Michigan’s Art in the Elements Creates Floral Forest Theme

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By Jill Brooke

Laura Daluga is an eternal optimist. When the Michigan-native learned the popular Art in the Elements at Meadow Brook Hall was going to be canceled after 11 years, something inside her was triggered.

She started making calls, finding sponsors such as Oasis Floral Products and Nordie Wholesalers- and discovering another location for the popular venue which had been displayed at the property of local florist Bob Friese.

The three-day weekend celebration took place throughout the Great Estate’s woodland paths where people social distanced in nature and saw large floral installations by 25 phenomenal artists from around the Midwest. Because of its format, it is not indoors so can be adapted for the COVID realities. An extra bonus prize. Imagine taking a walk through the forest and seeing these installations along the way.

The installation above was designed by David Thompson. It was inspired by Robin Hood while Art Bone imagined Hansel and Gretel’s house.  

Others designed a fantasy forest where beauty is around the corner if you just look for it – including Red Riding Hood by Cathy Brunk with friendly creatures.

Rae Roberts Griffith looked to Aladin to take us on a magic carpet ride where peace and prosperity are around the corner. I also liked the elegance of Debbie Strand’s installation. Simple but interesting. 


I also liked the last one by Courtney Turner where white orbs around the flower-studded trees looked like thought bubbles. 

After wandering through the woodland paths, visitors stepped into the Hall for a tour that featured more floral designers inspired by the Hall’s vast art collection.

“These installations elevate the profile of flowers, juxtaposing them against a lush green backdrop, and showing their potential as an artistic medium,” says Daluga.

It was so charming that you just want to stay in the forest. In fact, Blumz by JR Designs, literally designed a floral bed that those in a past era would have wanted to jump into.

Last year, the third year since its resurrection, Art in the Elements broke designer participation and attendance records. This year was even more popular. 

“The show typically has a broad theme, 2019’s ‘Past, Present, Future’ or 2020’s theme ‘Storybooks and Fairytale,’ which each designer interprets into three-dimensional, immersive floral sculpture,” she says. “This year’s show will be a (literal) breath of fresh air! In an everything’s canceled kind of year, it’s very exciting that our safe, family-friendly, outdoor floral sculpture show will go on, and hopefully even grow this year.”

Each designer has 20 x 20 space which they can interpret the theme. The floral artists who participated included:

  • Laura Parker AIFD, Charlotte’s Web, @lauraparkeraifd, MI
  • Art Into Flowers, Rango, @artintoflowers, MI
  • Cathy Brunk AIFD, Little Red Riding Hood, MN
  • Laura Daluga AIFD, Spirited Away, @dofloristry, MI
  • Rae Roberts Griffith AIFD, Aladdin, @rae_floral, FL
  • Liz Stocker AIFD, The Enchanted Forest, @liz_nidy, OH
  • BLUMZ by JR Designs, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, @blumzbyjrdesigns, MI
  • Debbie Strand AIFD, The Thunderbird, @deborahstranddesigns, IL
  • Garrett Skupinski CF, The Mirror of Matsuyama, @skupinskicf, MO
  • Courtney Turner AIFD, Tangled, @courtneyturneraifd, IN
  • Jen Butcher AIFD + Michelle Runyon AIFD, Alice in Wonderland, @michellerunyonaifd, IN
  • Deb Schwarze AIFD, The Itsy Bitsy Spider, MN
  • Abbey Sexton + Heather DeLong CFD, The Giving Tree, @abigailbloom.floraldesign + @heatherandjerry MI
  • Art Bone CF + Garden Fantasy on Main, Hansel and Gretel, @gardenfantasymain, MI
  • Cher Daluga, The Secret Garden, MI
  • Emily Bianchette + Fioza Leigh, Snow White, @ebiancette + @fiozaleigh, MI
  • Pattie Wallander AIFD, Maleficent, @pattierobwallander, MS
  • David Thompson, Robin Hood, IL
  • Patricia Huggins, Mary Poppins, @phuggins2, OH

Here are some of the installations from last year as well.   These live installations are going to increase in popularity because it’s outdoor fun when concerts and shows aren’t as available. 


If you are lucky enough to be in the Detroit region, definitely check this out every September. Tickets are $20. Flowers are truly in their element when showcased in the woods. What a collaboration between human creativity and flowers in a natural setting. These artists elevate what nature gives us. It is not only something inspiring by that pairing but wholesome as well. Working with nature in nature produces glorious results.

Jill Brooke is a former CNN correspondent, Post columnist and editor-in-chief of Avenue and Travel Savvy magazine. She is an author and the editorial director of FPD.