Fall Front And Center

Just think about it. The summer gardening season begins to wane, and every passionate gardener begins to fret. The letting go is not easy. I know I dig in my heels and ignore the obvious signs of the passing. Letting go is actually incredibly difficult. Just the thought that close to a year will pass before summer comes again is just cause for a gardener’s grief. But nature has a way of scooping up the remains of the previous season, and recasting them in a dramatic reinvention of the season to come. Any gardener who has observed the process of leaves abandoning their juicy green for a whole host of fiery fall colors understands this: The evolution of a summer season into the fall is an extraordinary pageant. The anticipation of a new and exciting season to come helps mitigate the loss of the old one.

We plant lots of containers in celebration of the fall season. I am often asked about how long they will last. That question always seems tinged with an unspoken belief that the fall is a shorter season than the summer. Just as the winter season is perceived to be longer than the spring season that follows it. How gardeners adore the summer and dislike the winter. What comes in between the two is short lived, and therefore inconsequential. Well in fact, each season lasts a full three months, which is certainly a long enough time to enjoy them all. Though a beautiful landscape matures and provides interest in every season over many years, planting seasonal pots and displays are satisfying in the moment to create and enjoy. Beautifully planted and tended containers enhance any given season in a very personal way. Suffice it to say that Detroit Garden Works had 2800 various cabbage and kale grown for our fall season-we have very few left.

For some, the fall season is a favorite. Hot sticky weather is a thing of the past. The air is crisp, and breathable. The play of long low shadows against the landscape is especially beautiful. And of course there is the color. The most gorgeous in full bloom perennial garden in June is glorious, but a landscape in full fall color is spectacular. There is vibrant color everywhere you look, from the tops of the tallest trees, to the hostas coloring up on the ground. The evergreens in the landscape stand out in strong and stoic contrast. The last hurrah is nature’s most beautiful opera. I hear trumpets, don’t you? We try to express the bounty of the harvest with lavishly constructed centerpieces, and a variety of cabbage and kale grown to enormous size. Overstuffed pots are a very good look this time of year.

David is every bit of 6′ 3″ tall. That gives you an idea of the size of his creations pictured above. We have added some cream colored faux seed head picks and orange preserved eucalyptus to the mix.  Bunches of bare sticks provide a framework to hold all of the other elements aloft.  I have no idea how much these pieces weigh, but they are too heavy for me to pick up. They will be secured in the container with steel rebar and concrete wire.

The centerpieces are scaled appropriately to the size of the container. Large containers can make a huge statement in the landscape, but to fill them takes lots of material.

The centerpieces that seemed so large in the garage shop just seem proportional to the pots.

Not every centerpiece is of such a grand scale, and some container placements are in more intimate locations. But a smaller scale does not need to imply less impact.

Once these Osaka Pink cabbage color up, this container will come in to its own. The centerpiece is constructed of mahogany colored curly willow sticks, and two kinds of faux picks. Rob takes great pains to order in picks that have some reference to the garden. Some have very natural shapes, and others sport reproductions of seed heads that are remarkably evocative of the season. It is entirely conceivable that the cabbages will look fine in to January, as they are extremely cold tolerant. An ornamental cabbage in full color and coated with frost is quite beautiful.

This centerpiece is much more fanciful. This is for a household with children who are all in for Halloween.

The Halloween decor will look great with these pots.

This centerpiece is comprised of a bluish green preserved eucalyptus, arching stemmed picks studded with blue beries, and some rather stunning picks in the center representative of clematis seed heads.

Even up close, all of the elements are convincing.

fall pots garnished with Ruby Queen cabbages

blue door

It is a tribute and a indication of David’s great skill that is is able to achieve great height from bunches of bleached willow twigs that come 4 feet tall. It takes lots of patience and careful construction. In spite of all of the technical issues, he is able to create fall displays that appear incredibly graceful and natural.

brilliant, this.

fall container with Rosebud cabbage

Not all of our fall pots have centerpieces. There are places where they would not add much to the mix. These contemporary Belgian stoneware pots frame the view of the landscape and the front porch from the sidewalk. Everything about the beauty of this pot has to do with beautifully grown material whose care is entrusted to Lisa. She makes sure that the plants get adequate water and food. And the careful placement and intertwining of very large plants handled by Karen and Natasha. The leaves of mature cabbage especially can crack if improperly handled. They make what is a difficult planting look effortless.

