Flower show goes off as planned despite freezing temps

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Hamtramck — The second-day of a unique flower show on Dequindre went off as planned Saturday, according to those involved and visitors from as far away as New York City.

The show, which began on Friday and runs through Sunday, has been sold out despite freeze warnings, was a visual and overall "sensory experience"on Saturday and in the most unlikely of locations — a boarded-up, decaying structure renamed the Flower House for the event.

"Some friends here invited me to go the show and it has been absolutely unbelievable," said Melinda Martuse, a New York City consultant with the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

"I love floral art and this was a moving experience for me on many levels," Martuse said. "It's a story of urban renewal and commitment and community giving art. It was uplifting and the highlight of my visit"

Martuse was part of several 26-person groups required to sign waiver forms holding the show's operator responsible should they suffer a physical injury walking through the dilapidated, but very aromatic, two-story house. The group was escorted through the house and 17 rooms for a 20-minute tour during which she said she snapped photos and "had a smile on my face for 20 minutes — when was the last time that happened?"

"In New York City, if something goes wrong we just complain about it," she said. "Here in southeast Michigan I find people have a feeling and heart of the city that is unmatched. Anywhere."

The Flower House project was designed to bring attention to blighted vacant homes and aid the responsible deconstruction of the same, according to Holly Rutt, one of 36 floral art-designers who helped transform different rooms in the house. The majority of proceeds from 2,000 $15 ticket sales will go towards demolishing the house and a neighboring structure and turning the site into a flower farm. Materials — from wood to glass — will be reused, Rutt said.

Rutt said volunteers helped install about 4,000 blooms in one of the bathrooms. The bathroom had a shower curtain consisting of 1,100 marigolds; white and black daiseys for a tile look and a bathmat made out of dianthus.

"We worked on this for three days before the Friday opening," said Rutt, who operates Sweet Pea Floral Designs in Grosse Pointe Woods. "The flowers are still looking good, despite the cooler temperatures.

"Actually they should remain good though tomorrow if the weather stays cool," she said. "What will hurt them is if it warms up and gets colder. Kind of weird, but I'm hoping for cooler weather today."

Meanwhile flower-lovers and home gardeners were advised to "take precaution" with their own blooms.

"Temperatures are expected to drop again tonight, its going to get pretty chilly and people should take precautions with their outdoor flowers," said Sara Schultz, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in White Lake Township.

Temperatures in Metro Detroit were expected to drop into the high 20s and low 30s overnight, according to forecasts.

Floral designer Lisa Waud bought the abandoned house at a Hamtramck city auction last fall for $250. But she didn't see a dilapidated old house. She envisioned a blank canvas for floral designers and especially liked the contrast between urban grit and beauty.

“I think there’s a little bit in this story for everyone,” says Waud, the Flower House creator who owns the pot + box flower shop in Hamtramck. “It’s flowers, it’s art, it’s an abandoned building in Detroit, it’s deconstruction, it’s a flower farm.”


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