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Book Review-Flowers White House Style

“Flowers White House Style” by Dottie Temple and Stan Finegold, published by Simon & Schuster

This remarkable book features over 125 arrangements used for different White House occasions. Temple is former White House Chief Floral Decorator. Temple began her reign during the Nixon years, and continued through the Clinton administration. Regarding Temple’s years at the White House, Rosalynn Carter had the following to say: “The flowers in the White House were a joy for me every day.”

Now she has her own floral design business, The Bashful Mermaid in Fairhaven, Massachusetts.

Finegold and his firm, The Intelvid Group, created and packaged the fifteen-part PBS series, The Presidential Palate, which was on the air from 1996 to 1999.

In this book, Temple shares her experiences with the First Families and reveals trade secrets that she used in creating captivating designs for the White House.

At the same time this book tells how flowers have played an important role in decorating the modern White House.

In his introduction to the book, renowned historian William Seale provides a fascinating chronicle of floral design’s role in the White House’s first 150
years.

This book focuses on the period that began when Jacqueline Kennedy hired the first full-time White House floral decorator. Now it has its own flower shop with several full-time employees. You can enjoy reading about all the events and the role flowers played. According to Temple, Rosalynn Carter would often coordinate her gown to match a centerpiece for a dinner.

In this book you’ll also find practical step-by-step instructions for over 40 different historic and contemporary White House arrangements.

Based on her own White House experience, Temple provides practical advice on everything from choosing containers to deciding on the proper height for a centerpiece.

Temple begins with some guidelines on creating arrangements, a list of the favorite flowers used in the White House, and how to prolong their vase life. In later chapters, she presents different arrangements for various occasions. One chapter deals with White House weddings, while others are about Christmas in the White House, and other celebrations.

In addition, there is a chapter on floral designs for the private family quarters as well.

The chapters on containers are very helpful. One deals with formal containers and vases, and other ideas for informal and whimsical containers, such as cowboy boots, straw hats, and paper bags.

Temple provides step-by-step instructions for the arrangements, such as the Kennedy Great Pier Arrangement used during a private dinner to honor Igor Stravinsky.

The book is lavishly illustrated with over 170 full-color photos, many of which have never appeared in publications before.
Scattered throughout the chapters are highly interesting little tidbits, such as a history of the Rose Garden.

When it comes to the arrangements, they are so beautiful it may be hard to choose what you like best. Among my favorites are the Stone Mortar and Pestle featuring yellow and red peppers, celosia, and nerine blossoms.




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