Gardens of the Candidates


Didja see this slide show of the homes of Republican presidential candidates?  Check them all out – for their sheer size, if not any landscaping of note.  Only Newt Gingrich’s landscaping stands out – and not in a good way, to my taste.  If our homes say anything about us, doesn’t this one scream “tightly wound”? Gingrich

Also, 5,200 square feet for two people?


  1. Newt’s landscaping is just like him–kinda vulgar, very suburban, but not unstylish, with a crazy kind of playfulness in all that pruning. Newt horrifies me, but makes me laugh at the same time.

    The only house that provokes even a slight degree of envy here is Mitt’s. I’d like a super-tasteful rustic/elegant lake house, too.

  2. I’m the leftiest of liberals, but I don’t see a problem with most of these landscapes or homes. First, you are looking at winter photos – how does your garden look at this very second? I know the ones shown sure looks better than mine right now! Also, the Huntsmans townhouse in DC has a terrific hill-side, non-turf front garden and a really nice back courtyard garden. Finally, I don’t think the Gingrinch front garden pictured shows “tightly wound” — to me it shows a playful, whimsical side that I find unexpected. I’d have guessed a straight hedge along the street edge and all lawn behind it actually.

  3. I do not see this home as a monster size house at all. And what about Al Gore and all his mansions? While 5200 sq ft is large so what?
    I see a sense of jealousy here. You are attacking a person based on the home they live in? Funny how if a left leaning anti-lawn gardener had a specimen collection of topiary conifers the love fest would ensue big time. What about someone who lives in a camper but has an outstanding garden, would you also attack their home?

    Please there are more fish to fry than a modest McMansion. 5200 sq ft is large but not overly so by today’s standards.

    The TROLL

  4. As if landscapes for Democratic candidates would be much better. Should I leave the size Al Gore’s mansion out of the discussion?

    Good gardening blogs are hard to find. Leave the partisan politics out of garden discussions, please.

  5. I saw these photos yesterday, also, and am appalled. To me, ones house and ones garden reflects how one connects to the environment. Obviously, none of them do (and neither does Al Gore–if one is not willing to walk the walk, then talking the talk doesn’t count.)

  6. look for the gardener behind the garden ; for sure, not a politician. The one who sculpted all the topiaries was probably trying to have some fun of his own !

  7. I’m more interested in seeing their *back* yards. I keep my front yard somewhat “normal” but all bets are off at the back of the house.

  8. Thanks for posting this. The nosy Nellie in me always likes to check out other people’s landscaping and, of course, scrutinize it to pieces. I think Newt Gingrich’s front yard looks hilarious. Maybe his gardener is Edward Scissorhands.

  9. Actually, these houses look modest compared to the houses of most high ranking officials and celebs, especially Ron Paul’s quite small house and property. I also see no evidence of a lack of gardens. They look like normal suburban homes to me, not at all my style, but much less grandiose and pretentious than I expected.

    I would think anyone who is anti-lawn might approve of Ron Paul’s property if not his platform. Aside from the postage stamp front lawn, his backyard is a patio which seems filled to capacity with well cared for potted plants and container gardens. The rest is a swimming pool. No backyard lawn at all. Does he not get points for that?

  10. Ron Paul’s patio photos feature a pair of squirrels — seemingly undeterred by the photographer — happily snacking on an impressive sunflower.

  11. Extremely dull and conventional landscaping, with Newt’s as just a variation on the theme. Sort of landscapting service you’d find in most affluent communities. Maybe there’s some real gardening going on in the backyard, but I doubt it. Too bad.

    On the other hand, I wouldn’t say no if someone offered me the Huntsman townhouse or Mitt’s mansion in the woods.

  12. My wife and I are regular watchers of Top Chef. During the Washington season I was irritated that the potted plants on either side of the front door were dead through most of the episodes. I think they were Alberta Spruces, or something of a similar shape. I couldn’t believe the program people didn’t do something about that. Details people!! So I was glad to see that Mr. Huntsman has replaced them with something living, maybe Sky Pencil Hollies.

  13. The “so what” about 5,200 sf is how screamingly unethical it is for only 2 persons!
    “Partisan politics” DOES belong on garden blogs – do you think that individuals running for political office will not have any effect on the environment? Or on whether or not your township tries to arrest you for growing vegetables in your front yard?
    It’s past time for ecological ethics, based on understanding science. Gardeners above all should understand this.

  14. I don’t think square footage is as much of an issue as resource consumption. If the house is made out of recycled materials and heated with chicken breath (I once read an article about heating a conservatory with chicken breath), then who cares how big it is?

  15. I will be unsubscribing from this blog-it’s disappointing when partisanship surfaces in the garden. I prefer blogs that focus on positive ideas and not finger-pointing or snarky remarks-there’s enough of that in everday life.

  16. I am so glad to see all the push back from this rant… It’s ridiculous to expect everyone to be gardeners. Although I love gardening myself, and enjoy this blog it’s silly to be partisan about a politicians garden. They do have tremendously important jobs but I’m more interested in their voting record than the looks of their gardens.

  17. Amanda, I’d be shocked if any of them were gardeners. The photos were still interesting to me – for their choice of homes and landscaping style, if nothing else. I also find interesting the homes and gardens of movie stars in LA or elsewhere. All light-hearted stuff.

