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Amalie Adler Ascher, floral designer and garden writer, dies

Amalie Adler Ascher, a gardener who wrote about flowers and flower arranging, died of respiratory failure complications Nov. 13 at the Edenwald Retirement Comminuty.
Amalie Adler Ascher, a gardener who wrote about flowers and flower arranging, died of respiratory failure complications Nov. 13 at the Edenwald Retirement Comminuty. (ELIZABETH MALBY/Baltimore Sun)

Amalie Adler Ascher, a gardener who wrote about flowers and flower arranging, died of respiratory failure complications Nov. 13 at the Edenwald Retirement Comminuty. She was 93 and had lived in Roland Park.

Born in Baltimore, she was the daughter of Charles Adler Jr., a highway and railroad signal light inventor, and Aileen Steiger, a homemaker. She was the great-niece of Saidie L. May, an art collector who gave her collection to the Baltimore Museum of Art.

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She attended Park School and was a 1945 graduate of Forest Park High School. She earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts at Goucher College.

“My father used to call her an efficiency expert. She had high expectations and wanted things to be perfect. She did not miss a beat,” said her daughter, Cynthia Sokolow.

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She married Robert L. Weinberg, a real estate and tax attorney, After a divorce, she married Dr. Eduard Ascher, a psychiatrist.

She wrote a book, The Complete Flower Arranger, a work published by Simon and Schuster in 1974. It became an alternate offering in the Book of the Month Club.

“She took flower arranging to a different level. She had an interesting, creative artistic eye,” said her son, Kenneth Weinberg.

She worked out of her basement in a home on West 40th Street where she oversaw the construction of a patio and gardens behind the residence. After moving to the Carrollton, condominium, she created a terrace garden overlooking Oakenshawe and Waverly.

Mrs. Ascher received recognition as Flower Arranger of the year in 1973. She became a judge and instructor for the National Council of State Garden Clubs. She was also Maryland chair of the Federation Garden Clubs of America.

In a 2005 Sun article, she said of her writing career, “I didn’t know anything about plants. But I was a darn good interviewer. I wrote from the point of view of a novice gardener. I could relate to the average person.”

Her daughter said that on a trip to Monaco she contacted Princess Grace Kelly’s staff to let her know that she was coming to Monte Carlo. She also sent a copy of her book ahead to the princess.

She arranged to have an appointment with the Princess to talk about flower arranging. The night before the meeting, Mrs. Ascher and her family were having dinner — she ate precisely at 6:30 p.m. every evening — in what turned out to be the same hotel restaurant as the princess and her family.

“The princess was wearing a turban so Amalie wanted to wear one, too,” her daughter said. “When she arrived at the meeting the next day, wearing her brand new turban, she was told that the princess was out of town.”

Mrs. Ascher appeared on a weekly TV production, The Flower Show on Maryland Public Television.

Mrs. Ascher was the garden columnist for The Sun and also wrote feature stories. Her daughter said Mrs. Ascher enjoyed entertaining and often baked numerous cakes for these events.

After the death of her husband, she sold her treats and donated the proceeds to the Great American Bake Sale’s No Kid Hungry program.

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By May 2007 her bake sales grossed $10,000. She was featured in a Parade Magazine article.

The 2005 Sun story described her kitchen: “All of her creations come from a space that features a two-oven stove, a built-in bookcase filled with a variety of cookbooks and a large refrigerator. A micro-pegboard, fitted to the walls behind her counters, keeps all of her utensils at hand.”

In her study, which she referred to as her writing room, was a an electric IBM typewriter because she chose not to use a computer.

She also had baking stories in Cooking Light and Southern Living.

In the 2005 Sun story, she told of how, after moving to the Edenwald Retirement Community, she suggested a Parsley Club for persons who wanted to find ways to continue gardening after they had left their longtime homes.

“It was just a lark,” she said in the Sun’s article. “And it took off. I want to have the hanging gardens of Edenwald by spring.”

In addition to her son and daughter, survivors include a stepson, John Ascher of Ashburn, Virginia; and two grandchildren. Her husband died in 2002.

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