March 1

Detroit Garden Works retreats into a semi-closed state from January 15 until the first of March.  During that time we do repairs, repaint, clean, and rearrange. An over simplified outtake on of law of nature we call entropy posits that everything tends to fall apart. Anyone who has ever had a garden, a washing machine or a favorite pair of boots understands how true this is. So every winter we take on a building maintenance project of one sort or another. 10,000 square feet and everything we have in it is a lot to keep clean and in working order. Once that is done, we rearrange every room to include all of the new things for spring that have been coming in since last September. That is an incredibly labor intensive and time consuming job, but by March 1, the shop will have that spring fresh look to it. I know we are just about ready for opening day when Rob is out photographing.

The landscape crews forego the lion’s share of  their winter off to participate in re-imagining the shop for the coming season.  This involves lots of patience moving fragile items, lots of sheer manpower for those incredibly heavy and awkward things, and plenty of attention to detail.  I will confess to asking to move some things around multiple times until I feel the design of it reads right to me. In better than 20 years, I have yet to hear a complaint. At that moment when I am too worried that a direction I have chosen will not work out, Marzela has been known to tell me that that we have it all in hand.

Detroit Garden WorksIt is hard to describe the process by which we turn over a past season to a new one. It is a big fluid situation. Every year, I am surprised by how a small group of people manage to transform the atmosphere of a big space from what was past to the present. The entire process from the patching and painting to the finish runs between 3 and 4 weeks. My job as a designer has a yearly winter project that goes on in my own house.

Detroit Garden Works has been in business going on 21 years. We are in the midsection of the country, 30 miles north of Detroit. That geography may define what plants we are able to grow, but it by no means defines or confines our vision of the garden to the midwest. This means that a gardener who plants herbs in a vintage wood crate is just as likely to find something for their garden as the person who values the clean lines of a contemporary  garden pot. Gardeners are a very diverse lot, and what Rob buys for the shop reflects that.

This group of stone troughs, sinks, and staddle stones that Rob purchased in England this past September are all better than 100 years old, and are covered in lichen colonies that speak to their great age. The large stones with iron rings in the center are cheese stones, that were used to squeeze excess water out of the cheese by virtue of their sheer weight. Though their history is agricultural, their effect in a garden is sculptural.

A collection of English made wood birdhouses in a traditional style are as whimsical as they are utilitarian.

A collection of baskets, chimney stones, wood grape crates, galvanized buckets and steel bird and dog cutout sculptures complete one part of the 2017 collection.

Another room is full of classical antique and vintage urns, benches, tables, sundials, and sculpture.  Any of these garden ornaments would compliment a traditional garden.  It is just as likely that any one of them could organize or define the mood of a garden.

Objects for the garden can set a tone, create a mood, or organize a space. It only takes a gardener who is interested to take their garden to that level. A garden ornament may be dear, or not.  What gives it an aura is the selection and placement of a gardener who who has something else to express about a garden that means much to them.

pussy willow

Of course, our shop would be incomplete without plants.  At this very early stage of thje season, we do have fresh cut pussy willow twigs, both straight and branches.  And a collection of fan willow. The stars of our March season are the hellebores.  By far and away, they are the mainstay of the early spring perennial garden. Our collection this year numbers close to 1500 plants, in various sizes.  We carry named varieties, and a large collection of the justly well known Pine Knot Farms hellebore strains.  How pleased we are to be able to offer these hellebores for the first time.

For those of you too far away to see our collection in person, we can take pictures, and we do ship. And by all means enjoy the following pictures that Rob has taken of individual plants. It is just about impossible for me to pick a favorite. That could account for the fact that I have lots of them in my garden. A hellebore purchased now will be perfectly happy in a light and cool spot until it can be planted outdoors the beginning of April.  This early dose of spring is so welcome. It could be that the best part of the winter landscape is the beginning of the end of winter.

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Comments

  1. Good Morning:

    Isn’t it too early to plant the hellebores in the garden ? Mine are blooming currently,
    but its still so cold ?

    Thank you for the help ! Love your store and your blog, your the best .

    • Deborah Silver says:

      Dear Claudia, people who are taking home hellebores now will enjoy them inside in a cool-ish, brightly lit space, and then plant them out in early April. Thank you for your letter. all the best, Deborah

  2. Brigitte Gourjon says:

    I’d love to be your neighbour (I live in South of France !!!) I love all you posts ! Amazing ! Thanks a lot for sharing the pics.
    Brigitte

  3. Virginia Skold says:

    Excited to try Hellebores. A beautiful beginning to Spring.
    Happy to see your Picardy again. I thought as a puppy he was outstanding. Fell in love with
    Him. Is he getting along with the Corgis?
    Looking forward to what the summer brings in your shop.

    • Deborah Silver says:

      Dear Virginia, Gary gets along really well with the corgis. I think their acceptance of him is most amazing, for a pair of older dogs. I am very happy that January and February are past! all the best, Deborah

  4. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Just seeing these beautiful accoutrements for the garden makes my heart go pitty patter especially that which has the patina of moss and lichen. Your hellebore collection is yummy and I so agree that their awakening is a signal to prepare for spring.

  5. Deborah Fisher says:

    Even though I live in Virginia, I thoroughly enjoy your posts and pictures. I too wish I could just drive to your shop and load up! So many interesting and beautiful things. I always learn something from you as well!

  6. Oh my dear, thank you for the delightful array of garden treasures. Wish I lived near you instead of East Coast!

    • Deborah Silver says:

      Dear Laurie, if you see something you cannot live without, be advised that we ship. just saying. all the best, Deborah

  7. Miranda says:

    Wish I lived closer to Detroit! Beautiful and inspiring store!

  8. Cathy Peterson says:

    Lovely as always!

  9. This looks like a fabulous place. We left Detroit (suburbs) in 1993. If I were still there I would be visiting your shop weekly. I see a multitude of things to buy/touch/wonder over in your photos. Bird houses – check. Buckets – check. Pots, architectural elements – wow. And the hellebores are gorgeous. I’m starting a new garden and have a couple shady spots to tuck them in.

  10. Cheryl Foley says:

    Every inch of DGW would be my happy place.

  11. From what I’ve seeing in these photos, that might be the best collection of garden objects you’ve had yet. I love those cheese stones and I feel like my Wisconsin garden would a most appropriate location for one. Some day I must organize a large van, high-limit credit card and a road trip to see all of these wonderful things for myself.

  12. Jean Bontrager says:

    Hi Deborah Silver, Love your work, and spirit, especially that you bring such wonderful things to my pet state, Michigan! I developed a deep love for it when I lived in Ithaca, the first years that I was married. I now live in Vermont in a renovated house, 10 feet from a major road, much like MI 27. I am always looking for great ideas to build a green barrier, that doesn’t shut out my neighbors! Thank you for getting me through the dark days in the Northeast!

  13. Christina says:

    Am a great fan of your blog, and read it eagerly every time a new post arrives! I am in love with the Hellebores, particularly the first and fifth photo! What are they? And how would I order from your lovely shop?

  14. Dianne McKinnon says:

    Absolutely love these posts!☔️

  15. nella davis ray says:

    Are these hellebores available for purchase in the store now?

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