The Holiday At Home

home for the holidaysThe holiday season is a very busy time for us. This work is different than landscape and garden design, but not unrelated. The winter work does not revolve around the plants.  It revolves around people. For that reason alone, I greatly enjoy it. I am party to a lot of holiday celebrations. Families. Children. Community. Helping hands. Every client who asks that their pots and landscape be dressed for the holiday and winter has a reason to request the work. Whether or not I ever learn the circumstances, I make every effort to treat every project as if it were my own. That means I may not get to my own until late December.

holiday decoratingThis year was no exception. Dan and crew installed a giant Christmas tree in my side garden pot the second week of December. I put faux fruit and bleached pine cones on my garland on a Sunday morning a few days later. I have always found the Williamsburg style of holiday decorating appealing. I also think is looks good, and is appropriate to my circa 1930 house. Owen and LaBelle did the the grapevine and lights, and installed it a few days after that. This held me over until the 23rd, when my pots both front and back which transformed my house into a home. David and I put together this year’s version of a Christmas tree at the shop.  It was easy to transport all of a piece.  Buck and I celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve, and we were ready. I am happy for a late installation date, as I will leave this up all winter. I may run the lights all winter too.

holiday garlandA few days ago I had the chance to come home early, and take a leisurely tour. I like how the garland looks with my 19th century concrete urns and pedestals on my front porch. I like just as well how the warm colors of the fruits look with my yellow/peachy brown brick. The boxwood looks how it always looks-fresh and green.

traditional winter garland and associated pots

The front door

winter arrangement in a vintage Galway pot

winter centerpiece with curly willow

on the driveway, red bud pussy willow, 2 shades of purple eucalyptus, and Norway spruce

a pair of pots

holiday treeOur Christmas tree. This year I took a steel topiary form, and covered it with grapevine and lights. I set the form in an incredibly beautiful galvanized tub that Rob purchased in England this past September. A foam form is wedged in the top of the pot. The foam was stuffed with German boxwood. The spikes on the bottom of the topiary form were pushed all the way into the foam.

christmas treeI decked out that lighted grapevine topiary tree with feathered birds and clusters of small chartreuse holiday glass balls.

Christmas treeWe had a very merry Christmas.

holiday lightinglast night

holiday lightingthe front door New Year’s Eve

holiday lightingA little holiday fireworks in the garden.  Happy New Year!

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The Work Of The Week Of December 12

holiday garlandholiday garland

winter entrysnowy entry

winter arrangement in lead egg cupwinter arrangement in a lead egg cup

modern winter containercontemporary arrangement

winter containers2 pots for winter

winter containerwinter arrangement with eucalyptus, tiger branches, and green spruce

contemporary winter containercontemporary winter pot

winter container with camellia branchesarrangement with curly copper willow, camellia branches, and mixed greens

containers for winter4 pots for winter

containers at the sidewalkpots at the sidewalkwinter garlandgreen and white garland

contemporary winter containercontemporary arrangement of twigs and lights, faced down with boxwood

lighted winter containercast iron cauldron with a lighted steel topiary form and spruce tips

winter containers with German boxwoodglazed pots with pussy willow, curly copper willow, and German boxwood

green winter arrangementwood box with pussy willow, German boxwood, incense cedar and variegated boxwood

winter containeralarge low container with alder branches, taupe eucalyptus, cone picks and mixed greens

winter containercustom container made by Branch with birch branches, cone picks, white and pale green eucalyptus and mixed greens

winter containerssmall winter container

winter garlandthe garland is up at the shop! We should be able to finish by the end of next week.

 

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The Week Of December 5

Be forewarned, there are an astonishing number of pictures about to come your way. Last was a very busy week for us. But for the pictures, it would all be a blur. My crew is great about photographing everything. They pictures of last years work help inform the work we are doing now. Smart phone cameras and text messages mean I can communicate with the group who is doing the installation while they are 0n site. I hate to have to go back and redo, but I hate worse if something does does not seem as good as it should be. How I am able to stay in touch with my crew means the work is all that much better, the first time around. I can be two places at once-in the shop, and on the job. My landscape crew helps on and off, but they have been finishing up the last of the year’s landscape projects. They will be back today to help out with the work ahead. Buck’s crew at Branch is working for me for the winter holiday season. They makes all of our garlands, and install them. They handle lighting issues. They also install containers.  Marzela and David have been focused on the construction of green blankets and centerpieces. All of us whittle greens for Marzela, as the lot of us can hardly keep up with her. David and Salvadore do a splendid job with construction centerpieces, and adding elements one at a time. I am lucky to have each and every one of this group of 10 people. They are independent, intelligent, and thoughtful. They express their opinions, but not at the expense of keeping up. We do this work together. They go the extra mile, routinely. You cannot teach what they have to offer. They came to me with good values, not the least of which is a commitment to doing a great job. A lot gets done in a week’s time.  You’ll see. What you will see in these pictures is a design direction from me, and a gifted making by them. I help with the fabrication, but I can walk away and come back later, knowing someone will have picked up my part and gone ahead with it.  I still have 15 projects to go. I will be happy if I can finish them by Friday next, but maybe I won’t. I will not push a project out there that is not ready. I am stubborn, that way. The work you are about to see has as much to do with the the relationship we forge with a client as the design and fabrication relationships.  We make a concerted effort to represent their taste. We try for better than they thought they could have it.

