Kent resident competes on Discovery TV series, judged by Martha Stewart

Photo of Sandra Diamond Fox

KENT — While town resident Ed Pequignot spends most of his days busy with his horticulture business, he recently had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to compete in a premiere Discovery + series judged by Martha Stewart.

In the six-episode series, called “Clipped,” seven topiary experts competed against one another to create the best works of art from shrubbery, plants and flowers. The winner got to take home $50,000.

Pequignot, 30, who was the only Connecticut competitor, made it through three episodes on the show, which is hosted by actor Michael Urie and judged by landscape architect Fernando Wong and lifestyle, landscape and horticultural expert Chris Lambton.

Clipped was filmed at the Lyndhurst Mansion, in Tarrytown, NY.

Challenges

In the first episode, Pequignot had to reshape a tree into a carousel animal. He chose a horse.

He said he grew up around horses and knew their anatomy well enough to feel confident in that competition.

“That was my favorite challenge,” he said. “I was able to showcase my skills with shears, and then I ran with my artistic ability.”

The judges liked his design and he was able to move onto the next round.

“I was super stoked,” he said.

Contestants didn’t know ahead of time what the theme was for each episode.

“We found out right there and then what the theme was going to be and then you had to go into the back and come up with something,” he said.

Time was of the essence. They had 10 hours to create their creations.

“We were all inside the topiary tent,” he said. “There was a big time clock on the wall. The pressure was on. There are seven people in there, all competing for $50,000 with the best design possible. For me, at 30 years old and growing up in very small town, going on television, competing against the top designers in the industry — I was super jacked up. It was awesome.”

He passed through the second show, growing more excited with each episode, he said.

In the episode Pequignot got eliminated, the theme was “Night at the Museum” and each contestant had to make an exhibit for outside of a museum. They were told to create the item that was drawn out of a hat by Stewart.

Pequignot was tasked with making a volcano.

“It was the hardest one of all because it involved the least amount of work,” he said. “I had to think outside the box and make my flower arrangements try to stand out as lava flowing over the mountains. There’s not much you can do with a volcano without making it look like eighth grade science fair project.”

He said he was eliminated because he “didn’t push the boundaries enough” and made the volcano look too simple.

“The simplicity of the design was my downfall,” he said.

Horticulture business

Pequignot knew nothing about horticulture until he was 19. He grew up in Kent on a family farm on Bulls Bridge Road. He had a talent for baseball and was playing Division 1 at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. However, he tore his rotator cuff and had to end his baseball career. He came home and began to go down a dark path, including drinking, he said.

When he was 19, while working part-time at a local hardware store, a master gardener from England offered him an apprentice job alongside him — which he worked at for over a decade.

He then started his own garden design and landscape company called Garden Cowboy. His trademark look is a cowboy hat, which he wears everywhere he goes.

Since that time, he has worked on the estates of many well known people, including former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and the late Robert Trump — brother to former president Donald Trump.

Pequignot and his wife, Angelica, have a 7-year-old daughter Audrina and are expecting a second daughter, Presley.

“Wouldn’t change the experience”

Stewart was “super nice” and helpful to everyone on the show, according to Pequignot. “Martha was great. We got to sit down and she gave tips to everybody — little pointers here and there.”

At the end of each episode, she spoke to all the contestants and was very “down to earth and very interested in what everybody had to say,” he added.

On a more personal level, Pequignot said Stewart gave him life advice.

“She told me whatever I was doing with the drinking and my sobriety and my family that ‘you’re on a good path at a young age,’” he said.

Pequignot is now being recognized around town by those who watched him on TV — especially whenever he wears his signature cowboy hat.

“I had people recognize me in gas stations in Sharon, New Milford and Sherman,” he said.

Additionally, he said his business has “taken off” around the Bedford, N.Y. area, where Stewart owns a home.

At the end of the day, Pequignot said he had a lot of fun and he got to meet wonderful people by being on the show.

“I wouldn’t change the experience for the world,” he said, adding being on the show taught him a lot about taught himself.

“I was very happy just being a local gardener with a few clients, but this show has given me the drive, passion and desire to spread my talents, train others in the field and become a better boss, husband and father,” he said.

sfox@milfordmirror.com