a closer look at the flowers in the great gatsby

The Great Gatsby won two Oscars at the Academy Awards last week in the design category. The movie took large strides in inspiring both fashion and decor last year. Catherine Martin was the production manager and won Oscars in both best costumes and best production design with set decorator Beverley Dunn.

The flower scene in The Great Gatsby is my favorite, both in the novel and the movie, although the later far surpassed my limited imagination in high school English class. The scene is set for Gatsby to reunite with his beloved Daisy and no luxurious detail is spared.

"The flowers were unnecessary, for at two o’clock a greenhouse arrived from Gatsby’s, with innumerable receptacles to contain it. An hour later the front door opened nervously, and Gatsby, in a white flannel suit, silver shirt, and gold-colored tie, hurried in. He was pale, and there were dark signs of sleeplessness beneath his eyes."

Daisy and Gatsby sharing a moment amidst an explosion of lavish hot house orchids. Stems of cymbidium, dendrobium and phalaenopsis orchids in a cream, soft green and white color palette.

 "We chose to put a ludicrous number of flowers, particularly orchids, because that would've required hothouses and would represent Gatsby's extraordinary wealth." production designer Martin said.

 Martin, who also won two Oscars for production and costume design of Moulin Rouge, answered a few questions for the LA times on the art deco floral design inspiration:

What was the inspiration for those outrageous floral sprays in Gatsby's house?
I looked at interiors done by Elsie de Wolfe, but the main influence was Constance Spry, probably the most famous florist in London in the 1930s and a favorite of the duchess of Windsor. For her time, she was extremely wild and surrealist, adding cabbage leaves and unexpected country garden things to arrangements.  We chose to put a ludicrous number of flowers, particularly orchids, because that would’ve required hothouses and would represent Gatsby's extraordinary wealth. Constance Spry was one of the first people to put flowers in urns and ceramic swans and other unusual containers, but her arrangements tended to be a little less full. I chose to override her style a little bit and fill the arrangements out. The modern eye wouldn’t understand such a deliberate period look.
The Harlem apartment of Tom Buchanan's mistress also has a giddy gaudiness. How did you achieve that?
I worked with Karman Grech, who has original wallpaper sample books from the 1920s and had a floral with lots of red and pink reproduced. In the Fitzgerald book it says the couch is upholstered in something that looked like the 18th century painting of a girl in a swing by Fragonard. So we had that digitally printed onto the upholstery fabric.

I was hard pressed to find out if they were silk orchids or fresh until I came across this article pointing to an all artificial orchid scene. This explains their particularly perfect appearance, not one bruise or brown blotch in sight! What a visually stunning movie.

I put together examples of some of the orchids used:

Photo credits warner brothers and lucky magazine.


  1. Before cloning technology, orchids, were certainly one of the trappings of extraordinary wealth.
    How ironic that most of the varieties used to decorate this scene can now be purchased anytime of the year at Trader Joe's or CVS pharmacies....

  2. I still haven't finished that movie ...

  3. Beautiful movie. Beautiful flowers.

    If y'all live in New Jersey, come to my flower shop. Check us out online too.


    p.s. we have decoration services too in case you envy Great Gatsby's home :)

  4. beautiful! we did a Great Gatsby job recently, if only the budget had matched the movie!

  5. I loved the movie but kept getting distracted by the flowers. :) Great idea for a post!

  6. I love the way the furnitures synced in with those beautiful orchids.

  7. WOW! I am yet to see the Great Gatsby but you have inspired me to watch it - like tonight. Amazing. I especially love the stems of cymbidium. Divine.

  8. I really loved all the flowers. I think it suits how hard Gatsby tried to get Daisy and Daisy's personality.

  9. I love this post so much. That was my favourite scene as well :)

  10. Interesting blog. This is one of my favorite blog also I want you to update more post like this. Thanks for sharing this article.
    Bouquet and Flowers in Chennai

  11. Yeah Really I am too impressed with your work that is so amazing and lovely to watch this. Great Job!

    new york florist

  12. What an interesting post, it's fascinating to see how the motif of the orchids runs through the film.

  13. Now you've made me want to watch the movie. Isn't that interesting.

  14. No doubt, the Great Gatsby has best decorations. The orchid flowers have created a beautiful view in that scene.


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