The 2015 Garden Cruise

the Garden Cruise 2015 (5)Every year since 2008, Detroit Garden Works and Deborah Silver and Co have jointly sponsored a garden tour to benefit the programs of the Greening of Detroit. This non-profit organization is devoted to promoting healthy urban spaces through green initiatives. In more concrete terms, they have planted 89,000 trees in the city of Detroit since 1989.  I sit on their board of commissioners, although my participation largely centers around this event. We make an effort to raise money for them – over 84,000.00 in the past 7 years.

the Garden Cruise 2015 (6)The money we raise goes towards sponsorship of programs for which there is little or no grant money available. In one such program, the Greening hires young people to fill summer jobs that involve watering trees, and looking after Greening sponsored farms. I have to believe that the experience is a good one.  I am all for any program which promotes stewardship of the environment, and a love and respect for nature.

the Garden Cruise 2015 (7)This year’s tour features 7 gardens, five of which were designed and planted by Deborah Silver and Co. The other two belong to gardeners who have done all of their own design and installation work, and have shopped at Detroit Garden works for their pots, furniture, ornament, fountains, sculpture and tools. I have put my own garden on tour every year.  People who take our tour every year do not seem to tire of that.  I always make some changes in the garden or landscape.  And the scheme for planting my pots changes.

the Garden Cruise 2015 (2)The horseradish plant that I planted for Buck has reached an alarmingly magnificent size-as I knew it would. Be sure to take a look at it.  If you are relieved the plant is in my yard, and not yours, I completely understand.

the Garden Cruise 2015 (4)We charge 35.00 for a tour ticket, and 50.00 for a tour and reception ticket. For the extra 15.00, we provide enough great food to satisfy hungry people who have been touring all day, and Rob’s current roster of summer cocktails. His gin and tonics are on hand every year, as is his selection of white wines.  He will also have available a small group of more unusual summer cocktails-every year that group is different.  This years reception will also feature live music from a very very talented local musician –  Tola Lewis. And as always, there is always much lively discussion of the landscapes and gardens that were part of the tour.

the Garden Cruise 2015 (3)100% of all of the proceeds from the sale of tickets for the tour go directly to the Greening of Detroit. We do what we can to make the process of contributing to an organization whose work is so vital to our city a great experience. I am very pleased to report that this year’s tour features a wide variety of landscapes and gardens, all of which are interesting in their own way.

the Garden Cruise 2015 (13)One landscape completed only a few months ago shows how a very large property can be designed to be friendly to entertaining friends, family, -and the family dogs – and still be beautiful and visually satisfying. Seeing a landscape that is newly installed is the best possible view of how any successful landscape depends on the creation of a solid framework – a good set of bones.  Another landscape has been developed over the past 15 years, and features mature trees and shrubs.  This garden has unusual trees and shrubs, in contrast to areas that have recently been reworked. No landscape, no matter how old, is ever truly done.  The overall feeling of this landscape is relaxed,  informal and serene.

the Garden Cruise 2015 (15)Another large landscape is but a few years old, and is the product of a close collaboration between an experienced and dedicated gardener, and a designer. It features a number of perennial gardens, featuring unusual varieties of plants.  One garden is comprised of an interesting mix of dwarf shrubs and perennials.  Another area is planted with shrubs, and presided over by a collection of columnar sweet gum. Another area features roses and perennials.  Of interest is a large collection of espaliers, both fruiting and ornamental, and a large pond with all of the pond plants to go with.

the Garden Cruise 2015 (1)Yet another landscape features an older home of classic traditional architecture in a neighborhood setting.  The landscape is very formal.  A large pergola and a collection of custom made containers from the Branch studio punctuate the space.  A large rear terrace features a lovely lead fountain of English origin. Custom handmade fencing and gates provides a secure yard for dogs and grandchildren.  A lovely semicircular hedge of Venus dogwoods provide screening and privacy.

the Garden Cruise 2015 (8)Another landscape is modeled after Monterey Square in Savannah-a childhood home.  This very formal garden has an incredibly lovely old home grounding it.  Yet another features a landscape with a strong eye for outdoor living, a level of whimsy that enchants the younger members of the household, and a passion for strong color.

the Garden Cruise 2015 (11)What you are seeing in this post is a look at the planting scheme this year for my containers.  I have never planted an all green scheme on my deck at home before, but I am liking how neutral and calm it is looking.  In contrast, my pots in front are orange and red, and look great with my yellow brick.

the Garden Cruise 2015 (10)But these pictures do not tell the entire story. There are places and spaces with changes you will just have to see for yourself.  For those of you who cannot participate in our tour, I will post more pictures from all of the gardens, after the tour.

the Garden Cruise 2015 (9)It is possible to purchase tickets in person at Detroit Garden Works.  Rob will open the shop at 8am on Sunday July 19, for those people who wish to purchase tickets the day of the tour.  We can take your order by phone, and mail the tickets.  If the time gets short, we can take phone orders, and email tickets. For more information, and descriptions of all of the gardens on this years tour, please visit our website.    For more information about the organization we feel is so essential to the environmental vitality of Detroit:  The Greening of Detroit 

the Garden Cruise 2015 (12)Many of the gardeners who have so graciously agreed to put their gardens on tour will be there to answer questions, and talk. I spend the entire day at home.  Buck and I both thoroughly enjoy the chance to meet other people with a serious interest in the landscape and garden. We all are hoping you will be able to join us.

the Garden Cruise 2015 (14)bird’s nest ferns

July 9, 2015 (61)

lemon cypress and lime scotch moss

the Garden Cruise 2015 (17)the driveway garden

July 9, 2015 (55)just pruned by Melissa and her crew from M and M Flowers

July 9, 2015 (52)I am just about ready!

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.