Many Thanks To Gretchen

midwest gardeners

For several days I have been fretting about this blog post.  This particular blog post-my thousanth.  What would I write about?  Granted this blog is a journal of sorts, about the day to day, or what is on my mind.  Or some design issue or plant I think might be of interest.  But should the thousanth post not be special?  I had been fretting about it for going on a week, until I had an email from Gretchen. Second from the left in this picture, she wrote that she had been reading the blog for a long time, and had even gone back to read every post all the way back to the beginning in April of 2009.  I was astonished that she had read just as many posts as I had written.  She wanted to tell me that she and 3 gardening friends had decided on the basis of that reading to come and visit the shop.  They would be travelling from Winnetka, Illinois-would I be available to meet them?


Of course we would meet them.  I gave them a tour of both the front and the back of the house.  They looked over my library.  We exchanged thoughts about favorite gardening books.  Anne asked if I knew the plant the English call cowslips.  I had Rob look up hogweed-it is indeed the same plant.  How is it that a plant could have such a graceful common name in one gardening world, and such a threatening one in another?  Where gardening is concerned, there is always a lot to talk about.

This Chicago group of four entertained themselves-and all of us-for better than three hours. I am sure they went through the entire place at least three times. Sue kept reminding everyone that they had plenty of room for anything they wanted to take home with them.  There was a lot of discussion about who liked what and why.  I was interested in what everyone liked the best. 

Gretchen was especially fond of the sundials-I have the feeling she is very serious and passionate about the garden.  I told her I was having trouble picking a topic for that thousanth post.  She immediately suggested I write about their visit.  I loved the idea. I did not know why, until I had some time to think about her suggestion.  

Measuring up in writing, or second hand-a ridiculous endeavor. My most favorite actor-Donald Southerland.  He measures up, via his films.  Would I like him if I knew him personally?  Maybe, or maybe not.  But every design relationship depends on what happens, face to face.  One gardener to another.  Is it possible to forge a relationship over a pot full of baby tears?  This pot-Margery’s favorite.  Subsequent to meeting her in person, I would say yes.  

Another favorite-the salt glazed Errington Ray pots with lemon cypress, violas and white alyssum.  This Chicago gardener spoke for three of them.  I liked her choice.  All four of them put me instantly at ease.  It was as if we knew each other.  In a way, we do know each other.  Via the writing.  And now, there is the face to face.  Did I arrange that?  No.  They got in their car, and came over.  They made a big effort to get to me.  They thanked me for the big effort I have made to get to them.     

Gardeners come from lots of zones, states, countries and communities.  I have yet to meet a gardener that did not interest me.  They have stories to tell, interests.  Those relationships enrich my gardening life.  There are so many common bonds.  The plants.  The weather.  The design.  The seasons.  The dirt.


Each member of this group has a life to which I am not privy.  But we have lots in common, given that each of us gardens.  There are new relationships there-given our face to face meeting.  Now I know the names, and have seen the faces of a few of the people who read what I write.  As for the thousanth post, I realize it is not the writing that deserves any attention on the occasion of the thousanth post.  What matters the most are those gardening people who are reading.  I understood from Gretchen that no one writes without asking for a reader.  She is right-I did ask her to read.  Everyone who reads this blog inspires me to write.  Many thanks to all of you.  And special thanks to you Gretchen.  I am so very pleased to have met you.  And I am especially appreciative that you designed this post for me.


  1. I love your blog! I, too, have gone back through all your posts all the way to the beginning. I love your photos and find gardening inspiration from them. I am not a fabulous gardener and my yard is not fabulous, but each year I acquire a few new plants to incorporate into my landscape. I am always looking for new ideas and tips and want to try many of your designs. So thank you for all 1000 of your inspiring and educational posts.
    Kelly B
    New Bern, NC

  2. Thank you DS for continuing to write…it keeps us all going…and gardening. It is hard for me to even imagine how much what you write has changed the way I look at all aspects of the garden — a cherished impact. I feel so lucky to live so close to your not-so-little gardening Valhalla. Not a week passes that I don’t think I need to stop by and look. It doesn’t surprise me that you have visitors from a five-hour distance. Can’t wait for blog post # 10,000.

  3. Congratulations on your 1000th post! I look forward to reading your posts everyday. We’re coming up to visit my Detroit family in June and your shop is on my list of places-to-go. But please don’t take my picture 🙂
    See you then!

  4. Mary Starnes says

    I am sure your guests had a great time. I have been reading your blog for some time and definitely consider myself a fan! I think your perspective and knowledge is incredible.I am so glad that I happened upon your blog at least a year ago and always look forward to the next post. Much better than any magazine subscription.
    Best wishes for many more years of great entries. Thanks!

  5. This is one of the nicest of your writings (my most favorite though is the one about the Christmas purse). I can relate to the four women from Chicago, in just wanting to spend time with a gardener whose writing they enjoy. Doesn’t get much better than that.

  6. Congrats on your 1,000th post! I look forward to reading many more. Your knowledge and creativity inspires us all–Thank you!

  7. Congratulations on such a milestone. I can’t say that I’ve read all of your posts but I’ve certainly read very many of them. And of course there are those that I return to time and time again. Yep, I’m a fan! Thanks you so much for continuing to inspire through your words and pictures. And I can’t wait to visit your store myself someday.

  8. Congratulations on your 1000th post! I too aspire to visit your shop one day. If only you were closer to my Williamsburg, VA area!

  9. I, too, love your blog and have worked my way back through old posts. Apparently once we discover you, we want to know what preceded our acquaintance. Thank you for the beauty you bring to my computer screen.

  10. I too enjoy reading your blog and appreciate your advice and knowledge. Your shop is gorgeous, I was just drooling over all the pictures you shared, I want to come by and shop as well! How fun to meet some of your readers.

    • Deborah Silver says

      It was fun meeting readers!! I should remember to post pictures of the shop more often, for readers who are far away. Thanks, Deborah

  11. even though we are zones apart gardening brings us together as I dwell in South Carolina. I found you
    via Pinterest and am so glad I did. If we should
    ever meander up your way I would love to see the shop.
    Congrats on this post too it like the others was very

  12. Deborah Banks says

    I love your blog, and have gone back thru many of your posts. I’m in upstate NY, and have never made it to your shop (yet!) but I can claim the honor of being neighbors and garden buddies with an old friend of yours (Sondra Freckleton). Thanks so much for all that you share every day with all of us. I love your photos and the glimpses you give of the workings of your business. One note on today’s post: I think you meant cow parsley, not cowslips. Cowslips are those lovely early primulas that escape from the garden to seed around in the lawn. Cowparsley or hogweed has the umbelliferous white heads (though the cultivar called ravenswing has lacy, purple-black foliage that is welcome here).

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Deborah, so nice to hear from you! Sondra is an old and treasured friend. Thanks for the heads up on the cow parsley-I will pass that along. Deborah

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