In 1986, at the urging of Mary, the wife of a prominent US Senator, and the help of the American Rose Society, the rose was named the national flower of the United States by then President Ronald Reagan. Mary, along with the support of Congress and several congressional spouses, set a goal of creating a national rose garden in Washington, DC. Thus, the United States Botanic Garden - a three-acre parcel of land on the Capitol grounds - was born. But, what started out as a simple yet encompassing rose garden, quickly became a much larger undertaking, including a "First Ladies' Water Garden."
After many years of fundraising, designing, two and a half years of construction and planting, on September 29, 2006, the National Garden was dedicated and opened to the public the next day. It symbolizes the nation's "respect for nature and the environment," and a place to educate the public about America's plants and their relationship to humans. (La Vie Claire, Spring 2007 issue)
Where does Claire fit into this endeavor? In 1994, Mary and her dear friend Leone, held a fundraiser in Washington, and invited the six living first ladies, including Nancy Reagan, Betty Ford, and Barbara Bush. Claire was asked to develop a line of soaps and lotions to benefit the garden. Along with the fragrance line, she designed the stunning "Our Nation's Garden" rug which features each state flower. The rug was donated to the Botanic Garden's Conservatory where it hung on display.
The rug is still in Claire's catalog and can be purchased through the website. You can also purchase the Spring 2007 issue of La Vie Claire magazine to read the full story.