The Garden Cruise July 23, 2023

Detroit Garden Works hosted its first Garden Cruise to benefit the Greening of Detroit since 2019. I feel an intense satisfaction in being able to write that sentence. Perhaps some background for those readers who are not familiar with this event should come first. The Garden Cruise is a celebration of a lot of events. The landscape design that has been my life’s work. The extraordinary relationships created with clients culminating in the building of a landscape project. The selection and placement of beautiful and appropriate landscape ornament that physically centers and metaphorically organizes the landscape in question. And those steel boxes, benches, ornament, fountains and pergolas designed and manufactured in steel by my company, The Branch Studio.  The wild shade garden portion of the landscape pictured above, which is part of the upcoming tour, features all of these things.  It was designed and planted almost 10 years ago. The rod steel sphere fabricated at Branch Studio is fixed on top of a repurposed 19th century English stone lawn roller set on end – minus its steel armature –   as a rather contemporary pedestal. That piece was sourced and purchased in England by Rob Yedinak, and shipped to Detroit Garden Works and offered for sale. The wild garden features shade plants that beautifully represent and thrive in Michigan-so hellebores, sweet woodruff, pulmonaria, brunnera, hamamelis-and hemlocks. The big old spruce had seen better days, but why remove plants of such majestic scale and presence?

These clients are extraordinary people. They have diverse interests, but to the last they are united in their love of this house which is turning 100 years old, their love of nature and the natural world, and their commitment to preservation and restoration.  The bricks and limestone slabs were part of a wall in such disrepair that it had to come down and be rebuilt. Those stone and brick elements featured in the walk above were the original wall materials they felt were too beautiful to throw away. They asked me to design something around them. We call this path from the back yard to the front yard “the history walk”. There was story telling. History and artistry. In all my years of designing and installing landscapes, this photograph of my client in his surgical scrubs touring his garden late in the day is one of my favorites.  Gardens are good for people.

They also have a big love for entertaining outdoors in the summer. I drew a 20′ diameter circle on the site plan, and wrote the word POOL in the center. Ha! That ignited a firestorm of discussion, most of which had to do with not wanting a round pool. I was able to persuade them that round entertaining spaces are so friendly. And that it would fit handsomely in their oddly shaped lot. I was able to persuade them, once the shock of the suggestion had faded. A final design featuring the change of grade between the house and the rear lot line looked exactly like who it was for.

That is an essential part of a successful landscape design – a relationship that enables work that looks like it belongs to the client and their property.  This landscape has been on the tour before, but the way in which it is evolving and maturing makes it well worth another visit.

These clients have invested 25 years in the landscape and gardens on their 7 acre property. They went so far as to purchase the house next door, as it would complete and make whole a natural feature of the land. What an extraordinary thing to do! The property is packed with gorgeous mature trees – some usual fare, and some rarely seen outside of an arboretum.

In recent years I have been involved in the landscape design of those areas adjacent to both the main house and the getaway house. This portion of the landscape has a distinctive contemporary feel that is quite formal. The allee of columnar hornbeams pictured above is at the beginning of a very unusual trimming protocol. The outsides of the trees will be pruned flat, and the interior will be a celebration of the natural arching branches of these trees.

Adjacent and perpendicular to the broad gravel pathway which connects the main house to the other is a 50′ diameter circle of liriope spicata. The texture and mass generated by this single plant is stunning. On a breezy day, it is constantly in motion. What is perhaps the most amazing is that these clients maintain virtually the whole of their property themselves. I am not sure how many containers they have filled with seasonal plants, but that number is big.

In additional to small seating areas sprinkled throughout the gardens, there are plenty of places near the house to leisurely sit and enjoy the out of doors.  They have devoted considerable effort to providing a large terrace, pergolas, and furnishings to host friends and family comfortably for meals, parties and celebrations. Plan to spend some time exploring this landscape.

My landscape and gardens have been on the Garden tour every year since they began in 2008. A visit was mostly about how plants had grown.  The only substantial change from year to year was the container plantings. This year is not so much different, except for the deck and fountain garden.

I do have new furniture, and a mix of  of pots. French glazed pots from Terre Albine so enchanted me that I had to have some at home. All of these particular pots were broken from a series of unrelated mishaps. One of the fabricators at the Branch Studio was able to piece them all back together. I like that these beautiful pots still have a place in a garden, and I love them in my garden.
I am not posting any pictures of the fountain garden. Better that you see it in person. It is completely and shockingly different than it once was. Everything has a life span, including a landscape and garden. This part of my landscape has only been in 2 years.

This client has always had an interest in plants and flowers, but he has a fairly new and more substantial involvement. I was able to redo areas of the landscape to feature more ornamental plants and containers. He is watering his pots when they need it, and keeping his eye on all of the plants.

He is thoroughly enjoying what pleasure the outdoors can provide to people.

