Melania Trump has been gardening again, planting an Eisenhower-era oak sapling in the White House grounds. It means that her gardening wardrobe has come under further scrutiny. Did she wear 4in Christian Louboutin stilettos to aerate the soil? Did she choose a $4,000 floral Valentino skirt for its horticultural motif? The first lady barely has to lift a gold-tipped ceremonial spade for the jokes to begin.

“Actually, that’s not a spade, it’s a shovel,” says the gardening expert Alys Fowler. “I suspect she was given that in recognition of the fact that she was never going to put her foot on it in those shoes.” Aside from the obvious issues, such as the propensity of stilettos to sink into the mud, Fowler is worried that Trump’s footwear is problematic. “If you are going to lean over and try to lift something quite heavy, that’s a real strain on your lower back.”

Of course, the first lady had no intention of leaning over and lifting anything. After sprinkling a couple of teaspoons’ worth of soil into the hole, she and her companions – also not dressed for gardening – walked off. “Even the Queen stays until the tree is watered in,” Fowler says.

As for that skirt, Fowler says: “There is nothing wrong with wearing a skirt to garden in. Skirts are free-moving. People have this sense that you need workwear to garden. But if it’s not your style, you don’t have to wear it.”

Maybe Trump decided she would just wear what she liked and that it was the tree and the mud that were inappropriate out there. After all, when she “gardened” in a plaid shirt (albeit a Balenciaga one) and Converse, people laughed at the fact that the Converse looked box fresh.

Is it possible to be glamorous when gardening? “Absolutely,” Fowler says. After all, no one told Vita Sackville-West that her double-laced knee-high boots impeded her calf movement. And the gardening photographer Valerie Finnis’s book Garden People is full of images of extravagantly behatted gardeners. Of course, Trump looks glamorous, but she isn’t really gardening and neither is she pretending to. “I think we should be more worried for the tree,” Fowler says.




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