Inside Detroit's Flower House

When I first heard about The Flower House, the idea just spoke to me. Filling a house with flowers? Literally? There is absolutely no downside.

American florists rising to the challenge of making a neglected room look gorgeous would have been amazing enough. But Lisa Waud, owner of Pot & Box and architect of The Flower House figured why not go for 15 rooms instead. I wrote about it back in July, and you can read my first post here.

Blame it on Dior, whose fall/winter 2012 couture show massed flowers like they'd never been gathered before. As shown in just one video of the idea, take a look at the G-Fresh Flowers sponsored clip.

The floral rooms Dior envisioned and realized in Paris three years ago showed Lisa it could be done. She merely changed the venue to Detroit, and inspired dozens of designers from North America to lend their imaginations to every flower-lover's dream. No small effort any way you cut it.

A preview installed in May lends a touch of reality to the fanciful presentation.
The first person I thought of when I read about The Flower House was Debra Prinzing, champion of the fresh flower movement, and founder of Slow Flowers: the conscious choice for buying and sending flowers.

Would the Seattle writer, even one who has her finger on the pulse of all things floral, know about the Detroit project? Turns out I needn't have doubted it. I e-mailed Debra, who I'd met through Garden Writers, and asked her about it. She'd already interviewed Lisa on a recent podcast, gave me a little info, and invited me to the Field to Vase Dinner, which will be held Friday. Tickets to the dinner, my first foray into field to vase, are already sold out.

So I've been e-mailing back and forth with Lisa about the project and the future of the land on which The Flower House sits. After the big event this weekend, the house will be torn down to make room for Lisa's fresh flower farm. And she'll be growing peonies! Of course, I'm always excited when my favorite flower is recognized for its beauty, and growing peonies for cut flowers is perfection personified!

Jamie Platte with Larissa Flynn and Jennifer Riley-Haf of Bloom
(photo by Megan Newman, Weber Photography)
Growing fresh flowers for use in professional arrangements has caught on like a tsunami hitting the beach. It's hard, dirty work, but the payoff is not only pretty, it's fresher and more unusual than anything in a typical commercial florist's flower fridge.

I had the pleasure of meeting one of the designers for The Flower House when I was in Michigan last month. Jamie Platte of A. R. Pontius Flower Shop in Harbor Springs, MI was more relaxed about the process than I thought she'd be.

But she's had nearly a year to think about it. Jamie will pair up with Liz Andre-Stotz, of Parsonage Events to create their room at The Flower House. They met during the preview design work in May. Jamie also knows Lisa, who she went to school with, and Larissa Flynn and Jennifer Riley-Haf of Bloom Floral Design, who also will take part in The Flower House design.
Jamie Platte

"We will work together and come up with something colorful representing the seasons of Michigan," Jamie said. "We might go with fruits and vegetables for color."
Designers won't be using the typical oasis for their creations, so they'll need to choose flowers with some staying power. 
"We've been collecting vials for the flowers, but mostly we’re planning to use flowers that won’t be hurt to be out of water," she said, mentioning Ruscus, Hydrangeas, Alstroemeria

As an actor and musician, Jamie is familiar with improvisation. She recognizes the opportunity to design a room in The Flower House as improv in the extreme, because it's really impossible to imagine what the end product will be. But with as many flowers as Lisa is expecting from growers throughout the country, it can't help but be beautiful.


  1. I feel like I am now living in a flower house. I brought in all my tender plants for the winter season. I know it isn't the same but I will have a few blooms via orchids this winter. Peonies are one of my favorites. They are gorgeous while they last. There used to be a grower in town many many years ago. I have heard the oldsters talk about how beautiful the fields appeared during their season. Best of luck to them.

    1. It's always a tough time of year--another season of hope that our plants will continue to look good, but eventually coming to the realization it's not gonna happen unless you have lights and impeccably pristine soil. A peony field in full bloom is indeed a sight to be seen. I'm glad you're embracing orchids. I'm finally a convert and can concur they're not as finicky as I'd thought.

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