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For Japan state dinner, White House floral shop soldiers on without head florist

Tables are set for the Japanese State Dinner. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

Dramatic arrangements of cherry blossoms and orchids will grace tables at Tuesday evening’s black-tie state dinner honoring Shinzo Abe, the prime minister of Japan.

The punchy colors and lush, seasonal blooms  —  on display at a preview of the dinner at the White House on Monday — will echo the evening’s theme, “welcoming spring” — and serve as a reminder that at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the show always goes on. The arrangements are the work of the White House floral shop, which was left leaderless when former head florist Laura Dowling left the job abruptly in a dramatic palace-intrigue development (people with information told the Reliable Source that she was escorted from the building Feb. 13).

[Related: War of the roses: Former White House floral designer’s look may have clashed with first lady’s according to sources]

No replacement has been named, even though many White House watchers had thought a high-profile event like the state dinner might be a perfect time to debut a new blossom-artiste-in-chief. As per usual, the first lady helped come up with the original idea for the flowers, theme, and decor. But this time, instead of handing the execution off to the head florist, the job was handled by the small floral team.

Because even when it comes to table decor, it takes a village.