Flowers go beyond the vase at Cranbrook’s new ‘Art in the Elements’

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published August 14, 2017


BLOOMFIELD HILLS — It’s hard to imagine a garden that’s more beautiful or lush with natural color than the grounds at the Cranbrook estate.

But when a dozen florists add even more flowers to the grounds for a special exhibition Sept. 8-10, that’s exactly what guests will see, according to Laura Daluga, of the American Institute of Floral Designers.

“Art in the Elements: A Plein Air Floral Exhibition” will take place for the first time this year at the summit of the space called The Mountain at Cranbrook House and Gardens. The outdoor floral show will showcase one-of-a-kind floral sculptures created exclusively for the exhibit — and lasting only for the exhibit.

“Accredited designers will create large-scale décor and interactive pieces for this exhibition,” Daluga said. “But (this exhibition) is very ephemeral. If you don’t take a photo of these, then three to five days later it’s like it didn’t happen.”

The sculptures will be created by AIFD artists and placed in a circle drive around the Cranbrook home. Cranbrook House and Gardens Auxiliary member Randy Forester said the heavy forest canopy and historic sculptures set the stage for the special event.

“We call it The Mountain, and we chose that spot because of its natural setting and what we think the designers will do with that setting. We think everyone will be blown away by some of what these designers will do, but we don’t know what that is yet — this is the first time we’ve done this,” he explained.

When visitors aren’t admiring the floral artwork, they can talk with the artists themselves and attend educational workshops. Of course, the expansive Cranbrook gardens will be open too.

Daluga and the 2,000 floral industry professionals in the AIFD are the creative minds behind major floral events like the Philadelphia Flower Show and the Pasadena Rose Parade. The floral exhibition serves two purposes for the group: a venue to show off its innovation and skill, and a chance to raise some much-needed funds.

“That’s how we can bring even more designers into our big nerdy family,” Daluga said.

The show, which begins with a preview party at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8, will also raise money to keep the Cranbrook House and Gardens Auxiliary going, according to Forester.

“Our mission is to raise money to restore, repair and maintain the house and gardens for future generations,” Forester said.

All generations, Daluga said, can find something to like at “Art in the Elements.” Hands-on guests will like the kinetic sculpture planned, while others may enjoy the impressive scale of the arrangements.

It’s hard not to like flowers, she suspects.

“I’ve seen motorcyclists become totally engaged with flowers because it’s just a bit different from their everyday world. But I’m always surprised by the demographic at shows like this. Everyone knows and appreciates flowers, even if you don’t wear it on your sleeve like I do,” she said.

“Art in the Elements: A Plein Air Floral Exhibition” will be open to the public 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9 and noon-6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 10. General admissions costs $15 in advance and $20 on-site.

A preview party for the show will take place at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6. Guests will enjoy a cash bar and appetizers, as well as advance entry to the exhibition, for a $50 ticket price. The cost includes a $25 tax-deductible donation and one drink ticket.

For more information or to register for any of the viewings, visit

Cranbrook House and Gardens is located at 380 Lone Pine Road in Bloomfield Hills.