Obama plants a piece of New Jersey on White House lawn

By Steve Holland
Washington, DC (October 28, 2009)- President Obama was on hand for a commemorative tree planting on the White House front lawn. There’s always a good tale behind these things and here’s this one: Benjamin Harrison planted a Scarlet Oak tree in the same spot in 1889. There it stood through good times and bad, triumph and tragedy, rain and shine, and, well, you get the idea.


Photo credit: Reuters/Jim Young (Obama plants commemorative tree at White House)
Then it rotted straight through and tumped over in a 2007 rainstorm. George W. Bush planted a Scarlet Oak in the same spot as a replacement in 2008, but it didn’t take hold.
Thus came Obama with a Little Leaf Linden tree donated from Halka Nurseries Millstone Township, New Jersey. It’s supposed to be a sturdier tree so maybe this one will take root. We hope so, because in Washington, if you want a friend, get a tree. Wait a second, that doesn’t sound right.
Of all the matters Barack Obama inherited from his predecessor, this one was relatively small. There was a historically-significant hole on the White House North Lawn that needed to be filled, as it had been a year before him by George W. Bush and by another president more than a century before. W.’s tree, a Scarlet Oak, “did not take,” and so, following White House tradition, Obama was called on to replace it.
Photo credit: Reuters/Jim Young (Obama plants commemorative tree at White House)
“This is a nice looking tree, don’t you think?” Obama said as he approached the scene, accompanied by Retired Rear Admiral Stephen W. Rochon, chief usher of the White House, about 5:30 p.m. “We’ve got to get a couple, do a little work here,” Obama said, reaching for a ceremonial shovel. Nine times he plunged it into the topsoil.
In a minute, he was done, leaving a mostly empty hole but fulfilling an obligation of planting his first tree on the White House grounds. “This a little easier than it should be,” Obama joked.