Spring, Detroit Garden Works Style

Rob decides when we will have spring. Ha. He knows just like every other gardener that the arrival of spring is attended by many false starts and deceptive signs. And at just that moment when you feel you might black out from the last of the miserable weather, nature switches on the light. But when you have a shop devoted to fine, entertaining, antique, vintage, contemporary and irresistible ornament for the gardening season to come, you do what makes sense. You pick a date, and be ready.  We go on hiatus mid January to fix up, repaint and restyle. March 1 is our first day of spring. Containers from Europe jostle their way in between a steady stream of freight shipments from all over the US. The spring collection takes weeks to display. Rarely do we dot the last i and cross the last t in time, but we are ready for company.
Nature takes her own sweet time deciding when to finally pull the plug on winter. Nature is the queen of false starts. The change of the season-a big fluid situation.  Every gardener I know stays tuned in to that station. We are having bitterly and unseasonably cold temperatures this week. But Rob says spring is here, and we believe him. Not to mention all of our clients that have braved the cold to come in anyway, and shop.  We have a greenhouse chock full of gorgeously grown hellebores in bloom. David and Karen took a trip south in February to load up plants from a number of growers. They are perfectly happy in flower in our greenhouse at 50 degrees. Their blooms are a sure sign that early spring is nigh. They handle the cold and blustery March and April weather with aplomb. Until it is safe to plant outdoors, they are perfectly happy on a sunny window sill.

A room full of hellebores does more for the winter weary spirit than anything we can think of. So our spring opening is marked by the coming of the hellebores. But a look at Rob’s spring collection is a close second. As I have been arranging what he has purchased for weeks, I know what is there. The best part of this work is watching someone see it for the first time. For those that read my essays that are too far away to experience our spring collection, I took pictures.

The dovecotes and bird houses are English made in a classical English style, and are available in a wide range of sizes and shapes.

The skylight environment is home to plenty of pots that Rob has planted up featuring hellebores, cyclamen, primula denticulata and obconica, and the Barnhaven series of double primrose.

A new collection of lead sculpture and fountains and English stone spheres are kept company with a group of classical urns in stone and iron.

Three English handmade and hand painted pears would be terrific on a covered porch. Iron urns stuffed with faux grasses are destined for spring pots.

I did have to spring for a vase chock full of ranunculus for our opening.  How so?  Hellebores are a member of the family ranunculaceae .

White tulips seemed appropriate for a room that features more contemporary garden ornament.

This stack of stainless steel drawers is just waiting for that gardener who has a mind to make them a feature of a contemporary garden. The very large pots are vintage fiberglass. The swallows welded to a 1/4″ thick steel rod come in a five foot, and 11 foot length. Birds on a wire. They are fabricated in France, and come with the mounting hardware.

We paired round mirrors with garlands comprised of heavy duty fish line and stainless steel spheres. The chartreuse faux grass is a welcome punch of spring color.

The French company Perigot is known for their iconic buckets. These buckets, available in three sizes, are perfect for a wide range of uses, but I am most fond of the shape, and that beautiful chrome surface. It was a project, hanging them from our ceiling.  They are so heavy that we had to thread concrete wire through galvanized pipe to provide a hanging mechanism that would not bow from the weight. The Belgian made teak tables come in four sizes. The zinc framed mirror is a very strong design, and is well made to a fault.

Vintage zinc grape gathering baskets are a favorite of Rob’s.  We have a beautiful collection of them on hand. The smallest of the Perigot buckets look great stuffed with faux grasses. The miniature white painted metal butterflies only require a small nail to hang.

These wood presentation trays are a perennial favorite with our clients.  Fashioned from vintage French wine barrel tops and hand forged iron handles by a company in the US, they speak to the idea of the garden as a place to entertain.  Our better than life size vintage fiberglass cow came with a name.  Rob named her Lucy, after a French dealer who was not so interested in letting her go. Rob’s first clue? She was situated in a thriving bed of stinging nettles. How he persuaded Lucy to part with this incredible sculpture is beyond me.  How Lucy and her husband got her out of the nettles is unknown to me too.

But we are very happy to have her.  This is an example of an ornament for the garden that is eminently capable of organizing an entire landscape around her watchful eye. Lucy has an aura. I did fill a collection of spherical vases whose spouts are set on an angle with white stock. Lucy had a fragrant meadow at her feet for our opening.

