Do Not Go Gently

No gardener in my zone goes gently into that night we know as winter. Should you live in Georgia or Tahiti, I imagine the garden goes on year round. I am sure come mid February, I will be longing for another place to be similar to the aforementioned. Those of us in northern zones dread the inevitable. The weather goes cold. Cold enough that every deciduous plant sheds its leaves. Cold enough to deeply freeze the ground and frost it with snow. With the cold comes brief gray days, and long dark nights.. The cold and the dark has that aura of endlessness about it. It is a tunnel that takes months from which to emerge. The not gardening season has arrived.

A mild December for us followed a very cold November. This means our first taste of winter is about the fog. The 40 and 50 degree daily temperatures hovering over frozen ground made for one beautifully foggy day after another. Not to mention very friendly conditions for installing winter container arrangements and lighting. The installation of pots and lighting at home come last. I was pleased that none of us were working there in 20 degree weather. The evergreens have taken on that olive/bronze winter color, as has the grass. Grass? It is a broadleaf evergreen in my winter garden.

That warmer foggy weather made it so easy to take picture after picture. It also endowed all of my pictures with a color saturation that parallels my visual experience. What you see is what I saw. If you live in my neighborhood, I am sure you see me out there touring the garden routinely. Spring, summer, and fall. The winter tours go on until the snow that is deeper than my boots are tall. The foggy early winter weather has been unexpected, and exceptionally beautiful.

The mature flower heads of the limelight hydrangeas are spectacular right now. Funny that I have never thought that hydrangeas were worthy to plant for their winter interest, but interesting they are right now. The color and texture is a standout. The flowers will persist well into March. The color of the early winter hydrangea flowers is a version of cinnamon that is repeated in the the flame willow, and the obverse of the magnolia leaves. The pot pictured above is English made concrete in the classical Italian style. This weatherproof terra cotta wil endure the winter.  All of that burnt orange color contrasts and resonates with the winter color on the boxwood. This is an unusual version of early winter that is worth savoring.

The garland over my door and porch windows will stay in place the entire winter. It will last as long as need be. It has a wintry, as opposed to holiday look.

I do have a cut evergreen tree in the pot in my side yard. My crew sinks the trunk into the soil. The tree is stabilized with concrete wire guy wires attached to four pieces of steel rebar sunk into the pot. The tree is loaded with LED lights which will light up this side garden all winter long. The arborvitae in the foreground, the boxwood and the grass provide green to this scene all winter long. The bare branches of the Princeton Gold maples are sculptural-especially in this New Year fog. The brick approach, the gate, the steel edger strip, the chair and the pot are all good examples of how objects stirred into a garden mix can create a little magic, no matter the season.

This lighted tree was a celebration indeed from before Christmas and through New Year’s. But it will keep on singing throughout the winter. Yes, I keep the lights on. I enjoy them as much during the day as I do at night. That subtle twinkle helps to stave off the gray. The daytime winter side garden view is a much muted and moody version of the summer. It seems appropriate to that season when the garden goes dormant. Once winter approaches, I am so pleased to have lots of evergreens.

I did spray all of my boxwood late this fall with VaporGard. It is an all natural product fashioned from pine resin that coats every leaf with a resinous wax. Properly applied, it stays in place all winter long.  Broad leaved evergreens can suffer in a winter that is exceptionally cold and windy. Their thin broad leaves transpire with no opportunity to take up water from the roots. They can be severely damaged over the course of a bad winter. This coating helps prevent undue evaporation from the leaves. Juicy leaves are good looking and healthy leaves over the dormant season. Of course I watered my evergreens until very late in the season. That waxy coating is much better looking and more effective than burlap.

My garden is an at home real time version of nature. I am sure there are other places where the beauty of nature is more spectacular and showy, but this suits me just fine.

The view in from the street

The view out

The view from above

The warm temperatures have meant I have been able to tour after dark. Evening in the summer garden is a great pleasure. But an after dark experience of the winter garden is a once in a while experience. The seasonal lighting makes it easier to navigate in the dark.

A new dusting of snow creates beautiful shadows.

This container lights the stairs from the deck down into to the back yard at night. Of course I would want it to look good during the day. Those tall twigs are Japanese fan willow. The short brushy twigs? alder.

I can see my way at night going up and down. Milo is on the upper and I am on the lower. Such is our evening outing. He is on the elderly side now, so some of my tours he waits out. I can hear him barking for me, no matter where I am in the yard.

