Garden On Tour

summer-storm.jpgThe prospect of having ones garden on tour is equal parts excitement, and dread.  I know.  It is my job early each season to persuade 6 gardeners, most of which are clients of mine, to open their garden to visitors.  The fact that every ticket dollar goes to benefit the programs of the Greening of Detroit helps considerably.  But a garden on tour implies a garden that is not only imaginatively designed, but well maintained.  Getting a garden ready for an event is plenty of work.  My garden has been on the Greening of Detroit tour every year since 2007.  It seems fair.  If I would ask someone else to put their garden on tour, I like to be able to say I am right there with them.  We are on call at no charge for any participating gardener the 2 weeks before the tour.  Every gardener with a garden on tour wants that garden to look its best.  Our gardening season has been tough.  A very cold and wet spring.  Torrential rains, regularly.  Storms and storm damage-everywhere. Last week, blistering and relentless heat.  This giant tree limb came down across the street from me-just this past Friday.

rain-and-wind.jpgI do the best I can to get my garden road ready for this tour. I would want every square inch of my landscape and garden to be thriving.  Many of the people who take this tour are very interested gardeners.  They look at what is there-intently.   It is my idea to do whatever I can to encourage people to garden. Gardening is good for people-I truly believe this.  But a garden has a tough side.  The weather can be terrible.  Plants die.  Some days nothing seems to be right.  Thee are those places that look rough.  IO would not want that to discourage anyone. A garden tour is a visual expression about the value of a landscape and garden.  That visual expression is not perfect, corner to corner.  Gardens have problems and failures. Gaps.  Troubles.

saturated.jpgI never get my wish for a perfect tour garden. Every gardening season presents challenges.  If I had my way, I would have no challenges the month before our tour. But in fact my garden has as many gaps and troubles as it has good moments.  I have said this so many times to both old and prospective clients.  Perfect applies only to diamonds, and moments.  The most beautiful moment of a garden may last but a few hours, on that one day. Maybe no one else will be there to see it with you.  Rough spots in a garden cannot always be fixed.

tour-garden.jpgHaving had my garden on tour, once a year, for the past seven years, I have this to say.  The time and effort that it takes to maintain a landscape and garden is always evident.  Those places that do not look so good-every gardener has them.  The evidence of bad weather-that is a battle every gardener understands.  I don’t fret about every square inch anymore. The people who take our tour seem to simply appreciate every gesture. They see things entirely differently than I do.

rose-garden.jpgMy yard was not at its finest this past Sunday.  Even Buck remarked that my container plantings seemed listless-plagued by rain.  He was right.  No matter my efforts, the stormy weather prevailed.  Was I worried the day of the tour?  Not in the least.

rain-storm.jpgNot one person who came to my house for the tour remarked about the Japanese beetle damage, the mildew on the dahlias, the rain soaked petunias, the rotting scotch moss or the delphiniums out of bloom and listing from the wind.  Instead, to the last,  they chose to thank me for opening my garden.

ferns-and-European-ginger.jpgA garden is a very personal relationship between a gardener, and the environment. A garden tour presents that relationship to visitors, without any commentary.

garden-on-tour.jpgI am not so interested in the commentary about gardens.  Go see gardens. Every garden you can. Absorb from them what seems pertinent.  Take home what works, and do better.  The tour seems to encourage people to go home, and take on a project.  This is the best part of putting a garden on tour.

boxwood-garden.jpgMy landscape is a blueprint for my life.  No matter the troubles.  As for being on tour-I would hope that any person who came to my garden this past Sunday would not be discouraged by its failures. I would hope they would be encouraged by the care and energy I put to my landscape.

garden-on-tour.jpgIt was a great tour!  So many visitors-so many questions.  So many kind comments.  Those garden failures-the furthest thing from my mind.

garden-cruise.jpgA garden?  What is it?  So sunny.




