Meet Kristen Griffith-VanderYacht, host of ‘The Big Flower Fight’ on Netflix

Kristen Griffith-VanderYacht, host of ‘The Big Flower Fight’ on Netflix

Another reality-competition TV series has come to Netflix, and once again, it is surprisingly addicting and binge-worthy. The Big Flower Fight throws contestants together in a greenhouse dome, and challenges them with various tasks related to the world of gardenial design: create giant sculptures of insects, and hanging technicolor mobiles, and living gowns worn by runway models. The catch is, everything must be made out of plants, including flowers of course, but also grasses, vines, mosses, branches, and occasionally random bits of organic material that the contestants find while wandering around outside.  And no, “gardenial” is not a word, but it should be.

The Big Flower Fight is filmed in England, as part of The Great British Bake-Off family. Like its baking brethren, Flower Fight succeeds by gathering a loveable mix of contestants, ranging from adorable florist ladies who giggle a lot, to intensely cerebral artists who haven’t worked with plants before. (There is lots of gay and trans inclusion in the mix, which is always fun.) But this show also ups the visual grandeur with those mind-boggling sculptures, and there is much drama involved in creating those sculptures. Like every good reality-competition show, there is at least one gasp-inducing catastrophe that brings contestants to tears (that crab is too heavy!).

Among the requisite team of hosts and judges, Flower Fight features scene-stealer Kristen Griffith-VanderYacht, a celebrated professional florist who is simultaneously perky and picky as he whirls around the dome, having so much fun oohing and aahing at the flowers everywhere. We had a chance to chat a little bit with KGV, so let’s get to know him a little more, shall we?

GC: Everybody sees bunches of cut flowers at the supermarket or a corner store. What’s the key to turning those flowers into a beautiful arrangement for your home? And tell the skeptics: why bother buying flowers anyway?

KGV: Turning grocery store flowers into something that looks high-end is not as hard as one would think. I would say, start with color. Choose colors that make you excited. Colors that make you smile. If you can start there, you will always be happy with the end result, because you’ve started with something you love. Next, buy a lot of them. When it comes to flowers, more is more.

Also, I love that you mentioned a “corner store,” because I am from Detroit and we refer to places where we buy candy and pop as the corner store. As a kid, it was a fun summer activity to walk to the corner store and spend your allowance on something rotten. Just like when I hear the phrase “corner store,” flowers have a sense of nostalgia attached to them. I think flowers have played a major role in all of our lives during a special occasion. For every proposal, graduation, baby shower, quinceañera, school dance, and moment of gratitude, flowers have been there in the background silently waiting for their moment to shine. So it’s important that we continue to have them in our lives because they remind us that it is OK to feel special. Treat yo’ self!

 

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You’re invited to a dinner party: do you bring flowers or wine? 
Flowers! If they’re in season, I will bring an armload of peonies. Then I’m going to put them right in the middle of your table where everyone can see them. The turkey can go on the buffet.

You mentioned flowers for a school dance—what’s a good recommendation for a high school student ordering a corsage for Prom? Is the typical rose-and-baby’s-breath corsage the way to do it?

Everyone should do whatever makes them feel confident. So if you love baby’s breath and roses, go for it. It’s all about whatever makes you happy. If I were picking for myself, I would probably go for something like a fiddlehead fern with a succulent, and a few scented geranium leaves. But that’s me.

The winning team from The Big Flower Fight will have the opportunity to have a show at Kew Royal Botanical Gardens. For those people who aren’t familiar with the facility, why is a show at Kew Gardens such a great honor?

Kew is probably the most prestigious garden in England. They only allow the most established professional designers to work on the gardens and create installations. So this is a really big deal for the winners.

 

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Martha Stewart invited her adorable gardener, Ryan McCallister, to live with her during the Covid-19 lockdown, and they’ve become the cutest couple on social media, gardening by day and drinking lots of wine at night. If you could trade places with McCallister, what would you like to do with Martha for a day?

Martha has been such an inspiration to me not only as a designer, but as an entrepreneur and thought leader. If I could hang out with Martha Stewart for a day, I would like to indulge in all of her most luxurious hobbies. Because you know Martha does not play when it comes to self-care, food, and most of all luxuriating.

Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada scoffed at the idea of wearing florals , especially in Spring. We disagree. How do you work florals into your wardrobe?

I think if you love florals, it will happen naturally. It’s all about wearing clothes that make you feel confident. I have a ton of floral prints, from jackets to pants and shirts, to scarves and handkerchiefs. Flowers are everywhere in my life because they make me feel great. So I think if you feel confident in what you’re wearing and it happens to be a floral print go for it. Live your best life.