August 2015 Newsletter

Floral Trends - Issue 64

Summer Wildflowers Abound

Flowers for Sale from the Local Farmers’ Market in the Suburbs of Washington, D.C.

By Kit Wertz


Bouquets from Country Gardens of Toms Brook, VA at our parents’ local farmers’ market on a late July morning in 2015. Photo by Kit Wertz

My sister and floral business partner, Casey, and I are on a wonderful vacation together as August starts. After a private event on the East Coast where we provided flowers, we are spending time with our extended family including our parents, children and in-laws who live in Virginia and Maryland close to our Nation’s Capital.

Country Bouquet SignNormally, we are reporting from our base in the South Bay of Los Angeles where the sun is hot and the air is dry, but the flowers are lovely. This month’s news has an East Coast accent and vibe. Outside Washington, D.C., the sun is still hot (about 90 degrees Fahrenheit), it’s not that dry (it’s quite humid) and the flowers are still lovely. Last Friday, my mom and I took my twins to her local farmers’ market where there were plenty of vegetable vendors and three plant and flower vendors.

I purchased a lovely broad leaf basil plant to make bruschetta for guests we are having for dinner on Sunday (one couple is my stand-in godparents who have known me my entire life). My mom purchased tomatoes, corn, peaches, blackberries and the kids ate a few handmade popsicles in yummy summer fruit flavors.


Wild bouquet grown by Country Gardens in Virginia. Kit purchased at the McLean Farmer’s Market on Friday morning. Flowers included PeeGee Hydrangea, Gladiolus, Rudbekia, Tansy, Zinnia and various branches of leaves and grasses. Kit supplemented the look with some more branches from her parent’s garden. Photo by Kit Wertz.

One of the plant growers was Country Gardens and she was selling Virginia-grown flower bouquets for $10. There were about 10 stems in the bouquet I purchased. It featured two stems of PeeGee Hydrangea, a stem of Gladiolus, some Zebra Grass, Salvia, Zinnia, Queen Anne’s Lace, a stem of Magnolia leaves, a few other types of greenery, pink Nerine lilies, Rudbekia and Tansy. I added some grasses from our parents’ garden as well as hosta leaves and a blooming branch of pink crêpe myrtle. Lovely.

A full hanging basket of lovely petunias greets visits at the seashore in Bethany Beach, Delaware. Photo by Casey Schwartz.

A full hanging basket of lovely petunias greets visits at the seashore in Bethany Beach, Delaware. Photo by Casey Schwartz.

During part of this week, Casey’s been enjoying the beaches of the Atlantic and shot a few flowery shots in the city of Bethany Beach.

She also learned about the trials people went through about 100 years ago to arrive at the beach. People had to take boats, carts and at one point a sled through deep sand to arrive ocean side. A beautiful garden in Bethany celebrates the terminal of the Bethany Beach Loop Canal. As stated in the Delaware Public Archives of the Bethany Beach Loop Canal.

“For a time, the final portion of the trip was completed in a two-horse-drawn bus through the deep sand to the town. In an effort to improve travel conditions, a shallow waterway was dredged from the Assawoman Canal to this location.”

The opening of the 1.5-mile shallow waterway over 100 years ago is now marked by a gorgeous garden.

Bethany Beach Canal Loop Garden. Photo by Casey Schwartz.

Bethany Beach Loop Canal Celebration Garden. Photo by Casey Schwartz.


Wanted: Florist for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

White House Seeks New Chief Floral Designer

By Kit Wertz


Conservatories covered the West Colonnade and site of the current West Wing in the 19th century. Source:

The most famous residence in the land has been without a chief floral designer since March of this year when it was noted that Laura Dowling, White House Florist since 2009, had quit. Currently, according to “The Reliable Source” column of The Washington Post, The White House is seeking new applicants for this lofty position and has narrowed the field to 25 experienced floral designers.

