Americans are watching significantly more television during the crisis: an average of 41 hours during the last week of March, compared with 33 hours for the same week in 2019. On public television and streaming services, flower-themed shows — including one that snagged Floral Management Marketer of the Year honors last year — are helping to ensure flowers stay in the public eye even as Americans stay home.
The second season of “J Schwanke’s Life in Bloom” is now airing on public television stations across the country. Created and hosted by J Schawnke, AAF, AIFD, PFCI, the show won Floral Management’s 2019 Marketer of the Year award. The 13 episodes of Season One have reached more than 90 million homes since the show launched in April of 2019.
“In the public television space, I think people are very familiar with gardening and the idea of a gardening show,” explained Schwanke last year in a Floral Management story detailing the work that went on behind the scenes to get the show off the ground. “I had to keep saying, ‘No. This is something different. This is cut flowers.’ And once I was able to explain to them all the things that we would cover, they got really interested.”
Meanwhile, starting May 18, Netflix is launching “The Big Flower Fight.” Touted as a floral version of “The Great British Bake Off,” “The Big Flower Fight” invites ten teams of designers to compete over eight episodes. Each episode will offer a themed challenge focusing on a different set of skills (it’s not all about pretty, according to show promotional materials). The design teams include not only florists but such allied artists as sculptors and garden designers.
Week by week, one at a time, teams will be eliminated from the lineup, until three teams are left to battle it out for the grand prize: the opportunity to design a sculpture for display in London’s Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
Serving as hosts, two popular comedians will be on hand to tease and cheer the competitors on: Vic Reeves, a charismatic veteran of British television, and Natasia Demetriou, best known for her role as a vampire in the TV series “What We Do in the Shadows.” The head judge, New York-based florist Kristen Griffith VanderYacht, will be joined each week by a different celebrity judge.
Impact? The series seems likely to stoke consumer interest in artistic design — and, perhaps, educate the public about the high level of expertise required to pull it off. Show promoters say it will also reinforce what has already been a strong trend in floral design for weddings and events: sustainable floristry — with, for example, emphasis on the use of flowers that are friendly to insect pollinators.
Another reality-TV, floral-competition show with a strikingly similar format has also been announced, but its premiere date has been postponed. “Full Bloom” was originally set to launch with the premium streaming service HBO Max, May 27. Representatives from HBO say it is still in the works, to be hosted by British floral decorator and stylist Simon Lycett — known, among other things, for designing arrangements featured in films, including “Four Weddings and a Funeral.”
Bruce Wright is a contributing writer for the Society of American Florists.