Years ago, you could find J Schwanke in Greens Greenhouses on Bell Street.
Next month, you can find him on television — where the former Fremonter will appear as host of “J Schwanke’s Life in Bloom.”
The new, half-hour TV show premieres at 11 a.m., central time, May 11 on Nebraska ETV, the state’s Public Broadcasting Service station.
Currently, the show is on 57 PBS television stations across the United States with an estimated audience of 104 million viewers, said Schwanke from his home in Grand Rapids, Mich.
“It’s a very feel-good show for our troubled times,” Schwanke said. “It’s 30 minutes where you can disconnect and just look at pretty flowers.”
Schwanke’s show is designed to educate viewers on the benefits of incorporating flowers into their everyday lives and how easy it is to do so.
Each week, the show focuses on a featured flower. Schwanke will show how to make a floral arrangement with a particular flower.
“We’ll do projects or crafts that might be inspired by that flower,” he said.
Schwanke also may take viewers to the farm where that flower is grown. The flower might become part of a recipe for a food.
“We might make a cocktail that has that flower involved in it somehow,” he added.
Upcoming episodes include those focusing on: carnations; tulips; terrariums; and orchids.
Schwanke also will have guests, such as a flower farmers and foliage growers, a craft expert and a radio personality.
P. Allen Smith, who’s had a PBS show called “Garden Style” for 20 years, will appear on an episode as well.
Schwanke’s own roots in the floral industry run deep. His great-grandparents, Charles and Katie Green, founded the floral shop and greenhouse in Fremont in 1896.
His grandparents, Carnation Joe and Lily Green, continued the tradition.
Schwanke’s parents JoEllen “Joey” and the late Mel Schwanke co-owned Greens Greenhouses, Inc., for 65 years. Today, it’s known as Greens Florist and is under new ownership.
J Schwanke, who grew up in Fremont, managed his family’s floral business for 18 years before branching out on his own.
He moved to Atlanta, Ga., in 1994 and worked as a freelance designer. For 20 years, he worked for the John Henry Company creating selection guides for florist shops.
Schwanke has given presentations, taught classes and given shows in all 50 states and in Canada, Mexico and London. In 2006, he and husband Kelly Blank created the uBloom.com website with videos on flower arranging. He’s authored two award-winning books.
The first season of Schwanke’s new TV program features 13 shows with an overarching theme of “Empowering with Flowers.”
Schwanke encourages viewers to try flower arranging.
“Flowers are forgiving; you have to jump in and try it,” he said, adding, “The most important person to please when you’re arranging is yourself.”
Schwanke’s now working on the show’s second season, which involves the health and wellness benefits of including flowers in a person’s life.
“The act of arranging flowers actually releases endorphins in your body that make you feel calm and relaxed,” he said. “I designed the show to be a ‘Flower Break,’ — like a coffee break. It’s a chance to stop and ‘Smell the Roses’ if you will, but more accurately — take a few minutes to unwind, relax and enjoy the beauty of flowers in all sorts of different ways.”
If early statistics are any indication, viewers across the nation have started relaxing in front of this show.
Schwanke said American Public Television (APT) offered the show to 303 public television stations at its Fall Marketplace conference in Baltimore in November 2018.
Stations could vote whether or not they’d schedule the show in their programming.
“We needed 25 stations to bring the show to national broadcast. We got 230 ‘yes’ votes and even today some of the ‘no’ stations are scheduling the show,” Schwanke said.
APT now offers the show to PBS stations and the Create television network, so any of the stations or the network can offer the show on their channels.
The show first aired in Grand Rapids in earlier this month and other stations are following suit.
“We have many stations who voted ‘no,’ but our show’s already been very popular and people who voted ‘no’ are still picking it up,” he said.
Those ‘no’ stations include New York and Los Angeles.
Unlike other networks, PBS stations can schedule use of the shows whenever they want for the next two years.
“And over the course of the next six to eight months, each station will put us in when they have room in their schedule,” Schwanke said.
Nashville is running the show in two time slots — one early morning during the week and one on the weekend.
And unlike Nebraska, which has one PBS station, other places have more than one. For instance, Grand Rapids has three PBS stations.
“On uBloom, we track the schedules as they become available,” Schwanke said.
Viewers also can read Schwanke’s blog about the show’s segments and see bonus content at www.uBloom.com.
Schwanke said Steve Grazziano, programmer for NET, told him the first segment would air in Nebraska just before Mother’s Day — and would be a good gift for his mom, who still lives in Fremont.
“It’s a great present for her,” Schwanke said.
Schwanke is looking to the future.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to have a national TV show and it’s coming true,” he said. “I love sharing my passion for flowers with everyone I meet so this allows me to share even more — all across the country.”