At A Glance: The Winter Pots and Boxes: 2000-2021

2000   To follow is a substantial run of pictures from my winter container arrangement archives-the photo collection and work dates back 21 years. I am as surprised to see this as you are. I did not think there were this many years and that much history-but here it is. I did not compare every picture from a given year, and choose what I thought was the best. Whatever seemed to speak to this moment was included. Some arrangements look in keeping with the year they were made. Some look ahead of their time. Some look great and others are so regrettably so so. Ha. You decide what you think. I have my memories.

2001  Tender    We recycled dead Bradford pears from our nursery supplier, and rubbed them down with a copper colored wax. The trees were ornamented with twine pillows and platinum fluff balls.

2002  This light garland was the first of many that Rob would make over the past 20 years. I am sure there are more to come.

2002, part 2  Galvanized pipe wound round with lights, curly copper willow, and greens augmented with light strands and lighted ornaments

2003 Dried and dyed mood moss fitted and glued over urethane topiary forms

2004   Prelit glitter and berry branches hover over fresh cut greens and lighted ball ornaments.

2004     More of those prelit metallic copper glitter branches.

2005  round wood poles, grapevine spheres and lengths of thin wood lath

2005  dried grasses, twigs, faux berry picks and cut pine

2006   stick stack, berry picks, and fresh noble fir over a large huck wreath.

2006  bleached willow twigs, stick stacks, bottle brush snowflakes and gold poly mesh

2007  a first foray into arranging natural foraged branches

2007 at Detroit Garden Works    live juniper topiaries, fan willow and mixed cut greens. We have never been able to source fan willow of this size and with this degree of fasciation, again – it was locally grown.

2007  contemporary stoneware pot by Francesco del Re filled with various contemporary sticks and stacks.

2008     red twig dogwood, red berry picks, fresh silver dollar eucalyptus set into cut noble fir boughs

2008    yellow twig dogwood and eucalyptus stems and pods

2009     red twig dogwood, faux red twig picks, magnolia branches and mixed evergreen boughs

2010   magnolia garland, red twig dogwood and red berry picks

2011  un-branched red twig dogwood, magnolia, boxwood, fresh cut winterberry and noble fir

2011 Detroit Garden Works  gold deco mesh enlivens fresh cut pussy willow, greens, and pine cones

2012      copper curly willow and magnolia branches – and mountain hemlock all around

2013   Tall red bud pussy willow, red preserved eucalyptus and mixed greens

2013    red bud pussy willow, lilac preserved eucalyptus, magnolia and noble fir

2014  flame willow, magnolia branches and mixed cut greens-


2015  lime green faux berry picks and pale blue gray preserved eucalyptus. The basket planter is Dutch made.

2015   with the Christmas holiday in mind

2016   English made steel topiary form with lights, spruce tips, and snow

2017       flame willow, magnolia and spruce branches

2017     yellow twig dogwood, yellow fuzz ball picks, white eucalyptus, variegated boxwood in a large corten steel planter box

2018   3′ diameter lighted ring over a mix of silver and noble fir

2018    a thicket of “midwinter sun” dogwood branches and mountain hemlock

2019   a sparse arrangement of red bud pussy willow, green and white fuzz ball picks, gold and white berry picks and magnolia

2019   “midwinter fire dogwood branches and a light ring

2019     yellow and green

2020    a winter sculpture made of fan willow, boxwood and noble fir

2020    flame willow and large scale snowball picks awash in LED cherry lights

2020  layered look with tall faux astilbe picks
2020  wool felt stole and gold grass picks

2020  wicker basket pots

2021  bleached sticks of several diameters and heights; white berry picks

2021   the centerpiece:  cream berries lining the interior of a 5′ diameter light ring, twigs, picks and magnolia

2021        3′ diameter light ring, alder branches, stainless steel spheres on stainless stems, silver plastic grass
2021          green and white

2021  evergreen branches set vertically

2021  window boxes with light rings,  faux lambs ear garlands, silver plastic grass, blueberry picks, white flower picks-and beaded stars. Very keen to see what will come next.


  1. Have followed you for ages, as your creativity and practice are envious. Living in California, plant material, and seasons, are so different from what you experience. My question is, do you sell your light rings? I’m guessing tough to ship, but would to have one to work into my act. Thank you.

  2. Cindy Pellanda says

    Love seeing the Pastel Iilac eucalyptus brings back great memories! Looking for some Natural Integrifolia pictures too! Love the pictures

  3. Always insprational!

  4. 2019 light ring with midwinter fire dogwood was, still is and may always be my all time favorite. Every year is fascinating and the progressive growth, over the collection of pictures, is an amazing journey. I look forward to your posts every winter to see what you and your team have up your sleeves to inspire us. Thanks for the memories.

    • 20debsilver18 says

      Dear Shelley, I did those midwinter fire pots on my own, and by myself-during those days after Christmas when we were all off for the holiday. I had a great time putting them together-although my crew bashed me just a little for not thinking carefully about the installation issues. The order of events is a critical issue with any winter container installation. With any fabrication and installation issue, for that matter. I won’t go in to it, as the story is long and boring – but the good news is that they installed the arrangements in the boxes, and then fixed all the troubles. They made those window boxes look sensational in spite of what they had to pull out, and reinstall. I love those fire dogwood window boxes with the light rings too. Thanks for writing, best, Deborah

  5. Joyce S Baker says

    A question. Deborah, are any of the houses displaying your beautiful work ever the only house on the “block” either with your work, or the only house with Christmas decorations? I have decided to browse your website and plan for this year’s holiday season. A present to me and my neighbors.

