I had heard about the Flower House through Instagram and was completely fascinated by the project. Inspired by the gates of Central Park in New York and large scale floral installations created for the Dior Haute Couture shows in Paris, a foreclosed house was purchased for just $250 in Hamntranck (a small city just outside of Detroit). It was converted into a botanical feast by some of America's top floral designers, lead by the creator Lisa Waud of Pot & Box. The mission of the Flower House was simple -
sharing the flower house experience rooted in a love of art
building an exhibition that brings visitors awe and joy
creating an opportunity for florists to participate in an innovative floral installation
pursuing a passion for sustainability and responsibility to american-grown flower farms
showing respect for the city of detroit’s history through the reuse of one abandoned house
enriching as many lives as we can
After following the Flower House's progress since June, I was so incredibly excited when it was announced that the Flower House would be open to the public in October which coincided with my visit to New York. I kept thinking what an incredible experience it would be to see such work on that scale. Trying to plan my trip to Detroit from home was a bit tricky and I decided to wait until I landed in New York so to book flights etc. Unfortunately the popularity and excitement to see the Flower House was far greater than my timeline and when I went to book my ticket, the event had sold out. Thanks to some help from some beautiful florist friends in Australia and the US, I was able to get a ticket! Big, huge, incredible thanks to Holly & Lisa for making this happen!
I flew to Detroit from New York at 7am with a stopover in Washington DC and got to Detroit at Midday. I went up to the transport counter at the airport and asked for a taxi to Hamntranck. Straight away the workers picked up on my accent and asked "are you sure you want to go to Hamntranck?"! All I could think was 'uhhhh yes! I didn't fly all this way for nothing kids!'.
I had a driver named Mohamed who was a lovely gentleman that also acted as unofficial tour guide on the trip, explaining where things were and how the GFC affected Detroit but how it had improved in recent times. He couldn't quite believe that I had flown in from Australia via New York to see some 'flower shop' in Detroit. We pulled up at the front of the house and Mohamed let out an exaggerated 'ohhhhhhhh now I get it!'.
I registered my attendance at the sign in table and then waited patiently for the time to go in. Due to the popularity of the Flower House, you had to book in to allocated time slots and you were allowed 20 minutes to explore the house. I wandered around the front and the back of the property taking photos and appreciating the fresh and cool breeze as it was a glorious nine degrees. I saw Lisa walking around the house, chatting to attendees and a woman whose family had once owned the house had come by to look at what had been created and to share some of the family's history and memories.
Upon walking into the house, I was very overwhelmed - possibly a combination of awe that I was so lucky to see the Flower House in the flesh in all its glory and the realisation that I was here, experiencing what I had seen from afar on Instagram over a course of a few months.
Each room was designed by different floral designers from various parts of the US and Canada. The designers created intricate layers of flowers, foliage, plants and vegetables and the walk through the house very much had ebb and flow just like an ocean. You could find quiet points where your eyes and mind could rest and process which then would be followed by designs that were abundant and really packed a punch. The one thought that I kept going back to (apart from 'wow is this real?') was the appreciation of organising and the logistics involved in creating such a big project - I had visions of the floral designers and volunteers staying up until all hours processing and stripping flowers, filling buckets etc etc. My only regret was that my camera (my trusty compact DSLR) just couldn't capture what my eyes were seeing but I tried to take as many photos as I could as I didn't want to forget anything! I was also scared that I may have missed something so then I could always look back on my photos.
I couldn't say that I had one favourite room or one favourite design as the house as a whole was just incredibly beautiful. Twenty minutes has never passed so quick that's for sure and I was kicking myself for not registering for the next time slot so I could stay and wander around again and again just trying to absorb what the Flower House had to offer.
I quickly walked through the first floor one last time before making my way out back onto the street where Mohamed was waiting for me in the taxi to take me back to the airport to head back to New York. People in the neighbourhood were driving past filled with curiosity and taking up the offer of free flowers that were in buckets on the sidewalk. As we made our way back to the airport, Mohamed took some detours and drove past the Ford Factory and took me on a mini tour of downtown Detroit and I even caught a glimpse of Canada from across a lake!
One day I hope I will be able to take part in a project just like the Flower House and have the chance to create something as equally beautiful and inspiring to what I saw that day. A day that was incredibly long with plane rides and taxis galore! But one that has left a lasting impression.
For more information, photos and videos of the Flower House, please visit