Merry Christmas From Milo

The work run up to Christmas this year had its ups and downs. We were fortunate to have a good many great winter and holiday container and decorating projects. That every one gets done one thoughtful stick at a time means each project takes whatever time it takes. Though we were at it 6 days a week for better than 6 weeks, it became clear we would not finish all of the work before the holiday. The clients whose work will be done next week are not concerned, for a variety of reasons. They were fine that the finish would be later than usual. I was not so easy accepting that state of affairs. I like to finish what I start, on time. What I would have wanted was not to be. The best laid plans do not always work out, do they? I was not so happy that we would be late. One morning last week Dan insisted that he and his crew would be installing a lighted Christmas tree in my side garden. He knew before I did there would no time left over for me to do anything else at home.

He waved off my protest. I am grateful to him for that. I can see this tree out of all 3 rooms on the south side of my house. Prior to this, I should say it is very unusual for Christmas Eve to arrive on a Sunday, and Christmas on a Monday. We had enough work done at the close of the day on Friday the 22nd that I sent my crews home for the holidays. Three days off would be good for all of them. They have worked their hearts out-I can speak to that. The shop would be closed Christmas Eve, meaning I would be home both Sunday and Monday. The snow started about 1pm on the 24th, and did not stop. It was quiet and steady, and then heavy and steady. The Christmas tree inside was decorated, and my presents wrapped and ready. Those ensuing hours were mine, to watch that snow coming down. The weather was not extraordinary, dramatic or visually demanding. The skies were not booming. Those skies were that pale gray that hinted of a lot of snow in the air. It was a quiet and tranquil affair. Over the course of the day, the landscape became draped in white. I was able to watch that unusual Christmas Eve transformation in peace and quiet.

I decided I wanted to take a picture of that tree in the side yard. That would give me a chance to try out a new knee length winter coat, and new snow boots. Of course, Milo wanted to come along. Howard prefers his cozy bed, so we left him behind. I was enchanted when I reached the stairs going to the side yard. It is very hard to give up the gardening season, and that big pot that is always full of flowers all summer long. As I only replanted roses on the south side 2 years ago, that single pot, a surrounding formal arrangement of boxwood, and a pair of chairs is all that draws me to that upper level in the summer. Once those flowers in that large pot fade, and it is too cold to sit in the garden, I shudder for what is to come. I am sure the reason that I have spent better than 10 years keen to learn how to create container arrangements for the winter is a reaction to that loss. It was my landscape super Dan who banished any feeling of loss. That tree, in that pot, in the falling snow, was as beautiful a moment as I have ever had in my garden.

I took a lot of pictures to start. Milo was the steadfast companion that he always is. He picked a spot, and settled in. I settled in, too.  I was warm and dry, so why not wait to see what would develop when the late day light would start changing? We both had coats, boots and gloves. We stayed.

By this time I had completely forgotten about that winter work that was yet to be done. I was home for Christmas – much to our mutual satsfaction.

It was at this moment that I remembered why I became a gardener. The natural world is a world to which I belong. Sometimes I need to be reminded of this. I remembered my membership today. This Christmas Eve day long snow was a great gift from nature. The gifts from nature are legion, aren’t they? That steady snow brushed away all of my concern about the work yet to be done. I was home in my garden. What could be better?

There are those gardening moments that are perfect moments. This was one of those moments.

Buck’s son Stryker could not imagine why I had been outdoors so long in a snow storm. He took this picture of me. The out of doors is a place for me to live, breathe and be, oh yes. I am happy for this picture that says so.

Milo kept me out until just after dark.

That lighted tree from inside? A brightly shining Christmas moment. A landscape and garden moment. The view out the window was a happy view indeed.

Later, that tree is still shining. Merry Christmas!

This post was written in honor of, in recognition of, and in special appreciation for my landscape superintendent, Dan Sass. Merry Christmas, Dan.

Merry Christmas, gardeners all!


  1. Merry Christmas Deborah, and All of the special people that make Detroit Garden Works such an amazing experience throughout the gardening year!

