The Beginning of the Winter Season

Our winter/holiday season began the moment that our cut greens arrived. Why so early? The daughter of a long standing client is to be married this Saturday the 18th. Lots of family and friends from places far away will be attending.  I promised that her winter pots would be done before the first of their out of town guests were scheduled to arrive. On the face of it, that seemed easy enough. To say we carry cut greens is an understatement. Our west coast grown greens are premium length and fine quality boughs that permit us to provide the proper scale and density to our winter pots.

Those greens were scheduled to be delivered this past Monday. But on Monday, our driver was still in Nebraska. Shipping delays are not that unusual, but I had a deadline that had no wiggle room.  I talked to my client, and assured her that the moment those materials arrived, we would be on her project.  Tuesday morning we were breaking in to the 40 pound boxes of greens as they came off the truck. Wednesday morning first thing we were ready to install.

All of the work of our winter containers is done in the stockroom/garage at Detroit Garden Works. The materials for the centerpieces are arranged around and zip tied to a stout bamboo pole. That pole gets driven down into the pot with a padded mallet once we determine the exact location for that centerpiece. That long stake driven down into the pot provides ballast that keeps that centerpiece perfectly vertical.  Of course smaller pots get smaller stakes. The greens are cut to the length we need, and sharpened at the ends before they are inserted in thick dry foam forms.

Those double layered dry foam forms are cut to the interior dimensions of the pot in question. The bottom layer is inserted into the container.  The top layer stands proud of the rim of the pot.  This enables us to stick greats horizontally – a look which is graceful and natural coming over the edge of the pot. Once the greens in the form are wedged into the pot, and the centerpiece set, we add lights. Winter pots provide an opportunity to light that dark time of year.

We exclusively use Lumineo LED light strands available from Detroit Garden Works for our winter containers. The strands are so lightweight, and entirely flexible. I can easily hold a 110 foot long strand in one hand. They drape beautifully. The lights are shatterproof – stepping on them does no harm. You can count on 50,000 hours, or at least ten years of longevity. The dots of light are set on top of long black green stems. This design makes it simple to hide the lightweight wire, and have the lights proud of the greens. They come in a range of lengths and light densities. They also come is a classic warm color mirroring the color of traditional incandescent strings, or a warm white which is a clearer and brighter white.  These LED light strands do not have the fire power of traditional incandescent winter and holiday lighting, but they make up for that in longevity and economy. Interested in more firepower? Try the cluster lights, which are set very close together. They draw so little power, that they eliminate the need for timers. Detroit Garden Works has switched over to this lighting for its signature light rings.

Great technology can be incredible, and shipping can be delayed, but foremost, our first winter project was very personal. We chose materials that seemed celebratory of a very special event. My client was happy about those materials, and the lighting. I put all of my crews to getting the work done. I was so pleased about the look.  I fluffed this, and rearranged that, but by and large my crew did a terrific job of rising to the occasion.

This pot at the corner of the garage features glass drops attached to a weed tree much like what we did for her 9 years ago. She brought the box of drops to me a week ago.  We added some drops, given the size of a weed tree on our landscape property that we cut for this particular pot.

My client took me through her entire house so I could see the views out her windows. She explained to me how the views from inside to the outside meant so much to her. Seeing the landscape from inside out for the first time was a revelation. I have done lots of landscape work for her. Yesterday, I understood what she sees. What I understand from our first winter installation is that what is personal and important is precious.



  1. Spectacular, custom winter containers to greet guests. Love the white theme, especially because weddings mean white and this family is getting ready for a wedding. The green at the base of the containers looks like a birds nest spruce shrub. I also like how sturdy everything is constructed with foam, bamboo and a ballast for strength. Your client’s preference for good views from inside her home resonates with me. Not only does she have great landscaping, she has perfect views of her lovely containers.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Susan, it was a revelation to see those pots from indoors. She has a spot in her foyer where she sits, and can see the front porch pots and the landscape all around. It was satisfying to see how much she truly enjoys them. best, Deborah

  2. As I told you in person yesterday:
    You all at Detroit Garden works are the precious ones. Thanks for lighting up our lives all year through with your creative ideas and beautiful plants and products.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Jo, thanks for taking the time to talk with me. That is one of the great pleasures of the season. best, Deborah

  3. What a beautiful wedding your client’s daughter is going to have!
    The arrangements are so gorgeous.
    Your crew is obviously very talented and dedicated. And learning a lot from you.
    As we all do!
    Thanks for inviting your readers to the wedding.

