HGTV Obsessed Episode 20: Michael Urie
This week's show is all about extreme gardening. Michael Urie tells us about HGTV’s new topiary competition show, 'Clipped.' Then we talk to two experts about horticulture sculptures and creating wearable florals.
Listen in as Marianne chats with Michael Urie. Known mostly for his work on the TV series Ugly Betty, Michael has also appeared on Broadway and in several films. Now he is the host of HGTV’s new competition show, Clipped. The six-episode series follows seven real-life "Edward Scissorhands" as they compete to create breathtaking topiaries and sculptures out of living shrubbery, plants and flowers. The creations are then evaluated by celebrity judges Martha Stewart, Chris Lambton and Fernando Wong.
Marianne was anxious to know what it was like working with Martha Stewart. Michael says it was wonderful because she is such a pro and is so knowledgeable. He was most impressed by the way she is able to take something very complicated and explain it to a layman like himself. “She knows how to make it make sense as well as make it interesting,” says Michael.
Michael admits to not having a green thumb, he’s more of the audience proxy. “I was hired to be the guy who doesn’t know anything. My position on the show is to ask the contestants questions that the audience might ask,” explains Michael. He goes on talk about how intense the competition is and how you can feel the anxiety that the contestants are feeling. “Yeah, some things are manipulated for TV,” admits Michael. “But it’s an intense thing, they are being timed, and their work is not only going to be shown to Martha Stewart, but it’s also going to be shown to everyone!”
In our Defend the Trend portion of the podcast, Marianne asks Michael how he feels about kitschy, over-the-top decor. Because he lives in a small New York City apartment, he is a fan of keeping “your crazy contained," like having just one shelf full of tchotchkes and kitsch. Talking about over-the-top designs, Marianne and Michael’s conversation turns to the outfit that Michael wore to the 2019 Met Gala. Michael says that outfit illustrates that you can be more than one thing at a time, and the same can go for decorating your home. You can have more than one look.
Marianne then meets with Johanne Mackay of Mosaïcultures Internationales de Montréal. Johanne and her team create horticultural sculptures known as mosaicultures. They have just installed an exhibit of 20 sculptures ranging in size from 10 to 14 feet at Dollywood Theme Park in East Tennessee. A mosaiculture is different than a topiary. A topiary is a single plant or shrub that has been clipped or grown into a certain shape whereas a mosaiculture is a sculpture built on a steel frame then filled with thousands of plants.
Johanne starts by explaining that the mosaiculture is a French word that has no English translation. It is an old art that is complicated and expensive to build and to maintain. The process of creating a mosaiculture takes time; it starts with sketch, then moves to a three-dimensional model then a steel form is built while the plants are being cultivated. She goes on to explain that the plants are chosen for their color and structure. A variety of colors and the placement of that color can create light and shadow, while the right plant structure must be used to give the sculpture strengthen and depth.
Next up, Marianne talks to Susan McLeary, an award-winning floral designer who creates wearable floral art. In her book, The Art of Wearable Flowers, Susan has a range of projects for beginners as well as seasoned florists, and many of the projects made with easy-to-get materials (re: supermarket flowers). Susan used to be a jewelry maker then started getting into doing wedding flowers. She was then able to combine her two talents into one successful career. Her favorite beginner projects in her book include a succulent ring, hoop earring made from hyacinths and a flower crown. She suggests using herbs and potted perennials as well as popular flowers to make your own wearable floral art.
Award-winning floral designer Susan McLeary goes beyond the typical corsage and creates things like hyacinth earrings, a bustier made of carnations and a wig made from amaranthus.