  2. Michaele Anderson says

    Such a beautiful post…in pictures and words. And, Milo..oh my, what a scene and heart stealer. Merry Christmas ad Happy Holiday to all.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Michaele, Milo is all of that and more! I hope your Christmas was a very merry one. best regards, Deborah

  3. Wow! That is the most beautiful outdoor tree I’ve ever seen! And how many lights were used? It’s amazing

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Jo Anne, all the lights it takes to light up a garden and a life-that is how many lights I have on that tree.Ha! This is a way of saying I do not know how many lights Dan put on that tree, but it looks like a lot! Merry Christmas, Deborah

  4. Cathy Peterson says

    Beautiful pictures, beautiful words. Thank you for sharing them. Merry Christmas!

  5. Jane Cruickshank says

    It has been a Merry Christmas. This post says so much. It is chuck full of love. Love the holidays , love you.

  6. Marguerite Neuhaus says

    This beautiful focal point sets off the entire landscapes and highlights the gardens elegant architecture. Just as beautiful is the dedication and feeling of family at Detroit Garden Works. Truly in the spirit of the season. So nice to see a photo of you and the Milo portraits are divine esp for those of us who are both garden AND dog lovers. Please kiss both Howard and Milo on the nose for me and thank you again for sharing all that you do. Wishing you a New Year of Health, Joy and Peace.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Marguerite, thanks for your kind letter.So many gardeners are dog owners and lovers,just like me.There is a cause for celebration there!! Merry Christmas, Deborah

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Marguerite, there is a special spirit to the season, yes.I will be sure Milo and Howard both get your greeting. Happy Ne Year to you too. best regards, Deborah

  7. Merry Christmas beautifuL beautifuL xo

  8. Merry Christmas, Deborah. Thanks for lighting our world, inside and outdoors, all year long.

  9. Lloyd Michael says


  10. best blog post yet, we all would have been right out there w you, perfect moment ❄️Merry Christmas!❄️

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Abbe E, I would have been, and I will always be happy for your company. Merry Christmas! all the best, Deborah

  11. Laura Witty says

    Thank you for sharing this. Beauty can be found in all seasons.

  12. Deborah ,
    I Loved this post ! There is nothing more powerful or beautiful than Mother Nature. Thanks so much for sharing your photos and story. Wishing you a Peaceful, Healthy New Year and all the time in the world in your garden.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Marie, thank you for your New Year’s greeting. I hope the new year will be every bit as good for you. best, Deborah

  13. Rand Schmidt says

    I still cherish meeting Sunni, Rob, Milo, and you in the shop two years ago. We had planned a trip to Detroit just so we could visit Detroit Garden Works and we enjoyed the entire week, capped off by our last day visit to the shop. Merry Christmas from Milwaukee, WI!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Rand, I want to say I remember that. One doesn’t soon forget anyone who makes the effort to come from so far away. Merry Christmas to you and yours too! all the best, Deborah

  14. I have a feeling that Milo knew he would be sharing a special moment with you and nature because without him by your side it wouldn’t have been quite so magical. Thank you for sharing your special time with us. Beautiful photos at the end of a Christmas Day.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Ann, Milo by my side made the whole experience magical-you are right about that. He made it a very special moment. Thanks for your letter. all the best, Deborah

  15. Beth Armstrong says

    It’s Christmas evening and I finally have had a chance to sit. Your post is the first thing I have read tonight. It filled my heart with joy and understanding. The natural world…. I am in the same place…. yes it must have been a perfect moment in time. I can feel the silence of the snowfall, and smell the be freshness of the evening air. Your photos and your words are beautiful. Thank you. Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Beth, it was indeed a perfect moment. And in the spirit of the season. Milo got me out there, and got me to listen and see. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you. all the best, Deborah

