Ever since she was a little girl, Jenny Barker had a special connection with flowers. As a 5-year-old she would spend time in her grandfather’s garden where she would be allowed to cut flowers and bring them into his house.
“I knew at a little girl age that I had a deep connection to the flowers more than someone else,” the 41-year-old Palos Verdes Peninsula resident said, explaining that that was the beginning of her journey as a “flower shaman.”
The long-time florist and owner of Magical Blooms in Redondo Beach recently got to put that connection to the test as a contestant on the HBO Max series “Full Bloom,” which started streaming last month. The reality show features florists from around the country participating in challenges to craft grandiose flower arrangements. Contestants are eliminated each episode until a final contestant takes home $100,000 at the end of the season.
Barker, whose reality TV credits also include TLC’s “For Better or Worse,” a reality TV show about wedding planning in which she was a florist, said she had wanted to get back on TV when she was contacted by the show to participate in the second season of “Full Bloom.”
It was an opportunity that she was excited to take on.
“I don’t know how many thousands of florists are out there but they came and picked me,” she said. “They saw who I was.”
Filming was not without its challenges, Barker said. The entire season was shot in March, and the entire group of contestants had to live in a hotel and be in front of a camera for 13-15-hour-long days Monday through Friday and there was daily COVID-19 testing. Barker also didn’t get to see her 9-year-old son while the show was filming.
But for as much as the process might have been grueling, it was also fun. Barker said the show had a basically unlimited budget for flowers and that anything contestants wanted, from passion flowers to sweet pea flowers, were brought to them for their arrangements.
Barker said her favorite challenge was on the season’s second episode where the two teams of contestants each had to make a large scale Picasso portraits composed of flowers. Barker said she had to overcome her fear of heights on that episode because she had to get up on a lift to arrange flowers for a massive art piece.
Since returning home, Barker has started watching episodes with her son, Jack, who is named after the late grandfather who let her pick flowers in his garden.
She credits her grandfather as being her first customer and the person who inspired her.
“He was my best friend. And he would always tell me, like, ‘Do things you love in life, Jenny,’” she said.
The younger Jack is also pretty impressed with his mom’s passion for being a florist.
“He was mesmerized by the flowers and the colors, and he was so proud of me,” she said.
Barker’s tips for making your own flower arrangements
1. Go with what you like.
“When you walk up to flowers, you instantly gravitate towards something that you like,” Barker said, adding that you should go wherever your inner energy takes you.
2. Break out some tunes.
It may not be bad to break out that Spotify playlist.
“If you have some pretty music playing in the background while you’re playing with the flowers, it sets the tone in the room,” Barker said. “Like you’re having a little bit of a party.”
3. Take it easy.
“Don’t be hard on yourself thinking you have to know what you’re doing. Let go of that like, ‘I should’ and step into the vulnerability of like, you know, ‘I don’t know necessarily what I’m doing, but I’m going to have some fun and play.’”
How to watch
When: Available now
Where: HBO Max
Information: magicalblooms.com; instagram.com/flowershaman