The lighted tree in the side garden tells a different tale every hour of the day and night. At dusk it begins to glow.

The Welsh poet Dylan Thomas wrote a poem called “Do not go gentle into that good night” in 1947. Pictured above is my garden sculpture version of that poem.

lighted pots in the front yard after dark

night light

the front door after dark

Eventually I ended up inside the front porch.

Welcome to my house, winter.




  1. Nothing to say except: LOVELY! The view into your house is terrific.

  2. Suzanne Doin says

    All SO VERY lovely, the true beauty of winter! Thank you for sharing!

  3. Alicia Whitaker says

    Always inspiring! I too will leave my lighter tree up outside until March. Makes a difference!

  4. Tracy Perez says

    Dylan Thomas was Welsh, not American.

  5. Susan Roubal says

    What a beautiful tour through your winter night garden. The simple, intensely applied lights are truly beacons! Next year I want to do a simple version of it to bring some light to the very long darkness we experience on the northern edge of the Upper Peninsula. I think the lights are like a greeting to all who drive or walk by. Thank you for the peaceful look at your winter gardens.

  6. Thank you for the winter walk about your sublime garden, and for the reminder that our gardens’ worth is more than just the fireworks color of summer. What a treasure.

  7. Susie’s Gardens says

    Your take on the gardener’s Winter and the Winter decor just warms me up inside.

  8. I’m speechless at the elegant artistry. The design, hardscaping and plant sculptures. Thank you for sharing. Also, how do you keep all those gorgeous bricks weed free?

  9. Such beautiful and elegant words! Your garden is very special and thanks for sharing!

  10. Lovely

  11. Beautiful rusts and greens go so naturally together.
    The lighting in the pots is nice for the evening stroll.
    I enjoyed the tour and spied a kindred spirit with a handsome senior Corgi . I have three Pembrokes . I noticed your weathervane with a tail , Milo must be a Cardigan I’m guessing ? Wishing you the best in 2020!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Joanne, Yes, Milo is a Cardigan corgi. Rob bought me the weather vane in England many years ago. all the best, Deborah

  12. Beautiful talent, work and photos

    • Carol Johnson says

      Beautiful! I wanted to ask how you light the tree. Do you have a outdoor electrical plug? Are they just regular Christmas outdoor lights?
      How would I keep the evergreen cuttings alive, and looking good, mine always seem to dry out very quickly. I am in the south, hot one day, cold the next.
      Also, Do you have an online source for the Japanese fan willow? I am an avid Gardner that has laid dormant for 7 years, because of life, and I believe it’s time to come back to alive! I miss it! You have inspired me! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

      • Deborah Silver says

        Dear Carol, I do have outdoor plugs. I use Lumineo LED light strings. As I live in the north, the cold weather keeps the cut evergreens fresh looking. Detroit Garden Works carries this very tall fan willow. I am sure we could ship it to you. regards, Deborah

  13. Thanks for always taking the time to share your inspirations. Truly beautiful!

  14. Boots Woods says

    Beautiful! Thanks for sharing your love for nature with us!

  15. Judy Bailey says

    Thank you for the lovely visit! The “walk” through the garden with you hit many heart-strings. Our humidity produces strong fragrances carried on gentle breezes of pine, bark, tea olive, and winter honeysuckle, even freshly dug dirt from planting late bulbs – delicious and refreshing.

  16. debra phillips says

    GASP…..beyond magnificent Deborah. you’re very lucky neighbors.

    the peek inside was a pleasure, thank you for sharing. happy 2020

  17. Liane Miller says

    I love the winter garden especially yours. Who says you can not leave up your white winter lights til March! I have a set of whisky barrel rings I bought at the flea market. I will wrap them in my white solar lights and put them in my tall urns for winter I just have to figure out how to anchor them in place … hubby said he will think on that. Thank you for the inspiring post its Beautiful. I find these days I am obsessed with urns and winter planters and yearn to put something in every one I see that is empty. It kills me to see them vacant when I pass them at homes for winter. What a waste!

  18. Wow, so very lovely. That illuminated tree with darkness all around & the words of the poet speak to us in the North. I have been telling my relatives about your kind of winter gardening. I am all about that. I did many pots in the yard this year.

