Flowers are focus of Meadow Brook in Bloom

By: Linda Shepard | Rochester Post | Published May 30, 2017

ROCHESTER HILLS — Flowers held high priority with the Wilson family at Meadow Brook Hall.

“Matilda (Dodge Wilson) always had fresh flowers in the house,” MBH Director of Curatorial Services Madelyn Rzadkowolski said. “She had 1,800 rose bushes. John Dodge built a greenhouse for her, and there were always chrysanthemums blooming in the greenhouse. She was the national president of the Woman’s National Farm and Garden Association for two years. She was very involved in gardening.”

This summer, a weeklong special series called Meadow Brook in Bloom will celebrate all things floral inside and outside the hall. A series of tours, lectures, workshops and more will focus on the lavish gardens and floral displays of the past century. 

The tours will include special exhibits in the hall’s dining room, living room and ballroom.

“The dining table will be set,” Rzadkowolski said. “Frances Dodge’s wedding dress will be displayed in the living room, where she was married, with the same type of flowers she had at the wedding.”

The ballroom, decorated with black orchids, will “reimagine” Frances Dodge’s debut in 1933.

“We’ll have tablescapes with her black and silver theme,” Rzadkowolski said. “Most debutants wore white, but Frances wore silver lamé and painted her fingernails black. She had silver pumps and wore black feathers in her hair.”

Meadow Brook in Bloom is also a celebration of the Meadow Brook Garden Club’s 25th anniversary, said Shannon O’Berski, Meadow Brook Hall marketing and communications manager. “They are essential to the success of the gardens here,” she said of the club. 

Tours will include access to the hall’s original flower room, used by the head groundskeeper, and a never-before-opened French guest room bathroom decorated with lavender, yellow and aqua Rookwood Pottery Co. tiles.

During a children’s scavenger hunt, youngsters will search for Matilda Wilson’s favorite rose and will unlock clues throughout the gardens. The Art of the Bloom Garden Gala fundraiser will begin in the formal garden with cocktails, music and a presentation from world-renowned floral designer Hitomi Gilliam.

A gardening workshop will feature award-winning horticulturist Melinda Myers and a lecture titled “Hydrangeas Demystified.”

Meadow Brook Hall is the historic home built by Matilda Dodge Wilson, widow of auto pioneer John Dodge, and her second husband, Alfred Wilson. Constructed between 1926 and 1929, Meadow Brook Hall is renowned for its superb craftsmanship, architectural detailing and grand scale of 88,000 square feet. A National Historic Landmark, the hall is fully self-funded and relies on tours and special events for maintenance and interpretation. 

Meadow Brook in Bloom will be held June 25-30. For a full schedule of events and ticket prices, visit or call (248) 364-6200. Meadow Brook Hall is located on the campus of Oakland University, off of Adams Road, south of University Drive.

“What a fun way to get into springtime and summer and to see the hall in full bloom — inside and out,” O’Berski said.