DNR to host open houses Nov. 14 and 28 on proposed Belle Isle garden by renowned Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf

Contact: Amanda Hertl, 313-396-6872
Agency: Natural Resources

Nov. 1, 2017

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Garden Club of Michigan will host two public meetings Nov. 14 and Nov. 28 to gather public input on a proposed garden in Detroit's Belle Isle Park. The garden will be designed by internationally renowned garden designer Piet Oudolf.

Oudolf’s acclaimed gardens include the Lurie Garden in Chicago and the Highline in New York City, among scores of gardens around the world. He is one today's premier garden designers for public landscapes and is a leading figure of the "New Perennial" movement that is characterized by utilizing herbaceous perennials and grasses. His garden designs are artistic, ecologically inspired, accessible, welcoming and enjoyed year-round. 

After touring Detroit with the Garden Club of Michigan this past spring, Oudolf selected Belle Isle Park as the proposed site for one of his acclaimed garden designs. The site, located near the Nancy Brown Carillon Peace tower between the Remick Band Shell and the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, will be a connector in the cultural heart of the park. It also will help revitalize the island and attract garden lovers from near and far. The proposed garden will be paid for through donations and fundraising that will cover all the design, installation and maintenance costs.

Oudolf described the proposed Belle Isle site as a connector for people and activities on the island and "an opportunity to reinvigorate the adjacent structures and facilities."

Since its founding in 1911, the Garden Club of Michigan has been undertaking projects to improve Detroit landscapes. While bringing Oudolf to Detroit is its latest endeavor, the club recently paid for and completed the installation of a new irrigation system and beautifully designed planters on Belle Isle’s Sunset Point. As part of the project, the garden club has compiled a budget, including maintenance funds, created a fundraising goal and program, and is working closely with the DNR to follow the review process for new proposals as outlined in the Belle Isle Park draft strategic management plan. The proposed garden has been presented to the city of Detroit Planning and Development Department and the Garden Club of Michigan has secured the department's support. Such support from the city and community is important for the approval of new infrastructure on Belle Isle.

"It is vital that the community has an opportunity to weigh in on the proposal," said Scott Pratt, chief of Southern Field Operations for the DNR. "It is equally important that the DNR and the garden club ensure that the garden will be financially sustainable and has the support of state and city agencies.”

Open house dates, details

At the Nov. 14 and Nov. 28 open houses, participants will be able to view a short video of Oudolf discussing his vision for the garden and provides insight into the preferred site location. He also will respond to a few questions submitted by the public ahead of time. Both open houses will take place at the Flynn Pavilion, 4435 Muse Road, in Belle Isle Park in Detroit. 

  • The first open house will take place Tuesday, Nov. 14, 6 to 8 p.m.
  • The second open house (Tuesday, Nov. 28, 3 to 5 p.m.) will address questions that arise from the first open house.

Questions for Oudolf can be submitted through Monday, Nov. 6, to Amanda Hertl, DNR urban area field planner, at hertla@michigan.gov or 313-396-6872.

Belle Isle Park, a 982-acre island park located in the Detroit River near downtown Detroit, is rich with natural beauty and historical and cultural resources. The park – managed as Michigan’s 102nd state park – is home to the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, the Belle Isle Aquarium, a golf course, the James Scott Memorial Fountain and many more attractions popular with all ages and interests. The park offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, bicycling, kayaking and picnicking, as well as community events including the Detroit Ford Fireworks, Senior Power Days, an annual spring cleanup, the Detroit YMCA’s Detroit Swims program and fitness walks and other programs.

For more information, contact Amanda Hertl at 313-396-6872 or hertla@michigan.gov.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr.

An accompanying photo of Piet Oudolf (courtesy of Piet Oudolf) is available below for download. Additional photos are available at http://duncanmcampbell.com/PietOudolf./