A blooming ode to First Lady Donna Edwards’ time at the Governor’s Mansion

When First Lady Donna Edwards says goodbye to the Louisiana Governor’s Mansion this month, she’s not leaving everything behind. She’s taking a piece—or rather, some petals—with her when she goes. And that’s thanks to floral artist Kelly Jean.

Jean got connected with the First Lady through a baby shower gift. A monogram made of delicate blooms, the piece was the start of a greater relationship that would flourish into a project that not only allows Edwards to hold onto a part of the mansion—a part that she has taken on as her passion since Governor John Bel Edwards took the leadership position eight years ago—but one that she can share with the people of Louisiana.

“The First Lady has worked hard during her time at the mansion to revitalize the gardens,” Jean says. “And it’s an honor to immortalize that for her in a way.”

Months ago, Jean took a trip to the Governor’s Mansion to forage for flowers and greenery to create a work of art for the First Lady. After an hour in the blazing Louisiana heat, Jean had collected the delicate fragments that would make up a portrait of the Governor’s Mansion.

“I only had about an hour to collect,” Jean recalls. “So I made the most of that time. I was throwing flowers in a cookbook just hoping that they would last.”
Four weeks in a flower press and two weeks of arranging later, the work is ready to present to the First Lady and the larger public.

“It’s so special to be a part of this, making it possible for the First Lady to take a piece of the mansion, a piece of her legacy, with her when she goes,” Jean says. “And it’s even more meaningful when you think about the people it will impact.”

Prints of the work are available for sale to benefit the Louisiana Governor’s Mansion Preservation Foundation, which works to lift up the state, both through mansion preservation and other causes, like the prevention of human trafficking.

“This piece is literally preserving a piece of the mansion,” Jean says. “Being able to share it, with the First Lady, of course, but with all of Louisiana, that makes it more special. And the fact that it the proceeds are making a difference, it all comes together perfectly.”

To purchase a print and for more information about the Louisiana Governor’s Mansion Preservation Foundation, visit louisianafirstfoundation.com.