The Garden Cruise 2011

There are but 10 annual plantings left to go this season-I am very happy to be on the far side of what is the most intensely felt and most rigorously engaging part of my gardening year.  I did have a client tell me yesterday that it was too late for me to plant herb pots for them.  For Pete’s sake, I told him, the first day of summer is ten days away.  I am trying myself to keep that in mind-my pots at home are barely half done. In the cracks between the days, I have been organizing our 4th annual garden tour to benefit the Greening of Detroit.  The fabulous garden pictured above is but one of 7 gardens on tour this year.  Please save the date – Sunday, July 17, from 9 to 4:30.  

The Greening of Detroit has been actrively involved in the reforestation of my city for the past 21 years.  I greatly admire their focus, and their results.  In recent years, they have sponsored over 600 urban farms. They teach.  They never give in or give out.  I am in awe of what they have been able to accomplish; I even more admire their dreams.  It is my simple intent to provide my clients with a landscape better than they thought they could have it.  It is even more important to me that they experience and engage with their environment in a successful way.  I sit on the board of the Greening, but I am not much good with meetings.  The only way really for me to help them is to try to raise money in support of their programs. The landscapes and gardens are of my design, or influence.  One landscape was designed and planted from scratch 15 years ago.  Another was designed and planted from scratch last year.  Some gardens are renovations.  One garden has but one connection to me; his mother is one of my oldest and best clients.  His garden is solely of his own making-and beautifully made at that.  You won’t want to miss it.   

My garden is on tour, as usual.  I tinker with it often enough every year that there is always something new to see.  At least people do not seem to get bored with it.  Another member of my group has graciously agreed to put his garden on tour-my landscape superintendent. This garden goes far beyond a design and installation.  Almost everything in his garden has been handmade by him.  A beautiful privacy fence and pergola.  A fountain.  A terrace of handmade concrete tiles.  Anyone with an interest in creating a gorgeous garden space with their own two hands will find a lot to look at here. 

The 7 gardens are uniquely styled.  I would say my garden is very traditional and formal.  There is a very contemporary garden, and a traditional garden with contemporary overtones.  There is a classic French influenced English garden and a cottage style garden.  A 1970’s modern garden on a large piece of property is in contrast to a small, intimate and uniquely styled garden.  Many points of view are persuasively represented. 

I am hoping that if you live in this area, you will join us for the tour, and the afterglow reception at Detroit Garden Works.  In return for your contribution to the Greening of Detroit, we promise an exciting day of touring gardens, and great gin and tonics at the close. 

For more information, see our cruise website:

The Greening Of Detroit


I sit on the board of the Greening of Detroit, although I never attend the commissioner’s meetings.  Meetings are not my long suit. I am much better in some other capacity.  My main contribution-I sponsor a garden tour every July to benefit the Greening.  Every dollar we take in from the sale of tickets goes to benefit their programs.  Sometimes I teach classes at the Eastern market. I help however I can. 

But back to the Greening-they have been planting trees, sponsoring urban farms, and teaching people how to grow in Detroit for the past 21 years.  They have been committed to the improvement of my city for a very long time.  Each and every one of them-friendly, engaging and focused.  I admire, and stand behind their misson, and their record.   Last week-a fund raiser dinner.  Every year Monica manages to persuade me to do the flowers-in early May, for Pete’s sake.  I protest, and then I do what I should do-help them.    This year- 26 fiber pots stuffed with pansies-each with their own banner.  Plant it, Detroit.

Monday Opinion: The Garden Cruise Event

It is never that hard to spot a gardener.  They treat everything associated with it as an event worthy of celebration. Ther excitement is genuine-even when there is a threat of thunderstorms looming, and an unwavering forecast for 89 degrees.  The weather proved to be something other than predicted; an overcast sky made it infintely easier to tolerate the heat.  By day’s end, people began to filter in to our reception; we were ready for them.  Christine, Monica and Jenny-looking good!

Ms. Minnie has a garden every bit as exuberant and extravagantly dressed as she is.  I would never garden as she does, nor would she garden as I do-but we are gardening friends.  She came with friends in tow all looking like they were all on their way to church.  This analogy is not far off, really.  Gardening people, people concerned about the environment, naturalists, zoologists and biologists, horticulturalists-no end of people have the idea that anything associated with the living world demands proper respect. As in, go to church, and thank God for what you have.  

I do not own a single outfit as sumptuous as Minnie’s, but I view every aspect of landscape and gardening as an event.   This is why I so enjoy the garden tour.  I have long since quit fretting about the one rose I missed in my deadheading rounds before a tour.  Gardeners understand that a landscape is an evolving set of events that even the most dedicated would be hard pressed to keep up with. They talk lots about what looks good and is working, and studiously ignore what languishes.  Sometimes things in a garden just sulk, no matter what you do.

Judy presented a rather extraordinary picture with this maple helicopter firmly affixed to her nose.  Did you know that is you split one open, it is sticky on the inside?  I did not.  Apparently she and her brother would stick themselves all over with helicopters when they fell.  I was glad I had missed picking some up before the tour-how else would I have learned this, but for my less than perfect housekeeping? 

Skirts and shorts were the order of the day.  This picture says nothing about the heat, just everything about a group of devoted gardeners getting together, and happy to share their love of gardens.

Julia Hofley, noted garden speaker, and her husband Eric, owner and publisher of The Michigan Gardener, are gardeners of the most serious sort.  They go as many places, in as many countries as they can manage-visiting and learning about gardeners and their gardens. They study and are most articulate about everything from dwarf conifers to roses hardy in our zone to design to effective deer repellant. They are enthusiastic and articulate advocates of the natural world and all that goes with.  They managed to take this picture of themselves with my camera; I have no idea what their process was here. This might be the most evocative picture of the day-intense interest and pleasure in participating in the event-all over their faces.

I used to draw conclusions about women and gardens, based on the footwear-but no more.  I have seen no end of open toed high heels, snappy sandals and dressy outfits navigate a landscape without any problem.  Why not-gardens are for partying as much as anything else. In this case, I think there may have been a change of clothes for the reception on the part of one guest, but not the other. Do not they both look great?

No matter the dress, it was clear there was an event going on.  As long as as there are gardens, there will be garden events. Celebrations around the seasons.  It is important and satisfying to help make things grow. 

If you were not able to make the reception for the 2010 garden tour, perhaps you’ll be available in 2011.  It was a heck of a lot of good fun. Fast and furious discourse.  Exchange.  Intelligent and imaginative exchange.  All the things that people do best.