Branch? Buck?

The Branch Studio-in business for ten years now.  The first year, we made faux bois garden ornament and furniture-in the garage at Detroit Garden Works. Our first year in business-pretty quiet.  We had the winter season to design, experiment, and build.  None of us had any idea where our passion for ornament for the garden might go.    Several years later, we were looking for our own building.  A 7 acre property with 30,000 square feet between two buildings seemed like a good idea.  That good idea ran along the lines of producing finished steel garden ornament and containers for the garden.

Branch.jpgBranch Manufacturing had grown considerably.  As has the landscape company-Deborah Silver and Co Inc.  There was no room to house the landscape vehicles, plants and tools any more at our retail location-Detroit Garden Works.   Deborah Silver and Company needed a new home.  As for Branch-a company newly emerging-what they needed were bridge cranes.  I can explain.  When you work in concrete and steel, you need tools that enable people to move very heavy objects from one place to another.  A pair of 5 ton capacity bridge cranes sealed the deal for my purchase of the Sanford Street property.  We bought a big property, with close to 30,000 square feet of buildings.

the-Branch-Studio.comWe have 7 acres there.  This means plenty of space to house plant material for a landscape installation.  It means plenty of space to store compost, and decomposed granite.  Plenty of space to store tools, box trucks, and loaders.  Room to store brick, stone, mulch, and plants.  The 7 acres at Sanford Street is shared between the landscape company, and our manufacturing subsidiary- Branch.  Branch has 13,500 square feet of studio space.  Though this space seemed really large when I bought the property, today I am happy for the room.


I bought the property. Some ten years later, Branch is humming- producing garden ornament, boxes, pots and fountains in steel.  Our finish is the closest thing to rust proof and maintenance free of any finish I have ever seen on steel.  Painted and powder coated steel eventually succumbs to rust.  Our signature finish looks a lot like that classic garden ornament material-lead.  Our finish is not perfect.  Perfect only applies to moments and diamonds.  If a rust rust spot develops, it can be fixed.  Given that the price of lead has tripled in just 5 years, we feel our steel ornament is a lead substitute of merit. And a vast improvement on painted or powder coated ornament.  I would go further to suggest that our products are lighter, more versatile, and more reliable than lead.

Branch-boxes.jpgBuck and his crew of four spent the better part of last winter churning out boxes, pots, pergolas, and fountains that would be available for the spring season.  Though Branch does a considerable amount of custom fabrication with a lead time of many weeks, we were ready with our stock styles and sizes for the spring.  We manufacture planter boxes, fountains and pergolas in three styles.  Branch features 4 planter boxes in each style.  A small cube.  A large cube.  A tall cube-and a rectangle.

lattice-boxes.jpgTen years ago, we were a very small group with a very big idea in mind.  That said, we were a bunch of kids with a more passion than expertise.  It has taken every bit of ten years to grow up.   Get better. The garden ornament that Branch produces now is level, square, and true.  Heavy-as in heavy duty.  Frost proof. Maintenance free.  We had the idea that every garden deserved pots, fountains, and pergolas that would not require much work.  Every true gardener understands that a garden needs a serious committment.  The garden ornament and planters from Branch-an investment in the lifetime of a garden, and beyond.

Branch-cistern-fountain.jpgThis cast iron fountain face-the face was a purchase Rob made in Kent, England, in the fall of 2012.  Branch designed and built a fountain around this mask-in the spring of 2013.  I am happy to say this fountain found a home, early this spring.

Branch-3-spout-cistern-fountain.jpgAnother Branch introduction for the 2013 gardening season-this 3-spout fountain.  The spouts were machined from solid blocks of steel.  The pump-we researched what fountain pumps were the most quiet.  A fountain cistern needs to display the splash and sound of the water.  No humming from the pump, thank you very much.  A fountain cistern that you can take home and plug  in?  The Branch fountains- including this 3 spout fountain- are road ready.


Though Buck and his crew fabricated stock boxes, pots, pergolas and fountains over the course of the winter, Branch Studio is swarmed right now with custom work.  We are not complaining!  We are happy for all of the interest in what Branch might create for a garden.

Branch-Hudson-boxes.jpgThe Branch Studio, a subsidiary of Deborah Silver and Co, is a manufacturing company devoted to the making of fine pots and ornament for the garden.  The Detroit Garden Works website details everything Branch produces.  Should you have an interest in something we make,  or an idea you’d like to explore, contact us.


Buck At Work

Buck has been plenty busy at Branch.  What exactly are you looking at here?  This is a fountain urn commissioned by a client in California for a project in Texas.  This fountain has a bowl assembly and a base, designed and specified by the landscape architect on the project.  Buck stacked the two pieces upside down, to check the level.  A level vessel is imperative with a fountain.  Water needs to fall over every edge equally.  Should your fountain bowl be out of level, the water falling unevenly will broadcast that your ornament is askew.  It pains me to see any garden ornament-whether it be a bench, an urn on a pedestal, sculpture, obelisk, pot centerpiece or terrace, out of level.     

Newly back in town, I wanted to see the fountain assembly right side up-Buck was glad to oblige.  The fountain bowl is 5 feet in diameter-largish.  He welded loops inside the bowl so he could pick it up with his bridge crane.  The base is all of a piece.  The bowl will need a rim welded to it.  At this moment, the fountain urn is in three pieces. 

The center of the hemispherical steel bowl is marked in white paint on the underside.  This helps to  rough center the bowl on the base.  This will be plenty good enough to look at.  When the time comes to weld the bowl to the base, many more specific measurements will be taken.   

Once the bowl was set on the base, we were ready for the fountain bowl rim. The rim is comprised of two rings of 1 inch thick steel, welded together.  This ring is much heavier than it looks.  The rim contains water in four symmetrical spots.  The corresponding four rim spots are scuppers that facilitate falling water. 

This picture of the rim detail tells the story better than words do. 

This large urn will take its place in the center of a much larger fountain pool. 

The fountain is not the only special order project under construction.  This pair of gates are part of an iron fence for a local client.  Informing the design-a discussion about coyotes, and how to keep them out of a dog run. 

The fence panels are composed of a series of four foot tall vertical iron members that will be hidden by a yew hedge on both sides of the fence.  The top 24 inches of fence is constructed of steel vineyard bar in the horizontal dimension.  Why steel bar that looks like tree bark?  The perimeter fencing is our Belgian branch fencing.  This visible top two feet of dog run fence will repeat that horizontal branch motif.

My favorite part of this fence? A 16 inch wide steel shelf welded to the top of the fence.  I can see pots placed on that shelf 6 feet off of the ground, planted with trailing plants.  I can see all manner of tall garden findings and short bits having a home on this shelf.  No coyote will like the idea of scaling this.  A dog run that reads visually as a prison does not interest me.  A coyote proof fence with visual possibilities is much more to my liking.  

The Branch Studio is a big place. Just a shade over 13,000 square feet.  Buck occupies, fabricates, and directs in every square foot with what I would call thoughtful.  Amazingly precise.  Beautifully finished.  Though I was just away the better part of a week, Buck at work really describes a certain kind of kind of energy, motion and energy  that I truly admire.  Buck makes it easy to come home.