Next plant news at the White House:
Floral design?



With all the talk of veg gardens, who would have guessed that the world of floral design is about to be thrust into the spotlight, thanks to our very stylish First Lady.  According to the local gossip columnist, Chief Florist Nancy Clarke is retiring from her post after 31 years "in the mansion."

Naturally, floral designers all over town are chattering about the change (probably Tweeting, too). One "favorite florist of D.C. decorators," Allan Woods, calls Clarke's designs "big round balls," that are  "very stiff and formal.  The flower look could become looser and more contemporary.  It would be fun to see them do more edgy arrangements.  On the other hand, it is the White House."  He goes on to suggest the White House "bring in different florists from all over the country to design for special events."

Cool idea!  And that's coming from someone who's never given any thought to floral design at all but would love to see designers strut their stuff and make it into the Style section.  Like some of Woods' own designs in the photo above (in a screen shot from his website).


  1. Bringing florists in from across the country is a fantastic idea. I wonder if they will be able to use flowers and greens that actually grow around the White House. This would certainly cut down on transportation costs associated with shipping flowers from around the world. Maybe the Obama’s will implement the use of local flowers and greens, or start an organic cutting flower garden from which designers can develop seasonal arrangements. Another opportunity to set an example for the rest of the country and operate more in tune with environmental issues. If the cutting garden idea comes to pass, I wonder if some flower importing group will flip their daisies over the fact that White House flowers will be cut from White House grounds rather than imported from across the world. As someone who has worked in the floral business, it is a dirty little secret that many of the fresh flowers American’s buy are grown using lots of chemicals, put field workers at risk, and require a ton of energy to get to American markets. Fresh, locally grown flowers are a healthier and more environmentally sound choice.

  2. I agree that’s exciting. And those of us who’ve read Amy’s wonderful book Flower Confidential (Available in the GardenRant Bookstore right on this page) know all about the dirty little secret. I don’t even compost flowers in my own compost any more, off to the city garden waste.
    Regardless, changing designs, seasonally appropriate, edgy, all sounds great to me!

  3. I’m crossing my fingers for less fuss and formality. I think people like Lady O because she seams real and down to earth. I hope we get to see fabulous designs that any normal person can recreate on a recessionista’s budget.

  4. Well this is right up my alley! Oh the things we could do…
    A cutting garden- of course! All those fabulous flowering branches in the spring! Those hedges!!!The Herb garden!!! And why not supplement our arrangements with local growers sustainable grown blooms. Organic and Sustainable floral design is as elegant as it gets. Check out my website!

    It’s about time we did this cutting garden idea there. This is the way it WAS & IS at Monticello, and the way it truely should be at the White House. Where do I send my resume? I WANT a piece of this!!! What a dream…to at least be there for an event or two…

  5. Daniel Ost is my all time favorite floral designer.
    I’d love to see what he would do for a White House event.
    He’s totally innovative, fresh and out of this world creative.
    He brings floral design to a whole new creative level that few florist will ever attain .

  6. Yawn.

    I hope they grow some of their own, though. The best part about growing flowers is picking them.

    But if we are serious about local vegetables (I so prefer the whole word. Veg is just too…short), WHY are we not serious about local (ish) flowers, within reason? Talk about a carbon woolly mammoth-print…

  7. I love the idea of locally produced flowers for the vases in the white house. However, if your going to make a fuss about the imported flowers, shouldn’t you also make a fuss about imported florists? I am sure there are many excellent florists in the DC area who would fit the bill.

  8. My thoughts too Ellie – lots of local stellar floral designers are in DC and also many flower farms in the area. They are getting a new head of Hort at the White House in June and knowing him and his hard-working ways, there will be a cutting garden or two before the year is out.

  9. I hope she will consider using locally grown flowers. There is a great cut flower community in the mid-atlantic area. is the website for the Assoc. of Specialy Cut Flower Growers which lists local flower farmes all over the country. Local Color Flowers in Balitmore is just a hop skip and jump from the White House. We use all locally grown cut flowers from growers in Maryland and Northern Virginia. If anyone knows Michelle O…tell her we’re available!

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