Stick Week


The lion’s share of what we offer gardeners for winter and holiday pots and decor are fresh cut natural materials.  The fall harvest includes any natural material which is a celebration of the garden, and a feast for admiring eyes.  Just today we took delivery of this load of fresh cut birch poles in three sizes.  A tree farmer far north of us waded into thigh high water to cut these birch poles for us-they have had a lot of rain this season. I greatly appreciate his effort. How thrilled I am with this picture.  Big numbers of hefty birch branches are stable and striking, represented in four hefty steel boxes from our company Branch.  This is a picture which tells our tale.  Want to be comfortable with nature?  Be exposed, learn-and understand.  Looking for beauty that goes beyond any human construct-study nature.

cut-branches.jpgThe arrival of the fresh cut twigs is a sure sign of the winter season.  We deal with a number of twig farmers.  There are those who grow oranges, tomatoes and avocados, but we do business with farmers that grow twigs.  The art of growing twiggy shrubs with the idea of harvesting the current year’s growth at the end of the season is a practice known as coppicing.  Coppice wood has a long and varied history, in both gardening and agriculture.  Twiggy and woody stems have been harvested for fencing for livestock and vegetable gardens.  Branched twigs provided the first plant stakes for lax growing perennials.  Woven twigs make great vine supports.

fresh-cut-branches.jpgThe nursery industry world wide is responsible for the breeding of shrub cultivars whose twigs have great and enduring color.  Spring Meadow Nursery, in our country, is both proactive and successful in breeding shrubs of note in stem, leaf, and flower.   In the late fall, I am happy to be able to offer fresh cut twigs that are enchanting in color and form.  Stick week-a favorite week of my gardening year.

curly-copper-willow.jpgCurly copper willow might be my personal favorite.  The glossy stems are cinnamon brown.  Just a bunch or two can endow a winter display with a volume, texture, and motion that delights the eye.  The striking color will persist in completely exposed locations throughout the toughest winter.

grapevine-deer.jpgLet’s talk about grapes.  A few vines some 15 years old cover the steel pergola at the shop.  The sinewy vines have been trained to wind round the poles of that pergola.  Grapes need a very strong structure on which to grow.  The leaves cover the pergola roof during the heat of the summer.  The clusters of grapes-beautiful in the early fall.  Those vines, once harvested, are the basis for these deer sculptures.  Our supplier owns a vineyard.  She makes sculptures from the trimmings of the grape vines by forming them over handmade steel armatures.

grapevine.jpgThe cuttings of the vines can provide a material focal point for a winter gesture.  Detroit Garden Works is stocking for this winter season rolls of muscadine grape vine-twigs in the round. These long rolls of twigs in a curled form is the focus of this year’s winter decor.  We interfere with the natural curves of these rolled vines as little as possible.  They have a life all their own, which we mean to feature.  The most beautiful celebrations of the winter season are about letting the natural materials shine.

When we dressed our linden trees with the grape vines, we following the vine lead.  Once the vines were round the linden tree trunks, we added rusted steel lead garlands.  This look to me is a good partnership.

red-bud-pussy-willow.jpgThe red bud pussy willow in the fall is strikingly beautiful.  I use it over and over again in winter and holiday containers.  More often than not, these cut twigs survive the winter, bloom, and leaf out.  Miraculous, this level of giving.

fresh-cut-twigs.jpgIt is stick week.  What sticks and twigs do you have in your garden that might provide a foundation for your winter garden expression? Looking to winter, those woody plants which have grown and matured might enlighten your winter garden.


  1. I love twigs and sticks and leaves. I have a very large sap bucket full of curvy willow branches on the front porch. I have pulled bittersweet vines wrapped around the tutuer. On the front door I have a grape vine wreath wrapped in honeysuckle and vines with tiny twigs portruding that came from my neighbors river birch tree. This is how I survive the urban D. C. life. I do this every year. I just didn’t know anyone else had a name for it. Thanks for sharing your beautiful settings.

  2. I enjoy every post you write and your area is very fortunate to have your commercial establishment as a resource. You are so generous with all the information you share and your passion for what you do is inspiring.

  3. Hi Deborah,
    Thanks for your informative and beautiful blog posts. This one is of special interest to me. I’ve been in the nursery business all of my life and know the innovative Spring Meadow Nursery for their plant plug material but I didn’t realize they sold ornamental branches. I’m not familiar with the copper curly willow, do you know it’s botanical name? Ten years ago I started my own cut branch farm in Ontario from a few curly willow cuttings. We now have 25 acres of woody ornamentals on our farm near Warkworth Ontario. It is an interesting and rewarding business, especially so when we see what wonderful things people like you create with the product. We grow red, yellow and green curly willow but I would be very interested in propagating the copper curly willow, if you have a name of someone I could contact at Spring Meadow Nursery I would appreciate it. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, photos and ideas. You are an inspiration and I look forward to your posts every week.
    Best regards, Jill

  4. Jean Guest says

    Sticks – who knew they could be used to create such beautiful creations – well you did Deborah and now we know. I shall never look at the humble stick in the same way again.

  5. I’ll be foraging our property to add interest to my winter decorating – I never thought of using twigs & grasses the way you do. I love your ideas & I’m excited to try them myself.

  6. stick week

    unbearably pleasurable,
    swoonable with a sigh at the end

    nice, thanks

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