If you're looking for a reason to design or install a cutting garden, look no further than this book In Floral Diplomacy: At the White House (Stichtung Kunstboek, 2017), former White House Floral Designer Laura Dowling takes you on an engaging tour of the White House, with emphasis on the importance of flowers in everyday life, in international diplomacy, and in US politics. She served as chief florist for six years during the Obama Administration.
Dowling believes that floral arrangments can convey important messages and meaning. Designing for a state dinner to honor the prime minister of India, she used a color scheme of fuchsia, purple, and apple green inspired by the peacock, the national bird of India.
For a visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Dowling created arrangements in her favorite colors and to match a state dinner featuring a scientific theme to honor Merkel'sl academic achievements.
Dowling says her main mission as a florist is "to capture the power and emotion of flowers." Her innovative compositions were inspired by both the Obamas and their visitors. When the Obamas hosted members of the US Olympic team, Dowling was inspired by Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" program that encouraged healthy eating and made an "Olympic Torch" from carrot and gloriosa lily flames, along with artichokes and green beans.
For everyday floral arrangements in the White House state rooms -- the Blue Room, the Red Room, the Green Room and others -- Dowling writes that she used colors and flowers "to highlight the season and to set a warm, welcoming tone." Each week, new designs and new combinations of flowers were selected to complement the architecture, the furniture, and the spirit of each room (whether formal, casual, or majestic or intimate).
Not all of us would ever have Dowling's kind of talent, but she makes you think hard about what flowers can do to improve anyone's quality of life. That's a real reason to get started on that cutting garden!