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 Dan Lee, of Madison Heights, lives near the pollinator-friendly garden that he and members of the Madison Heights Environmental Citizens Committee recently installed at Gravel Park. Lee and some local children tend to the garden.

Dan Lee, of Madison Heights, lives near the pollinator-friendly garden that he and members of the Madison Heights Environmental Citizens Committee recently installed at Gravel Park. Lee and some local children tend to the garden.

Photo by Deb Jacques

Committee aims to add gardens throughout Madison Heights

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published July 17, 2020


MADISON HEIGHTS — At the start of the year, the Madison Heights Environmental Citizens Committee, or ECC, convened its first subcommittee meeting for what is now called The Bloom Project — an initiative that aims to plant gardens across the city.

“I want the gardens in our public spaces to be aesthetically pleasing and biodiverse, so that people come to Madison Heights to wander around and look at our gardens,” said Madison Heights Mayor Pro Tem Roslyn Grafstein. “Green space with pollinator-friendly plants such as milkweed and native wildflowers not only make the area look nice, but they also help protect water resources and manage stormwater runoff while attracting beneficial birds, bees and butterflies. People walk slower and pop into more shops when they are surrounded by this natural beauty.”  

Since the city does not have the resources to maintain the gardens, the initiative relies on volunteers to maintain the gardens once they are planted. Such help is still needed — anyone who is interested in planting a garden on city land can call Grafstein directly at (248) 716-4723 or email her at to request the volunteer and maintenance forms, or to submit plan ideas. Emails can also be directed to Madison Heights City Manager Melissa Marsh at

One of the gardens has already begun to take form. Last month, The Bloom Project’s chairperson Eve Sandoval and fellow member Crystal Fox joined Dan Lee and Elizabeth Blomenberg to plant the project’s first garden at Gravel Park, located at 30479 Palmer Ave. in Madison Heights.

“The garden was designed with a particular site in mind: sunny, fairly dry and quite visible,” Sandoval said. “All of the plants selected are native plants to Michigan, and ones that can survive almost entirely on rainfall. It was important to include native plants that are valuable to pollinators like bees and butterflies, and that have a bloom time from spring to fall.”

Among the plants in the Gravel Park garden are common milkweed — an essential ingredient for the endangered monarch butterflies — as well as swamp milkweed, penstemon, nodding onion, gold ragwort, golden alexander and beardtongue.

Sandoval, Fox, Lee and Blomenberg first cleared beds of weeds to prepare for the planting. Lee lives adjacent to the property and will be maintaining the site.

“I’m excited to be part of The Bloom Project,” Sandoval said. “We already have a great team of people ready to move forward, and so many more residents are excited about this project. Our goal one day is to see gardens in every park in Madison Heights!”

Grafstein said that the group is exploring a variety of ideas. Rain gardens will be planted at Civic Center Park using grant money. At the end of last month, the Parks and Recreation Committee’s council representative, Emily Rohrbach, joined Grafstein to cut the ribbon on Wildwood Park’s new accessible play structure, and Grafstein said she would like to add gardens there next.

“It would be great if we could get a rain garden for Wildwood,” Grafstein said. “Rain gardens not only provide tremendous stormwater quality and management benefits, but they also provide beneficial habitat for birds, butterflies and insects. They greatly enhance the existing landscape, attract additional visitors to the park and lead to greater economic values for nearby properties.”

About a year ago, Grafstein also asked the City Council to approve a comprehensive noxious weed ordinance.

“With new provisions that encourage native plantings and natural planned landscaping, as well as guidelines to control the spread of weeds, we could become a city known for butterflies, earning the nickname ‘Monarch Heights,’” Grafstein said. “Madison Heights currently has five registered monarch waystations that feature milkweed, which helps sustain monarch butterflies, and I would like to see more.”