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German American Friendship Garden
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German American Friendship Garden Detail

The U.S. Park Service and an advocacy group are planning to install a German American Friendship Garden on the Washington Monument grounds across Constitution Avenue to commemorate the 300th anniversary of German settlement in the Americas.

The garden will feature one ceremonial oak tree from Germany as well as other flowers.

This article will provide you with complete and accurate information about the German American Friendship Garden.

Concerning The Garden

The German American Friendship Garden was initially devoted on November 15, 1988, by President Ronald Reagan and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl to celebrate 300 years of immigration and friendship between the two countries.

The garden is located along the powerful axis between the White House Ellipse and the Washington Monument. The garden featured a variety of flower beds, native plant species from both nations, and the original pair of fountains at either end, all of which invited guests to learn more about the history of U.S.-German relations.

In honor of the German American Tricentennial, the German American Friendship Garden was built on the National Mall by a Presidential Commission in 1983.

The garden was designed in 1983 by Wolfgang Oehme for free. The features of fountains symbolize the longstanding relationship between the two countries as well as native plant species from both countries.  On November 15, 1988, President Reagan and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl dedicated the park. 

In Regards To The 2022 Garden Reveal Celebration

After years of collaboration with the National Park Service and the German Embassy, and with funding and support from Volkswagen Group of America and other corporate partners, on April 29, 2022.

The Trust for the National Mall proudly unveiled the renovated German American Friendship Garden on the National Mall. It happened to an audience of partners, project funders, officials, and guests of the German Embassy.

As an example of private support, consider the restoration of the German American Friendship Garden, which received funding from the German Embassy. Also funded by Volkswagen Group of America, and sixteen other leading German and American corporations.

Trust President and CEO Catherine O’Neill were joined by a number of notable guests, including Ricklef Beutin. Deputy Chief of Mission of the German Embassy, Scott Keogh, CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, and Jeff Reinbold.

There was also Superintendent of the National Mall for the National Park Service, and Ambassador Dereck J. Hogan, Acting Assistant Secretary of State Townsend.

They were for the official re-lighting of the restored fountains that serve as a focal point of the historic plaza. Beautiful music was performed by the United States Air Force Band, which included heartfelt renditions of the German and American national anthems.

Participants at the garden ceremony included partners and project funders who worked together toward the objective of revitalizing this significant and historic area of the National Mall.

Under the shade of the trees in the garden on the National Mall, an old-fashioned organ grinder performed for the throng. While a food truck donated by Lidl, a trusted partner, served German-themed dishes.

In honor of Arbor Day and the opening, a Red Oak tree—a symbol of power in Germany—was planted nearby. After the official proceedings concluded, guests took a Big Bus ride around the National Mall.

In celebration of the successful partnership, guests will be arriving at the German American Heritage Museum for a reception with beverages and hors d’oeuvres with a German theme.

The efforts by the various organizations involved in reuniting and restoring the German-American Friendship Garden.

Restoring The Garden

By 2012, the garden was in need of fresh sod in its central square, a revamped irrigation system, and new plantings. The German Embassy has all signed a memorandum committing to work together to preserve German heritage in the nation’s capital in 2013, work began on restoring the German American Friendship Garden. 

The late German-born landscape artist Wolfgang Oehme was responsible for the original design, which was adhered to during the restoration process.  Oehme van Sweden, a landscape architecture firm, oversaw the project. 

There was new irrigation installed, perennial beds were replanted with native plants, and the Garden’s central square panel was restored and partially renovated.  During this time, the Garden received publicity financing from the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany. 

For the Garden’s long-term care and upkeep, a dedicated maintenance fund has been established. 

The garden turned 30 years old in 2018.  The Trust for the National Mall has taken over the management and upkeep of the German American Friendship Garden in conjunction with the National Park Service and other essential stakeholders. 

In 2019, with help from the German Embassy and Volkswagen Group of America, the Trust led a restoration of the garden. In the first stage, we refreshed the garden with a new layout, new vegetation, and maintenance on the borders and paving stones.

Her Excellency Emily Haber, the German Ambassador to the United States, and Volkswagen Group of America funded and spearheaded the Trust’s expansion into Phase Two in 2020.

The second phase of the project involved the construction of two completely reconstructed fountains, one on each end of the garden, to increase the impression of motion, sound, and energy in the space. 

Planned Landscapes

The German American Friendship Garden incorporates elements of Oehme van Sweden’s “New American Garden Style,” which features a juxtaposition between highly textural, diversified flora and an organized, geometric structure.

Within well-defined, geometric beds arranged symmetrically on a north-south axis, colorful mixtures of ornamental grasses, perennials, and tiny trees blend harmoniously. 

Benches have been placed in such a way that they overlook both the Washington Monument and the White House. In contrast to the straight lines of the landscape, granite cobblestones are laid in circular patterns, some of which contain fountains.

The hardscaping has concentric circles that cross axial lines, evoking the larger-scale patterns typical of the National Mall.

Wrapping Up

A unique Friendship Garden Fund has already generated over $100,000 from private donations, bringing the total amount raised to over $500,000, as reported by the tricentennial commission. German-American associations, veterans of World War II, and the West German state were among the donors.

There were also municipal governments, German enterprises based in the United States and West Germany, and American corporations with operations in West Germany all among the donors. According to the commission, the Baltimore architectural firm Oehme, Van Sweden, and Associates has promised to design the garden and oversee its development at no cost.

The garden’s dedication next month will serve as the year’s culmination of tricentennial celebrations. On October 6, 1683, thirteen families of Mennonites from Krefeld arrived in Philadelphia and established the community now known as Germantown.

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