  19. Lisa at Greenbow says

    That outside tree looks like a fireball. I never give up on walking in the garden. We rarely get enough snow to keep me inside. Snow is usually a cause for me to get out. ha… Your garden looks lush even during winter with all of those evergreens. I have incorporated more evergreens into my garden. It is difficult with the several mature trees and so much shade. I do crave more light during winter. I have taken all but icicles and my collection of pine cones off my christmas tree. It will be with us until the light of spring touches the living room. Cheers and Happy Winter.

  20. Michaele Anderson says

    How can you bear to give up all the magical outdoor lighting elements once winter is over? Their mesmerizing glow surely has to be addictive. Frankly, I can’t imagine that an undulating stream of bright happy daffodils is a sufficient tradeoff for those amazing lighted circles.

  21. I am utterly charmed and inspired by this post.

  22. Marcia Zeigler says

    I really enjoy seeing your garden in Winter. I didn’t know there were different types of terra cotta. I live in the Sierra and gave up on Terra Cotta after they split the first two years we moved here. those lighted circles (were they from the Detroit Garden Yard) are absolutely stunning! I’m wondering how I get something similar here. California is a long way from you!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Marcia, we do ship those lighted rings, and they are on sale now. Check the Detroit Garden Works website. My pots are fiber reinforced concrete that are terra cotta color-they are not clay/terra cotta. all the best, Deborah

  23. Lisa Narozanick says

    Oh my, your place looks fabulous even in the dead of winter!

  24. Patricia Lowry says

    Wow! What a treat to be given a tour of your own beautiful winter garden! It is spectacular, and inspirational, even to a Southern California gardener!

  25. Jan Meissner says

    What a lovely visit. Thank you.

  26. The ethereal images of your home in winter are exceptional!

    And your mantle decorated for C’mas is perfection. Palm fronds? At first I thought you had lime slices draped along the front, and then it appeared to be stages of the moon in paper perhaps? Whatever the elements are, the effect is pure magic.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Terry, there is a magnolia garland on the mantle-which I have had there several years.I tucked gold plastic grass picks underneath the magnolia. I do have a phases of the moon garland hung there too-it is metal. That stays up all year long too. Happy New Year to you Terry! best regards, Deborah

  27. Susan Southern says

    Absolutely beautiful. I only wish I could have containers as gorgeous as yours.

  28. Liz Manugian says

    Beautiful. Inspiring. Thank you!

  29. Just lovely! And so inviting. Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

  30. nella davis ray says

    What do you spray your boxwoods with? Just watch a webinar about boxwood blight that spreading across the US. Pleased to learn the ones we plant in Zone 5 (ex. Winter Gem) are the most resistant to the blight but I still dread the winter damage by boxwoods get every year.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Nella, as I said in the post, I spray my boxwood with VaporGard. It has to be applied when there is no threat of rain when the temps are above 40-50 degrees. best, Deborah

  31. Phylis Bagan says

    How kind and generous of you to share your own personal space with us. Your design gives a feel of beauty, calmness, and is a visual feast.
    I love your garden companion!
    Yours sincerely, Phylis Bagan

  32. I love how you turn what could be a season of darkness and gloom into something magical. Very inspiring…not just for gardening but as a general approach to life. xox

  33. Silvia Weber says

    Dear Deborah,
    Lovely photos of your property. The fog has been equally beautiful, hereabouts. Hoping this odd weather continues right on in to Spring.

  34. Thank you for the tour of your beautiful home!

  35. mollie duvall says

    Whoa!!! The photo of the evergreen “on fire” literally gave me chills. SO stunning! I agree with you on the fog….I loved how everything looked so soft and dreamy the other day. I am loving every day of the unseasonably warm
    SE Michigan weather.

  36. Jennifer Taylor says

    What a huge treat! Thank you for taking us along on this wonderful tour of your winter garden. It is stunning! And thanks for answering a question I’ve long wondered, about when to prune dried hydrangea flowers. They are so lush that I feared a heavy snow might drag them down and break some branches. But that must not happen in Michigan so I’m not going to worry about it in the relatively mild Pacific Northwest. Thanks again Deborah. Happy New Year!

  37. Jill McGinn says

    Stunning photos, Deborah!

  38. Wow.. your landscaping is absolutely stunning. Thank you so much for sharing this with all of us!

  39. Cynthia Walker says

    I love how the lighting attracts your eye. Nice design! Thanks for sharing!

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