Former White House Florist to Decorate Cheekwood Mansion

photo courtesy of Cheekwood/Natan Zucker

To celebrate ten years of Holiday LIGHTS at Cheekwood Estate & Gardens, former White House florist Laura Dowling will adorn Cheekwood’s historic Mansion with colorful and festive decorations. Dowling’s lush and lively designs will fill period rooms inside the former family home of Leslie and Mabel Cheek enhancing an already enchanting Holiday LIGHTS experience for guests.

From 2009-2015, Dowling served as Chief Floral Designer for the White House. She managed the floral design for thousands of private and official White House parties,
receptions, state dinners as well as large-scale installations for the Fourth of July,
Halloween, and the iconic White House Christmas. Dowling is known for her
contemporary and romantic style of flower arranging that is rooted in classic French

Dowling is the author of Floral Diplomacy at the White House, A White House Christmas,
Wreaths, and Bouquets. She currently tours the country sharing her experiences at the
White House and is a regular speaker at national, regional, and local horticulture
associations, garden clubs and museums.

“We are excited to welcome Laura Dowling and her incredible talent to Cheekwood,”
said Cheekwood President and CEO Jane MacLeod. “The holidays are such a joyful time
at Cheekwood, and Laura’s beautiful creations will add an extra special element to this
ten-year celebration and the beloved tradition of Holiday LIGHTS.”

In addition to Dowling’s décor, the holiday cheer begins at the front gates with elegant
and creative light displays guests are accustomed to seeing at Holiday LIGHTS at
Cheekwood. A one-mile walking path will be aglow with over one million twinkling lights,
and visitors can also enjoy s’mores stations, seasonal libations, and a holiday
marketplace. Voted “2023 Best Festival / Fair” by The Tennessean, Holiday LIGHTS is
Nashville’s classic holiday tradition.

Holiday Decor Theme 
With a theme of “Gifts of the Garden,” Dowling’s handcrafted holiday décor will celebrate
the rich history and natural beauty of Cheekwood. The bright and bold displays are
inspired by the 13 distinct gardens at Cheekwood, and are designed to complement the
Mansion’s classic architectural details, while bringing the outdoors in.
From handmade magnolia garlands to the iconic poinsettia tree in the Loggia, nine
spaces inside the Cheek Mansion will feature inspiring and vibrant designs with a
different theme – ranging from opulent plum, gold, and cranberry Italian-inspired décor
in the entrance foyer, to a citrusy L’Orangerie theme in the Loggia, and a classic “hunt
country” display in the library. As visitors stroll through each thoughtfully curated room,
they will be surrounded by scenes of the season set against the backdrop of the warm
and inviting historic Mansion and gardens.

“I am excited and honored to be part of Cheekwood’s iconic holiday installation this year. It’s been such a pleasure to collaborate with the garden’s talented team on this project to
envision special room by room themes that complement the mansion’s period colors and
décor and honor Cheekwood’s holiday traditions,” said Dowling. “In addition, I also look
forward to designing alongside the volunteers who will be joining me from across the country, including my friend, legendary White House designer and Nashville’s own Jim Marvin, who has designed beautiful ornaments that will adorn the trees. The goal is to treat visitors to an unforgettable and magical holiday experience celebrating ‘Gifts of the Garden’ at Cheekwood. ”

Lectures and Book Signings
In addition to the décor at the Mansion, Dowling will debut her new book on Christmas
decorating, Designing Christmas, at a lecture and book signing on November 18. The
event is ticketed and open to the public. The book provides practical tips and step-by-
step instructions to inspire readers to incorporate holiday décor in their homes using 10
elements and 10 different design schemes. The book will be available for purchase for
the first time at Cheekwood’s gift shops. Dowling will also offer another lecture on
December 6 and two workshops on December 7. These ticketed events will be open to
the public.

First Ladies Exhibition
In collaboration with the White House Historical Association, Cheekwood will host a
temporary exhibition in the Mansion galleries highlighting former First Ladies and their
holiday decorating themes. Holidays at the White House with the First Ladies:
Jacqueline Kennedy to Michelle Obama will feature photographs illustrating the former
First Ladies’ unique design motifs. The exhibition will be open to guests for the duration
of Holiday LIGHTS.

Holiday LIGHTS opens November 23 and runs until January 5. The seasonal festival will
be open seven nights a week except for Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New
Year’s Day. Timed-entry tickets must be purchased online in advance. A ticket pre-sale
for Cheekwood members begins October 1. Tickets will go on sale to the public on
October 15.

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