Saturday June 23, 2018
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Flower sculpture

A Flower for All Seasons

Cool shade at County Farm Park

by Bob & Jorja Feldman

From the April, 2014 issue

Where--in Ann Arbor--can you, no matter what your height, stand directly beneath a flower that soars so high that the very clouds in the sky seem lower than its petals? Where--in Ann Arbor--can you see a flower, no matter what the season, which is always in full bloom, with bright yellow petals and a forest-green stem?

That flower--the flower in our photograph--is always in bloom because the hand of man has fabricated it of strong powder-coated steel with sturdy fabric petals. While the yellow petals will not last forever--they have an eight- to ten-year life span--the fabric is replaceable, and there is no reason why the flower should not, with its petals refreshed occasionally, bloom forever.

The twenty-foot-tall flower, and an equally enormous butterfly, stand in the playground at County Farm Park, located at 2230 Platt Road. While one side of the park borders on Washtenaw Ave., the main entrance and parking lot are actually on Platt, across the street from the rear parking lot of Arbor Hills Shopping Center. There is a map and other park information on a county website:

Despite their size, the full visual impact did not register at first sight when one of us, camera clutched in hand, hurried along the park trail, mind focused elsewhere, glancing at but not really registering objects so large that they dwarf their surroundings. Another trip was required to photograph the flower; the image was created by standing directly beneath it and pointing the camera up in an effort to capture the floral essence of the mighty steel-and-fabric plant. We wore bemused smiles for the rest of the day.

We learned much about the structures and the playground in general from Jeff Dehring, a park planner for the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission. Dehring, a licensed landscape architect, was responsible for the design and implementation of much of the playground, including choosing the components of the flower and butterfly. (The first phase

...continued below...

was designed by Ray Edsel, who has since retired.) He explains that the flower and butterfly are "shade structures," purchased from a company in Texas because park users requested some shady areas. Their fabric incorporates both UV and sunblock protection. Dehring chose the colors and "planted" them in locations chosen to maximize the amount of shade available to playground patrons.

Spring is upon us. So take a kid, the kid in you, or both, and spend a little quality time enjoying the playground and its fantasy flower and butterfly for all seasons.    (end of article)

[Originally published in April, 2014.]


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