Laura Dowling: Floral Diplomacy

Laura Dowling served as Chief Floral Designer at the White House for 6 years from 2009 until 2015. In this position, she planned and implemented decorations for major events at the White House, including the White House Christmas, state dinners, the presidential family quarters, the public tour route displays, and Camp David, an imposing portfolio of literally thousands of large and small events, floral arrangements, table settings and innovative volunteer projects.

Flowers: A Tool for Innovation and Change

Laura Dowling’s Ted Talk. Ted x Mid Atlantic

Inspired by President Obama’s message of hope and change, Laura created floral designs to reflect these sentiments and chats about using flowers as a strategic approach. Focus may be environmental, cultural traditions, symbolism, and much more.

Photo by Stichting Kunstboek

Photo by Stichting Kunstboek


Promise You a Rose Garden: Ex-White House Florist Tells All

New York Times

The former White House florist Laura Dowling, in New York City’s flower district.  Credit Tawni Bannister for The New York Times  By Katherine Rosman

The former White House florist Laura Dowling, in New York City’s flower district.

Credit Tawni Bannister for The New York Times

By Katherine Rosman


Laura Dowling’s garden style bouquets are exquisite gatherings of lush and vibrant seasonal blooms, poetic arrangements that evoke sentimental memories and inspire ethereal dreams. Highly original in concept and design, Laura’s bouquets weave layers of blooms, fruits and entwining vines with fabricated materials such as paper, ribbons and wool, blurring the lines of traditional floristry to fuse flowers with nature and handcrafts in new and unexpected presentations. At once fanciful and whimsical, refined and elegant, her colorful bouquets exude a friendly and approachable aesthetic that have inspired a First Lady, high-level dignitaries and legions of fans from around the world with their great charm and liveliness. She believes that flowers – the ephemeral but enduring mementos of special occasions and everyday life – convey a vast range of emotions and meanings that words alone cannot express, unlocking a powerful tool for uplifting spirits, telling stories and enriching our lives. In her new book “Bouquets,” due out later this year, Laura shares her secrets and insights for creating 75 innovative designs that focus on l’art du bouquet – the most personal and evocative form of floral artistry – including detailed step-by-step tips and techniques for crafting her unique, signature-style bouquets for all settings, seasons and occasions.


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“ I think we need more opportunities for thoughtful, collaborative problem-solving and creative expression vs. devolving into cliques and group think – a challenge in the social media era. The bottom line is that the appeal of flowers is timeless and enduring – and will continue to play an important role in our increasingly hectic and busy lives – creating new opportunities for everyone involved in the floral world.” Laura Dowling

New 2019 Holiday Wreath Stamp Collection will soon be available. Laura shared this wonderful news about her latest project years in the making. Antonio Alcalá served as the art director Laura Dowling designed the festive wreaths for the holiday stamps. Photographed by Kevin Allen.

Compote Masterpieces by Christin Geall

Every week we are entrusted with an amazing collection of images from each of our guests. When we spoke to Christin Geall, we wanted to put together a collection of her compote designs and invite you to experience the magic that she creates with her flowers. All these designs and images were created and photographed by Christin Geall.

Before you look at these images we’ve put together with Christin’s help, I hope you stop and take a breath, close your eyes, and imagine you’re in a museum. When you open your eyes, my hope is that you drink in each image and notice her particular use of color and space. On her podcast with us, she mentioned the careful arranging of light and shadows in addition to the use and selection of each flower. I would encourage you to take a moment and open this blog post on a computer or at least a large screen to experience the detail in each piece.

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One of the magical qualities that Christin demonstrates time and time again is the manner in which the natural color and curve of a branch, vine, or grass can draw your eye directly into the center of the design. Then, when you step back you can see how every element works together to create a design with both continuity and form. One of the aspects of this design that I find so amazing are the clean colors: the purity of the whites, the vibrant yellows, and the hint of green that comes with spring.

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During various times of the year, a floral designer has the opportunity to work with an assortment of wild elements like grasses and vines. I love how Christin uses more wildflower like blooms to fill the space and create interest. You could look at this amazing floral design for a long period of time and continue to find hidden gems. The different types of greenery and their diverse shades and textures play with the colors of each flower.

