Saturday, December 12, 2009

A New Florist for the White House

I can't imagine a more exciting, or more stressful job than being the head florist at the White House. After 30 years, Nancy Clarke retired earlier this year, and Laura Dowling was tapped to become the new White House Florist. Her job will surely be a much different one than that of past Official Florists.

The White House has employed a 'bouquet maker' since the time of President Buchanan, in the 1850's. However, it was 1961 before Jackie Kennedy arrived and created the Office of the White House Florist. A bit of trivia: Jackie's oddest request of her florist was that strongly-scented flowers be used, to help combat the smell of tobacco prevalent throughout the White House!

Before taking over White House duties, Laura owned her own floral studio in Virginia where she specialized in designs that leaned towards French-country style. She regularly traveled to Paris to study with top floral designers and has been featured on tv and in magazines. Clearly, she is no slouch, and will no doubt bring a much needed freshness to the White House!

Having a younger, more modern President and First Lady in office means even the flower arrangements need to be of the moment. Michelle Obama favors hot colors, and for a recent dinner with Indian guests, even included produce in some of the designs. She is also fond of dogwood branches and white orchids.

Before you cry out that the government is 'wasting' money on flowers everywhere, know that to cut expenses, long-lasting ferns are now used throughout the White House, especially in areas that are not generally seen by the public.

Typically, the White House florist will 'get by' with a staff of 3, but that number is augmented with special helpers when needed. Nancy is charged with creating floral arrangements for the Oval Office, the private residence, public rooms, workspaces, hallways, and when in use, Camp David and Air Force One.

You may not need quite as many arrangements as the White House, but it's not too late to call Bloomers for beautiful flowers in your home this holiday!

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