The Grapevine Deer

deer 2014 (2)It is a yearly thing at Detroit Garden Works – the arrival of the grapevine deer.  In celebration, we outfitted a window box with all the fruits of the harvest. Cabbage, romanesco broccoli, lime green cauliflower, white onions, pumpkins and gourds. Tieing all of the individual elements together – one roll of grapevine-a material so versatile and appropriate for display in a garden. The window box turned out to be a perfect spot to place a grapevine sculpture of a doe. The two elements compliment one another, and speak to the time of the harvest.  The rolls of grapevine that we stock year round look great in, under or around containers.  They soften and highlight any fall planting. A deft hand can make the wiry dried vines drape gracefully. A tree trunk gift wrapped in  grapevine for the winter is a lovely wrap indeed.  They can provide a support for a more lax growing vine, such as clematis.  The grapevines that hang over our fence are lush in the summer, and so sculptural in the winter.

grapevine deer (1)These grapevine deer are the most beautiful use of grapevine I know. They rank high on my list of beautiful garden sculptures.  This natural material and the natural form it represents fits into the garden effortlessly. Sections of the sinewy vine are woven over welded steel forms.  They are a powerfully sculptural interpretation of the beauty of nature.  Who makes them?  A group of people who most of the year tend a vineyard full of wine grapes. In the fall, when the vineyard work is done, they collect the prunings from the vines, and sculpt.

grapevine deer (3)
The vines of the grapes are quite stiff, and unyielding. Working with them to create a shape is sure to produce blisters-I have first hand experience. It could be that these vines are soaked and softened before they are fitted over the steel form. I do not know their method of construction, but I do know they are beautiful.  I marvel at these gracefully curving forms.  I further admire the perfectly parallel placement of the vines over the form. These vines woven over a form is a study in strength and endurance.  Just like a garden.

grapevine deer (8)It is striking that such a stiff material could be made to convey  such soft and natural natural emotion as a doe tending her fawn. Though  I have plenty of clients whose gardens are under siege from deer, it is hard not to appreciate this pair. These sculptures are not about the trouble that deer in the garden present.  They are about the the presence and beauty of nature.

grapevine-deer.jpgThe standing buck sculpture is tall. The antlers are woven around square pipe that insets into a larger pipe hidden below the surface.  I could see it placed in a field of hellebores, or in a grove of trees.

Dec 23 2010 047One year I took a buck home, and used it in lieu of a Christmas tree. It spent the rest of the winter outdoors in the garden. With a yearly rubdown of a penetrating oil sealer, they last for years outdoors. If you have ever tried to compost grapevine, you know how long it persists, even in contact with the soil. Should the vines ever need replacing, the forms can be sent back for fresh vines.

grapevine deer (5)The sculptures are remarkably stable.  If they do blow over, they are easy to right.  For a completely sturdy installation, it is easy to hook a heavy gauge steel hairpin through the steel loop at the foot.  All of the sculptures are life size.  The standing buck is about 5.5 feet tall, excluding the antlers.

grapevine deer (6)A family

grapevine deer (5)Garden sculpture, properly placed, is all about adding another layer to the experience. Looking for a garden sculpture that will look like it has always been there?  Consider the grapevine deer.  Interested further?


  1. Barbara Mewborn says

    The deer sculptures are just beautiful- lovely posturing! Do you sell them? Enjoy your very much!!! Barbara (Toledo, Ohio)

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Barbara, click on the link at the end of the post-it will take you to the page on our website for the deer. Thanks, Deborah

  2. living in the south of Florida I miss seasons , fall especially. . . we might get one day cool enough to pretend it has arrived…..

    these arrangements have captured all the very best of the season. I adore the deer . The way the vines were woven down the nose, the antlers !! It is so wonderful.

    thank you for sharing !!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Thank you for writing, Robin. I do not envy you, not having a fall. But in a few months, Florida will sound pretty good! best, Deborah

  3. I love the doe & fawn. They’re very endearing. The buck is truly magnificent. The people that make these are true artisans.

  4. The deer are magnificent (ha, they make me want to go out and buy a powerball lottery ticket..if I could be guaranteed to be a winner). As with everything else your business does, the quality is never sacrificed.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Michaele, original sculpture is expensive. The people who make these are incredibly skilled. These deer are beautifully hand made with a lifetime of service in mind. That makes them a big investment. When I see other grapevine deer for sale, they cannot compare to these. Just as you say, the quality is not sacrificed. Best, Deborah

  5. They are lovely and I like the way you have arranged them and accessorized them, especially the one inside!

  6. Donna Perdue says

    The deer are works of art. Love the details.

  7. Bright Orange says

    Thank you so much for your wonderful photographs. You’ve been able to capture the artists’ reverance of nature through their sensitive portrayal of these deer. I also want to thank you for the time you put into this blog – your willingness to share – you are inspiring.

  8. Tammy Burns says

    Debora, these are beautiful sculptures. Are they for sale and if so I am interested in the doe and her baby.

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