Sunday Opinion: Good Hands

hanging-a-garland.jpgWatching this garland go up yesterday, it occurred to me that the real story of our holiday landscaping is about the people who make it all happen.  Rob, Sunne, Monica, Christine, Shannon, Scott and Margarita make sure that Detroit Garden Works is stocked with every material we might need. From fresh cut great quality greens,branches and cones, picks in every conceivable color and style, lighting both stock and custom made, to zip ties and bamboo poles in bulk, this wide range of materials makes it possible to put a look together.  If you shop at Detroit Garden Works, you probably have put the names with the faces, as they do such a great job of interacting with people.

The people who work for the landscape design and installation division, Deborah Silver and Co, work behind the scenes. They do all the fabrication, and installation of our projects.  It may be startling that a group of people who know how to lay out a landscape, plant, and finish an installation know how to construct and install winter and holiday containers and garlands, but they do.  Each one of the eight of them has their particular strengths. To their great credit, they all know how to work well with one another to bring a project to life. They certainly deserve the lion’s share of the credit for everything we do.

holiday-garland.jpgThe columns are quite beautiful.  They did not need anything in the way of decoration. My preference was that the garland would seem to drop at the outside edge of the porch roof. The fascia would need enough screws and concrete wire to hold the heavy garland.  Owen and David, who usually take the lead in an installation, added a pair of vinyl covered steel poles at either end. This would provide an armature that would take the garland wide of the columns.

holiday-garlands.jpgFour people and 4 pairs of hands made the business of getting the garland aloft a graceful and fairly quick affair.  All of the design and fabrication issues had been dealt with in the garage. All of the installation issues were reviewed and planned on the ground. It was easy to locate the center of the porch roof.  The dentil molding on the underside of the overhand was symmetrical.  This garland would be hung in the center first, and then progressively, out to each edge.

holiday-garlands.jpgEveryone involved with hanging the garland could rely on the integrity of the fabrication. The top, bottom and front face of the garland was clearly marked.  The plug for the lights was on the left side, as the only exterior electrical outlet was on that side. Every element, even those we attach on long wires to permit rearranging, were securely attached.

holiday-garland.jpgIt was a pleasure to watch the four of them work. While we 5 were on this installation, 3 people were in the garage, working on our next project.

holiday-pots.jpgWe did put lighted winter containers on the porch, on either side of the door.  The porch roof makes this a dark spot, in spite of a ceiling fixture. A pair of wire baskets were lined with moss sheeting, and filled with mulch and soil.  The centerpieces were comprised of several bunches of cut pussy willow. Fresh cut magnolia and gold poly mesh  added another layer of interest.  AG does most of our exterior lighting and hookups.  A strand of lights tucked behind the magnolia would light the pussy willow at night.  A strand of garland lights would illuminate the mixed noble and silver fir. An extension cord was place right next to the step up into the house, and covered with a door mat, for safety’s sake.

garland-detail.jpgThe garland detail

holiday-decorating.jpgA pair of pots with boxwood had been on the top tier of the stair pillars.  We moved them down one level, so all four pots would be visible from the street.

holiday-garden.jpgThe crew that made and installed this garland is a highly skilled crew indeed. They have expanded their skills in ways of which I am very proud. We have worked together a long time, and it shows.

night-light.jpgMy clients sent me this picture last night. They are pleased, and so are we.



  1. Amazing work and attention to detail…as always… by you and your team.x

  2. Beautiful! It’s so nice to see folks taking the time and energy to to something special for all to enjoy.
    Your work always inspires.

  3. Wow Deborah. So much beauty in this post, and equal amounts of love. I guess you know by now that I love your work and how you describe and explain it. Merry Christmas!

  4. Sure looks impressive in the pictures…gotta be stunning in person! I can see why your clients are pleased.

  5. Gorgeous garland, I never really considered how much pre-planning goes into it. And I love the moss baskets. I originally thought they were pretty green ceramic planters.

  6. Absolutely breathtaking as per usual. I am always impressed that your creations do not shy away from the necessary scale – that is a wide garland and I am glad you showed us the first picture of your talented crew lifting it for perspective. I think it takes courage to go that big and not skimp. Stunning.

  7. Wow! just beautiful!

  8. Again, much thanks for sharing your ‘how-to’s’ that most of us don’t know. I’m inspired and going out tomorrow to get supplies to make my own. Your work is stunning, wish I lived in your neck of the woods!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Lisa, id you are inspired to do your own, then the writing I do is worth it! Thanks for reading, Deborah

  9. Just beautiful, especially at night! What a great team you have…

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Libby, my crew is a pretty incredibly talented and motivated group of people. They keep me hopping. best, Deborah

  10. Another lesson learned: hanging on the outside of a column with overhanging poles! Deb, you answer my questions before I can think them up myself!

  11. The people who do this are so worth being mentioned for all of their talents, efforts and skills. Beautiful work….I myself do this same work of creating and handing garlands, containers and wreaths this time of year. Working hands, trying to keep warm, braving the elements and keep the creative skills at their peak to make the client/customer happy. Enjoying your blogs….many thanks….

  12. Michelle Moore says

    You, Deborah Silver, are my idol! Your work is magnificent. Thanks so much for sharing the insider scoop!

  13. JoyceB in Atlanta says

    Very sweet of you to acknowledge those wonderful and talented people who work with you behind the scenes. All who work with you to create and display the beautiful arrangements deserve to know how much I and others appreciate seeing their work and installations. In many ways, this work is similar to set design in a theater. Beautiful work that comes to life through your words. Applause, applause…

  14. Ruth Wolery says

    These pots and the garland is over and above and so inspirational. Thanks for sharing. I always tell my garden club buddies you are the best…

  15. bruce dingeldein says

    I notice that you use a lot of pussy willow.
    Here in Penna it is in very tight bud as yet.
    Do you cut yours and let it open indoors before you put it outside so you can see the buds?

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Bruce, our cut pussy willow comes with buds open here and there. Why that is, I have no idea. We do not keep any branches indoors, as the stems desiccate in any amount of heat. It would be interesting to put fresh cut pussy willow in water and heat, let the buds swell and open, and then put them outside for the winter. I have never tried this. Let me know what happens, if you experiment with this. thanks, Deborah

      • Thankyou,I am partners with a number of amish and mennonites in Reading pa.
        Our landscape name is Garden Keepers. At 64, I
        have been doing this all my life and enjoy your blog and am amazed you took the time
        to answer me. I incorporate many pots into my landscapes and we have clients who
        want them all decorated. Much easier than spring and summer plantings.
        Had a business that I do, request pussy willow last week so I went out yesterday and
        pruned a saucer magnolia so I could use their buds instead of the willow I am finding.
        Will send you pictures if you tell me how to do this on line.

  16. Jody Costello says

    The garland is for sure just spectacular! What always amazes me, though, is the ingenuity with which you engineer your ideas! I noticed the strong plastic rods attached to the house to support the hanging garland. Conceiving the idea is only half the battle and you and your team mindfully and creatively execute DGW unique designs.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Jody, those rods are vinyl coated steel-strong enough to hold up that heavy garland-even in a wind. A good fabrication deserves a better installation. I don’t know about ingenuity, but there has been a lot of trial and error! best, Deborah

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