Everything's coming up roses for Tenley Young.
She's a lot more relaxed now that production has wrapped on "The Arrangement," a reality series she appeared on that pitted 10 floral designers against one another in outrageous contests. The one-hour, eight-episode TV series will premiere Oct. 4 on Logo cable channel. It was produced by World of Wonder that also did the film "Party Monster" and TV's "RuPaul's Drag Race."
Young, a Burbank resident, graduated from Village Christian School in 1998, attended Glendale Community College and graduated from UCLA.
"I majored in English, but I didn't want to teach or write," she said.
But she did want to do something with her passion — flowers.
The 30-year-old started creating floral arrangements when she was 16 for friends' weddings and special events. Early in her life, the family lived on a farm with a vegetable garden, and her father was a landscape designer and woodworker.
"I grew up around it, and I've always loved being outside," she said. "I always asked my dad, 'Can I help make that bookshelf with you?' "
Young moved in with her parents last year after she lost her job, car and apartment. She was working for a florist and creating arrangements for clients out of her parents' backyard when a friend told her about the audition for the TV series and urged Young to try out.
Her infectious laugh and edgy looks landed her a spot on the show, producers said.
Young has a tall Mohawk she coifs herself, wears girlie punk rock fashions and has a large tattoo on her right upper arm.
She's not what most people envision when they think florist, said Dave Mace, senior vice president and head of original programming with Logo.
"Tenley was young to us, and she also had an edgy look to her — a rock 'n' roll vibe," he said. "She was really so great about taking in the judges' comments and notes on every challenge, and you could see a progression in her work — a difference for the better. She was taking in what the judges were suggesting, and learning that in any competition show is essential for sticking around."
Each week, the designers were given assignments that progressively got more outrageous as time went on, producers said. The first show had two challenges.
One was to create a sushi display on top of nude male and female models wearing body socks. The second challenge was to decorate with floral and living elements mannequins that would be displayed at the Americana at Brand. The team Young was on won, and they split the prize — a $1,000 shopping spree at the Americana.
The show's head judge is Eric Buterbaugh, floral designer for the stars, and show host and judge is screenwriter Gigi Levangie Grazer ("Stepmom"). Every week there is a celebrity guest judge, including Nancy O'Dell, RuPaul and Nick Verreos.
One of the first big challenges for Young was creating a floral hat to go with a dress designed by Verreos, she said. She is more comfortable with muted colors or black, but the dress was red, and Young was stressed out deciding what to do with it.
"I thought I was going to have a meltdown — I never thought I'd cry so much in my life," she said.
The show was a roller-coaster journey for Young because she was a fresh talent, said Joe Del Hierro, executive producer.
"So she was competing with people who have been in the business for 20 years," he said. "She would second-guess herself. But when she stuck to her gut feelings, she would always prevail."
Young couldn't say how far along she made it through the competition, but she talked about what it was like. She was terrified most of the time, she said, because everyone else had been working as a professional florist for a long time, some as many as 20 years.
"Everyone had [worked] or worked in a shop and were making a serious living — I was not," she said. "But I thought, 'at least I'll learn something from them all.'"
Fellow contestant Tara Cottrell of Pasadena was her "knightress in shining armor," Young said.
"I didn't know how to wire a phalaenopsis orchid, but she showed me."
Young made it a point not to fight with anyone, but others did, she said.
"I would laugh hysterically at the cattiness of the other contestants — the men for the most part," she said. "It got so silly. And they made fun of my laugh."
She was amazed at the camaraderie that formed between the floral competitors and said they all still get together now that the show has wrapped.
And did she make it to the top spot and take home the Smart Fortwo Passion Coupe and $25,000 cash prizes? Stay tuned.
For the record: In an earlier version of this story, the last name of the host and judge Gigi Levangie Grazer was misspelled.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun