Bringing the White House Home
Bringing the White House Home with Former White House Chief Florist, Laura Dowling was the theme to a grand event at Allandale Mansion in Kingsport, Tennessee. Laura shared her floral artistry and new book, Floral Diplomacy at the White House with master gardeners, gardening enthusiasts and special friends.
We had such a great time with Laura Dowling on Tuesday, May 9th, bringing the White House home to our southern White House Allandale Mansion. Laura began the early evening with a casual seminar sharing her experience and adventures as the former White House chief florist. As she spoke, she demonstrated how to create hand tied french bouquets and stem covered vases blooming with fresh cut flowers. After the seminar and Q & A, everyone proceeded to the our “state dining room” to experience the awe of a beautifully set table.
The room was so beautiful that guests were overwhelmed with emotion; Joy & Delight, even chills would be a great way to describe the overall feeling of the room.
The artistry of Laura and her way with color combinations and texture with layer upon layer of florals actually took your breath away. Garden florals with a French flair would be a great way to describe her style. These were not your normal “arrangements”. Every arrangement was an art form, almost like an oil painting.
Laura covers the container to make it seem like it is growing from the ground. Fresh stems are attached to the base ( bucket) with a rubber band. Then covered with floral wrapped wire. Its the way she makes the stems move that creates the garden flow of this arrangement.
In the photo below she is preparing a large Floral Arrangement in an antique punch bowl that is filled with fresh cut flowers. The arrangement began with an empty bowl with water and a tape grid. We used clear packing tape to create the grid, not your typical grid but an effective one.
With my pruning shears in hand, I was sent to the grounds to find fresh blooms of magnolia and a few sprigs of ivy. We didn’t find the ivy but found honeysuckle that was intertwined with a hemlock tree. Being careful not to get near the poison ivy that was also in the honeysuckle patch, my friend Jan Boyd and I found a way to gather several vines. The vines were used for the candelabras and napkin rings, which I will share how to make in a separate blog post.
The florals include lemon leaves, magnolia blooms, pink roses, assorted shades of pink to purple Ranunculus, carnations, stock, freesia and many other blooms that were lovely shades of the monochromatic color scheme.
The bowl is filled with fresh water and no preservatives. Lemon leaves help build the base of the arrangement. Each flower stem has to be cut and prepared for the fresh cut arrangement. Many dozens of flowers filled this bowl and each stem was gently placed in the arrangement.
Laura has a a love for beautiful things and treats each flower with great respect, no jamming or cramping the stems, but each one is gently and strategically placed.
One thing about Laura, I have seen her in the Floral Shop at the White House working consistently arranging florals, ranging from small florals to extremely large ones, one after the other with a constant flow of creativity! She is amazing to watch and comfortable to learn from. She has vast knowledge and expertise about the Artistry of arranging flowers.
Every arrangement becomes a statement of beauty and an art form.
Bringing the White House Home
Our grand dining room table was set like a “White House State Dinner”
Everything that glistens is Gold. The table was set with bone china on gold chargers, gold flatware, purple antique water & sherbet glasses, vintage pilsner gold band glasses, and gold band ice serving cups. Layer by layer of dinnerware and beautiful fresh made placemats and napkin rings compliment the two lovely silver bowl floral arrangements. The overall color scheme was purple, dark green, lime green, blue purple, and deep rose pink with blueberry roses. White embroidered edge cotton napkins cinched with a lemon leaf ring that is intertwined with honeysuckle vines and a fresh orchid.
Notice the candelabras with the honeysuckle vines. The vines were kept fresh all evening by inserting the stems into small water tubes that were covered with two to three lemon leaves. Small floral wire was attached to the candle to support the vine.
For a side table with in our state dinning room, Laura created this beautiful fresh cut flower arrangement using a large antique-historic punch bowl from Allandale Mansion’s prized possessions. Every place we looked, Laura had created fresh cut arrangements for this grand event.
Still adding flowers, almost done, not quite.
After the event was over the evening was coming to an end, it was time to take down all the festivities, undo the table and go home, but.. before we did… we ORDERED IN! We decided that the wonderful friends who put this event together deserved to set down and enjoy this beautiful table with a meal together. Instead of grabbing the Chinet we used the beautiful china. An Italian dinner was brought in and we enjoyed a wonderful relaxing dinner, a perfect ending to a perfect day.
Special thank you to Rod Gemayel, Curator at Allandale Mansion, Jan Boyd, Teresa Foster, Connie Gleason, Patty Neas, and Susan Burns for all that you did to help make this event a huge success!
Love you all!!! xoxox
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