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The Flower House Blooms

Artistic creativity and natural beauty blossom within a pair of forlorn Detroit homes.

What do you do with a discarded home in Detroit? Most ideas circle around “rebuild them” or “raze them.” Few promise to fill them with natural beauty and artistic creativity while fostering pride in the surrounding community – but that’s exactly the goal of Lisa Waud’s Flower House project.

As the founder and lead horticulturalist for Detroit-based florist Pot & Box, Waud is no stranger to creating intricate, innovative floral arrangements designed for a variety of venues. But to fill two homes with artistic flora? That’s certainly different – and it’s the result of Waud’s creative spirit constantly looking for another project.

Waud says she’s long been intrigued by short-term public art installations, but never knew exactly what she could do on a similar scale. It wasn’t until she saw photos of a flower-powered French fashion show in 2012.

“I was floored by the setting used,” said Waud. “They filled an entire house, floor-to-ceiling, with flowers and floral arrangements. It was beautiful, but I didn’t like how inaccessible it was to those outside of the fashion industry. I wanted that sort of creativity; that natural beauty to be available to everyone to experience, not just those invited to a particular show.”

That’s when inspiration struck: why not combine the best of both worlds here in Detroit? Waud set about finding a canvas for the project here in Detroit, and wound up purchasing two derelict homes.

After securing the properties and performing some minor work in order to accommodate the installation, Waud opened the doors to seventeen different florists, who then designed and created unique installations teams across every room in the house. Each was allowed to let their imagination run wild, so long as the finished project looked like a “wild, overtaken place.”

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“I think I’ve lost count as to how many flowers are inside the house,” Waud said. “I could probably say a million, and it may very well be close to that.”

True to her inspiration, Waud’s project isn’t long for the world – the finished installation will only be open to the public from October 16th through the 18th -- but the natural beauty and spirit of community improvement fostered by the Flower House will live on. Once the installations are finally removed, Waud will work with a local group to salvage architectural elements that can be reused in other homes, before dismantling the homes entirely. After that, Waud aims to redevelop the lots into a flower farm, growing fresh blooms for use in future Pot & Box creations.

“This project has grown far beyond what I ever imagined,” she said. “The level of interest from artists and neighbors alike; the level of collaboration between everyone involved; the beauty of the finished project – it is simply overwhelming. This has truly been the project of a lifetime.”