Southampton High grad gardens with Martha Stewart

Published 9:05 am Friday, February 19, 2010

Tom Purviance wasn’t exactly surprised when he got an invitation to appear on the Martha Stewart Show.

“We had done some work for the company before, we were featured in the magazine in the November issue and we had done some other things providing plants for them for photo shoots and other activities, so we knew they were aware of us and it was in some ways just a matter of time before they invited us to be on the show,” said Purviance, a 1970 graduate of Southampton High School.

“And, of course, that invitation comes through a list of assistants and producers. You don’t get a call from Martha,” he said.

Purviance presented a 15-minute show-and-tell segment on Stewart’s popular TV show featuring six special orchid plants. He and Stewart also offered a hands-on potting demonstration for the TV audience. The episode aired on Jan. 18.

“It was a lot of fun,” Purviance said. “It wasn’t really nerve-wracking because everything is very much rehearsed and prepared in advance. You know what’s happening and what’s coming.”

He said there is even a rehearsal about two hours before the show is taped. The show airs five days a week, but tapings are only held three days a week — which leads to a hectic environment on set. However, Stewart remains calm, Purviance said.

“It’s intense, and my impression of her is that she stays very aloof and calm and quiet, until the moment the camera comes on and then she’s 100 percent and does her job,” he said.

However, the two did share some friendly conversation.

“In between the segments, we talked about orchids and things like that and she was very friendly,” Purviance said of Stewart.

Purviance, 58, operates Parkside Orchid Nursery in Bucks County, Pa. He said that he has been in touch with Stewart’s people since the taping.

“She had her head gardener get in touch with us after the show and they’ve been buying some products and materials and things from us to try and improve on her orchid collection,” he said.

Purviance said he is willing to go in front of the cameras again.

“The producer who ran our segment said we were invited back anytime,” he said. “I’m kind of hoping maybe this spring sometime we can go back again.”