Landscaper and sculptor Traven Pelletier is hoping his latest venture will add some cultural capital to Scio Township. Through his landscaping company, Elemental Design, with the help of White Lotus Farms, he purchased and renovated the old barn at the former Dexter Gardens for an upscale garden center and sculpture gallery called BLOOM! The location also serves as the headquarters for landscaping operations.
Pelletier purchased the 3-1/2 acre plot in November, increased the stock of local and regionally-sourced organic plants, and installed an aquaponics fish and plant water growing system. “The plants live off the fish waste and the fish feed off the plants. It’s kind of a balance eco-system,” he said. “We’ll sell the coy for water gardening and sell the plants for water gardening.”
Additionally, he remodeled the barn’s interior for a gallery of sculptures and other pieces by local artists and workshop space for free gardening, photography and other community classes. One Pause Poetry will begin holding poetry readings at BLOOM! in September, and Pelletier says he envisions holding an art workshop for Dexter school children.
A former co-owner of Lotus Gardenscapes, Pelletier took Elemental Design on his own last year. He installs landscape pieces for residences that can range anywhere from $5,000 to $200,000, and has garnered awards for its integrations of stone and water elements with nature.
He describes his own artwork as an exploration of the boundaries of nature and culture. One of his public sculptures won a commission by the Ann Arbor Public Art Commission as part of the renovations of West Park.
The sculptor pieces in the barn are all made by local artists, which include vessels, vases and other “dwellings,” but also bronzes human figures that range from $1,700 to $7,000 “It was kind of a natural connection to tie art work in with the garden,” he said. “And we had the space. We wanted to have flexible space in the barn for workshops, seminars.”
BLOOM! held its grand opening last month. Pelletier says he wanted to bring a boutique gardening asset to area on the west side of Ann Arbor. “You have Dexter Village and River Gallery in Chelsea. This is more of a landscaping crossover into art,” he said.
The nursery features perennials, annuals and natives that are sourced from local and regional farms that use organic soil and non-fertilizer growing methods such as tea compost. The result is “hardier” plants, Pelletier said.
“If you pull a plant from a place from say Lowes, those plants are fertilized and mostly come from Tennessee, and aren’t very hardy. They have barely any root system. If you pull a plant that grows purely from tea compost, they have this huge root system.” The hardier plant is more likely to survive in Michigan.
White Lotus Farms will be providing organic local food from its farm cart. “There’s not anyone in the area doing water gardening and landscaping, retail nursery and art gallery component,” he said. “It’s a unique fusion of interesting elements.”