Flower Arrangements in the White House

Flower Arrangements in the White House

Rachael Grad
May 11, 2009
The Wall Street Journal interviews Nancy Clarke, the White House chief florist, on her 30-year floral career. The First Florist reports that since the Obamas' arrival, White House flower arrangements have been more modern, youthful, with brighter, happier colors. First Lady Obama also "likes a lot of branches," so clear glass cylinder vases holding sparse displays of white orchids or dogwood branches have dotted the White House. More on White House floral arrangements and the First Florist below the jump...

• Nancy Clarke preparing a centerpiece of hydrangeas, white lilies, white roses and limes for a 2001 state dinner.
• Nancy Clarke in the White House.
• White House Assistant Chief Florist Wendy Elsasser checking each berry of the holiday Red Room Cranberry Tree.
• First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in the White House in the 1960s.
• First lady Laura Bush introducing the 2008 holiday decorations in the East Room of the White House. Chief Florist Nancy Clarke at left.
• The White House Flower Shop in 1948.
• First Lady Mamie Eisenhower in the White House Flower Shop in 1958 (now the site of the Press Offices).
• First Lady Bush and Nancy Clarke in 2002.

Nancy Clarke plans to retire this May 29. She began working at the White House as a volunteer in 1978, and currently oversees flowers placed in the White House residence and work spaces, Air Force One, and Camp David.

Click here to read The Wall Street Journal's article "Choosing a New Flower Czar; The longtime chief florist retires as White House tastes take a modern turn" and see the timeline "A White House Floral History."

(Images: George W. Bush Presidential Library, Susana Raab, Tina Hager, CSU Archives/Everett Collection, Getty Images, Truman Library, Life)

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