Jeff Leatham Gets Star Perch at Philadelphia Flower Show

Celebrity florist Jeff Leatham got the prized opening perch at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) June show causing some sighs from loyal award-winning local talent to the Philadelphia Flower Show.

Yes, the uber-hip Los Angeles-based Leatham is a favored florist to the Kardashian clan – and just collaborated with Kim Kardashian’s launch of her perfume KKW – but he also has been doing the flowers for the Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia – which gives him the Philadelphia cred- and was the floral star for the New York Botanical Garden’s orchid show.

In fact, the Utah-born florist gained mega-celebrity status twenty years ago from his lobby installations at the Four Seasons George V in Paris where he was mentored by the legendary florist, Christian Tortu. Leatham later was awarded the prestigious “Knighthood” -“Chevalier de L’Order des Arts et Letters,” no small feat for a U.S. florist to pass the sniff test of the style-minded French.

So yes, he is a big deal and a big get for the Philadelphia Flower Show.


Photo courtesy of the New York Botanical Gardens.

“A lot of floral artists are calling me and complaining about Jeff getting this coveted spot but I am just going to focus on the display I have inside and make it wonderful,” said one longtime contributing florist.

As far as the naysayers, the laconic Mathew McConaughey lookalike sighs with frustration. All those climbing vines can obscure the joy of his rosy accomplishments.

“Especially in this social media world, there is a lot of jealousy, pure jealousy” he says. “Unfortunately, that’s what success means.”

Leatham says he’s still the guy who worked his way up and “paid my dues like everyone else.” “People look at me as this golden child but I’m still the one to this day who will be processing the flowers, sweeping the floors and delivering flowers in my truck,” he says. Though now he’s more of a teacher to other florists and thoroughly enjoying “product collaborations.”


Photo courtesy of the New York Botanical Gardens.

Because of his flair with color and understanding of architectural underpinnings, his production collaborations are plentiful, popping up like Johnny-jump-ups in backyard gardens.

These days those collaborations include William Sonoma for upcoming holiday decor, his crystal vase design collection “Fleurology” and Jeff Leatham by Waterford Crystal, a book next spring, to add to his bookshelf of “Flowers by Jeff Leatham,” “Flowers by Design” and “Jeff Leatham – Visionary Floral and Design by Rizzoli.” Plus he starred in the docu-series, “Flowers Uncut.” He’s also just launched “Bloom Bundle,” a door-to-door delivery service for special cherry-picked flowers.

Leatham may have to navigate some prickly thorns and hurt feelings but considering his outsized budget compared to most at the Philadelphia Flower Show, as well as his big, bold and beautiful blooms that seduce and enchant, he will show why he is, as Oprah Winfrey commented, “the greatest florist of all time.”


Photo courtesy of the Four Seasons Hotel: Philadelphia.

For his designs at the Philadelphia Flower Show, Leatham says his inspiration will be our collective experience of the pandemic, using a combination of plumosa ferns and baby breaths in dyed shades of orange and pinks. “When I close my eyes, I see pent up and overgrown nature wanting to be free,” he says. “The colors are inspired by my burning desire to bring back the fire of life.” He also plans on having an entrance exploding with roses and his signature orchids that will charm and delight.

This color palette, he believes, will also trend for summer since “people are excited to do events and want bright colors.”

“Before the pandemic, the trend was neutral, earthy colors but now it’s all about bright colors, as well as dyed greens,” he says.

This year marks the first time the Four Seasons Philadelphia will be a sponsor for the Philadelphia Flower Show which just announced it will have the most designers, gardens and floral displays in the show’s 193-year history. That’s also because it is the first time the oldest running flower show in the United States will take place outdoors in South Philadelphia’s FDR Park, designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, starting June 5th – 13th.

Leatham looks forward to his installation bringing joy to the many people who will travel from around the country to see the show.


A version of this story originally appeared on FlowerPowerDaily.com.

Jill Brooke is a former CNN correspondent, Post columnist and editor-in-chief of Avenue and Travel Savvy magazine. She is an author and the editorial director of FPD, and a contributing digital editor of aspire design and home magazine.

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