Gardening

Calling All Plant Lovers: This New Netflix Show Is for You

It’s like ‘The Great British Bake Off’—for plant parents.

May 17, 2020
Photo by Netflix

If you love The Great British Bake Off but prefer ranunculus and petunias to tortes and custard buns, then you’re going to love The Big Flower Fight. It’s a brand new eight-part Netflix series that’s one big botanical feast for the eyes—and honestly, the timing couldn’t be better.

If you’re imaging a group of contestants traipsing through a field of daffodils with their stem cutters and baskets, well, this isn’t that. Starring 10 teams of florists, sculptors, and garden designers, the contest takes place in a giant metallic dome (outside, the idyllic English countryside tempts) containing a metal workshop, tools I can't even name, and yes, flowers. Each week, they square off to create huge floral masterpieces.

And huge is right. The challenges in this show are larger-than-life and outlandish, which is slightly at odds with a time when our worlds have dramatically shrunken. But maybe that’s exactly why we need a show like this—full of fantastical furry creatures and hairy beasts, and outlandish “couture gowns” made with nothing but thousands of cut flowers—a panacea for the times we live in.

The very-fun first episode has each team design “titanic bugs” (even more enjoyable after I’d just spent the last 30 minutes chasing a very large bee out of my apartment). Turns out, a giant moth can be beautiful; and “this is the most preposterous proboscis I have ever seen” is the kind of compliment every contestant is aiming for.

Yup, these creations are wild. And the competition is fierce (words are definitely exchanged in later episodes). And it’s no wonder, because the stakes are high: the overall winner of The Big Flower Fight will get to design their own sculpture to be put on display in London’s Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. With a conservationist theme, the participants are also encouraged to keep their focus on plants that give back to the environment—such as pollinating, insect-friendly species.

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Top Comment:
“Plant lovers will be nonplussed, confounded and appalled if they notice it at all- flower arranging has very little relation to horticulture. Cooking contests are a loony enough concept, but flower arranging contests? Is the American public really this desperate for entertainment? Well, we made superheroes out of vampires and zombies, so maybe.”
— Smaug
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Unlike the Bake Off and its slate of amateur, yet very skilled, home bakers, the contestants here are professionals in the field. The show is hosted by comedians Vic Reeves and Natasia Demetriou, who aren’t household names outside of Britain—at least not yet. Flanking them is the primary judge and “florist to the stars,” Kristen Griffith-VanderYacht along with a special celebrity judge per episode. So far, the three of them have some friendly banter going, sure, but what I really miss about Paul Hollywood’s ruthlessness and Mary Berry’s sweet grandmotherly qualities in GBBO is made up by some colorful participants. (I'm Team Yan and Henck.)

If nothing else, you’ll come away learning the names of at least 10 new species of flowering plants. I now know what heuchera and coreopsis are, and my trips to the plant nursery are never going to be the same again.

The Big Flower Fight will be available on Netflix from 18 May.

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Arati Menon

Written by: Arati Menon

Arati grew up hanging off the petticoat-tails of three generations of Indian matriarchs who used food to speak their language of love—and she finds herself instinctually following suit. Life has taken her all across the world, but she carries with her a menagerie of inherited home and kitchen objects that serve as her anchor. Formerly at GQ and Architectural Digest, she's now based in Brooklyn.

7 Comments

Amelie May 22, 2020
I had such an exhausting week at work and none of my usual anti-anxiety techniques (reading, playing the piano, baking bread) worked. This show finally did the trick! I watched one episode standing at my kitchen counter, eating warm slices of bread with salted butter.
Thanks for recommending this!
 
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Arati M. May 22, 2020
I don’t know what to love more: that you enjoyed the show or that warm bread with salty butter! :)
 
Rosalind R. May 20, 2020
One of the things that makes GBB so great is the camaraderie among the contestants. I have zero interest in watching a competition show where there is a promise of "words" between contestants. Life is too short to waste any of it engaging in cut-throat behavior, either directly or vicariously. A shame because otherwise it sounds interesting.
 
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Arati M. May 20, 2020
I hear you! "Words exchanged" is in a manner of speaking. It's a good-humored show. Give it a try, it's fun!
 
Lauren B. May 19, 2020
I wish there was an American version of BBC’s Gardeners’ World. THAT is a gardening show. I can only watch it occasionally on Youtube unfortunately. And no netflix in this house. GW actually teaches, inspires, and entertains. I have learned a ton of stuff from this show and its FB page. British home gardeners are amazing and I aspire to be as good as them.
 
Smaug May 19, 2020
Plant lovers will be nonplussed, confounded and appalled if they notice it at all- flower arranging has very little relation to horticulture. Cooking contests are a loony enough concept, but flower arranging contests? Is the American public really this desperate for entertainment? Well, we made superheroes out of vampires and zombies, so maybe.
 
Lauren B. May 20, 2020
It’s true. Many years ago I joined a GARDEN CLUB and all they were doing was flower arranging and fundraising so I quit. Yawn. They were buying the flowers, not even growing them.