A large scale pool which is an entertainment focal point for his family and friends now has the ornamental gardens to go with. A mature hedge of Green Giant arborvitae provides a gorgeous backdrop and lots of privacy to the pool deck. In the immediate foreground is a series of three steel planter boxes fabricated at Branch. A section of a boxwood hedge was removed and planted elsewhere in favor of a seasonal flower display.

This landscape features a formal front yard composed of masses of spherically pruned Green Gem boxwood, boxed smaller scale Green Gems, and Venus dogwoods. A hedge of limelight hydrangeas encloses it all.  This pattern of planting encloses a spacious drive court. The house sits high on a rather steep hill, so parking near the house was a landscape priority.

The back yard with literally no flat space has been transformed by a 3200 square foot wood deck made from Ipe. The far end of this deck is 11 feet above the existing grade. Inset in the deck is a three sided infinity edge pool and waterfall. At the far end, a large scale pergola designed with louvered roof panels for shade by Branch Studio provides a shady spot for lounging and dining. The surrounding landscape is informal and lush.

I do hope as many of you as possible who are reading will attend this Garden Cruise on July 23, 2023 from 9am to 4:30pm, and the cocktails and pizza dinner reception to be held at Detroit Garden Works afterwards. So many have asked me to sponsor a tour again, and to write again. I am doing both. It will be an excellent tour well worth the time of any person for whom the garden is a way of life.

All of the proceeds of the ticket sales – 40.00 for the cruise, and 55.00 for the cruise and reception –  go to benefit the programs of the Greening of Detroit – an organization whose work I think is crucially important to the City of Detroit. For further information     Tickets can be purchased over the phone or in person at Detroit Garden Works.  248  335  8057.


  1. Pat Ferguson says

    I was thinking of you and Detroit Garden Works the other day. I have missed your writings and pictures….an email I always looked forward to! As always, this newsletter is wonderful to read and gaze upon.
    Thank you!

  2. Wish I was closer – looks like a fabulous tour! Love the history walkway, just beautiful!! So thrilled that you posted!
    Thank you.

  3. Gorgeous as always!! Oh how I need to drive up to your gorgeous store from Florida!

  4. Susan Sumner says

    I’m so glad you’re back! I’ve missed your postings and beautiful pictures and today’s posting is as great as your previous ones were. I’m sorry I’ll miss the Cruise as I now live in Florida but enjoyed one about six years ago on a visit to my late husband’s and my home town of Birmingham, Michigan. Thank you for sharing your creative energy with us.

  5. Wonderful to receive your email! And thrilled you are having the cruise this year. I echo the wishes above that I lived closer and could attend. Best Wishes!!

  6. Christine says

    So happy to have you back in the writing saddle! I think of you and all my Branch treasures when wandering our property in Lexington. All the best for a great tour.

  7. Thank you Deborah,
    Lovely to hear from you!
    Be well.

  8. Shelby Staples says

    Oh My . . . how long I have wondered where you were. I recently went to my saved posts from you, and took a much needed long look – all as beautiful as the first time. So glad to see this new post from you. Hope life and everything is good for you and all yours including the dogs. I remember Milo, hope he is still with you. The one in this post, not sure if I have ever known his/her name, precious as others.
    Picture, at your home I think, shows a black metal/wire horse (I believe it is a horse). Can that or one like it be purchased?

    I have grown older now, but still appreciate your quality things. Keep me on your email list. You helped me find some chartruese (sp?) Christmas lights some years ago (they were on a tree in your backyard). I bought several of these and they are still blazing from my backyard, over a rustic fence every Christmas., and besides that one close to the house, we put three more into the woods and they are absolutely magical! We leave them up until mid-February. Many passers-by stop and ask the color of those lights and where we got them.
    Thanks so much for your return.
    Shelby Staples

    • 20debsilver18 says

      Dear Shelby, it is so lovely to hear from you. My corgi Milo passed away at 15 in 2020, but from his breeder, I have a next generation sister and brother. Charlotte, whom you saw in the post, and her brindle coated brother Lewis. They provide lots of action and affection! The wire cow was a gift to me from Rob for a birthday a long time ago. If you want Jackie to look into availability and a price for it, email her at She handles all of our on line inquiries and sales.
      We are all older, aren’t we?But some gardening practices are as useful now as they were decades ago. kindest and best regards, Deborah

  9. I’ve never had the pleasure of visiting your store or, regrettably being able to attend this garden cruise! I’ve read so many of your posts and I am so enthralled with your vision and creativity! I live in Maryland, recently retired and making a road trip to Detroit Garden Works is on my travel list. Would love to coincide that trip with any “events “ you might be thinking of – garden tour, talk or demonstration. Thank you for what you do – I love it!!

    • 20debsilver18 says

      Dear Kathy, this is our first tour since 2019. It is our 13th tour since 2008. It is a precious tour to me, as the circumstances under which we had to quit offering them was heartbreaking in every way to everyone on the planet. I do hope you make the trip some day. You will not be sorry! kind regards, Deborah

  10. Cherie Bowers says

    Welcome Back! Your writings and photos are always so inspiring. Somehow I know that the upcoming Cruise will be quite successful. Detroit is better because of you, your insight and creativity. I will continue to enjoy online from North Carolina.