White House Chief Florist Nancy Clarke completes an arrangement of white lilies, white roses, hydrangea, and limes before a dinner in the State Dining Room. Source:

White House Chief Florist Nancy Clarke completes an arrangement of white lilies, white roses, hydrangea, and limes before a dinner in the State Dining Room. Source:

Before Dowling, Nancy Clarke held the florist-in-chief position for over 30 years. Before Clarke, Dottie Temple served as the White House floral designer in chief for 13 years and wrote a book about the experience which tells readers that President, Lyndon Johnson once personally yanked a centerpiece off a table during a state dinner because he was annoyed by the smell of lilies of the valley.

White House Flowers Book

Book by Dottie Temple, White House Florist for U.S. presidents Nixon through Reagan.

Temple’s book, called Flowers, White House Style, was published in 2002 and features flowers from the Nixon through Reagan administrations and gives readers an inside look to White House floral designs and decisions throughout history.

According to many designers who’ve worked in the basement flower shop of The White House, it’s a tough job.  From The Washington Post, “You have to be ready to be hurt,” said one former employee of the White House floral shop. “You get your feelings crushed. It’s happened to all of us. You think you’ve done this fabulous arrangement and someone says, ‘that is just horrible’ and you have to take it gracefully because it’s not about you, it’s about whatever that first lady wants.”

Alstroemeria Pods

Alstroemeria pods make for interesting additions for a designer using flowers grown locally in a late summer or early fall arrangement. Photo by Kit Wertz.

Hours after it was known to the public that Dowling had left the White House position, she issued a statement via the law firm Sidley Austin, “After almost 6 years as Chief Floral Designer at the White House, I have resigned in order to pursue exciting new opportunities and explore my passion for floral artistry and design. Over the next few weeks and months, I’ll be launching a new platform for my work as an author, speaker, instructor and design consultant that builds on the creative ideas and partnerships I’ve formed during my tenure there. It’s been such an honor to work at the White House and I will always be grateful for this incredible opportunity.”

According to The Washington Post, sources close to the White House never have revealed the true reason for Dowling’s leaving. There was much fanfare when Dowling started there in 2009 as seen in a video posted on YouTube by the White House, but virtual silence on her departure.

Many in the American floral industry are hoping for a the next White House Chief Florist to be one who embraces the Field to Vase movement of locally sourced flowers (see

This locally grown philosophy echoes Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative that features locally sourced produce for its “Eat Healthy” portion of the plan and a florist who embraces American Grown flowers would be well-suited for our current president’s administration and all that follow as residents of the most famous home in the country.

Field to Vase Dinners: Brooklyn & Washington, D.C. Dinner Dates

Field to Vase LogoBy Flower Duet

The Field to Vase Dinner Tour is series of private, intimate, must-attend gatherings that place seasonal, local and sustainable American Grown flowers at the center of the table where locally grown food, beer, and wine are served by a farm-to-table chef. Each artisan-style dinner is held at an American flower farm that encourages guests to experience the age-old art and science of flower farming.

This year’s dinners in California and Colorado have sold out and the next few dates in New York and Virginia are taking reservations now.
If you miss those, you can still make it to Seattle, Portland, Oregon, Fallbrook, Calif. or Detroit this fall.

The Experience

Guests are able to make personal connection between flowers and agriculture as part of our country’s farm landscape.  Along with lively conversation between dining companions new and old, guests share platters of delicious, seasonal and local food.

From the American Grown website:

“While enjoying this seasonal meal, the focus is drawn to the botanical beauty of petals, stems, foliage, vines, buds and berries — artistically arranged to bring sensory pleasure to the experience. The attention is on our flowers, our farmers and their farms, and on the floral designs they inspire.”


The Brooklyn Grange Farm is the site of the next American Grown Field to Vase dinners and the world's largest commercial rooftop soil farm right here in NYC, proving once and for all that rooftop agriculture works. Photo:

The Brooklyn Grange Farm is the site of the next American Grown Field to Vase dinners and the world’s largest commercial rooftop soil farm right here in NYC, proving once and for all that rooftop agriculture works. Photo:

field to vase napkinOn August 20th, the next field-to-vase dinner is going to be in Brooklyn, NY at the Brooklyn Grange Rooftop farm. Guests will be dining on local fare and surrounded by American Grown blooms in such a beautiful city. Join the fun!


