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

garden fountain


garden gate

summer landscape 2


woodland garden


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.

Garden On Tour

summer-storm.jpgThe prospect of having ones garden on tour is equal parts excitement, and dread.  I know.  It is my job early each season to persuade 6 gardeners, most of which are clients of mine, to open their garden to visitors.  The fact that every ticket dollar goes to benefit the programs of the Greening of Detroit helps considerably.  But a garden on tour implies a garden that is not only imaginatively designed, but well maintained.  Getting a garden ready for an event is plenty of work.  My garden has been on the Greening of Detroit tour every year since 2007.  It seems fair.  If I would ask someone else to put their garden on tour, I like to be able to say I am right there with them.  We are on call at no charge for any participating gardener the 2 weeks before the tour.  Every gardener with a garden on tour wants that garden to look its best.  Our gardening season has been tough.  A very cold and wet spring.  Torrential rains, regularly.  Storms and storm damage-everywhere. Last week, blistering and relentless heat.  This giant tree limb came down across the street from me-just this past Friday.

rain-and-wind.jpgI do the best I can to get my garden road ready for this tour. I would want every square inch of my landscape and garden to be thriving.  Many of the people who take this tour are very interested gardeners.  They look at what is there-intently.   It is my idea to do whatever I can to encourage people to garden. Gardening is good for people-I truly believe this.  But a garden has a tough side.  The weather can be terrible.  Plants die.  Some days nothing seems to be right.  Thee are those places that look rough.  IO would not want that to discourage anyone. A garden tour is a visual expression about the value of a landscape and garden.  That visual expression is not perfect, corner to corner.  Gardens have problems and failures. Gaps.  Troubles.

saturated.jpgI never get my wish for a perfect tour garden. Every gardening season presents challenges.  If I had my way, I would have no challenges the month before our tour. But in fact my garden has as many gaps and troubles as it has good moments.  I have said this so many times to both old and prospective clients.  Perfect applies only to diamonds, and moments.  The most beautiful moment of a garden may last but a few hours, on that one day. Maybe no one else will be there to see it with you.  Rough spots in a garden cannot always be fixed.

tour-garden.jpgHaving had my garden on tour, once a year, for the past seven years, I have this to say.  The time and effort that it takes to maintain a landscape and garden is always evident.  Those places that do not look so good-every gardener has them.  The evidence of bad weather-that is a battle every gardener understands.  I don’t fret about every square inch anymore. The people who take our tour seem to simply appreciate every gesture. They see things entirely differently than I do.

rose-garden.jpgMy yard was not at its finest this past Sunday.  Even Buck remarked that my container plantings seemed listless-plagued by rain.  He was right.  No matter my efforts, the stormy weather prevailed.  Was I worried the day of the tour?  Not in the least.

rain-storm.jpgNot one person who came to my house for the tour remarked about the Japanese beetle damage, the mildew on the dahlias, the rain soaked petunias, the rotting scotch moss or the delphiniums out of bloom and listing from the wind.  Instead, to the last,  they chose to thank me for opening my garden.

ferns-and-European-ginger.jpgA garden is a very personal relationship between a gardener, and the environment. A garden tour presents that relationship to visitors, without any commentary.

garden-on-tour.jpgI am not so interested in the commentary about gardens.  Go see gardens. Every garden you can. Absorb from them what seems pertinent.  Take home what works, and do better.  The tour seems to encourage people to go home, and take on a project.  This is the best part of putting a garden on tour.

boxwood-garden.jpgMy landscape is a blueprint for my life.  No matter the troubles.  As for being on tour-I would hope that any person who came to my garden this past Sunday would not be discouraged by its failures. I would hope they would be encouraged by the care and energy I put to my landscape.

garden-on-tour.jpgIt was a great tour!  So many visitors-so many questions.  So many kind comments.  Those garden failures-the furthest thing from my mind.

garden-cruise.jpgA garden?  What is it?  So sunny.



The Greening Of Detroit

I am writing this post, knowing that Kevin Orr, the emergency city manager of Detroit,  filed for bankruptcy on behalf of our city this afternoon.  I have lots of thoughts and feelings about this-like anyone else who has a long standing relationship with Detroit.  My first reaction- grief.  A city that once thrived is facing grievous trouble.  There is too much debt, and too few resources to pay off that debt. The Detroit that was a center for manufacturing for so many years is a shell of its former self. I am not so happy that our city has become a blueprint for urban decay.  I am much more interested in the energy of all of those really talented and intelligent Detroiters who have committed themselves to a better future. I have no opinion about the financial situation-I am a gardener.  But I sense that the situation is grave.

