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Apr 10, 2017 Washington, D.C.

The White House Historical Association today applauds celebrated landscape historian and author Jonathan W. Pliska for receiving the Gold Benjamin Franklin Award from the Independent Book Publishers Association for his book, A Garden for the President: A History of the White House Grounds. For nearly 30 years, IBPA’s Benjamin Franklin Awards have been regarded as one of the highest national honors for small and independent publishers.

The book, released by the White House Historical Association in June 2016 in its first edition, explores the extensive history of the White House Grounds, the oldest continually maintained ornamental landscape in the United States. The first edition includes beautifully illustrated historical images and newly commissioned photography highlighting specimen trees.

A Garden for the President explores the relationship between the White House and its landscape, from the public and private uses of the grounds in peace and wartime to the cultivation of the grounds with a focus on the specimen trees, vegetable and ornamental gardens, and conservatories.

Pliska began the long process of researching and writing about the history of the White House Grounds, beginning with the site’s 1789 inception and continuing up to the present time, while consulting for the National Park Service. His book, which was released by the White House Historical Association last summer, also commemorated the centennial of the National Park Service.

Most recently, Pliska has started to grow a collection of unusual heirloom fruits and vegetables that were grown on the White House Grounds during the 19th century. He is documenting this garden for publication in White House History, the Quarterly journal of the White House Historical Association.

Dale Haney, Superintendent of the White House Grounds, writes in the book’s foreword that “the story of the White House landscape is fascinating and reflecting of the nation’s own endless shaping and re-shaping. Pliska loves the subject, and the reader will love it too.”

White House Historian William Seale praises the book, noting that “one does not have to be a gardener to take delight in reading this engaging narrative of the gardens and grounds that have surrounded our presidents for more than two centuries. Through solid scholarship, Jonathan Pliska has dug out the story to create a human history--a history of the love of the earth.”

Media: To receive a sample of the book or to interview Pliska or President of the White House Historical Association Stewart McLaurin, contact

A Garden for the President: A History of the White House Grounds can be ordered from the White House Historical Association gift shops and website at:

Casebound with dust jacket
324 pages
325 illustrations
12 inches wide x 9 inches high
SKU 235

P.D.F. Resources

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About the white house historical association

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy envisioned a restored White House that conveyed a sense of history through its decorative and fine arts. She sought to inspire Americans, especially children, to explore and engage with American history and its presidents. In 1961, the nonprofit, nonpartisan White House Historical Association was established to support her vision to preserve and share the Executive Mansion’s legacy for generations to come. Supported entirely by private resources, the Association’s mission is to assist in the preservation of the state and public rooms, fund acquisitions for the White House permanent collection, and educate the public on the history of the White House. Since its founding, the Association has given more than $50 million to the White House in fulfillment of its mission.

To learn more about the White House Historical Association, please visit

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