  11. Michael K says

    The drought is now over. I am dreaming of the deluge I can see forming on the horizon. Xoxo. M

  12. Diana Noone says

    I was so happy to see the notification of a Deborah Silver blog post in my inbox this morning, they have been sorely missed! Wishing you and Rob and the team at DGW all the best from Shanghai.

  13. Jeanne M says

    How delighted I was to see your email in my inbox today! I luxuriate in the beauty you create!

  14. Wonderful to see a blog notice in my inbox this morning!
    The world is stirring with new life four years after covid. And it’s great to read that the Garden Cruise is emerging after all this time. For me, it’s been hard to find inspiration in the last few years, but today is a good start. I’m ready to plant a new garden.
    Thank you, Deborah.

    • 20debsilver18 says

      Dear Terry, I am sorry to have been so pokey to respond to your letter, but it was so great to hear from you. Better gardening days are ahead, right? best regards, Deborah

  15. Sallie Hock says

    Great to be in the store today. Looking forward to the Tour. Please keep writing!

  16. I thoroughly enjoyed your new blog post. Thank you for posting.

    I have a question. Boxwood Moth has made its way to southern Ontario. Evidently, it found its way to my Boxwoods at some point last summer. This spring, when I was trimming, I found dozens of the larvae, most of which I squashed as I was trimming or as they crawled out of the yard waste bags in my garage. I really should have put the trimmings in green garbage bags. Master gardeners in my area say that, ethically,
    I should have my Boxwoods dug out and trashed to prevent the spread. Some websites say it can be controlled to some extent with spraying BT on a monthly basis, on and under the tiny leaves, spring through frost but BT does not kill the eggs, which are laid all summer, at night, by the moths. I don’t see myself spraying in the dark😵‍💫.
    Do you have any opinions on this subject or knowledge of treatments for this pest?

    • Thank you for asking this question. You might be interested in these trusted sources of info from MSU Extension. I’m studying up as well as I have many boxwoods in our landscape. Good luck!

      • Pam,
        Thank you very much for posting this helpful website. I read everything on it and am sending it on to my Hort club members and others. I think the only pesticide we can use legally here in Ontario that doesn’t either cause flares of other pests or kills beneficials is BTK. I didn’t know Boxwood Moth also likes Euonymus. I have many mature varieties of it. Now that the Japanese Beetle, which loves practically everything else I have in my gardens, has arrived, I feel like throwing in the towel! I am going to have my Boxwood dug and trashed in time for next garbage pickup.


  17. Ann Hackett says

    There you are! How delightful to hear your voice again in your writing! And how inspiring your work is for even a novice gardener like me. I wish you well and look forward to future posts. Seeing this email made my day.

  18. Nella Martina Miller says

    Dear Deborah, I’m so happy to see this in my inbox!
    Your posts are always so informative and beautifully written I drove from Niagara, Canada with a friend to do the Garden Cruise prior to Covid, and it was well worth it, the gardens, your beautiful store and the reception afterwards and the lovely chat we had with you on your porch . Not easily forgotten.. yes, we are all older now.. planning to convince my husband t o make the drive again… with affection Nella

  19. Paula Reddy says

    I love how much you give back to our community–your mission always full of sharing your knowledge and talents. You are the best!

  20. Nancy Li says


  21. I know you’ve thrilled so many (besides me) with a new post. I wish you all the best with The Garden Cruise.

  22. Catherine says

    So happy to here from you. Missed those inspiring posts. Catherine

  23. Frieda Hickman says

    I have really missed your postings very much. IF I lived closer I would gladly attend but I live in Southwest Missouri. I hope you post pictures later of your new landscape for those that cannot attend due to distance so we could view it also. I hope you will be able to continue posting in future as I really enjoyed the outstanding landscape work you do.

  24. Jennifer Martin says

    Mouth watering.
    Hope you post pictures after the cruise for those of us too far away to attend!
    You are an inspiration to all of us!

  25. Rob Curran says

    I purchased my tickets today and can’t wait until next weekend!

  26. Annette Eberhardt says

    Can’t wait for Sunday! 🙂

  27. Exciting..
    I have admired your work from afar for a few years..
    Am in awe with your creations….I was first blown away with the juicy winter containers.
    The rest just inspired me ….
    I wish you a great show and hope to one day participate.
    Thanks for the outdoor eye candy.
    Regards,Carol from Saskatoon Saskatchewan.

  28. Kay Reeves says

    I thoroughly enjoyed my wanderings today. I was able to see 4 of the gardens. I also saw the the 100 year old Tudor last time in ‘19. Such an amazing display of talent and caregiving of outdoor space.
    Thanks for having this tour again.

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