When an artichoke is left to bloom in the garden, this is the gorgeous flower it creates! Photo by Kit Wertz.

BROOKLYN: Join the one-of-a-kind flower-centric dining event on Thursday, August 20th at The Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm. Local farmer-florist Molly Culver of Molly Oliver Flowers will design the tablescape and guests will be served an unforgettable farm-to-table meal.

WASHINGTON, D.C.: Just outside our favorite hometown city, a fall seasonal gathering of field to vase diners will enjoy a fabulous farm-to-table meal  at LynnVale Studios in Gainesville, Virginia, set for September 3rd. Local farmer-florist Andrea Gagnon is the host and she will design the truly local floral tablescape to delight the senses.


Lynn Vale Studios and Farm is the site of the Washington, D.C. FIeld to Vase Dinner on September 3rd. Photo by:


Flower Duet’s Work Featured on Wedding sites and Blogs in July

We were pleased to be featured on a number of wedding sites and blogs in late June and throughout July. If you missed our postings on Facebook, here is a snapshot of our recently published work and press coverage!

Flower Duet was featured a Marsala “Color of the Year” wedding bouquet of ours shot by photographer Jeannie Mutrais on June 29, 2015.


Photo by:

Flower Duet’s pergola and arch work was featured many times in an article on Flower Draped Pergolas on


Flower pergola by Flower Duet. Photo by Flower Duet.

Aisle Perfect featured a sunset wedding we did at Los Verdes Golf Club with our own Bamboo Pergola!


Flowers & Pergola by Flower Duet. Los Verdes Golf Club venue. Photos by Figlewicz Photo.


Focus Photo Inc.

Flower Duet created wedding flowers for a wedding at The Holding Company. Photos by Focus Photo Inc.


Holding Company wedding. Flowers by Flower Duet. Photo by: Focus Photo Inc.

B and G Photography

B & G Photography captured some wonderful photos from a wedding we did in Palos Verdes.

Flowers by Flower Duet

Flowers by Flower Duet. Wedding at Trump National Golf Club. Photos by B & G Photography.

July Wedding Flower Designs by Flower Duet

By Kit Wertz

Since we are on vacation this month (as I write this, Casey’s and my kids are playing Frisbee Golf in our parents’ backyard), we’ll forgo the usual monthly book review and tool and just offer a few photos of our work from the past month. We had many weddings and events before our trip including and have many more when we return.

Next month, we’ll cover a new book and tool, as well as more fun and current topics in the wonderful world of floral design! Thanks for reading!


We created large rose pomanders for the bridesmaids at a recent wedding in Redondo Beach held at the Crowne Plaza with No Worries Events. Flowers by Flower Duet. Photo by Casey Schwartz.


Centerpiece for tasting at La Venta Inn in Palos Verdes Estates. It features mini green Hydrangea, Horsetail, Succulents, Cymbidiums and roses. Variegated Ti leaves line the low rectangular glass vase. Flowers by Flower Duet. Photo by Kit Wertz.



In our July Wedding Centerpiece class, we taught students how to create this very popular look using white Hydrangea. This version is accented by variegated Pittosporum, Freesia and pink Lisianthus. Flowers by Flower Duet. Photo Kit Wertz.


Wedding centerpiece from a recent event at the Redondo Beach Historic Library. This features manzinta, seeded Eucalyptus, hot pink spray roses, cymbidiums and light-reflecting crystal strands. Flowers by Flower Duet. Photo by Kit Wertz.


Lovely hydragnea-based centerpieces on tall candle holders. Featured light pihk spray roses and Vendela standard roses. Flowers by Flower Duet. Photo by Casey Schwartz.

One Comment
  1. Linda Winchell Grunkemeyer

    Hi Flower Duet. I Just wanted to let you know that I really enjoy seeing what you all are doing. it looks like so much fun and so very imaginative! Thank you for letting me see you all. I still hope I can come to a class sometime. Linda Winchell Grunkemeyer

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  1. […] had reported in our August newslet­ter that the search was on. Read more about the new Chief of Flow­ers for the White […]

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