In 2001, Bruce Hoffman set out to create an incredible garden surrounding his Bloomfield Hills home.
Photography by Derrick Martinez
Around 2001, Bruce Hoffman decided he was sick and tired of seeing messy grounds surrounding his lovely Bloomfield Hills home, where he and his wife, Shelly, had lived since 1996.
“It just hit me one day,” Hoffman says. “This is ugly, and I don’t want to look at this anymore. It was schmutz everywhere.”
His experience was somewhat limited. His grandparents had a little strawberry patch in their yard in Detroit near Mumford High School, where Hoffman would pick berries.
“My mom had a tiny plot — a couple of corn plants, tomato plants,” he says. “I’ve always been interested in gardening. I like watching things grow.”
So, he brought in 20 yards of dirt and wood chips and got to work cleaning out grounds covered 100 percent with weeds and brush, beginning with the side of the house along the driveway.
Ultimately, he tamed and nurtured his 5,000 square feet of grounds into five separate gardens — including the front and sides of the house and the walk-under to the basement — with hybrid tea roses, Asiatic and Oriental lilies, hostas, gladiolas, astilbes, 75 different kinds of calla lilies and more, bursting in joyous colors around meandering walking paths.
“It took maybe five years from start to finish,” Hoffman says. “But I was always making improvements. After 10 years, I’m finally done. I was limited because it’s more of a shade garden — no areas of my property receive the minimum eight hours of sun to grow vegetables — so I had to concentrate on shade to part-sun flowers.
–“We own the Road Show, a 9,000-square-foot store,” Hoffman says. “We go to Vegas often for buying trips and trade shows, and they have a garden section where I always shop for myself. That’s where the giraffe came from.”“I’m not artistic at all,” Hoffman says. “I have a hard time drawing a circle. But this is my creativity. I enjoy getting my hands dirty — my wife, Shelly, is always telling me to go wash my fingernails.”
To satisfy his desire for vegetables, Hoffman keeps a vegetable garden at his Roseville store, the Road Show (Hoffman previously owned the iconic Tobacco Road locations throughout the 1970s).
“It’s been very gratifying to start from scratch, build it up and see beauty come to form,” Hoffman says. “I walk out here and think, ‘Oh my God, is this beautiful.’ I love seeing all my hard work and labor come to fruition. But mostly, I love the beauty, peace and tranquility the gardens bring.”