I know plenty about what a struggle it is to pay the bills.  I work extra time, so  when a bill comes due, I can just write the check.   I do not spend what I cannot afford.  It is as simple as that. Detroit borrowed against an uncertain future for far too many years.  The debt is huge, and the debt is due.  We have a lot to sort out, and make right.

That said, The Greening of Detroit, a non-profit organization dedicated to planting trees and sponsoring urban farms in Detroit for the past 23 years, has had their share of problems.  Their programs rely upon funding, from grants, and the community at large.  The troubles in our city has greatly affected their ability to do the work they outlined and promised to do many years ago.  They need your contribution.  They need every individual who stands behind our community to help out, and support their programs..

We sponsor a garden tour and reception the third Sunday in July to benefit the Greening of Detroit-this will be our 7th year.  In the past 6 years, we have raised over 60,000.00 to benefit the programs of the Greening of Detroit.  Why would we do this?  This is our city. We have no idea to run away from trouble.  We have the idea to do what we can, to meet the trouble face to face.  7 gardeners have been working very hard to make their gardens a delight.  We thank them.  Should you take the tour, you will be delighted, entertained, and challenged.  Every dollar we collect for tickets goes directly to the Greening.   The Sunday weather promises to be v77 degrees, and sunny.  Perfect touring weather.

Should you have the idea to support an organization whose sole mission for 23 years has been to green up a city with strong industrial  roots-take the tour.  We need each and every one of you, more than ever.  This Sunday, July 21, from 9 to 4:30.  Our dinner reception begins at 4:30.  Hope to see you.

The 2013 Garden Cruise

June 24 2013 (32)I am a member of the board of the Greening of Detroit.  Michael Willoughby, an architect of note in my area, persuaded me to join their board 6 years ago.  I am 100% behind the work they do.  This organization, some 23 years old, plants trees, sponsors urban farms, and teaches both young and old about how to grow food, and how to treasure the environment.  They work in favor of the city of Detroit.  This one sentence encompasses a world of good, and an extraordinary amount of effort. Not having the time to attend meetings, I wanted to make my membership on the board somehow beneficial to them.

perennial garden.jpg6 years ago I organized a garden tour-the entire proceeds of which would benefit the programs of the Greening of Detroit.   Much of what they do is funded by private donations, or grants.  But their program to hire young people to look after and water trees and community gardens-this is an expense not covered by any grant.

container-planting.jpgI have heard stories about these young people.  And their experience having a job, and having a garden to protect and nurture.  The instinct to nurture is not so far below the surface in any person.  The money we raise helps to try to convert a flicker, or an instinct into a life choice. In the past 5 years, we have raised over 60,000.00 for the employment program for the Greening.  100% of the cost of the tickets to attend the tour goes to their fund.  We donate all of the rest that it takes to put on a tour, and maintain the tour website.

landscape.jpgThis year’s tour features 7 gardens-each of them are striking and well worth a visit.  Beautiful landscapes on both large and small properties. Extraordinary gardens-both big and small.  Two of these gardens I had no hand in whatsoever.  They were designed, planted and tended by two very talented and creative gardeners.  I am pleased that the people who take this tour will have a chance to see them, they are that good.

boxwood-in-pots.jpgThis is all by way of saying that the tour is well worth the price of a ticket to anyone who has a keen interest in gardening. This year’s tour is Sunday, July 21st.  A tour ticket is 35.00.  The tour begins at 9am, and ends at 4:30.  A ticket has the addresses of all of the gardens, and a suggested route. For those who are interested, an additional 15.00 includes our cocktail/light dinner reception at Detroit Garden Works.  This reception starts at 4:30, and goes on as long as we have guests.

belgian-fence.jpgOver 400 people took the tour last year-I am very pleased about that. As everyone is free to visit the gardens in whatever order they like, and at their own pace, the gardens are never too crowded to enjoy.  All of the gardens are attended by volunteers of the Greening of Detroit, in the event you have any questions about their organization.  Many gardeners whose gardens are on tour are there and available to answer questions.

rose-of-sharon-espalier.jpgI always put my garden on tour, and spend the day there.  I like having the chance to talk to, and thank everyone who has taken the time to attend.  Interested in more information?  Tickets are available now at Detroit Garden Works. All of these pictures were taken yesterday-in one of the gardens that will be on tour.  Hope to see you on the 21st.