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Upstairs and downstairs, the open-air porches of The Flower House were designed by Lisa Waud
This week’s episode is dedicated to my friend Lisa Waud and to the flower farmers and florists who created The Flower House. Here’s a recap, by the numbers:
(c) Heather Saunders the official photogapher of The Flower House, captured this opening day image from Oct. 16th
1 Elderly home, circa early 1900s
15 rooms, closets, hallways and porches
30-plus floral designers
25,000 to 40,000 individual stems of flowers and foliage; the count keeps climbing and changing!
hundred of potted plants
dozens of American flower farms and farmers
180 Field to Vase Dinner Guests
And now that the Flower House event is over? There will be one glorious Detroit flower farm called Flower House Farm.
(c) Heather Saunders. The doors to The Flower House opened on October 16th.
Last week I had the honor and privilege of returning to The Flower House, a project I visited the first weekend in May when creator Lisa Waud and her fellow designers decorated two rooms of an adjacent building, now called “the little house,” for a press preview to introduce the ultimate exhibition to come in October.
That event took place last weekend, a three-day, flower-themed wonderland that has garnered international attention, including a huge story last Thursday in the New York Times.
This podcast has the distinction of being the first media outlet to share the story of The Flower House when we aired the original interview with Lisa Waud this past February.
I now feel like the fairy godmother who granted a tiny wish to help Lisa get the word out — and look what a fantastic and beautiful dream it blossomed into!
Officially, I was at The Flower House in Hamtramck, Michigan, a hamlet just outside downtown Detroit, to co-host the final of 10 Field to Vase Dinners for 2015.
What a perfect way to go out with a huge bang — a floral fireworks show that sold out days in advance (for tour tickets and dinner tickets), making this the most successful Field to Vase Dinner of all.
“Nature Takes Back,” the upstairs kitchen of The Flower House, created by Sally Vander Wyst and Courtney Stemberg of Wisconsin Flower Co.
Look at this charming cupboard, which Sally and Courtney styled with vintage goods.
I arrived at The Flower House late last Wednesday, having grabbed a lift from the airport with my Seattle flower gal-pal Bev Burrows. Bev is a Detroit native who works in the floral, events and visual display world here in Seattle and she simply could not stay away from the lure of The Flower House in her hometown.
We jumped out of her brother’s car and started hyperventilating as we saw florist friends new and old (a few of our friends from the PNW had flown in just to volunteer for a few days, Slow Flowers members Adria Sparkhawk of Thicket in Portland and Erica Knowles of Botany 101 in Seattle). Then I found Lisa and greeted her with hugs, smiles and a few tears of happiness.
There was much going on with the opening less than 36 hours away. Lisa was busily installing her 2-story display on the home’s upstairs and downstairs porches (see that portion above).
And 14 other spaces were in various stages of installation, too. Buckets of American grown flowers were stacked everywhere and the orderly chaos promised something huge was about to be unveiled.
A tiny, wild moment in Sally and Courtney’s kitchen. “If Mother Nature was a Florist . . . “
Over the next several weeks I’ll be sharing clips from interviews with as many of the Flower House designers as have been able to record.
Today you will hear from designers of four of the rooms; I grabbed these conversations as the designers introduced me to the specific space they embellished with flowers, and as they described the inspiration, vision and design process.
There is one unifying thread that weaves together these stories. Each designer cares deeply about sourcing American grown botanical ingredients from local flower farms and from farms in other parts of the U.S.
They want to showcase the bounty and beauty of the season and help tell the floral industry and the floral consumer that it’s important to make a conscious choice when buying flowers.
Susan Studer King and Caroline Waller, Ohio designers, in the child’s bedroom they designed.
First up, you will meet SALLY VANDER WYST of the MILWAUKEE FLOWER CO., a Slowflowers.com member who created a Wisconsin-filled kitchen called “Nature Takes Back.”
Then you’ll hear from SUSAN STUDER KING of BUCKEYE BLOOMS, Slowflowers.com member and a past guest of this podcast, and her collaborator, fellow Ohioan CAROLINE WALKER of PASSIFLORA STUDIO as they introduce us to the child’s bedroom entitled “Foraged Foliage.”
The third space I visited was entitled “Sweet Mossy Dreams,” a closet and tiny hallway decorated in a most fantastical way by Slowflowers.com member SUSAN KELLY of THREE SISTERS FLOWERS, based in East Palo Alto, California.
And finally, you’ll meet past podcast guests and Slowflowers.com members JENNIFER HAF and LARISSA FLYNN of BLOOM FLORAL DESIGN, based in Petosky, Michigan, as they describe the vivid and electrifying upstairs bedroom, “Wild, Floral Graffiti.”
The walls of Susan and Caroline’s “Foraged Floral”-themed bedroom are banded with wooshes of floral color.
A wider view of the bedroom, sunshine pouring through the windows.
I’ll introduce these Flower House designers individually at the beginning of each clip, so follow along and enjoy this first installment and virtual tour of the rooms within The Flower House.
Susan Kelly of Three Sisters Flowers, tucked into her “Sweet Mossy Dreams” closet and hallway.
The botanical medallion on the ceiling of Susan’s tiny closet space – amazing!!! Incorporating 237 leaves and a sunflower, it was inspired by a ceiling she saw at the Museum of the Hunt in Paris.
I think it’s so exciting that you’ll be hearing from designers who hail from Wisconsin, Ohio, California and Michigan – they’re just a few of the many talents whose voices will appear here in the coming weeks.
I especially love the contagious passion and urge to create that exudes from this project. Whimsy, joy, wonderment, sentiment, poignancy, surprise — all combine in this dream of a project.
Larissa Flynn and Jennifer Haf of Bloom Floral Design in their “Wild, Floral Graffiti” space.
The floral-inspired graffiti underlay seen on the walls of Jennifer and Larissa’s space pays homage to Detroit’s street art.
Love these giant flowers on the walls of “Wild, Floral Graffiti,” that complement the all-American flowers.
My hat is off to all of the designers and especially to Lisa Waud. Once the dust settles and Lisa has transitioned from her role as Flower House creator to urban flower farmer for her successful design business Pot and Box, we’ll invite her back for a recap of the project.
In the meantime, I leave you with this impression that Jen and Larissa shared. It has stuck with me as a perfect description of their room and many of the other rooms within the four walls of The Flower House: In designing their room, the women said they experienced a WILD CRAZY FREEDOM.
Extra dahlias grown by Michael Genovese of Summer Dreams Farm, a local Michigan resource — spontaneously woven into the chain link fence in front of The Flower House.
And I wish that sentiment for you to experience as well. It can happen when you connect with nature and with flowers that have been grown by the hardworking hands of American flower farmers.
Episodes of the Slow Flowers Podcast have been downloaded 68,000 times. I thank you and others in the progressive American-grown floral community for supporting this endeavor.
Until next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review. THANK YOU to each and every one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.
The content and opinions expressed here are either mine alone or those of my guests alone, independent of any podcast sponsor or other person, company or organization.
The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Wheatley and Hannah Holtgeerts. Learn more about their work at shellandtree.com.