  4. I love the restraint of the colors, the pots reference the colors of winter…and yet with the lights, give an extra oomph!…. and those glass drops are so magical. These are the prettiest pots I’ve ever seen. Just gorgeous. You and your team produce such fabulous art that raises one’s spirits …. even in and especially in the winter. All I can say is that I wish I lived in Detroit.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Marguerite, I do enjoy this time of year, and I would guess there are beautiful expressions of the winter and holiday garden going on in countless places. all the best, Deborah

  5. Beautiful job in a timely manner!

  6. Just beautiful! Celebratory and a little whimsical!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Karen, I have worked with her for many years, and I try to represent her taste. Her happiness and enthusiasm was so much fun for all of us. best, Deborah

  7. LOVE the tree with the glass drops! What is a weed tree? Your work is always stunning and so innovative. Happy Holidays!

    • Is a weed tree perhaps a “volunteer” tree??

      • Deborah Silver says

        Dear Mary, this is a perfect description of a weed tree. My landscape and fabrication buildings are located on 7 acres of weedy meadow and volunteer trees. The volunteer cottonwoods have a perfect branch structure for hanging glass drops.They grow fast. best, Deborah

  8. I do think that these are truly beautiful and wish they were mine to show off out front. You did a gratifying job for your client. Thank you for knowing & sharing.

  9. lisa hansen says

    What a wonderful opportunity for you to see from the inside of the home, the client’s perspective, so you can have a chance to know the positive impact of your beautiful work. Your winter planters are such a treat for us all to see! Do you have any more progress photos of that large colonial style home on the Michigan lakeshore- that was such an interesting project. Thank you for all that you share with your readers and please wish a happy holiday season to your staff and yourself.

  10. I liked your personal touch. Your client was very interested in the outcome, as she took you into her house to see the views. Your designs are outstanding. I am grateful for your site, as I learn so much.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Judy, all of the satisfaction of that project was about making her feel like she was ready for an event that was very important to her. It felt good to be a part of that. best, Deborah

  11. You are a poet.

    Congratulations to your clients and many happy wishes on the event of their daughter’s marriage.

  12. Earlier this year I came across your work while searching for ideas for my outdoor christmas deko (which I challenge myself to do every year). I absolutely love all that you do and I even somewhat became a little emotional because I find it so unselfish of you to have a business such as yours but still find the time to write and maintain such blogs and also to so intimately share some of the details of your work so that others out there (us) can attempt to do it ourselves. I must really commend you for that because not everyone would want to share such details of their work with the general public. I’m living in Germany and sooo regretting that I dont live anywhere close to you/your shop…I have however done my next best and have become a ”follower”. I love the variety that I have seen in the pictures that you have in your shop because comparing to my neck of the woods I dont have all that available in the shops here and even I look online the ”nicest” things are only to large handlers. I havent had time to catch up on all that you have posted over the years relating to the christmas season but have been inspired by the use of eucalyptus, a favourite plant/tree of mine. I was very happy to see the displays in this post because I have an E. gunnii in my garden of which I have preserved small branches using glycerin and I had also bought natural weide sticks as an idea to go with that (I’d much prefer using those bright coloured dogwood but hard to find) so now for sure I will def be using these two materials in my centerpiece. Thank you so, so much for sharing your talent and for the wonderful creations done by you and your staff. I wish for you continue growth…. 🙂

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Maxx, thank you so much for your kind letter.I am lucky to have lots of choices in materials as I have a shop. But really lovely arrangements can be made from the simplest materials. The discussion of the design and fabrication process is meant to encourage gardeners to do their own work. It is fun, and satisfying to create something. best, Deborah

  13. Way cool look…how do the glass crystals fare in high winds??

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Mary, I have never had a drop to break. I don’t really know why. We don’t place them too close together, for starters. The top part is quite thin,so there is no resistance to wind.The drops are heaviest at the bottom, which keeps them vertical. Outside of that, maybe we just have good luck! best, Deborah

  14. jennifer taylor says

    So very beautiful Deborah. And as always, I am excited and inspired to work on my winter pots! All the best and Happy Thanksgiving to you.

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