My life revolves around designing the landscape. Designing a landscape asks for 10 parts skill, and 110 parts observation, and 1100 parts intuition. I would go so far as to say a great landscape design requires 110,000 parts history and memory. It may require an additional 1,100,000 parts, contributed by nature. My interest has been sustained, and challenged by nature.
Creating an landscape involves lots of work, lots of talk, lots more work-and much more of all of the aforementioned. My recent visit to the upper peninsula of Michigan was not at all about creating. It was about observation. Being there. The landscape there is very different than those I make. There are no gardens to speak of. Dead trees are left standing. Spaces occupied by people are mowed. Wild spaces-they are as nature engineers them. The docks that connect the land to the water-simple and serviceable.
My brief trip made a few things clear. The natural world is spectacular-from the rivers to the lakes to the stars. From the Sand hill cranes to the hummingbirds to the ducks. My place in all of this- midway, and small.
I loved the time I spent over the past few days with my brother Pete. We talked over the landscape from 50 years ago-over and over. We share a landscape, a part of which is this place. My take? The landscape is is so much more than a plot of land, and a collection of plants. A landscape is first and foremost a story. Are you thinking to create a landscape? Tell your story. This post? Part of my story.
We were back downtown for our third installation for the Bedrock Realty Company in Detroit. Today’s venue-the Chase Tower. The loggia in front of the building has lots of great seating in bright colors, and enormous low white polystyrene planters loaded with King Kong Coleus. Bedrock Designer Kelly Deines from Rossetti Architects had the idea that these containers needed an imaginative element that would turn up the heat a little. Animate the space. As in, what about a moss dog sculpture for each pot?
We carefully dug up all of the existing plants, and laid them on a tarp. We had enough buckets that we could sort the good dirt from the sandy drainage material. The thick 2′ diameter steel plate would rest just above the base of the pot.
We replanted the coleus, and added a few more here and there.. The Wasabi coleus front and center made the planting a little more like a party.
These polystyrene chair planters have new hairdos. Luckily, there were 5′ diameter drain holes in the bottom, so we could stuff the bases with bricks. This giant loggia was transformed by the addition of the dogs, and the planting of the chairs. What fun!
Deborah Silver is a landscape and garden designer whose firm, Deborah Silver and Co Inc, opened its doors in 1986. She opened Detroit Garden Works, a retail store devoted to fine and unusual garden ornament and specialty plants, in 1996. In 2004, she opened the Branch studio, a subsidiary of the landscape company which designs and manufactures garden ornament in a variety of media. Though her formal education is in English literature and biology, she worked as a fine artist in watercolor and pastel from 1972-1983. A job in a nursery, to help support herself as an artist in the early 80′s evolved into a career in landscape and garden design. Her landscape design and installation projects combine a thorough knowledge of horticulture with an artist’s eye for design. Her three companies provide a wide range of products and services to the serious gardener. She has been writing this journal style blog since April of 2009.