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Color,Color, Color!! How many times do you wish you had the chance to work with vibrant colors of any kind in your designs. Once again, Christin takes the time to select a wide variety of material often harvested from her own garden to experiment with both color and light. These vibrant maple leaves draw your eye into the center of this piece to expose all of the hidden treasures. Whether it’s the crabapples stripped of their foliage and clustered together or the euonymus and their amazing contrast of hot pinks and orange dancing all around, nature continues to show us how to use color and light and welcomes us into autumn .

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In floral design, light is as important as color. Mixing this incredible collection of pastel colored flowers is only enhanced by the light in this photograph. The softness of the light allows the gentle colors to sing in a harmonious symphony. Like a chorus, each flower and their colors play their part in a soft romantic way. The Dahlias which usually are the stars of a piece are instrumental in bridging all the colors together and allowing the little dancing flowers to have their moment.

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Using a variety of containers can be inspiring. This container is made out of beeswax. It’s fascinating how this natural element can be both gold and neutral at the same time providing a stage for these rich vibrant colors to truly shine. From the dark purple sweet peas and burgundy colored nine bark to the bright oranges and hot pinks, it is truly an amazing floral piece. In our episode with Christin, we talk about experimenting with various color combinations and to study how colors play off each other and work together.

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Sometimes late summer can be a challenging time for wedding and event work. This time of year generously provides us with amazing colored flowers. I hear all the time how Zinnias and Cosmos are too casual for a prime time special occasion, but I think the bold colors can work to elevate floral designs by providing a depth of color and richness. Learning to blend colors within a design is an important part of the creative process which comes with practice. Bridging pinks, peaches, yellows, purples, and oranges, is not an easy task but seasonality is really our friend and helps us to accomplish this. Summer flowers are truly our companions to exciting summer works.

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Carrying the eye through a design from beginning to end is testament of true talent and artful skill. Christin has pulled dried fern from the lowest point and extended them through the piece. Meanwhile poppies, ranunculus, and French tulips hold their heads up on every level. Designs like this really hold your attention and can open your eyes to the beautiful stages of a flower’s or plant’s life.

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Christin Geall is a Canadian floral designer, writer, gardener, photographer, and author. Her new book, Cultivated: Elements of Floral Style(Princeton Architectural Press, 2020) is scheduled to be release sometime next spring. Trained in horticulture at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, she completed a BA in Environmental Studies and Anthropology and a MFA in writing before becoming a gardening columnist for Gardenista and the Black Press Group, an Adjunct professor, and designer.

Her writing and floral work focuses on the intersections of nature, culture, and horticulture. I hope you enjoyed this small collection of Christin’s work. No matter what the color palette or material, she creates stunning combinations. Taking the time to study her work, the lighting, and her passion for flowers, I hope will Cultivate your inspiration and your desire to put beauty out into the world.

Scott Shepherd

Bio, Designs, and Photographs by Christin Geall

Reliable Flowers for Large Scale Design

With the awakening of floral designs to the no floral foam movement, the need for information on tested products that can last out of water for an extended period of time is more valuable than ever. After talking with Susan McCleary for the upcoming release of her episode on The Flower Podcast, we had time to talk about the need for this information, and she shared her list with us.

Image by Amanda Dumouchelle Photography


This elegant flower garland/column has an amazing collection of long lasting flowers. The above picture has anthuriums, gerbera daisies, lisianthus, plumosa, stephanotis vine, lilies, and spray roses. LaPorcshia, the model, is holding a single stephanotis vine.

Below is a featured list of Susan McLeary’s Reliable Flowers & Foliage for Large Scale Designs.

Garden Rose Favorites of Rose Story Farm®

What an experience to sit down with Danielle Dall’Armi and Bill Hahn to learn about their garden rose farm. To hear the many challenges of farming like insects or downy mildew, add damage from the devastating fires in California or the mud slide/flows that not once but twice moved through their property, only helps me appreciate the love and effort that goes into each beautiful stem. The roses below are a list of Dani’s Favorites. With wedding trends changing from year to year, different colors may be requested, but it’s nice to hear from the grower directly which garden rose are her favorites. Write them down and enjoy! Hopefully at some point this year, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy the colors and fragrance of garden roses!

Rose Story Farm® Customer Favorites