A fourth-generation florist and industry educator is shedding light on all of the work (and joy) that goes into breeding, growing, designing and selling flowers with a new public television show currently available in more than 60 U.S. markets.
Society of American Florists member J Schwanke, AAF, AIFD, PFCI, debuted his “Life in Bloom” program earlier this spring after years of planning and prep — and a crash course in the inner workings of getting a public TV show off the ground. The goal of the show: “I want to get more people to buy more flowers,” he said.
The idea for the show came about gradually as Schwanke — a well-known educator in the industry — began considering the prospect of a consumer-facing TV show after working on various projects with P. Allen Smith, the garden and lifestyle expert and TV host.
Schwanke’s vision was to take viewers directly to the floral businesses that make up the industry — to educate them about flowers and the different supply chains and to get them excited about buying flowers. “I want them to be thinking about buying flowers throughout the week, not just for holidays and special occasions,” he said.
Before getting the show on the air, Schwanke had to pitch it to individual public television stations; it’s now set for staggered release on more than 200 stations around the country. (Each station makes its own decisions on when to air the episodes; currently the show has 13, 30-minute episodes available.)
Recent episodes have included a look at trends, including designs with fresh fruit and the popularity of greens and foliage. In the eighth episode, “Flower Power,” Schwanke noted SAF’s Petal It Forward effort and referenced some of the association’s research on the positive effect flowers and plants can have on people’s daily lives.
“There are scientific studies that prove that flowers make us feel better,” he told viewers. “When we take those flowers and give them away [to someone else], they become even more special.”
In addition, through the show, Schwanke has worked to highlight lesser-known flowers, including those in the protea family. In the series’ second episode, he visited with Mel Resendiz of Resendiz Brothers in Fallbrook, California, which won Floral Management’s 2018 Marketer of the Year award for its efforts to raise protea’s profile in the industry and among consumers. During the episode, Schwanke and Resendiz talked about the attributes of protea (including their longevity) and toured the farm and processing areas.
“The exciting thing is that it’s a feel-good show that, in our troubled times, people can escape for a half hour and learn about pretty flowers,” Schwanke said. “Our purpose was to create a TV show that is inclusive of everyone in the industry.”
Full episodes of the series are available online.
Mary Westbrook is the editor in chief of Floral Management magazine.