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August 31, 2006 - Image 56

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2006-08-31

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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Staff photos by Angie Baan

utdoor

Palette

For nearly 40 years,
the Camdens have
used their
West Bloomfield
yard as an area of
self-expression•

Top: Howard and Lili Ann

Camden with one of their

painted trees.

Below: A dragon

graces the yard.

Right: Hibiscus trumpet

the summer.

12

JUDITH DONER BERNE
Special to the Jewish News

p

robably everyone in their West
Bloomfield neighborhood is
familiar with Howard and Lili
Ann Camden's garden.
It's chock full of weeping trees and
ornamental grasses.
It features rows of sacred indian lillies,
grown from bulbs which must be dug up
each year and for a time emit an unpleas-
ant odor, and a flock of moon lilies
whose large white flowers bloom in late
summer nights.
And this year, hundreds of deep-purple
wave petunias and yellow marigolds are
flanked by gnarled Harry Lauder walking
sticks.
Two small, dead maple trees, one
painted yellow, the other red, function as
sculpture. Other trees, such as a weeping
crabapple, have
been pruned in
such a way that
you can see more
wood than leaf.
It's little wonder
that last year the
Camdens received
a Beautification
Award from West
Bloomfield Parks
and Recreation.
"There is a
pleasure in plant-
ing things and
seeing them
bloom that you
can't measure in

HOME IMPROVEMENT • AUGUST 31 • 2006

monetary terms:' Howard says. "Just look-
ing at it makes me feel good."
Howard, an insurance consultant with
a business degree from Wayne State
University in Detroit, also holds a hor-
ticulture degree from Michigan State
University. He studied how to grow and
sell plants, an ambition fostered by gar-
dening as a youngster.
"I come from immigrant parents. I
paid my way through college because my
mother didn't think a Jewish boy should
be a farmer:' Howard says.
But a year or so after graduation, he
determined that "Mother Nature was too
fickle a partner:' and pursued what he
saw as a more stable profession.
Gardening became a hobby, along with
cooking and creating eclectic collections
of porcelain, silver, glass, woods and
Western furniture. He won a prize for his
roast-style brisket of beef and two pieces
of the Camden's art collection will soon to
be donated to the Detroit Institute of Arts.
"But I would say the gardening comes
first:' he says.
Lili Ann gives her husband of 43 years
the credit. "I can plant and I can weed,
but Howard puts it all together. He does
the design."
They fit it in even though both are still
working, Lili Ann as special events coor-
dinator for Temple Shir Shalom in West
Bloomfield, where they have belonged
since it was formed. (His brisket and
other of their recipes can be found in the
Shir Shalom cookbook.)
Each puts in several hours a week in
the garden once the planting is in place.
"But," says Lili Ann, "the planting goes on
most of the summer." Indeed, a couple

of flats of annuals — odds and ends,
Howard says — sit by a potential bed
even in the second week of August.
Like many homeowners, the Camdens
began by landscaping directly around
their house when they moved in 39 years
ago. "But that didn't give me enough
expression," Howard says.
So they branched out, putting in mul-
tiple circular beds throughout the back
yard and wide sideyard beds of peren-
nials, including rose of Sharon, hibiscus
and calla lilies, on either side of their
corner lot.
As houses went up throughout the
neighborhood, Howard bargained with
building crews to sell and deposit some
of the mammoth rocks they came across
during basement excavations.
That rock pile, plus some unusual
rocks, petrified wood, huge clam shells
and drift wood discovered in their travels,
are another source of sculptural inter-

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