To follow are a few pictures of some of our fall container arrangements. I hope you enjoy looking at them as much as we enjoy creating them. There is no need for containers to sit empty, once the summer season wanes.



  1. Cynthia McMahon says

    Absolutely breathtaking. Gorgeous approach to autumn decor. Thank you for the inspiration!

  2. Shirley Stephens says

    Absolutely gorgeous!

  3. susan celeste rabuck says

    I was thinking just yesterday !!!??? Why haven’t I seen a post from you !!!
    I am so happy to see your gorgeous photos and read all about things over there !!!
    I too got a few ideas up my sleeve … was waiting to see yours !! Thanks Deb

  4. Love love love from Maine. I absolutely wish you were closer. The grandeur of these pots is what I dream of. You are on my travel to go see list. Hoping to visit over the coming summer. Thanks for all the dream worthy autumn decor.

  5. lisa Narozanick says

    It’s been awhile since your last post! but I forgive you because this one is scrumptious! Thank you so much! I love seeing fall arrive even though my garden is winding down. I’m exhausted and gardened out by mid-Sept but know the reward of the gorgeous fall foliage will soothe and makes for some beautiful eye candy!

  6. Nella Miller says

    So satisfying and beautiful to see Deborah, this fall morning, here in Canada. As always a delightful post to read and see! Albeit our borders are closed, we cannot stifle the flow of creativity and camaraderie between neighbors… stay well and safe!

  7. Lots of creativity-not your expected mums in a pot! Can any of the materials you use be reused for next year if the homeowner wants the same arrangement?
    Can you show us the inside of the pit with all the holding devices for these arrangements? Also, what scale do you use for how tall the arrangement should in relation to the size of the pot. My pots are not such a grand scale as most of these homeowners but I do think I could raise the bar on my fall arrangements. Thanks so much for sharing! Your designs are an inspiration to think outside the box!! Send out your Christmas holiday designs ASAP so we can all benefit from them!!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Karen, yes, the picks can be saved. I have posted essays about how to secure centerpieces in pots-just look for them under the November section of all the years I have been writing. best, Deborah

  8. Thank you, as always, for enriching my day by sharing your studio’s beautiful work.

  9. Frieda Hickman says

    Very creative and beautiful arrangements

  10. Beautiful! How do you get those cabbages mounded like that?

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Sharon, I am not sure I understand the question. The cabbage and kale grow into mounds. That’s how they grow. Sometimes we pitch the faces forward towards the edge of the pot. Best, Deborah

  11. Sandra Lee says

    All containers are such masterpieces!
    You have inspired me to try one of my own.
    Are the cabbages in individual pots?
    If so, how are the pots secured in the larger container?
    Thank you so much!

  12. LOVE this- beautiful!

  13. Shelley Trunnell says

    It’s amazing to me that some look at cabbage and kale to see only food. While others look at it and see a full array of artistic expression. What you and your crew do with Fall and Winter container centerpieces, garland and wreaths is truly spectacular. Looking forward to seeing some of those winter creations next. The lights on them are magical.

    • I also believe your winter creations are amazing too. I would love to hear tips on how to care for winter maintenance. I live in Zone 3, and we have lots of snow. Is there a way to create the containers to withstand/shed snow, curious as we have a front entry when the placement of the container cannot be covered.

  14. We can do this, even in Alabama! I loved the cabbages and appreciate getting their names. Would you and your staff consider doing a video so we can learn the mechanics? I wish for a workshop but know that’s impossible in the Covid era.

    • Barbara Ottolino says

      Scroll back through the years and look at the posts for autumn and winter months. Everything is there, step by step. You won’t need a video. You will learn EXACTLY how these are done. I did. It will take time to do this, but is so worth it.
      Aren’t we lucky to have such a talented mentor post every detail of engineering and names of varieties. What a treasure Deb Silver is!!

  15. Joni Holland says

    Your work never disappoints!

  16. I am in awe. These are simply stunning!

  17. Just gorgeous! Thank you for your inspirational posts! I have cabbage in my urns and I’m going to run around and see what I can find to pretty them up.

