"The Amen of nature is always the flower."
Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.
Detroit Abloom is one of two projects directed by The Garden Detroit, a Michigan nonprofit organization. Our other project is a two-acre urban farm called The Garden, where we have been growing flowers and vegetables for the past six years. Both projects are located in the Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood on Detroit's lower east side.
Detroit Abloom is located on the 200 block of Manistique and Ashland, where we purchased nine contiguous vacant lots from the Detroit Land Bank Authority in the spring of 2015. We spent the summer of 2015 removing debris and underbrush that had accumulated for over ten years, installed a cedar split-rail fence around the entire property and kept the grass nicely mowed.
The following spring, with the help of a grant from the Kresge Foundation, we were able to launch Detroit Abloom, a cut flower business. Starting in early April 2016, we began by planting 350 lavender plants, building 1,000 feet of raised wooden and mounded flower beds and planting over 100 different flower types, including varieties of each type. We grow many types of common cut flowers and are always incorporating additional varieties of flowers into our collections, particularly ones that will attract and feed pollinating insects and enhance our bouquets and flower arrangements.
One type of flower has become very close to our hearts - the dahlia. Our present collection of about 100 varieties will increase to about 130 next season. Last fall, we built an underground state-of-the-art root cellar especially designed to over-winter thousands of dahlia tubers. This 15' wide x 30' long and 8' high root cellar is large enough to accommodate our growing dahlia collection, as well as tubers from those who would like us to care for their dahlias over the winter. The root cellar features temperature, air circulation and humidity control systems and a manual dumb-waiter. Covering the root cellar and much of our corner side lot at Newport and Korte, we have a 30' x 72' hoop house for germinating seedlings and growing flowers.
Our long-term goal is to work with the community to create local jobs and businesses by simultaneously transforming vacant blighted lots into beautiful and productive landscapes. We are interested in developing a variety of flower and lavender value-added products and are seeking like-minded people to work with us. We invite you to get to know us and we look forward to working with a growing number of people to join in a vision of how to use horticulture and job-creation to help revitalize the Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood and east side of Detroit.