At A Glance: Looking At The Landscape

My life revolves around designing the landscape.   Designing a landscape asks for 10 parts skill, and 110 parts observation, and 1100 parts intuition.  I would go so far as to say a great landscape design requires 110,000 parts history and memory.  It may require an additional 1,100,000 parts, contributed by nature.  My interest has been sustained, and challenged by nature.

weekend-visit.jpgI met my brother Pete where we spent our childhood vacations this past week. Pete, Tine, Buck and I spent a few days just looking at the landscape.

rain-storm.jpgCreating an landscape involves lots of work, lots of talk, lots more work-and much more of all of the aforementioned.  My recent visit to the upper peninsula of Michigan was not at all about creating.  It was about observation.  Being there.  The landscape there is very different than those I make.  There are no gardens to speak of.  Dead trees are left standing. Spaces occupied by people are mowed.  Wild spaces-they are as nature engineers them.  The docks that connect the land to the water-simple and serviceable.


My brief trip made a few things clear.  The natural world is spectacular-from the rivers to the lakes to the stars.  From the Sand hill cranes to the hummingbirds to the ducks. My place in all of this- midway, and small.

mossy-rocks.jpgThe upper peninsula of Michigan is beautiful, in its own spare and remote way.  There is not much in the way of soil.  Just little rocks, medium rocks, and big rocks.

Plenty of plants thrive in this.  The landscape is thick with spruce and cedars.  The moss forms a soft carpet over the the rocks.

The end of Beavertail Point-my Mom’s most favorite place in the world. I understand her feeling about this landscape.








sandhill-cranes.jpgSand hill cranes in the yard, no kidding.

Pete-Markey.jpgI loved the time I spent over the past few days with my brother Pete. We talked over the landscape from 50 years ago-over and over.  We share a landscape, a part of which is this place.  My take?  The landscape is is so much more than a plot of land, and a collection of plants.  A landscape is first and foremost a story.  Are you thinking to create a landscape?  Tell your story.  This post?  Part of my story.



  1. Susan witek says


    Your perspective on all this landscape etc. touches my heart. It is a pleasure to read your blog and enjoy the photos that you share. The world has to be a better place because of people like you. I will pass it on, however that may be.

  2. So glad you had a chance to reflect on your story with your brother and family. As I look around the landscape of my world you have reminded me that my gardens and space are also a reflection of my story. Although my parents are no longer living, I carry my dad’s pen knife with me to trim overgrown tomatoes, and I sense the hand of my mother every time I pick a vase full of flowers…there were always fresh flowers on the dinning room table. Thank you reminding us all that we carry stories of our past into all of life and now we are creating the stories of future generations…..what a gift! We are truly blessed.

  3. Lovely sentiment. As a garden designer and a sculptor – I agree that our time is well spent in observation and thinking.

  4. I always love your thought provoking posts. Straightforward, true. Thank you.

  5. Beautiful places, beautiful photographs. I’m in Maine right now and the upper peninsula of Michigan seems to have the same rugged peace and calm. This post made me want to go there – I’m adding it to the list!

  6. I love your story.

  7. Julia Hofley says

    How lucky we all are to have memories of/in the mitten~deeply imbedded in the cloth we are all cut from. Glad you had a special vaca up north with those who mean the most to you. Your Mother was watching over her babes in the great white north, and smiling.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Julia, as you know, all of us kids scattered her ashes at Beavertail Point. Over that big rock, deposited centuries ago. We visit that place regularly. Yes, we believe she is smiling, and looking after us. Landscape and memory? I just brushed up against that-in a very personal way. Thanks, Deborah

  8. Your hauntingly beautiful images tell so much more of the story. Your story would not be what it is without your eye. –S.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Susan, Every day I wake up, and hope that I have an eye that works. Thanks for your encouragement. Deborah

  9. Deborah, I just recently discovered your story from reading Thomas Rainer’s story, (blog).

    I have fallen in love with yours,

    …and I thank you.


    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Greg, Thomas Rainer is a passionate gardener, and a great writer. He has ideas. I read what he writes, and am appreciative that he has made himself available to me. Happy to have you reading. Thanks for your kind letter, Deborah

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