winter containers
classic English cast iron boxes with lighted topiary forms

Large Bulbeck lead planter arranged for winter with curly willow, plum eucalyptus, white berry picks, and noble fir

contemporary winter arrangement ready to be installed in a large steel box

late day sun on that large steel box dressed for winter

winter arrangements awaiting installation in a pair of Atelier Verkant stoneware pots on the same projectfinished winter arrangement with yellow twig dogwood, yellow fuzz ball picks and variegated boxwood

pair of handmade concrete pots dressed for the winter season with flame willow, red berry picks, incense cedar and mixed greens

traditional winter arrangement in an urn on a pedestal with red bud pussy willow, green eucalyptus, and mixed greens

winter pots flanking a company entrance with sumac branches, pine cone picks and noble fir

holiday garland and pots with red bud pussy willow, berry picks, bleached pine cones and German boxwood

a pair of Branch Hudson boxes dressed for winter with red bud pussy willow and fuchsia eucalyptus

classic traditional holiday arrangement with red berry picks, holiday sparkle picks, and red sinamay

fountain surround pots for the winter with grassy textured green picks and noble fir

atelier verkantaccompanying atelier verkant pot with silver sparkle branches, grassy green picks, frosted faux evergreen picks, noble and silver fir

a traditionally decorated green garland for the holidays

winter arrangements in classic French orangery boxes with curly copper willow, blue gray eucalyptus, and gold sinamay

pair of custom fabricated concrete planters with winter arrangements with red twig dogwood, plum eucalyptus and mixed greens

outdoor lighted tree decorated with poplar branches, faux cherry clusters and feather birds

a second lighted outdoor holiday tree dressed with poplar branches, feathered birds, and faux cherries.  For extra light at night, the entire trunk of the tree is wrapped with Lumineo LED light strings, ahead of lighting the branches

indoor holiday tree with blue gray glass ball ornaments, gold glittered banana stems, and gold plastic foil stars

winter containers with gray and white branches and picks

contemporary winter wreath and container

contemporary winter container with red twig dogwood, sage eucalyptus and mixed greens

winter pot with white painted branches, pine cone picks, and gray eucalyptus

finished winter pot with frosted pine cones lit from above

a pair of winter containers featuring white eucalyptus and noble fir. The steel garlic topiary forms are strung with lights.

That pair of pots at night

night light

This steel Bethlehem star fabricated and lighted for Christ Church Cranbrook was a project designed, engineered and fabricated at Branch. We delivered this sculpture, and we were there to assist with the installation.

the star shining

This morning, we will resume the work.

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On Their Own

winter potsI posted some time ago about the landscape I designed for my clients who live in a rural area outside Ann Arbor. They edited and installed that landscape on their own – to everyone’s  great satisfaction. I was happy indeed that they took my plan to heart, and edited it to reflect their point of view. Late this fall they planted a wide ribbon of grape hyacinths in the lawn beginning near the large round planter and running all the way to the road. There’s nothing like having a river of grape hyacinths to look forward to in the spring, is there? Eventually, there may be some trees on either side of that river.  Their last garden project of the season-the winter pots. They came to the shop the other day to with to consult with me about their plans, and look at materials. Of course they would do their winter pots on their own.

winter potsI spent plenty of time talking them through their design process.  They knew they wanted to use cut white birch branches, and spruce tips.  And they wanted to incorporate the color red. Their taste is tends towards the contemporary, but in a loose and brash way. Containers filled with natural materials informally arranged proved to be a strikingly beautiful contrast to their sober and spare landscape.

img_0191This post is not so much about what I advised them to do. It is primarily about what they did on their own. This winter pot is terrific.  I was delighted when Rich sent me this group of photographs. The greens in the bottom of this container are spruce tips, from Minnesota. Dan had them shipped in.  I have never seen them before. These spruce toppers sunk into the soil of a container looked like a forest of mini trees. This container is as good as it gets, in my opinion. It is relaxed, assured, and striking. The thin red twig branches against the stout birch branches-so beautiful.

winter potsI did advise them to light their pots. Their property is in a rural area. Absent a full moon, their property is shrouded in darkness. The light in the winter pots would be key to welcoming guests, and representing a warm winter. It took a bit of doing to convince them to spring for a 3′ diameter spiked light ring encircled with LED lights, but they eventually decided that my advice was good advice. After much discussion, they took that ring home with them. Set into their 5 foot diameter steel bowl container facing the road, that light ring not only illuminated what was in the pot, it lit up the walk to the front door.     img_4253The materials they chose? Mountain hemlock, for its feathery texture, and its longevity as a cut green. Noble fir is a cut green whose stout stems amicably support lights, and obligingly stay green throughout the winter. The magnolia branches in this container feature big leaves. Those big glossy green leaves are a nod to romance. The Michigan winter is spare and gray. Cut magnolia is luscious – juicy looking. The hollow birch bark rounds are chubby and charming. The faux red berry stems hover over all.  Happily, they will represent for many winters to come. The Lumineo warm LED light strings illuminate the greens.

winter containersThis is work that I am happy to share here.  I greatly admire what they have done.

winter container arrangementsaa

We provided the centerpieces for this pair of winter containers.  Our client did the rest. Lovely, aren’t they?

This planter was constructed by a client who shopped on line with us for some of her materials.

This client shopped at Detroit Garden Works for materials too.

These containers are the creation of a member of my group. I like that he had the enthusiasm to go home and make winter pots, after making them for others day after day.

I truly enjoy what people say back to me about the garden.

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