  18. Amanda, your comment got me thinking – in the 30 years I worked on Capitol Hill did I ever talk to a single senator or rep about gardening? And yes, with Larry Craig, the retired senator from Idaho, now infamous for – oh, you know.

  19. Except for Ron Paul’s house all the others most likely have written and signed on the dotted line standards their landscapes must conform to. Michele Bachmann’s landscape looks like the builder’s special. Mitt’s posh lake house grounds look very appropriate and naturalistic, nice. I’d have to see what exactly is planted in those container beds at Jon Huntsman’s townhouse before rendering an opinion. Small highly urban beds like that are difficult sites to deal with. All that green lawn at Rick Perry’s rental mansion is rather out of touch with the realities of gardening in Austin,Tx, but in that kind of neighborhood there are illusions to maintain. Rick Santorum’s place looks safe and by the book. No sin there.

    Since Jon dropped Obama’s Chicago cottage into the mix all I can see is some big tall trees and a thick evergreen hedge. I say show me the real garden in there not some photo copy vegetable garden at the White House.

    I have to say I just love Newt’s topiaries. I imagine he bought them with the house for wife #3 though. That is one way to flaunt those standards without getting caught. That one tree in the circle bed right smack in the middle in the front is off though. It looks newly planted to hide the front door. Don’t want to see Newt in his robe fetching the paper that’s for sure. The Japanese maple and Weeping Blue Atlas Ceder throw off the balance. The maple needs to go or be moved to the other end of the bed. It’s like they tried to go all out on the topiaries and lost confidence at the end.

    Now that is how you have fun with a post like this without getting all bent out of shape. Lighten up people.

  20. No. I do not think partisan politics belongs on garden blogs. There is an implication that one party or ideology is more beneficial to gardeners and the environment than the other and that is just not true. It does entirely depend on the individual politician and the individual gardener.

    As for the size of a house or garden, I don’t make assumptions about what other people need. Everyone has different priorities. Maybe they have a lot of guests or personal work spaces or libraries. There is always someone who has less than you who thinks you have too much. There is always someone who thinks what you need or want is wrong because it’s different from what they need. It’s all relative.

  21. “one party or ideology is more beneficial to gardeners and the environment than the other and that is just not true”

    And which one of those parties has multiple candidates damning the EPA and wanting to abolish it and all environmental regulations that hinder business, in their pea brains at least. Why we should be just like China says Ms. Bachmann. There are plenty of rivers and lakes in China I would just love to see you go for a swim in Dani.

  22. Christopher C NC, what you have identified as a “Weeping Blue Atlas Ceder [sic]” in Newt’s yard is more likely a Larix decidua ‘Varied Directions’. Regarding the placement of the A. palmatum dissectum, it serves as the focal point of the ‘topiary gallery’ entry walk (also there is already a smaller maple at the driveway end of the walk Furthermore, the tree that you say “is off” is in fact very well sited, and probably an upright japanese maple.

    The best thing about Newt’s house is the subtly apt address: Windy Hill Ct.

  23. Jason how can a Larix decidua ‘Varied Directions’ still be green without a touch of color and in full leaf when a Japaneses Maple, very late shedders, and all the larger background trees are bare? I’ll stick with my cedar ID and my opinion that the lone tree in its own circle of mulch, not even incorporated into the larger bed is off. Your realty link didn’t show me any more pictures, but that might be my satellite internet’s loading issue.

  24. 1. Who cares if it IS 5200 sqft?! None of your business, and certainly not your place to presume to decide how much space someone should have. I know– all you said is “Also, 5,200 square feet for two people?”, but it’s clear that you were declaring the spread extravagant/wasteful/something otherwise negative.

    2. Lest another pixel be devoted to the “what a shame he’s not more of a gardener” theme, please consider the fact that THEY’RE ALL A LITTLE BUSY RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT. Sorry, was I shouting? Well, it is Garden Rant

  25. I’ve gotta say I’m impressed that you commented on my comment Susan! And I may have missed the spirit of this post and I apologize. It is difficult to extract ourselves from the personal nature of the current political landscape…annoyingly. The back and forth in this comments section just makes me like this blog and my fellow gardeners that much more.

  26. I’ll be in line for that lakeside home, too. The house the Pauls are trying to sell is a fits-in-the-neighborhood suburban house. I just don’t happen to like it.

    I do happen to loathe the pom-pom-poodle sort of “topiary” trees–often a junipers, in this area, which suck up water like there’s no tomorrow for it, and too many accompanied by brick-edged crushed-white-rock hardscape. Now a whimsical topiary front hedge (please, something other than privet!) would be fun.

    I do like traditional houses with a bit of whimsey, wilderness, or highly romantic features somewhere, and I don’t mean painted nudes. I admit to lusting over a stone-covered fairy-tale type house of a size for entertaining guests for a few days, a good room for MY library, casual (maybe north facing, so I can have orchids?) and formal areas for dining, a real kitchen where folks who are going to cluster around you anyways, have room to do so, a project room where I can leave projects in progress left out between sessions, an office for every adult living there. Outdoors, I want a British-style conservatory, a water feature, an orchard gardenroom, a pool and spa in a nature setting, rather than the usual suburban setting…hey, I’m dreaming here!

  27. Maybe in the interest of objectivity the article should have shown a picture of Al Gore’s house and George W. Bush’s house. Gore’s house is far larger than any of these and makes a mockery of his environmental stances. Bush has a highly sustainable house, relatively small with rain collection system and passive energy conservation built in.

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