  16. Beautiful post! Beautiful pictures! Merry Christmas.

  17. Thank you for a year of magic, Deborah.
    Merry Christmas to you and all the artists at Detroit Garden Works.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Terry, I had a big dose of magic Christmas Eve. I so appreciate Milo getting me to stay outside for a while. He is a smart one, that dog! Merry Christmas! all the best, Deborah

  18. Merry Christmas to you, Deborah. Your special tree in the large pot atop the grand stairs in a patio space is a real beauty. Milo sitting in the foreground, with the beautiful snow cover, makes a picture perfect holiday greeting. Working non-stop with all the holiday projects speaks to just how great your designs and landscape creations are. Having a couple of days of R&R, holiday cheer, and reflection is important. All the best, Susan

  19. Paul Clancy says

    Every Christmas installation you create is absolutely stunning made with meticulous attention to detail. Dan did such a marvellous job of bringing that magic to the upper level for you and Milo this Christmas. Merry Christmas Deborah.

  20. Laura Tonar says

    Beautiful words of wisdom and images for gardeners! THANKYOU for all your sharing.
    Merry Christmas to you and everyone at DGW
    Someday I will get there

  21. Susie Nugent Duquet says

    Love it, love it, love it!! After all, we do live in the north which brings cold and snow, lot’s of snow for these holidays. if we choose to stay in a cold weather climate, we must embrace and enjoy!!
    Merry Christmas to Milo and family!!

  22. Merry Christmas from a new follower in Wisconsin of your blog and work. Wonderful photos of Milo and your winter garden. If your team ever decides to give a class on how to put those pieces of work together let me know. I’d make a weekend trip to take it! Enjoy the season.

  23. Carol Savage says

    Absolutely beautiful!!! I also have a lit tree I look at every night in my garden. I am enjoying it so much, it makes winter so beautiful! What color lights do you use? They are so incredible!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Carol, my lights are LED’s made by lumineo- we carry them in the shop. Mine are in the traditional warm color-they also come with a whiter light. best regards, Deborah

  24. Merry Christmas, Deborah! Thank you for your inspiring blog. Your ability to explain garden design, then show with clear pictures has helped countless gardeners, including me–a real novice, understand the power of hardscaping, mass plantings, and plant combinations. I am slowly reading all prior posts and carefully studying the pictures for greater insight. Love, love, love your blog!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Kim, I am so pleased that you would take the time to plow through what is now 1656 posts. Thank you! all the best, Deborah

  25. Touching and Beautiful!
    A Glorious New Year to you…

    • Deborah Silver says

      A glorious New Year to you too, Mark. I was touched by that moment. If you are too, then I wrote about it in the right way. Thank you so much for reading. best regards to you, Deborah

  26. Thanks so much for these lovely photos; Milo is looking mighty handsome. Happy New Year!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Laurie, Milo is handsome yes. And he is a steadfast companion. My Christmas Eve was a beautiful moment. best, Deborah

  27. Jennifer Taylor says

    Dear Deborah,
    In addition to your many talents in landscape design, creating stunning pots and gardens, writing, friendship and leadership, you are a wonderful story teller and photographer. I was smiling the whole time while reading this beautiful post. Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to you and Buck and everyone at Detroit Garden Works!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Jennifer,it was such a pleasure to meet you and your daughter this summer. I so love putting a name and a voice to the written word. Merry Christmas and happy New Year to you and yours. Thank you so much for reading-truly! all the best to you, Deborah

  28. I so enjoyed this post. I actually got teary eyed. Every Christmas I pray for snow, but in Virginia it is a rare event. As a born and raised snow belt child, I so miss it, especially in the gardens. You took me on a trip back to my child and young adulthood, where I too was the different one, happier outside in the cold, having discovered the peace, beauty and connection in my newly discovered passion for gardening and my gardens. Thank you for this gift. Blessings to you in the coming New Year. I so look forward to making a pilgrimage to your Detroit Garden works where my list is long.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Charisse, Christmas Eve was a perfect moment for me. Thanks for understanding that. all the best, Deborah

