As a former volunteer in the White House flower shop, Cameron Hardesty knows her way around a bouquet. Working with the head florist, Hardesty created pieces for events ranging from the First Lady's 50th birthday party (complete with a performance by Beyoncé) to the Fourth of July to everyday centerpieces for the West Wing mess.
Now as the director of products for UrbanStems, she works with sustainable farms to design the brand's collection of seasonal arrangements.
“My favorite thing about floral design is possibility. You can do a lot with flowers—you can tell a story, you can create a new type of beauty, you can surprise people with the alchemy of design,” she says.
“Flowers don't just represent possibility; they create possibility, too. Flowers help us ask questions and express emotion, which make them especially important during huge life transformations. As someone who works with flowers, it's such a huge honor to be invited into people's lives in that way.”
Here, she shares her favorite gardens in D.C.
The Rose Garden at The White House
“I used to give West Wing tours and loved showing visitors the historic garden that was originally built as a place of rest and relaxation next to the West Wing in 1913. The best time to see it is during the month of May.”
“The rhododendron collection at the National Arboretum is beautiful when blossoming in the early spring.”
The National Bonsai Museum
“I love miniatures! This Bonsai collection has a tree that's over 400 years old and survived the nuclear bomb. Plus my dad studied in Japan after college, so he fostered my appreciation of Japanese culture from a young age (there are also Chinese Bonsai there, too).
“The red brick gazebo on the front lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building is a little oasis just yards away from the halls of power and all the energy and bustle of Congress. It's tucked away among the trees and walking paths. It’s never crowded and feels like a personal little hideaway on the Hill.”
“In the spring, the National Parks Service plants a ‘flower library’ down by the Tidal Basin near the paddle-boats, across from the Jefferson Memorial. It's a temporary garden, but I look forward to it every year. The department of the interior doing pop-ups—who knew they were so hip? Also, check out the Department of Interior’s Instagram for other amazing travel ideas. One of their photos inspired my fiancée and I to travel to Bruce Canyon and Zion National Park last year.