The Frances Jones Poetker Award winner for significant contributions to floral design...
Chosen by First Lady Michelle Obama to join the staff in 2009, White House chief floral designer Laura Dowling will be honored by the American Horticultural Society on Thursday, June 7th, when the organization presents its 2012 Great American Gardeners Awards during a gala banquet. Dowling is this year's nominee for the prestigious Frances Jones Poetker Award, which recognizes "significant contributions to floral design in publications, on the platform, and to the public." (Above: Dowling, center, with Mrs. Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, during a kids' craft session at the 2012 Mother's Day Tea)
Dowling's creations fill every part of the White House, from the private residence to the areas viewed by thousands of visitors touring the historic mansion, and she also creates arrangements for official functions such as State Dinners. Established in 1922, the American Horticultural Society is one of the oldest national gardening associations in the nation. The award ceremony will be held at the organization's headquarters, River Farm, in Alexandria, Va. (Above: A floral arrangement from the Mother's Day Tea)
Before taking up her post at the White House in November of 2009, Dowling worked out of her own Alexandria, VA-based studio Interieurs et Fleurs, which had a special focus on French-inflected country floral designs. Known for a style that blends wilder "natural" elements with both a modern vision, Dowling studied at L'Ecole de Fleurs in Paris under the direction of Christian Tortu, one of France's most renowned florists.
Dowling's work has been featured in local magazines, TV, and on HGTV. (Above: Dowling arranges a bouquet in the Vermeil Room for the 2010 holiday decorations, which had the theme Simple Gifts)
Dowling joined the White House following the resignation of former chief florist Nancy Clarke after more than three decades of service. Clarke passed away in January of this year.
*Top two photos by Helena Bottemiller/Obama Foodorama; third by Chuck Kennedy/White House