump tapped a New Yorker, a landscape architect from the Hamptons named Perry Guillot.
Guillot is “a favorite of Hamptonites like Aerin Lauder, Tina Brown, and Tory Burch,” according to Vanity Fair, is “somewhat of an authority on privacy-affording shrubbery,” according to The Architect’s Newspaper, and even penned a coffee-table book about the privet, that “privacy-affording” shrub ubiquitous around Southhampton.
In contrast, the plan that Guillot is overseeing for the Rose Garden—the ultimate outdoor stagecraft at the White House—hinges on “openness and improved access,” according to a memo on the changes. Two new limestone walkways will be added, and crab apple trees will be swapped out for new rose bushes. Electrical improvements “will make it easier to televise the President,” according to the New York Times.
To critics on Twitter who worried the First Lady might cheapen the Rose Garden with any changes, architecture critic Paul Goldberger tweeted that he was relieved by her choice of Guillot: “He is talented and thoughtful, and I think will not countenance undermining the essence of Bunny Mellon’s original design,” Goldberger wrote. “Or so I hope.”
What about the Washingtonians who might take affront at another New Yorker riding in the Trumps’ wake and leaving a mark on a site as historically important as the Rose Garden?
Guillot, it turns out, is collaborating with a local company: OvS, a high-end firm of landscape architects and horticulturalists who design public and private spaces.
The firm was involved in the World War II and MLK memorials in DC; on the residential side, its projects include some dreamy estates stretching from Nantucket and the Hamptons to the Eastern Shore of Maryland and the Rappahannock River in Virginia.
The Rose Garden revamp is expected to be completed in about three weeks.