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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Comments

  1. Lori Arrigo says:

    Since cedar turns brown so fast what do you recommend as a sub that drapes? Which do you prefer using Princess Pine or White Pine? Love love love your work and sharing!

  2. Heather Burkhardt says:

    It is so cool that you inspire your friends and customers. Truly an amazing effect to have on the world and the winter season.

  3. Jennifer Taylor says:

    I enjoy your posts so much that I often save up a few and then get to savor a good chunk of time in your beautiful world. I appreciate the pics, the inspiration, the knowledge shared, also the way you describe things, your outlook on design and how you construct your art. Finally, i love that you are from Detroit. Having insight into your world is a rare treat. Once again, thank you Deborah!

  4. I have only recently joined the posts here and thoroughly enjoy the inspiration and education.
    Deborah, I was wondering if you have ever done a post comparing the use of the old pot soil as a base for design vs using the sheets of oasis. If so can you point me to it. I so appreciate the versatility of the oasis but am concerned about the environmental impact of the oasis for such a large project. Are there other alternatives out there that do the job just as well? Your Christmas inspiration and creative dialogue have been an encouragement. Thank you

    • Deborah Silver says:

      Dear Hedi, I do not recall if I have posted on this topic, but if you look up the November posts from past years, there might be something. We use the dry floral foam as it permits us to place stems exactly where we want them. Dry floral foam does not break down, which means once we build a form, it can be used for many years-and even longer with some repair. all the best, Deborah

  5. Imitation is the highest form of flattery! You started a design concept that is followed and interpreted. … well done!

  6. Michaele Anderson says:

    I love that you have so generously shared the photos of these fabulous looking containers done by the home owners themselves. The use of the birch logs and branches is very striking. It makes me want to plant a birch tree in the spring just so I would have one to do some custom “harvesting” from. I think I will google “birch tree” + “pollarding” and see what the deal is on that topic.

  7. debra phillips says:

    posts about your containers is a highlight of the season
    debra

  8. Beautiful! Any idea how the planters in the bottom pic are lit? They almost look like flames!

    • Deborah Silver says:

      Dear Amy, see my reply to Brett below. In winter containers, more is enchanting. 6 or 7 strings of mini lights, and heaped in the bottom of the pot makes them look like they are on fire. best, Deborah

  9. I recently discovered you online. Wished I lived closer but I do REALLY appreciate you sharing your art!

  10. How does the old adage go? Something like ‘Give a man a container and it looks good for one season; teach a man how to build his own….’

    Your blog has indeed served as ‘teacher’ to thousands. Thanks for sharing your creative wisdom!

  11. Spruce tops in pots and window boxes in front of nearly every home in Minnesota is a winter tradition! My daughter living in Colorado can’t find them there. But her annual request at her local nursery for treetops always brings the response, “you must be from Minnesota”.
    And ironically ours come from Canada! Love your blog! Thanks for your generosity in sharing your art and inspiration!

  12. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    These are so neat and tidy. You can tell a professional did these. I love em. I got out today and made one up for my pot out front. Of course my pot isn’t near as large as any of these nor as elegant but I just love the way it turned out. Thanks for the inspiration.

  13. Fantastic as always, Deborah…so nice to see what some of your creative customers come up with for the holidays!

    If you know, and don’t mind sharing, can I ask what kind of light source your colleague used in the last photo to illuminate those planters at his place?? They look wonderful!!

  14. I have just started reading your post the last year. How lucky for me to find your posts.
    One of the many things I take away is a to think outside the norm. There is so much in nature and the garden that we can only find the magic to see and try. You are a wonderful teacher.
    May the Christmas season bring you the best today and all through the year. Merry Christmas .
    Cindy

  15. Deborah your comments are so poetic and I so enjoy reading them – really brightens my day. Thanks.

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