Garden Design Magazine

the new Garden Design magazineThe new Garden Design Magazine just came out.  The original magazine, which was greatly appreciated by aficianados of great landscape and garden design, quit publishing a few years ago. The rights to the magazine were eventually purchased by Jim Peterson.  What he has created comes from a vision all his own.  The 132 page publication is more book than magazine.  Everything about it is beautiful, including the paper it is printed on.  If you have a strong interest in landscape and garden design, I would urge you to subscribe.

DSC_0936We have another reason to be thrilled with this premier issue.  A feature article about my work, and the evolution of my group of companies, is a very special moment for me, indeed. Most important to me is being part of a group of great designers from all over the country whose work is detailed here.  Thank you, Jim. If you are local, we do have copies available at Detroit Garden Works.

May 20 2014 (3)Deborah Silver and Co, Inc container design

May 13 2014 (22)Detroit Garden Works

May 20 2014 (7)Detroit Garden Works

May 19 BHG (18)planting workshop at DGW

May 13 2014 (9)the shop

May 16 2014 Branch (7)

Oct 3 2013 (22)pergola fabricated by Branch Studio

fountain 1the branch fountain

May 20 2014 (9)box and derrick topiary form by Branch Studio

May 20 2014 (8)elliptical fountain by Branch Studio

May 19a 2013 (3)

My deepest thanks go to landscape and garden designer and writer Susan Cohan, whose article is a gift of a most perfect moment to me.

At A Glance: Pots And Plantings

June 24 2012 012To follow are some pictures of pots and their plantings that, to my eye, work well together.  See what you think. This basket has geraniums, trailing verbena and mini-petunias.

Oct 2 2012 082Silver foliaged plants-the names I do not remember.

May 16 pots 009bird’s nest fern and lime selaginella-club moss.  Hosta and baby tears

Sept 29 001nicotiana mutabilis, purple dahlia, nicotiana alata lime, petunias

Sept 22 2012 005cirrus dusty miller, chocolate potato vine, sedum, silver falls dichondra

Annuals 2006_09_19 (11)cassia and hens and chicks

O'Reilly 005petunia, trailing verbena, gold marjoram

Detroit Garden Works Aug 3 022datura, double white petunias, euphorbia diamond frost, silver dichondra

SummerOvercast 003red spike and pink pentas

silver pileavariegated dracaena and silver pilea

Sept 15, 2013 (57)coleus and solenia begonias

boxwood on standardboxwood topiary, inky fingers coleus, lime licorice

Aug 21 2012 110millet, coleus, yellow petunias

aug 7 024The pots and their plantings-they feel for one another.

Who’s Choosing Whom?

stone-urns.jpgShopping for anything is one part fun, two parts research, and 5 parts anxiety. The anxiety is the toughest part. Is this avocado ripe enough to serve tonight?  Will these tennis shoes be comfortable? Will this washing machine handle all of my needs? Is this tennis racquet appropriate for my level of play?  Will I like this sweater next year?  Is this the right choice?  You get the drift.  If you have a mind to plant containers for the summer season, the first order of business is choosing the containers.

concrete urns.jpgContainers first and foremost need to be of proper proportion to their placement.  Little pots belong on a garden dining table.  Mid sized containers are fine on a terrace.  Container that flank a front door need to have a size appropriate to the front porch.  Proper proportion is to my mind the single most important design element. Galvanized buckets on the stoop of a cottage or an apartment balcony are appropriately sized for the occasion.

galvanized-tub.jpgGiant galvanized containers next to the side door may overwhelm that secondary entrance. That same container in the center of an herb garden is a properly sized anchor for the garden.

concrete-pots.jpgOnce the issue of scale is determined, there is the issue of style. A cottage style house does well with informally designed pots.  A very formal house asks for formal containers. An Arts and Crafts style house has its own language and vernacular. Containers that fit answer the architecture.  A home is the largest sculptural element on a property. The pots need to follow suit.  Breaking the rules can be effective.  A large pot in a small space can be very effective.  A traditional home complimented by contemporary pots can present an unexpected visual  pleasure.

black-aluminum-urnsContainers are available in all sizes.  Tall and short.  Tall urns can sit on the ground.  Short urns can be elevated off the ground with pedestals. Narrow containers can dress up a tight space.  Wide containers can hold down a big space.  The tall and the short of it depends on what you want at eye level.  Tall containers, or urns on pedestals, can be seen from the sidewalk.  Low and wide planters can warm up a pool deck.  Small planters can dress up a garden table.  Medium height planters can put the flowers at eye level on a dining terrace.  A big tall planter, planted big and tall, becomes a screen warding off bad views.  A fabulous antique stone urn planted with a dome of moss focuses attention where it should be – on the urn.

stone-trough.jpgAntique stone troughs come with lots of history attached.  Planted with succulents, they are great for those moments when a gardeners looks downward. They can be filled with water and water plants. Any container properly sited will look good, even when it is empty.