Vintage English chimney pots and milk buckets have beautiful shapes and surfaces.

Big baskets woven from thick rattan have a great texture, size, and presence.

Pardon this poor picture! Serviceable English made bootscrapers are a contrast in form to the hedgehog bootscrapers. Both are made by the same company. If dirty boots are a way of life for you, we have choices.

Danish designed pots made in Italy-these are beautiful. The creamy peach color of the clay is beautiful.

This is just part of Rob’s collection from his shop fest in England. The vintage bootscraper with a stout stone base and rusted iron scraping mechanism-a one of a kind.

These locust wood casks are made in Belgium. They come in four sizes.  Impervious to weather or rot from water, they invite any gardener to plant away. For now they are home to a collection of English made iron garden stakes in various sizes set with glass globes at the top. I predict we will not have these for long.

The orange table and chairs are manufactured in Portugal.

Though the winter weather still has all of us in its grip, there is a taste of spring available at the shop.

cut pussy willow stems for spring pots

strikingly beautiful and tall fan willow

Yes, the spring branches have snow at the base of their pots. They are weathering this late winter blast as I expected. They shrug it off. We can too.


  1. buck moffat says

    the best.

  2. Some people think winning an all expense paid trip to Disney is a big deal, but I think I would rather much prefer winning a trip to Detroit Garden Works !!! by a long shot!! Now that would be insanely exciting….take out the smelling salts! 😀

  3. Robin Foley says

    Why can’t you be located in New Jersey! Just love it!!

  4. Cathy Bandoian says

    Oh how I wish I lived nearby. I see all sorts of “must haves” in your pictures. I want that armillary in the worse way. Do you ship?

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Cathy, we ship all over the country. best, Deborah

      • cathy Bandoian says

        Great to know. I’m such a fan of your work and truthfully have copied as best I can some of your container ideas for my clients. How much is that armillary? I have a thing about them and mine broke last year.

        • Deborah Silver says

          Dear Cathy, if you go to http://www.detroitgardenworks.com click on ornament, and then click on sculpture-you’ll find what we have in armillaries, and the prices. best, Deborah

          • cathy Bandoian says

            Thanks I’ll do that. Very dangerous website. Lots of pretty things.

          • Deborah Silver says

            Cathy, I like that you think our website is dangerous. That says to me that there are plenty of things to fall for. We all have Rob to thank for that. best regards, Deborah

  5. Your garden center is truly a gardener’s dream. Any gardener would be overjoyed to welcome in Spring with you. I wish I lived nearby. The hellebores are a favorite. I bought many white potted plants and arranged them throughout my house for Christmas. They are thriving well and giving me joy caring for them. Come Spring I’ll add them to my collection outdoors. You display items from around the world have created a lovely boutique for gardeners. Very inspiring. Thank you for taking the time to post and help ring in Spring.

  6. Thank you for all the beautiful pictures….Spring will come! I have it on my bucket list to drive North from Dayton and visit your wonderful shop. Do you sell the faux grasses?

  7. OK, I give up, all I want to do is come over and sit in a corner and watch the beauty flow.

  8. Michaele Anderson says

    Besides being enthralled by all the visual goodies to take in, I couldn’t resist sliding my eyes downward at each picture to see if your grass painted floor was still making a contribution to the overall ambiance. How perfect that the cow is standing “guard” above it.

  9. debra phillips says

    I am salivating over here! the shop is appealing in every regard. I looked thoroughly for the statue I ran to at a shop in tetbury and quickly noted the tag, ‘Detroit garden works’. oh no I said to myself, “I am following Rob!” he has a brilliant eye

    congrats and best to you all in 2019

  10. Last Minute Lynn says

    Loved seeing these hints of spring!

  11. Thanks for my favorite birthday present every year: your salute to the coming of spring on March 1st. This year is spectacular. I was smiling and thinking green…

  12. Could you please give the days and hours you are open…..I am coming…can’t wait to get there.
    All are beautiful….but oh, the hellebores. Love Lucy. So many beautiful things you have on offer.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Lenore, in March we are open Monday-Saturday, 9-5. In April we add Sunday from 12-4. best, Deborah

  13. Deborah – your shop is glorious! I was just thinking of hellebores today, wondering if I could overwinter them in containers (I’m zone 5b but can ooch it to zone 6 in my unheated greenhouse). You have pretty much the same climate as me – have you tried/had success overwintering hellebores in containers?

