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.







Rebecca Salomen Witt

Rebecca is the commander in chief of the Greening of Detroit.   Should you be unfamiliar with this organization, they sponsor some 1500 urban farms in the city of Detroit.  In the past 21 years, they have planted 70,000 trees-every year, year after year.  They teach a variety of classes from growing herbs for tea-  to how to grow great tomatoes.  Each summer they hire 200 young Detroiters whose other prospects for a job are slim-to haul water one bucket load at a time to newly planted trees.  To weed-to work.  They teach people how to garden. They teach these kids what it means to have a job-to be on time, and do good work.  They teach them how to open a bank account, and manage their money.  They teach them to smile, and say hello to the residents in the community where they are working.  They teach good works, and then importance of community.  This program aims at teaching young Detroiters how to grow a life.

The tab for these 200 summer jobs is one million dollars.  Wages, truck payments, gas-it adds up quick.  Every year the Greening has to raise this money-no grant covers this.  I am astonished at Rebecca’s unwavering determination that Detroit be a better, and greener place.  They tackle the overwhelming job of teaching the children in an industrial city about the importance of the environment.  The importance of good food.  The importance of community.  We hope to help with that one million dollar bill.

This is my fifth year, sponsoring a tour of landscapes and gardens of my design to benefit their educational programs.  A tour ticket is 35.00-a tour and reception ticket-50.00.  I donate the staffing of the shop, the dinner reception, the garden cruise website hosting, the tee shirts, and the advertising of the tour, so 100% of every ticket purchase goes directly to the programs for which they need funding.

OK, I am a member of the board, a commissioner, of the Greening of Detroit.  But I am not so great with meetings. My contribution?  I sponsor this tour to raise money for them.   Should you buy a ticket, you get a lot more than a garden and landscape tour for your money.  You get the satisfaction of knowing that your money is going to support the programs of an organization whose aim is to remake Detroit.  One neighborhood, one urban garden, one young person at a time. Rebecca is awesome.  Her devotion and energy to a very tough cause is astonishing.  She has a vision of the future. A vision for the future of our city.

Interested?  the tour website: Not available to take the garden tour?  The Greening of Detroit has memberships available for 25.00.  Do your gardening soul some good.  Sign up.  Go here:  You will not be sorry.  Rebecca and her staff deserve my support.  I am asking for your support.

Redbecca is a pioneer.  She is a spokesperson.  She has energy that puts me to shame.  Whenever I talk to her, I want to help.   Should you live in the greater Detroit area, sign up for our tour.  The gardens on tour this year are beautiful.  Your contribution to this big cause-absolutely necessary, in my opinion, to the survival and health of our city.  I would invite you to get involved.  Being involved feels good-you’ll see.

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.

Garden Cruise Tomorrow

A few years ago this client in Dearborn put her garden on the garden cruise we sponsor every year to benefit the Greening of Detroit. If you are not familiar with the Greening of Detroit, in the past 21 years, they have planted thousands of trees, sponsored hundreds of urban farms, and made respect for the environment a mission.  Our tour raises money for them.   I had been working on her landscape for a good many years, and she was kind enough to agree to share it with others.  I am pleased to say that this year, her son Rich and her son-in-law Jason, have agreed to put their gardens on tour.

They are both young people; one landscape I designed and planted only this past summer.  Jason’s landscape and garden is entirely of his own design and installation-he goes so far as to grow his own flowers from seed under lights in the winter.  The landscapes represent very idividual tastes, and are entirely different.  What I like the most about them both is that young people are growing them.  I visited CB and her garden while I was in Dearborn checking out the tour gardens.  She and I both were struck by how the landscape suddenly seems mature and finished.  The landscape is looked after by Melissa and her crew from M and M flowers-her level of maintenance makes every landscape she tends look great.

I have wintered these wax leaf privet single ball topiaries in a greenhouse for the past 8 years.  With root pruning in the spring, we have managed to keep them in these glazed French pots for 8 summers.  The hydrangeas were originally planted in the front of the house.  I moved them here to take advantage of a bigger dose of sun.  They seem entirely happy now.  Planting a landscape is just the beginning.  Some things will not do well.  Other things ask for a different spot.  Moving things around is part of an garden experience.  Most everything thing can be better, if you have patience and resolve.  I try to own up to mistakes early on, so the moving is not such an ordeal. 

CB’s house is situated on a very steep lot; a deck upstairs spanning the entire barck of the house is her garden in the air.  Lots of containers help to create that garden.  On the far right, an old wild rosemary that spends winters in a greenhouse supplies the kitvchen.  On the left, 3 pots devoted to herbs-mostly basil.  To trail in the basil pots, everbearing strawberries. 

There are never many strawberries, but the idea of it is enchanting, and the texture of the strawberry leaves is great.  Tidal wave petunias, mandevillea and dahlias are thriving in the high heat we have had.

My only addition to the deck was to plan and build a pair of very long planter boxes installed outside the deck rail.  This keeps water and debris from the boxes off the deck surface.  Lavender, purple and yellow petunias are punctuated every so often with dark red violet potunias.  The trailing vinca maculatum will traill almost to the ground by the end of the summer.  There is very little maintenance to them. 

Several large perennial garden enclose the pool.  They have been struglling in recent years; the local deer polulation has exploded.  This year, Melissa installed steel post 4 feet tall all the way around the gardens, and strung them with three rows of fishline.  The deer have not touched a thing all season. I can hardly believe this is working, but it is. The lollipop Coralburst crabapple pictured is one of a pair that were planted in celebration of her son Rich’s wedding years ago.  They have matured beautifully. 

On the landing, two lead boxes with green coleus and orange begonias.  All of the containers have drip irrigation in them, and they stay in place all winter. The taupe colored terra cotta pots are frostproof terra cotta from Italy.  Each pot is elevated on feet, to prevent any water from collecting and freezing underneath.  I always enjoy planting these pots, and I enjoyed even more going back and visiting both the garden and my good friend CB. 

A small deck off the master bedroom is large enough for a pair of comfortable chairs, and 4 large pots.  The branches of some old Norway spruce in the backdround are a reminder of how high up in the air this garden really is. 

CB is an accomplished gardener, but today I am thinking about how much she has nurtured that interest in two young people in her family.   In my estimation, she has accomplished something very important.