The 2014 Garden Cruise

summer landscape 3Since 2008, Detroit Garden Works has sponsored a garden tour the third Sunday in the July to benefit the programs of the Greening of Detroit.   They have been planting trees, holding classes, and sponsoring urban farms in our city for going on 25 years. In the past 6 years, we have raised over 70,000.00 for them.  All of us at the Works are proud of this.  Our 7th tour, coming up next Sunday July 20th, promises very comfortable temperatures, and 6 great gardens to view.  There promises to be something for everyone.  Three large landscapes,  and three city-sized landscapes are all in close proximity to one another.  If you are a gardener in my area, it is a great way to spend a Sunday.  The entire proceeds of your ticket will go to the Greening. The last spot on the tour is a cocktail/light dinner reception at Detroit Garden Works.  Rob takes great pains to offer a selection of refreshing summer cocktails, including his signature gin and tonic.  This means we hope you can join us for this our seventh tour.  To follow are some pictures from previous tours that I hope will whet your appetite.  Interested in more information, and the profiles for this year’s gardens? Check out our Cruise website:   The Garden Cruise

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garden gate

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woodland garden

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spiral topiaries

pot in the garden

contemp[orary landscape

front door

firepitMany thanks to each and every person who has supported this fundraiser for the Greening in the past with their ticket purchase. And thanks to all of the 44 gardeners who have graciously agreed to put their gardens on tour to date.  Interested? Won’t know until that day?  Detroit Garden Works will open at 8am next Sunday-just saying.

Sunday Opinion: Until It Hurts

rosemary-topiaries.jpgGarden?  Landscape?  These are single words which describe what I call a big fluid situation.  A landscape and garden design is utterly dependent on a series of conditions that is not always so easy to make sense of.  A design I love may not enchant a client.  A tree, shrub, or perennial may not like my placement-contrary to my best and experienced effort.  The plan I have in mind for a spot in my garden may fail for 100 reasons-all of those reasons may be good reasons. The perennial of my dreams may not like any of 10 different locations in my yard.  A vicious winter can kill marginally hardy plants a gardener has worked so hard to establish.  A tree can succumb to fire blight, girdling roots, or old age.  A planting scheme for pots can peter out the end of July.  What has taken 20 or 200 years to grow can be lost in an instant in a storm.

French-glazed-pots.jpgEvery gardener knows what it means to give to their garden until it hurts. The planning, the buying, the planting, the tending- may be for naught.  My internist told me once that a great doctor needed to be a good scientist.  But really great doctors are gifted diagnosticians.  They review every test, every measurement, every symptom, and make a decision about what is fueling the problem.  Diagnosis is as much an art as a science.  I am a middling gardening diagnostician.  Given that, I have had to learn when it is a good idea to let go.  Or try again.  Or sleep on it.  I do not have a laboratory.  I just have a garden.  But giving to anything until it hurts has very special rewards.  Every gardener knows this.

potted-rosemarys.jpgI agreed some months ago to donate centerpieces for a fundraiser for Mott’s Childrens Hospital in Ann Arbor.  The Event on Main, a fundraiser established to raise money for the CS Mott Children’s and Women’s Hospitals, an affliliate and member of the University of Michigan Hospital system, has raised over 1 million dollars to support building and research in just the past 3 years. This fundraiser targeted the U of M food allergy center.  This is the largest center of its kind which provides both clinical care and research into food allergies that afflict children. Ann Arbor based interior designer Jane Wood, a client of the store, and a member of the design committee, asked if I would donate 26 centerpieces for this event.

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Our primary community event is the garden tour we sponsor to benefit the summer employment programs of the Greening of Detroit.  But I felt that we could lend a hand to Jane’s project.  We potted up 26 gorgeous rosemary topiaries in a variety of sizes of French glazed terra cotta pots.  The invitation was designed and printed in white, gray, and pale yellow.  I knew the tent would be large.  I knew our French glazed pots in pale yellow and green, planted with rosemary topiaries would look good.  A portion of Main Street in Ann Arbor would be closed for the evening for this event.  Angie, Olga and I got all of the pots planted up, the rosemaries staked, and tied up with raffia.

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A van operated by a volunteer driver arrived at noon the day of the event. Scott helped pack all of the pots in boxes with reams of bubble wrap.  We loaded the van, and sent it on its way.  We did not want any accidents in transport. Jane wrote me a day later about the centerpieces.  She was not expecting the level at which we contributed.  I told her that gardeners have an instinct to give to the garden, any garden project, until it hurts.  We committed to helping her, so we did.  Just like we commit all of the energy and experience we have to the garden.  The CS Mott Children’s and Women’s hospital at U of M may not mean much-until you need them.  Should you need them, a lot of private individuals in Ann Arbor gave their all to make them available to you.  We were happy to help-that part felt really good.  Interested in more information about the Event on Main?     http://www.mottchildren.org/

Dinner In The Granary

To follow is a photo album from friends who hosted a formal dinner party last weekend in their granary.  A granary is an outbuilding, a small barn if you will, ordinarily used to store grain.  In England, granaries are commonly set on stone piers known as staddle stones.  These elevating piers make it next to impossible for rodents and other wildlife to get into the store of grain.  This particular 19th century American granary is above ground on concrete blocks.  Utilitarian, yes. My friends do not grow grain, but they certainly has a very broad view of utility-and a big love for the landscape.  You’ll see.

Sat_Apr20 Sat_Apr202 Sat_Apr203 Sat_Apr204 Sat_Apr205 Sat_Apr206 Sat_Apr207 Sat_Apr208The weather last weekend-blustery and cold.  That problem was solved renting a portable heater which kept the room comfortable.  A power outage the morning of the dinner-daunting.  But they had a vision to entertain that was 1 part theater, 10 parts a love of beauty, and 100 parts a love of anything and everything in the landscape.  The spring sprouting and blooming branches with ranunculus gracing the table-exquisite.

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For dessert, rose flavored macarons with raspberries and lychees.  Each macaron was presented with a single red rose petal, and a dewdrop of clear candied sugar.1  Their party was so clearly representative of who they are-gardeners with wit, fabulous style and imagination.  It is with great pleasure that I share their pictures.

At A Glance: A Winter Party

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I so welcome a chance to do cut flower arrangements for a party in the winter.  Flowers-who would elect to do without them!  At the moment,  I am a gardener without a garden.  This means I am wringing my hands over the dormant season.  I welcome any chance to step out of the gray.  This occasion-a 70th birthday.  The clients-their viewpoint is decidedly contemporary.  This rubber vase of theirs-astonishing in scale, material, and color.

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My interpretation speaks to the vase, as it should.  Lots and lots of dianthus Green Trick, and 100 stems of copper willow make something of this extraordinary vase.

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The honoree of this particular birthday is a man.  He stands every inch of 6′ 6″, and has a heart many times this size.  What would I do for him?

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The choice of flowers had everything to do with what might delight him.  The color choices-entirely about the environment in which they live.

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My part in this is but a very small part of the celebration.  Many friends and family would attend.  The occasion, the environment, the food-the community-all of these elements would provide atmosphere for a very special and important occasion.

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As for me, it was a shock and a delight to have an occasion to have flowers in sight.  Flowers in hand.  Flowers to arrange.  How I miss the flowers!  The long standing relationship with my clients-memories accompanied this work.  Garden oriented work in February-I treasure this, given this desolate part of the year.  Arranging flowers for this party, these particular people, did me a world of good.

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Gardeners, florists, and farmers-none of us are so far apart.  This is my read,  on this February day.