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Musette, wintering anything over in pots is dicey, in a cold climate. But that’s no reason not to giver it a try. best, Deborah

  14. oooohed & aaaah over your pix – the pix of Lucy just made me smile!

  15. Susie's Gardens says

    Chomping @ the bit to get back to work! Waking up this morning to a fresh coating of snow, this email was exactly what I needed!. Dreaming of what will be this Spring…..I know Spring’s here when I have bundles of Pussy Willows in my arms! Can’t wait to visit store again and meet Lucy.

  16. Oh do I wish I lived closer so I could pop in and scoop up any one of your beautiful items! Every spring I see the pictures that you post and every year they are even better than the year before. I am determined that 2019 is the year I rent a van ( or trailer) and make the treck across the border to load up ! I have never seen a garden store with the incredible collection that you have curated! Superb!

  17. Lisa at Greenbow says

    Oh be still my heart. It is so encouraging to see all this marvelous merchandise ready for spring/summer. I am so ready for spring to arrive. May the shopping and growing begin.

  18. Kitty Gibson says

    Deborah – You and your crew are the hardest working group of people I know. What an exciting tour of your shop with all your new goodies. If we didn’t have the dark gray winter days to endure we would never appreciate the beauty and warmth of spring each year! Thank you for sharing all the beautiful items at your shop and especially the hellebores!

  19. Jeannine says

    Detroit Garden Works looks fabulous for spring! Everything chosen for the store is displayed beautifully. Rob has a great eye for getting the most interesting things but Lucy is the prize! Reading your posts makes my day!

  20. Everything is magnificent. You are the best medicine in all the world.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Jane, you coming to the shop is good medicine for us. Get well soon, lovey. all the best, Deborah

  21. Susan Roubal says

    I LOVE Lucy!! What a breath of fresh Spring air was in this post! Very welcome up here in the far north. We still have 4 feet of snow and more on the ground! The birds are starting to sing a wee bit and the goldfinch’s coloring is getting a bit more yellow…thank you for the lovely images of Spring!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Susan, I love Lucy too. Someone will really fall for her, and give her a great garden home.That prospect is so much fun for me. I hope that four feet of yours will melt down fast. all the best, Deborah

  22. I LOVE Lucy! She is one fine Bovine.
    Congrats to another gorgeous spring, everything looks perfect, kudos to you Deborah and Rob and the whole staff for giving gardeners hope on this frigid March day…..
    Everyday I swipe aside the snow beside the porch and happily look for my Hellebores starting to optimistically reach for the sun.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Thanks for your letter, Heather. I know the spring will arrive soon for the both of us. best, Deborah

  23. Theresa Gue says


    Stunning pictuers! I am so ready for spring! In fact, I am so sick of winter that I just booked a flight to Amsterdam in April to see the tulips at Keukenhof (bucket list item). You should go one day!

  24. Detroit Water Works is full of magic! That cow! Those wine barrel-top trays! Too many goodies!!

  25. Frieda Hickman says

    Thanks for all the extra photo’s as I live quite a distance away. Gotta check out your web site as I saw several things I would like to have on bucket list. English birdhouses a must.

  26. Wish you had a second shop in Buffalo, New York!!! We are a city of avid gardeners!

  27. Lucy is fantastic! But I love the black pig 🙂

  28. susan konkel says

    Eye Chocolate Candy…I want it all!

  29. Susan Soults says

    I have an large iron urn in my house that needs a plant but there is not enough light for a live one. Can you tell me a source for fake grass that you use? I love Lucy.

  30. Ahhh…Spring has sprung! too many lovely items to choose from. Those boot scrapers caught my eye as well as the display of all your items! Once I see green grass I will be preparing my garden.GREAT ideas, THANKS Deborah!

  31. Paul Clancy says

    You always have the most amazing selection of pieces every season Deborah. I am particularly smitten with Lucy and the Dovecotes and the Pears. I think I might need to hire a bigger vehicle when I visit 😉

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