A Winter Tale

Our winter installations have been accompanied by better than 12 inches of snow in the past week. The snow came on top of several week’s worth of bitter cold weather. I am surprised to have this much snow and bitter cold in mid December, but so be it. Fortunately most of the construction for our winter installations are done in our heated to 60 degrees shop stock room. A warm, well lit and dry place means we are able to focus on the work, and not on the inhospitable weather. What I had planned for this very lovely house would be much more wintry than holiday in feeling. My clients travel. For that reason, among others, winter pots and exterior decor that that would carry them through the long Michigan winter seemed like a good idea. The architecture of the swooping roof of the entrance porch is unusual, and striking. We had plans to make much of that particular detail. A garland would describe and celebrate that roof line. I did decide to extend the garland past the ends of that roof line and downward, like oversized tassels.  I like how the drop of the garland embraces the house numbers on the roof pillar. A garland that drops has an undeniably traditional feeling. Garlands that describe a horizontal surface sans drop have a more contemporary feeling. It seems like contemporary expressions are striking for their brevity, and more traditional ones are more generous with the details and materials.

The blue/gray shingles and white trim offered much in the way of a color inspiration. Fresh cut stems of red bud pussy willow and fan willow were captured by eucalyptus in a color we call Rain. White faux berry branches echoed the white trim. The house is set in an informal and naturally imagined large piece of property. This past spring we redid the landscape in the front of the house in a much more formal way.  The contrast of the entrance formality to the natural setting appealed to my clients. They did purchase a pair of round Barry tapers from Branch, as well as some custom made window boxes set on the ground in front of a pair of matching windows. The landscape at the front of their house this summer was beautifully lush with contrasting shrubby and perennial materials.  I planned for a similar look for the winter.

The generously sized window boxes were stuffed with greens and lights. In the center of each window, a light ring was highlights with cut alder branches and white berry picks.  The garland and the pair of pots at the drive would also have lighting.The lighting was particularly important to my clients. They enjoy going outside at dusk with their dog for some fresh air. Lighting the way in the winter is a good idea for anyone who lives in a northern climate. Landscape lighting is decorative. Illustrative. Seasonal lighting can supplement the permanent lighting in a useful and beautiful way.

This galvanized dolly tub stuffed with pussy willow, rain eucalyptus and white berry picks had LED string lights nestled into the greens.

The pair of these tubs arranged for winter are elegantly sober and subdued during the day. At night, these greens lighted tubs help guide the way in closer to the ground level.

Lighted window box

The pots after a heavy snow

The resulting ice on the garland illustrates why we take so much care in the construction. Nature can really dish it out.

The winter landscape here would be very spare without the pots and garland.

ready for winter


  1. Karen Lawson says

    Absolutely beautiful… a winter wonderland.. Outstanding work

  2. Michaele Anderson says

    Obviously, all the manmade elements of the garland are gorgeous but I have to say that I really love Mother Nature’s addition of the icicles. That is such a cool (ha, cold) effect and it’s great that your design and construction of your outside decorations can withstand the assault of winter weather.

  3. Love it all! Pine cone colors mimic the stone and it is nice how the icicles blend right in with the garland – a beautiful collaboration between a natural, uncontrolled element and your gorgeous design. Happy Holidays!

  4. Just beautiful!

  5. I know it’s tough on Detroit to get so much snow, but from my desert respite way across the country, I live vicariously for these photos every year! It is fabulous to see the ‘frosting’ on your creations. Mother Nature adds her own artistic touch every year.

    Thanks for sharing,

  6. Long time reader, first time commenter. Your container arrangements inspire me. I am curious about the greens you use. Are they fraser fir?

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Catherine, we use a variety of greens, depending on the look and the location. Noble fir is very formal. Cut noble fir greens can handle just about any winter weather. The stiff stems are so great for winter pots. In full sun and windy locations, mountain hemlock will stay green for months. In shadier conditions, given a less formal arrangement, mixed greens are great. German boxwood is a a great choice provided the cut stems are drenched in vaporgard. Dry boxwood is not an especially good look. Silver fir is rare, but I like the relaxed look. Incense cedar and variegated boxwood ask for a friendly placement. They can go dry. Fraser fir boughs are tough as nails. We use them as much as we use every and any other green. I hope this answers your question. Thanks for reading, Deborah

      • Catherine Wachs says

        It does. I don’t do a lot of containers, so this is very helpful. Your deep knowledge of how the different greens hold up in harsh conditions is invaluable. Thank you!

  7. I am always amazed and enthralled with your beautiful work, Deborah! I just wish there was someone here in Delaware to help me with my passion for displaying, beautifying planter pots as you do. Know anyone to refer me to? Have a Merry Christmas!

  8. Hello
    I just found your blog and I must say I am impressed by this huge garlande on your entrance – Wow must have been a Long Job.
    Have a good new year.
    Grüess Pascale

  9. Dawn Riddle says

    Have tried several times to sign onto this blog with no success. Can you assist me in this process? Thank you Dawn

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Dawn, I will ask my IT person to look in to this. Thanks for your patience! all the best, Deborah

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Dawn, I will look into this for you. I do know that you need to enter your email address in the subscription block, and click on “subscribe”. WordPress should be sending you a confirmation email, so you can confirm that you want to subscribe. Once you confirm, you are subscribed. If you did not get a subscription confirmation by email check your spam mail. If it isn’t there, let me know so I can track down the trouble. best regards, Deborah

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