    • 20debsilver18 says

      Dear Joyce, I am not sure I understand the question. I do have some clients on the same block, neighborhood, or city. But each person gets work that is all theirs, and not repeated elsewhere. The fact that Detroit Garden Works has different materials for winter pots every year keeps the work fresh. If you read the November and December pots from 2009 to the present, you will get a great overview of the work we have done. And how we do it. You can pick materials that you like, and get guidance on how to present them from the blog. best regards, Deborah

  6. So impressed and inspired by your creations. I live at the beach in Delaware and look for natural materials here but I never quite seem to achieve the presence of your designs!! Thank you for the compilation of winter arrangements. Gives me something to work on for next year.

  7. Nancy Brantley says

    2007, 2014, and 2020 of fan willow is my choice. Love a natural Winter look.

    • 20debsilver18 says

      Dear Nancy, everyone has a point of view about what is beautiful in the garden, and I think containers do a great job of expressing that. They are an individual expression-they tell a story about what is important and beautiful about nature. Those stories are a bridge upon which gardeners, friends, families, neighbors, communities cities and countries can meet. thanks for writing, Deborah

    truly enjoyed the journey but most of these I remember. cheers to you and your creativity
    Scentimental Gardens

    • 20debsilver18 says

      Dear Debra, some of these pictures have never been posted before! But if you remember the lion’s share of them, then I greatly appreciate how long, and how closely you have been following my work. best regards, Deborah

  9. Amazing! Your artistry stands the test of time too.

    • 20debsilver18 says

      Thank you for this letter, TD. For you to think the work stands the the test of time means a lot to me. Thank you, Deborah

  10. What an amazing view into an amazing body of work. Fun to see the innovations, materials and creativity over the years. I am such a fan of that 2020 fan willow “chrysanthemum” – it is such a stunner. Thanks for digging through your archives to share these with us!

  11. You inspire and amaze me every season but especially during the winter holidays. No one can outdo Detroit Gardens for its artistry and creative mechanics. Your containers are second to none! Thank you for sharing them so generously with the rest of us admirers. Looking forward to what you will create in the coming years!

  12. Deborah, what is the best time of the year to come and shop for your holiday picks and such? You have very unusual and beautiful items that I never see anywhere else. We live west of Chicago and would plan to stay over night and enjoy shopping for planters and goodies! Thank you.

  13. Holly Tomlinson says

    What beauty! I always open your emails first, as soon as I see them.

  14. I still remember walking into Detroit garden works
    shortly after you opened. I was in complete awe
    It was as if I was transported somewhere in Europe
    Things I’ve never seen before outside of a magazine
    Your creations are gorgeous & the way you display them is equally beautiful! . Thank you for giving us a place to explore and dream. Love that you offer things in all price points !

  15. This was so much fun looking at the pictures of the evolution of your work!!! Really neat to see. Thank you for sharing 😊.

  16. So nice to see again! Your pots really are beautiful.

  17. mollie duvall says

    An astonishing body of work! Thank you so much for posting all of this inspiration.

  18. Silvia Weber says

    Dear Deborah,
    Each and every display- AH-MAZING!
    Enjoyed the decades in review!
    If I had to pick a favorite- the 2021 window boxes with light rings and faux lambs ear garlands- OOH-LALA!
    How will you top THAT??!!! (A rhetorical question)
    Loving all the beauty! Silvia and Gerry

  19. So fun to see how your art has evolved over the years. All just beautiful! Thanks for sharing.

  20. Your gorgeous designs and impeccable craftsmanship always stop me in my tracks!!!

  21. Norman Kovalchick says

    As a Landscape Designer I am impressed with your creativity and selection of materials. Keep the inspiration flowing…
    Breath taking..

  22. Deborah Gallagher says

    Dear Deborah,
    No matter the date of your installations, they all are timeless. Each one is so appropriate for its location and container. Your sense of design, shape, color choices, materials, and containers is spot on. If I lived in Michigan, I would love to work with you!!

  23. Joan Nordstrom says

    Dear Deborah,
    I echo all the previous comments. Your studio has been my garden muse for the many years I have followed your blog. Thank you for generously sharing your talents with us. I have learned to enjoy the process of the creation almost as much as the finished product.

  24. Ann Wilson says

    What a body of work to be proud of which will continue to inspire all of us! Thanks for sharing the evolution of your creativeness! I’m a huge fan of the flame willow and magnolia, and the fan willow…strikingly beautiful! Also in recent years I see you have been using more faux materials that look to be excellent quality, such the lamb’s ear garland and blueberry stems. Do you sell these materials?

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Ann, all of the materials in my winter pots come from Detroit Garden Works. We usually have the year’s selection of materials available the first week of November. Thank you for your letter. best, Deborah

  25. etty Skalski says

    How do you keep the evergreens green for 2 months? are they sprayed with some preservative? ours are brown by first week in January in chgo area.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Etty, some evergreens have much better longevity than others. My November/December posts from past years address all the issues with winter gardening. best, Deborah

  26. Wendy Stahl says

    Thank you for sharing, as always your posts are inspiring! The winter designs are always my favorites!

  27. nella davis-ray says

    Thanks so much for the 21-year review. I’ve followed your blog for years and have learned so much about building winter pots. One year I did 10! This year I’m only doing two. So lucky to be able to visit your store, no other place carries the high quality and unusual materials that you carry. Love it!

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