  29. All is calm…all is bright! Merry Christmas To You, Deborah and your family/staff. You make gardening so enjoyable and I look forward to reading and seeing more of your work in 2018!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Trish, I plan to keep working, so I probably will keep writing. Thank you for your reading, and support. best regards, Deborah

  30. That tree is just Beautiful shining in the snow! I felt the love between you and Milo as I read this post. Seasons, God’s gift to us to enjoy. MERRY CHRISTmas!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Nancy, I do have a big love for Milo, and a big love for the garden. Both of them are indeed a gift from nature. God speed to you. best regards, Deborah

  31. Sandra Barnes, Staffordshire. says

    Your lovely story made me have a lump in my throat. Beautiful tree – and I love Milo. I used to have a corgi when I was little. I always look forward to your posts and read them before all others. We had snow in early December in England. It’s pity it didn’t wait until Christmas. So pleased I managed to track down the Lumineo cluster lights you recommended! Wishing you all the best for the coming year Deborah.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Sandra, my dogs and my garden are responsible for a permanent lump in my throat! I so wish your holidays and the coming year are all good for you. Happy to hear from you. thanks, Deborah

  32. Lisa at Greenbow says

    You have many pictures to choose from for your Christmas Cards next year. The card will be full of these warm feelings. Merry Christmas and a Happy Prosperous New Year.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Lisa, it was so much fun editing the pictures I took while Milo and I were outside. Merry Christmas to you too! best regards, Deborah

  33. Thank you for this beautiful post, beautiful in so many ways! You, the tree, your words that come so naturally…you inspire me every time! Wishing you much joy, peace and happiness in the new year…

    • Deborah Silver says

      Thank you so much for writing, Nella. Wishing you the same for your garden, and your new year. all the best, Deborah

  34. Oh, and Milo too! He is precious !

  35. Silvia Weber says

    Merry and magical.

  36. Susan Molina says

    From one outdoor lover to another, thank you for this ode to winter in Michigan…it truly was a beautiful day. So gratifying to hear how you and Milo enjoyed it. Happy Holidays!

  37. Cathy Dickson says

    Merry Christmas Deborah and Dan and a wonderful team! What you do to make the world better is not to go unsung. I love my gardens and gardening and it’s where I find peace. You bring it to a whole new level with your amazing projects. Based on your recommendation I bought lots of light from Lumineo (and got my friends to buy them too) and they add that sparkle to my home and gardens. I do wish I lived near you because I’d love to spend hours in the Detroit Garden Works. Stores such as yours are very few and far between. Thank you to all of you wonderful people. PS. Milo and the tree make a lovely Christmas card. Best, Cathy

  38. Darcanne Nixon says

    I love this series, everything is better with our beloved friends in the mix!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Darcanne, gardens and dogs go together, don’t they? I think they enjoy being out in it as much as I do. all the best, Deborah

  39. My goodness your garden is amazing so beautiful and your lovely dog is to I felt so at peace with the world when I read your post you are an inspiration thank you

  40. Wow what beautiful pictures! I love winter garden pics. What is the breed of your dog Milo?

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Elizabeth, he is a Cardigan Welsh Corgi. Although the Cardigans usually have short hair. A long haired Cardigan is an anomaly, and they are known as a “fluffies” Ha. Fluffy he is. best regards, Deborah

  41. We were able to get to your shop this holiday season while visiting my daughter, I live near Austin, Texas. It was lovely and a great inspiration to her for the house they’re renovating (which is quite an ordeal, so it was nice for her to think about the pleasant possibilities for a change).

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Wendy, the garden has a way of dialing down an ordeal, doesn’t it? Thank you for bringing your daughter by. best regards, Deborah

  42. Barbara Rowe says

    I’m so happy to have found your blog. The post about the containers prior to this one is inspirational. I love the variety – you and your team don’t seem to settle on repeating successes but strive to find new possibilities. My first foray into winter containers this year is not as pretty but I’m learning from looking at your pictures. I see how you use balance and contrast – I know I can improve.
    And this post about the tree in your yard! Lovely! Thank you!

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