FLOWERS, WHITE HOUSE STYLE: More Than 125 Arrangements by the Former White House Chief Floral Decorator

Dottie Temple, Author, Stan Finegold, Joint Author, Nancy Reagan, Other . Simon & Schuster $40 (224p) ISBN 978-0-7432-2334-8

The first First Lady to regularly use live flowers in the White House was James Buchanan's niece, Harriet Lane, who had picked up social graces in the court of Queen Victoria. The White House now has its own florist in the cellar, with a conservatory attached. This book by Chief Decorator Temple (who began during the Nixon years and retired during Reagan's second term) is a combination of how-tos for very specific arrangements (categorized by container and occasion) and a unique perspective on the postwar White House. In addition to relating her duties and experiences, Temple (with co-writer Finegold) includes carefully detailed instructions for putting beautiful blooms together, illustrated with more than 170 color photos of the plants and the people who favored them: Betty Ford and Happy Rockefeller "share a light lunch in the solarium" along with a silver bowl of delphiniums, carnations, and pompoms. Ronald Reagan toasts then Crown Prince Akihito of Japan from behind a centerpiece of tall topiaries. Lady Bird Johnson "enjoys a quiet moment upstairs in the Lincoln Sitting Room with a small pierced vermeil bowl and tray filled with pink snapdragons." The book is nonpartisan: Jacqueline Kennedy, Rosalynn Carter, Barbara Bush and the Clintons all make appearances. White House historian William Seale sets the scenes of many of the photos in detailed sidebars, and Nancy Reagan provides a "note" at the front of the book. The arrangements are lovely, but the candid photos and inside scoop on the preferences of the presidents and first ladies are likely to be the collection's main attractions. (Oct. 17)

Reviewed on: 09/23/2002
Release date: 10/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
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