There are few things the admittedly frugal Blake Shelton is willing to splurge on, but since marrying Gwen Stefani, the country superstar has shelled out a small fortune on… flower seeds.
The couple has grown multiple gardens’ worth of zinnias and sunflowers, and the Icelandic lilies are still a work in progress.
“We go way over-the-top,” Shelton — whose new game show, Barmageddon, premiered Monday night on USA Network — tells PEOPLE exclusively in this week’s cover story. “It’s embarrassing how much we spend on seeds. Besides music, gardening has been our biggest bonding activity.”
After a busy decade during which Shelton became a TV staple as a coach on The Voice and topped the charts with his music, the star is ready to reap the harvest in a different way.
“Gwen and I have done so much traveling and touring and work the first half of our lives that now we’re like, ‘Hey, I’m good to put my sweatpants on at 6 p.m. and watch Ozark eight times,'” he says. “That’s our life now, and we love it.”
Earlier this fall Shelton shocked fans when he announced his plans to leave NBC’s hit singing competition show next year after 23 seasons. Often described as the heart of the series, Shelton, 46, admits leaving his TV family of 12 years is bittersweet.
“The holdup over the years has been that it’s a hard thing for me to let go of. I’ve been here literally since the first minute,” he says. “When I started on The Voice, that was 10 years into my career as a country artist. I never really made it to the A-level of country artists until I became a coach. The show did a hell of a lot more for me than I brought to the table at the time. I’ve far exceeded anything I thought I could ever accomplish in the entertainment world.”
He also got a firsthand look at television production and was inspired during the pandemic to create Barmageddon with his close friend Carson Daly.
“In all the time I’ve been working in television, I’ve really just been a guy the network or producers say, ‘Hey, go over here and then go over here and be funny,'” he says. “I never really got to understand what goes on behind the scenes.”
“I’ve been media trained, but I wasn’t cut from that cloth ever, and Carson is so good at capturing that personality of being in the moment. He was the perfect guy for me to do this thing with and learn from,” says Shelton of Barmageddon, which sees many of their celebrity friends — including Elle King, Kane Brown, and Sheryl Crow — participate in over-the-top bar games.
Now with Barmageddon under his belt, Shelton says he’s “open” to whatever may come his way — but he’s in no rush to book another gig.
After decades of tending to his career, he’s prioritizing time with Stefani, 53, and her sons Kingston, 16, Zuma, 14, and Apollo, 8. (Their dad is Bush frontman Gavin Rossdale, Stefani’s ex-husband.)
“If I walked away from my career at this time, the only thing that I run the risk of is having regrets that I’m missing out on some more important things in life. For now, that’s our kids. This isn’t about me anymore and never will be again,” says Shelton, who celebrated his first wedding anniversary with Stefani in July.
“Even though I’m a stepparent, I take that job very seriously. The kids see me as a very important person in their life,” he continues. “[When they ask,] ‘Why isn’t Blake here?’ I take that stuff to heart. I’ve made plenty of money, but you can’t buy time back. I don’t want any regrets.”
These days, Shelton says his happiest times are when he’s back home in Oklahoma with the whole family.
“We get away from everything [in L.A.], and we’re just us. It truly does feel different,” he says. “That’s where I feel the most comfortable, happy, and safe.”
After tying the knot with Stefani in July 2021, Shelton says he’s feeling “settled” with the No Doubt rocker.
“The relationship that we have is so natural and so normal. This feels like the easiest thing I’ve ever been a part of,” he says of marriage. “To me, she’s my best friend and everything that I need and lean on.”
Now, Shelton is ready to slow down and enjoy everything he’s worked to achieve.
“I’ve had people say, ‘Man, come on. You’re not quitting The Voice [to do] nothing!’ But I really am. Please, I’m accepting ideas,” he jokes. “I have Barmageddon — we can do a whole season in a couple of weeks, and it’s a blast for me — and my Lands’ End clothing line. It’s time to push some of this [work] stuff out and let more family and personal life in.”