The Ford House

Edsel & Eleanor Ford House tells the story of the home life of a prominent American family.

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Spring has Sprung! Enjoy outdoor fun at Ford House
Posted: April 11, 2014

After a long, hard winter, it’s finally time to get outside again! 

Edsel & Eleanor Ford House is welcoming visitors back to the 87 acres of lakefront gardens and grounds with a new exhibit and a series of outdoor programs that explore the spring landscape in both the daylight and under the stars.   
According to Ford House Director of Landscape Doug Conley, the landscape is beautiful at any time of the year – but spring is a particularly enchanting time, day or night, and has quite a few secrets in plain sight.
“When designing the landscape, (Landscape Architect) Jens Jensen chose plant locations to maximize the light and shadows cast on the grounds. He also planted seed-bearing shrubs to attract migrating birds,” Conley says. “These are things that are experienced daily, but we are often not aware.The gardens are always working and we all reap the rewards.”
“Whether you can see it or not, the story is in the soil all around us,” Conley says. “Experience it. Learn from it. And, most importantly, enjoy it.”
The featured exhibit at Ford House this spring takes a nocturnal look at some of the world's most beautiful gardens. The Garden at Night: A Photographic Journey features a collection of images taken after the sun sets and captures the beauty often hidden in plain sight.
Photographer Linda Rutenberg, who only used moonlight and a handheld flashlight to illuminate the plants, says the garden buzzes with activity after dark. And it's something to be experienced.
“Most plants are vibrant, fragrant and anxious to entice the pollinating insects and bats that forage the garden throughout the evening hours. It's a different way to experience the garden and an entirely different appreciation of nature,” she says. “It's a common misconception that flowers close up at night and the natural world shuts down until the dawn of the next day. It's actually quite the contrary.”
The exhibit features dozens of gardens, including the Kew Gardens in England, New York Botanical, The Huntington in California, and the Chicago Botanic Garden. The exhibit is on display from April 5 to June 1 in South Cottage, and is included with regular admission. Admittance is free to members.
Ford House has developed a series of programs for families, kids, garden enthusiasts and couples to experience the Jensen landscape throughout the day and evening. Whether it’s a Birdwalk at dawn, finding creepy crawlers mid-day, discovering the play of light and shadow at dusk or an evening under a starry sky, there is something new to discover and explore.
April 12: 8 a.m., May 1, 2, 3, 8: 7:30 a.m., May 7: 6 p.m.
cost: $7
Go birding in our backyard! Novice and experienced bird watchers are invited to explore the grounds of Ford House with Rosann Kovalcik of Wild Birds Unlimited, where more than 190 species of birds have been sighted. Refreshments afterward.
Discovery Days in the Garden
10 a.m. – noon
cost: $10/child, $8/member per event
Join the experts from Ford House’s gardens and grounds team for a series of adventures for the young naturalist in the family. Recommended for ages 4-10.
·       Leaf Detectives May 3Attention mystery lovers! Come on an adventure to the woods of the peninsula where you’ll identify trees using the shapes of leaves as clues. Choose a handful of your favorite leaves and make your own leaf book to take home.
·       Flower Power May 10How do flowers grow? Why are they different colors? What are their names? Find out during this exploration in the gardens. Pick your favorite flowers and leave with everything you need for a perfect Mother’s Day gift—a fresh bouquet and a special handprint craft.
·       Creepy Crawlers May 31 Come on a bug safari with a Metropark naturalist as we explore the gardens and learn to identify all the “icky” bugs that call our grounds home. We’ll even build our own bug habitat for backyard bug hunting at home.
Sunset in the Gardens
cost: $7 per walk
Ford House landscape architect Jens Jensen has been described as a master of light and shadow. In this series, a Ford House landscape specialist will share the beauty of the landscape at dusk as it transitions throughout the spring. Witness the genius of Jensen’s plant palette as spring blooming bulbs
 fade away and flowering trees and shrubs dazzle. And as the days grow longer, so do the shadows and their ephemeral display.
·       April 24 – features Scilla, Daffodils, Bluebells
·       May 15 – features Dogwood, Viburnum early Hawthorn, Serviceberry
·       June 5 – features Hawthorn, Crabapples
Night Creatures
May 17, 10 a.m. – noon
cost: $10, $8 members
Discover the fascinating features and survival tools of Michigan’s native nocturnal animals. Meet an owl, bats, a flying squirrel and more from the Organization for Bat Conservation at the Cranbrook Institute of Science — and learn how they survive in their nighttime environment through hands-on demonstrations. Perfect for kids of all ages.
Camp Constellation
May 24, 8 - 11 p.m
cost: $15/child, $12/children of members
Future astronauts, look no further — bring your parents to Ford House for a fun-filled night exploring our night sky. Build your own telescope while learning about the constellations, then use it to look at stars in our own backyard. The Warren Astronomical Society will be on hand with telescopes. Pizza will be provided.
Starry Night
May 29, 9 - 11 p.m.
cost: $30, $25 member
Bring your sweetheart to the Ford House for a romantic night under the stars. Sample wine and hors d’oeuvres while gazing up at the night sky and enjoying light, live music. Look through a telescope and identify constellations with help from the Warren Astronomical Society or sit around the fire pit and relax.
For more information or to register for events, go to or call 313.884.4222.


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