The 2013 Garden Cruise

June 24 2013 (32)I am a member of the board of the Greening of Detroit.  Michael Willoughby, an architect of note in my area, persuaded me to join their board 6 years ago.  I am 100% behind the work they do.  This organization, some 23 years old, plants trees, sponsors urban farms, and teaches both young and old about how to grow food, and how to treasure the environment.  They work in favor of the city of Detroit.  This one sentence encompasses a world of good, and an extraordinary amount of effort. Not having the time to attend meetings, I wanted to make my membership on the board somehow beneficial to them.

perennial garden.jpg6 years ago I organized a garden tour-the entire proceeds of which would benefit the programs of the Greening of Detroit.   Much of what they do is funded by private donations, or grants.  But their program to hire young people to look after and water trees and community gardens-this is an expense not covered by any grant.

container-planting.jpgI have heard stories about these young people.  And their experience having a job, and having a garden to protect and nurture.  The instinct to nurture is not so far below the surface in any person.  The money we raise helps to try to convert a flicker, or an instinct into a life choice. In the past 5 years, we have raised over 60,000.00 for the employment program for the Greening.  100% of the cost of the tickets to attend the tour goes to their fund.  We donate all of the rest that it takes to put on a tour, and maintain the tour website.

landscape.jpgThis year’s tour features 7 gardens-each of them are striking and well worth a visit.  Beautiful landscapes on both large and small properties. Extraordinary gardens-both big and small.  Two of these gardens I had no hand in whatsoever.  They were designed, planted and tended by two very talented and creative gardeners.  I am pleased that the people who take this tour will have a chance to see them, they are that good.

boxwood-in-pots.jpgThis is all by way of saying that the tour is well worth the price of a ticket to anyone who has a keen interest in gardening. This year’s tour is Sunday, July 21st.  A tour ticket is 35.00.  The tour begins at 9am, and ends at 4:30.  A ticket has the addresses of all of the gardens, and a suggested route. For those who are interested, an additional 15.00 includes our cocktail/light dinner reception at Detroit Garden Works.  This reception starts at 4:30, and goes on as long as we have guests.

belgian-fence.jpgOver 400 people took the tour last year-I am very pleased about that. As everyone is free to visit the gardens in whatever order they like, and at their own pace, the gardens are never too crowded to enjoy.  All of the gardens are attended by volunteers of the Greening of Detroit, in the event you have any questions about their organization.  Many gardeners whose gardens are on tour are there and available to answer questions.

rose-of-sharon-espalier.jpgI always put my garden on tour, and spend the day there.  I like having the chance to talk to, and thank everyone who has taken the time to attend.  Interested in more information?  Tickets are available now at Detroit Garden Works. All of these pictures were taken yesterday-in one of the gardens that will be on tour.  Hope to see you on the 21st.


The Fifth Annual Garden Cruise

Should you be so inclined, you can get up tomorrow, and go.  Our fifth annual garden cruise-a tour we sponsor to benefit the Greening of Detroit, starts at 9, and ends at 4:30.

We put on a reception afterwards-a light supper, summer style beverages as in gin and tonics, and French white wine, and the lively company of other garden afficianados.

100% of the proceeds from the sale of the tickets goes to the Greening.  That money helps fund their educational and summer employment programs.  They have an idea about a better city, and we support that idea.  100%.

All of the 7 landscapes on tour are very different-each the product of a person with a passion for the garden.  Each is chock full of interesting moves, and delightful decisions.

It is one of my most favorite days of the garden season.  It is the only summer day I am home all day.  I like seeing and talking with the people who tour. I like hearing what they have to say about my garden, and I am happy to share anything I know about the plants, or the design.

Afterwards I will join lots of other people at the shop-the seventh garden on our tour-to talk about what everyone has seen.  The nicotiana garden in the front is unbelievably beautiful-and fragrant.

Each gardener puts their best foot forward-and their best effort into creating a garden experience.  Should you decide to go, I feel confident you will be glad you did. 

We will be at the shop at 8 tomorrow morning, for those who want to get up and go.  A cruise ticket is 35.00.  A ticket with the reception-50.00.  We can take your payment info by phone, and email you the ticket.  Or you can stop by.

Hope to see you.







The Garden Cruise

I will admit to being a little tired today-the garden tour is an all day affair.  It happened to be conducted in 93 degree heat-but I am happy to say we had a great turnout.  The gardens to the last looked fresh and well tended.  The annual plants are thriving on our heat.  I did go through 3 cases of water at my garden-most people come to my place in the afternoon.  But I had a little treat waiting for the hot and the tired who came after 2.

 My fountain is my most favorite feature in my landscape.  It is a pleasure to watch, and to hear.  But it turned out to be quite the cooler for my overheated guests.  I invited everyone to take off their shoes, and get in.  Almost everyone took me up on the invitation.   

Six of the seven gardens on tour featured water in some form or another.  A pair of beautiful swimming pools-one from the late 1920’s, and one from the 1970’s-each made a strong visual statement.   I myself would not want one.I have a scaled down, hybrid version of a swimming pool.  My fountain is filtered and cleaned with same equipment that cleans a pool or spa.  This means my fountain does double duty-when I have a need, I get in it, and cool off.  This fountain could be home to a hot gardener, but yesterday it was home to a school of goldfish and some water cabbage.    

Not everyone has space for a vegetable garden that consumes acreage.  This small garden has a trio of tomatoes, underplanted with various herbs.  What is better in late summer than homegrown tomatoes?  This very small garden made a big nod to the idea of good food from the garden.

This very contemporary home I landscapes probably 16 years ago.  The columnar beech are maintained at a level beyond my wildest dreams.  It is an intellectually ad toughly minimal landscape.  I was happy to hear the level of discussion that I did.

When someone calls me to design a Japanese garden for them, I direct them elsewhere.  I am a westerner by heritage, culture and experience.  Under no circumstances could I design a Japanese garden-I am woefully inadequate.  In this case, I did reluctantly design and plant a contemplative garden in that Eastern style.  There was much talk on the tour about this small space-unexpected, it was.  No kidding-it is the only landscape space I have ever done like this.

One of the Dearborn landscapes is freshly done-it has been in ground but 11 months.  The son of one of my oldest and most treasured clients got the bug for gardening from his Mom.  Many thanks, CB.  This house new to he and his family has been completely renovated.  A pergola with a solid roof is slated to go over his western facing rear terrace any day now.  This formal landscape with a decidedly modern twist-fresh and striking.

Perennial gardens,planted largely with white, purple and lavender hardy plants, got some help this first season from some verbena bonariensis. 

A Normandy style tudor on acres of land belongs to oted interior designer Linda Powers.  I had nothing to do with this old and established landscape.  I came late to the landcape conversation; I consult with her about her container plantings, and plant them.  Her garden was the subject of much conversation.  Her old Stewartia in full bloom-on every Iphone in the group.

It was a very hot day, yes.  But all manner of keen gardeners came out, and toured.  The reception afterwards-I had such a good time. At 5pm, Buck promised he would water the pots, so I could go that afterglow party.    I live a charmed life.

At A Glance: Company Coming Today


Can you tell I am excited for the day?