Italian-style-urn.jpgNo container does face to face better than an urn on a pedestal.  Face to face is good at the front door.  Or in the center of a beautiful garden.  Or as a focal point in a landscape.  This English concrete urn in the classical Italian style has a considerable presence, and could organize a fairly large space.  This urn features detail such that the planting would need to acknowledge rather than cover it.

fiberglas-bowls.jpgFiberglass planters are light weight.  They are perfect for water gardens.  Spherical planters are especially effective in contemporary and geometrically organized landscapes.  They are great next to a lounge chair, or a bench.  A well planted bowl will keep you company.

oak-orangerie-boxesThe material of a planter says much about style, period, and architecture. Formally designed and fabricated wood orangery boxes recall an age centuries old. French formal, for sure.  Four wood orangery boxes could organize a formal landscape with ease.  One casually fabricated or vintage wood box stuffed with herbs at the center of a cottage style vegetable garden is all about home. Great meals. Fresh food. When the wood starts to deteriorate, no cause for alarm.

Belgian-stoneware-pots.jpgBelgian stoneware containers are subtly textured.  They are solid, simply modern in shape, and frost proof.  Any contemporary home and garden would be happy for them. That said, the simplicity of their shapes make them easy to fit into any scheme.  galvanized metal.jpgGalvanized metal buckets and tubs are an alternative idea.  Once you have sorted out the proportions, the style, and the size, and the aura,  you may have the idea to go way wide. Or way unexpected. Have at this.      Italian-terra-cotta.jpgI find that no matter what containers I would choose for my landscape, the container usually chooses me. The containers that would work well for you will choose you, if you listen.  This can make a decision much easier to come by.  What container would your home, terrace or garden choose?

square-steel-tapers.jpgEvery home and garden has an identity all its own.  What gets contributed by the gardener in charge makes that presentation all the more beautiful for being personal.

burlap-sack-pot.jpg Who’s choosing whom?  Good container choices depend on a lively interaction.

A String Of Cold And Rainy Days

May 13 2014 (41)We have had quite a string of rainy days.  Rainy and cold, every day.  Thunderstorms and the downpours to go with. It is plainly too wet to plow.  The only gardening we are doing is in containers.  Water logged soil can have every last bit oxygen squeezed out of it by foot traffic.  Or a wheel barrow wheel. My advice?  Stay off of soggy soil.  Wait. Some weather conditions are perfect for working the garden. Cool and dry is great.  Warm and barely moist is friendly.  Hot and dry is no gardeners idea of an ideal working situation, but it beats cold and soggy. The winter was long and vile, and the spring has been chilly and off putting.

May 13 2014 (49)We have had a few hours of dry periods between storms.  It is clear that the cold tolerant annuals are are not the least bit fazed by any of the unsettled weather. Thank heavens for spring plants. May is never a summer month.  But a moderate May makes for a spring  cool and dry enough to work.  Cool night temperatures mean the spring flowers persist.  The difference between 2 weeks of magnolia flowers and two days has everything to do with temperature.  The chilly rain has been great for all the plants, but unfriendly to gardeners who only want to get outside and stay there.

May 13 2014 (15)There are those plants that handle the chill and the rain without complaint.  The parsley I put outdoors in April never fusses.  The pansies and violas bow their heads in the rain, but they spring right back.  Interested in some spring spunk for containers-try parsley, osteos, pansies, violas, stock, nemesia, godetia, lavender, rosemary, lettuce, nemesia, ornamental cabbage, bok choy, spring flowering bulbs, early season perennials – gardeners have a long list of plants that thrive in a chilly and rainy spring season. The tulips at the shop are glorious, as are the grape hyacinths and hellebores in my garden.

May 13 2014 (11)As for what is planted in the ground in my rose garden, I tread lightly.  The roses have been devastated by the winter. 5 of them are dead, the other 15 or so died back to within 8 inches of the ground.  The new growth is so vigorous that I haven’t the heart to take them out. I don’t have the heart to post a picture of the carnage either. They did after all survive the winter, but it’s not so swell looking right now.  The asparagus is four feet tall already.  I have not been able to walk in there to cut it.  The anemone Honorine Jobert, brunnera and boltonia are growing.  The canes of all of the climbers on the wall are dead.  New shoots are coming from the ground.  The sopping wet ground and wet foliage says keep out.

May 13 2014 (35)No gardener likes to stay away.  They like to wade in and sort everything out.  But it isn’t a good idea to wade in just yet.  So the garden news in my zone is about what is stalled, on hold and not yet going on. Hold off as long as you can stand it.

May 13 2014 (22) After the rain

spring-pot.jpgMay 18, I still have a winter fleece on.  I have yet to step into my garden.  The little pleasures? The grass seed in the bare spots in the lawn seemed to sprout overnight.  The variegated lily of the valley is up and blooming.  The delphiniums are 30″ tall already.   I can tell this much from afar. A bucket planted with ferns, hosta and streptocarpus is a pleasure one can enjoy up close.

May 13 2014 (11)Beyond that, I am tapping my foot. I am especially glad we planted pots for spring at the shop.  We are hoping for dryer and warmer weather next week.

May-garden.jpgAny time now, we’ll be gardening again.