News & Politics

Some People in DC Spend So Much on Flowers, at Least One Florist Has to Sign NDAs

That $1,200 flower arrangement Oprah Winfrey sent Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson? It's not as rare as you'd think.

Photograph of Lily of the Valley by DS Stories/Pexels.

When several Supreme Court justices released financial disclosure forms last week, one reported gift drew a lot of attention: a $1,200 floral arrangement Oprah Winfrey sent Ketanji Brown Jackson. 

We’re probably all familiar with an arrangement that costs $50 to $150; and even a $150-to-$350 arrangement doesn’t seem shocking anymore. But spending more than $1,000 on a floral delivery must be rare, right? Not necessarily, it turns out.

“Some people absolutely adore flowers, and it is not unusual to design something in the DC area for $1,000 and up,” says high-end floral designer Ashley Greer of Atelier Ashley Flowers. Greer says that when she’s working on arrangements in that price range, she typically has to sign a nondisclosure agreement (yes, an NDA, as in the things people sometimes sign in sensitive legal settlements), but the budget isn’t one that surprises her. Greer says she’s been investing in higher-end vases that can cost up to $650 before she puts a single stem in them. Then, depending on the blooms the client wants to include—and whether they’re in season or it’s an especially costly time, such as peak wedding season—the costs can escalate. “Lily of the Valley is a tiny, nostalgic, fragrant flower that everyone seems to love,” she says as an example. “In season you may pay as low as $3 a stem, but out of season it might be $25 a stem. And a small vase may hold 50 stems.” (If you’re counting, that’s $1,250 in just flowers, not yet counting the florist’s time or the vase.)

Size isn’t always directly correlated to price: “You can make a small arrangement of all peonies,” says Greer, and that’s “going to be the same price, or more, than a big, tall arrangement of hydrangea and roses.”

Though she says for many of her clients, designing a $1,000-plus arrangement involves signing a non-disclosure agreement, Ashley Greer, or Atelier Ashley Flowers, was able to share this particular arrangement as an example of such floral gifts.

Greer says there are typically two kinds of gift givers: those that don’t mind spending a lot as long as the flowers don’t look over the top—“exquisite but understated,” she says—like a small vase of those off-season, 10-times-the-normal-price Lily of the Valley blooms; and those who want to spend a lot so that the recipient knows they’ve received something very expensive.

The company Venus et Fleur has been a favorite of Oprah’s, and some outlets have speculated that the arrangement she sent to Brown Jackson was from there. That particular company uses “Eternity Flowers,” which—through a process that involves dehydrating the blooms, draining them of color, and then dying them—preserves the flowers so they will last up to a year. (Which, costing it out, now seems like a bargain compared to a $1,200 arrangement you’ll throw out after a week.) Such preserved flowers, says Greer, are considerably pricier than fresh blooms—and often more expensive than they look. We’re not sure which arrangement Justice Jackson received; there are several options on Venus et Fleur’s website for arrangements that cost or exceed $1,200. 


This mixed Calla Lilly arrangement of “eternity flowers” by Venus et Fleur costs $1,210.

“The upscale looks are favorites among interior designers and people who love flowers but travel frequently,” explains Greer. (They are also reportedly a favorite among celebrities, including the Kardashians.) But the concept isn’t perfect, she says. “The nice thing about preserved arrangements is they last forever, the bad thing about preserved arrangements is they last forever” (requiring dusting, for example). While she always try to accommodate clients’ requests—and has designed arrangements with the roses that Venus et Fleur uses—she says she personally prefers fresh flowers. 

Amy Moeller
Fashion & Weddings Editor

Amy leads Washingtonian Weddings and writes Style Setters for Washingtonian. Prior to joining Washingtonian in March 2016, she was the editor of Capitol File magazine in DC and before that, editor of What’s Up? Weddings in Annapolis.