  1. I would be too discouraged if your garden looked perfect anyway.

  2. Having just hosted a garden tour this month, this post could not be more timely.
    Your comments are thoughtful and ring true.
    We maintain a small urban backyard in a very temperate Mediterranean climate, so can appreciate the effort your garden requires to be so inspiring.
    Would be thrilled if you had the time to take a brief tour of our pride and joy…

  3. WOW. That was an amazing garden tour. It was the first time that I did the tour and it gave me a real appreciation of how much time and energy is put into the the planning and executing the gardens. A real labor of love!!! All of the gardens were different but they were all special. A special thanks goes out to Debra for planning this. All of your efforts do not go unnoticed!!!
    Thanks to everyone who opened their homes and gardens!!!! Spectacular!!!


  4. Susan witek says

    I truly enjoyed my first experience with the Garden Cruise this year. The gardens were lovely, inspiring, well tended and provided an exceptional variety for all to enjoy. We were blessed with a beautiful day for the enjoyment of it all. Thank you so much for your dedication….I love to work in my own little garden and know a little about its challenges. I have really enjoyed reading your comments and find myself entranced by the perspectives that you express. Just so wonderful and inspiring and thoughtful. You must be a gem. Thanks again for a lovely day on Sunday.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Susan, The weather was great that day. Last year my fountain was full of people-trying to cool off. Thank you for your support of The Greening. We think we will do it again next year! Deborah

  5. I had the privilege of visiting your garden on the tour this past Sunday….Your entire yard was absolutely lovely! My only regret was that I didn’t get an opportunity to meet you! I think that anyone who spends serious time gardening understands the challenges that you mention here, and has the ability to look beyond them…That being said, it is very apparent that a phenomenal amount of time has gone into the design and care of your gardens! Thank you for sharing them.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Colleen, I tried to speak to everyone who came-sorry I missed you. Thanks for your kind words-it has been one tough season this year. Deborah

  6. May I ask what the foliage is around the bottom of the ferns? Is it european wild ginger?
    Beautiful even though it’s all just green. I love the unexpected texture change.


  7. Wow, what an awesome garden tour! Beautiful landscaping and your garden brings real love and life. Thank you for sharing them to us!

  8. I just wanted to say I really enjoyed the tour. I enjoyed seeing the more mature gardens, and it allowed me to see more potential in my corner lot. I particularly liked the way your garden was divided into different rooms. As for those rough spots, I think those of us from the Detroit area kept in mind the strange weather of this past season, and we all battle garden pests! Some plants thrive and some plants die, which my mother calls her “survival-of-the-fittest-style gardening.” Thank you for planning it!

  9. Your comments about garden tours and especially getting ready for a tour were right on for me. I have two more tours of my gardens coming up and I always get a little nervous as the day approaches. But, the comments I get and the questions people ask are always rewarding to me for all the work I put into this “hobby”. I think living on Lake Michigan and having it as a backdrop to my garden rooms makes this place special and people like to visit because of the lake probably more than the flowers!! I have many photos with the lake in the background in my archives. Nice to find you today. JC

  10. Silvia Weber says

    Dear Deborah, thank you, again, for providing an incredible Garden Cruise. Your Cruise, always a highlight of our summer (and especially your property). Fortunate, indeed, is the property owner who can engage you to design and or plant their garden and pots. With record breaking amounts of rain and high temps this summer, gardens and gardener’s have been tested. Still, the gardens ALL looked “show ready”. Your passion, energy and generosity contines to inspire us.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Thanks so much, Silvia. You and Jerry are the best. I wish I could put your garden on tour!! Deborah

  11. Thanks for the tour…maybe it’s seeing a garden from another perspective? Like not having to water it over and over, hoping for it to not be 95 for a month, so it looks alive. I think the bones-heavy design is what did it for your garden. Another perspective is the containers laying low…to me, it’s rested, but in a verdant way!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear David, thanks for your letter. It is good for me that my garden is bones heavy-I would never have been able to keep up with all of the weather woes we have had this season. Deborah

  12. Hi, Deborah,
    I missed the tour this year, but have so much enjoyed it in the past. I also have a question about the picture with the ferns and the European ginger, but my question is what kind of fern is planted….

  13. It can be felt reading this post that getting a garden ready for an event is plenty of work and a tough job! Very well written post! it is uncommon to peer a great weblog like this one these days..

  14. Getting a garden ready for an event is a lot of work and effort. The weather is always unpredictable when you are working on a project like this! But the garden turned out beautiful.

Leave a Comment