  18. Terri Pierce says

    Thanks for sharing! You and the crew do fabulous work and it’s inspirational for me 🙂

  19. Love fall cabbages!

  20. love this ! That ruby queen cabbage is truly majestic!! I’m on the hunt for it now! Thanks for sharing

    • Kristy Cannon says

      I love Ruby Queen cabbages, too…..have never seen them offered for sale anywhere. I’m wondering if they have them grown especially for them at the shop. I wish more big box stores & local nurseries would offer more exotic cabbages. I can’t even find Osaka cabbages locally. But Deborah does such BEAUTIFUL containers with cabbages…i can dream!

      • Deborah Silver says

        Dear Kristy, all of our ornamental cabbage and kale is custom grown. It is hard for a grower to produce a crop that is not sure to sell. More gardeners need to plant for fall. When there is demand for plants, growers will grow them. best, Deborah

  21. There is something so refreshing about using these textured, colorful cabbages in your arrangements rather than the ‘fall-back’ of a pot of solid ho-hum mums.

    I so look forward to your first autumn post every year.
    Even though my desert town has had the hottest summer on record and it’s only now cooling off to the upper 90s, I can feel a cool breath coming when I look at these images.

    Thanks as always for sharing your artistry and design inspiration.
    Hope you all are staying safe up north!

  22. Jimmie E Johnson says

    Do you take orders?

  23. Janis Hamilton says

    Do you grow the kale and cabbages in pots till you use them? My kale is huge, but in the ground, so it would be difficult to put them in containers now. They are over 2 1/2 ft wide so won’t transplant easily.
    Thanks for all your wonderful photos!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Janis, I had a grower years ago who grew all of her ornamental cabbage and kale in the ground She had great luck transplanting them into pots-after she sprayed them with VaporGard-that is an agricultural antidessicant. best, Deborah

  24. Love your fall displays of beautiful plant art. The best!
    Would you ever be able to describe and show a picture of the angels and garland suspended from ceiling and how it is made?

  25. Dj Galovic Paspalj says

    Your planted pots are just amazing. Every one is more beautiful then last one.
    I am only moving my fingers over the screen just to see one more and one more. This morning I actually read the post and I am even more blown away. The way you describe the fall season is a breathtaking. I will read it again. Love you work for Christmas as well. Have used same of you ideas in my winter planters and I loved it as well as people walking down the street.
    With all that fall and winter can offer for people that like planting and taking care and planing for the next season we will get over the quiet times. Love everything you guys do. Lot of fall leaves to you from Canada.

  26. Connie Palmer says

    Simply stunning!!! I cannot wait to add pots to our newly planted yard! Deborah Silver, you are simply the best, and I’m so thrilled with the work you and your team have done for us!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Connie, thank you for your letter! Your landscape looks terrific-I am pleased-and even more pleased that you are happy with it. all the best, Deborah

  27. Deborah, thank you so much for your posts. This reminder was so timely. I’d gathered all my dried lily stems from summer and promptly forgot; now I know what I’ll do with them!

    By the way, the photos and creations are wonderful, as always. But…THIS ⬇️⬇️

    “…For some, the fall season is a favorite. Hot sticky weather is a thing of the past. The air is crisp, and breathable. The play of long low shadows against the landscape is especially beautiful. And of course there is the color. The most gorgeous in full bloom perennial garden in June is glorious, but a landscape in full fall color is spectacular. There is vibrant color everywhere you look, from the tops of the tallest trees, to the hostas coloring up on the ground. The evergreens in the landscape stand out in strong and stoic contrast. The last hurrah is nature’s most beautiful opera. I hear trumpets, don’t you?

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Charlotte, thank you for your letter. It is especially rewarding when people read. best regards, Deborah

  28. Susan Ducey says

    Saved your post to savor on the weekend, worth the wait, your designs and thoughts on fall are so appreciated and a treat! I am a horticulturist at a golf course in Colo, our growing season is over but love to decorate our containers with seasonal material to reflect season. I try to forage on our property for a lot of fall material but love your use of died eucalyptus and drool over your cabbage and kale, STUNNING! Thank you for sharing all your ideas, Happy Autumn to you and your team you all are fabulous.

  29. Karen LeBlanc says

    Deborah, Hi from Canada ! Came across your blog and absolutely love it ! The photos and writing are always inspiring; I always look forward to receiving your posts, many thanks ! Karen LeBlanc
    Dundas,Ontario, Canada

Leave a Comment