Flower Day devotion has deep roots
Thousands drawn to market day before mega-garden event


By Paul Egan / The Detroit News

    DETROIT -- It has been warm enough to plant for more than a week, but Pat and Patty Turner don't use the weather as their gardening guide. 
   The time to plant, the Dearborn couple know, is right after Flower Day at Eastern Market. 
   "You could probably get them just as cheap other places," Pat Turner said of the flowers and plants he and Patty pulled through the downtown market in a red wagon Saturday. "It's just more fun coming down here. 
   "We spend the entire day and only stop when we have to get an Italian sausage covered with green peppers and onions." 
   The 35th annual Flower Day at the market officially begins at 7 a.m. today, but tens of thousands of people jammed the stalls and streets Saturday. They loaded their arms, tiered wagons and other makeshift devices with dahlias and snapdragons while soaking in the sounds and smells of a new summer. 
   "Beautiful bananas," a vendor shouted. "Two heads of lettuce for $1." The scent of lilac wafted past one moment, the smell of barbecued meat the next. A woman bartering over a flat of geraniums could be heard above the banjos strummed by a nearby band. 
   "This is the only time I like traffic jams," said John Ullrich of Mt. Clemens, who visits the market with his wife, Jacquelyn, on this festive May weekend each year. "It's the people -- it's just a fun day." 
   Today will draw vendors from more than 100 greenhouses, nurseries and farms in southeastern Michigan, Canada and Ohio, the Michigan Flower Growers Association reports. The city Recreation Department sponsors music and cultural attractions surrounding the sale with its annual Blooming Affair festival. 
   "It's wonderful to come here every year," said Denise Lampkin of Detroit as she hauled beds of flowers to her car. "It's got a nice ambience." 

You can reach Paul Egan at (313)222-2310 or