Our 2016 Garden Cruise is today from 9-4:30. The weather looks like it will be perfect. Partly cloudy, and 84. A last minute decision to take the tour is easy to arrange. Call Detroit Garden Works at 248 335 8089. We can take your credit card info, and email you the ticket and map. Just like that.
I was in the garden early this morning. Early enough that the dew still covered every surface. The agreement to be on a garden tour is just the beginning. Of course you want every moment in the garden to mean something, and make a good case for that meaning. The planning starts months ahead, long about when you see what did not survive the winter, and later, when you go to plant the pots.
That comittment to put your garden out there is one part bravado, one part luck, one part a benevolent mother nature, and 100 parts work. I try to mitigate those circumstances with my clients as much as I can for the Greening tour. Monica Tabares from the Greening staffs every garden with two people. Detroit Garden Works springs for tee shirts for all of them, including the shop staff, so every tour person remembers that this event is all about the work that the Greening does. This year means 28 people – the morning and the afternoon shifts – will be staffing the 7 gardens on tour. Monica has told me in years past that the tour docents are volunteers from the Wayne State dental school. I never asked about how that came to be, but I appreciate all of those students who take time on a Sunday to help make the experience a good one for all.
Both crews from Deborah Silver and Co pitch in. We handle this and that. We are available to replace plants that have gone down from whitefly, or add new grass in spots that need it. And we send tickets to the tour and reception for every client who agrees to put their garden on tour. Some enjoy the day at homer meeting fellow gardeners. Others leave the garden in the capable hands of the Greening people, and go on tour themselves. Others yet are willing, but able to keep a comittment in another place that day.
Every landscape that is on our tour belongs to people for whom the garden is a way of life. Every tree, shrub, perennial and seasonal plant gets in the ground is a result of the belief that stewardship of the environment is a pleasure, a joy, and a responsibility. The Greening has been all about that belief, since 1989. They have planted in excess of 90,000 trees in the city of the Detroit since their inception. They sponsor urban farms. They teach people how to care for trees, and grow food.
They are a self sufficient non profit organization. Meaning they have staff who apply for grants, and raise money. I sit on their board, but after my first board meeting I knew that I would never catch up to their history and long range plans enough to be of any use to them. So 8 years ago Rob and I decided to put on this tour, all of the proceeds of which would go to the Greening.
The money we have raised usually goes to those programs that cannot be funded by grants – programs that rely on donations. One of those programs involves hiring young people with not so much opportunity to obtain a job. The Greening pays them to water newly planted trees, and tend vegetable patches. I have had occasion to hear about what an impact this experience has had on young people who were so fortunate to participate in this program. Of course I like the idea that young people become exposed to the work, and the satisfaction that gardening provides.
I can barely remember my life before I grew plants, and gardened. I would want to do what I could to pass that along to others. Especially young people. My generation will need young people to grow peonies, and heirloom tomatoes, and as many trees as they can mange. Suffice it to say that this is a cause near and dear to my heart.
Monica W, the manager of Detroit Garden Works, Deborah Silver and Co, and the Branch Studio, organizes the reception we hold after the tour at the store. She furthermore organizes all of the ticket sales, so soon after the tour we have a check available to the Greening. It is an amazing amount of work on her part to make it all seem effortless. Though she is very much behind the scenes, she is the unusual combination of the work of an engineer, and the work of a compassionate and caring person.
As for me, my garden will be on tour for the 8th time tomorrow. I am happy with most everything I see. The delphiniums that bloomed their hearts out in early June are suffering from a fungus brought on by the cold and rainy early summer. I have no plans to replace this plant, or disguise it. I am a gardener, and I have plenty of trouble in my garden. It comes with the territory.
I have talked with every client who has a garden on tour tomorrow. To the last they are concerned about this bad spot, or that plant that is not performing, or some boxwood still showing signs of damage from last winter. My job near the time of the tour is to suggest that no garden on this tour is a show garden. They are gardens that belong to real people. People with kids, jobs, and lots of other responsibilities. Our tour is a chance for people who garden to see what other people who garden do. This tour is about exchange. My garden is for all to see what it is – tomorrow.
Though some parts of my perennial patch are not so swell, other places look fine to my eye. I have no doubt that every person who visits my garden tomorrow will remember the good things. None of them will hold my failures against me. Why would they?
After years of trying to get herniaria to take hold in this garden in the front of my house, I grassed over it. The grass looks great, and is easy to keep. I am happy to come home, and not have to weed the herniaria.
If you are able to come on our tour tomorrow, I would encourage you to do so. We have 7 really beautiful landscapes and gardens for you to see. If you are too far away to be here – I will post pictures of all of the gardens next week. So looking forward to the tour tomorrow-this is my news.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. http://thegardencruise.org/ For more information about the organization we feel is so essential to the environmental vitality of Detroit: The Greening of Detroit
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.
lemon cypress and lime scotch moss