The Greening Of Detroit

I am writing this post, knowing that Kevin Orr, the emergency city manager of Detroit,  filed for bankruptcy on behalf of our city this afternoon.  I have lots of thoughts and feelings about this-like anyone else who has a long standing relationship with Detroit.  My first reaction- grief.  A city that once thrived is facing grievous trouble.  There is too much debt, and too few resources to pay off that debt. The Detroit that was a center for manufacturing for so many years is a shell of its former self. I am not so happy that our city has become a blueprint for urban decay.  I am much more interested in the energy of all of those really talented and intelligent Detroiters who have committed themselves to a better future. I have no opinion about the financial situation-I am a gardener.  But I sense that the situation is grave.

I know plenty about what a struggle it is to pay the bills.  I work extra time, so  when a bill comes due, I can just write the check.   I do not spend what I cannot afford.  It is as simple as that. Detroit borrowed against an uncertain future for far too many years.  The debt is huge, and the debt is due.  We have a lot to sort out, and make right.

That said, The Greening of Detroit, a non-profit organization dedicated to planting trees and sponsoring urban farms in Detroit for the past 23 years, has had their share of problems.  Their programs rely upon funding, from grants, and the community at large.  The troubles in our city has greatly affected their ability to do the work they outlined and promised to do many years ago.  They need your contribution.  They need every individual who stands behind our community to help out, and support their programs..

We sponsor a garden tour and reception the third Sunday in July to benefit the Greening of Detroit-this will be our 7th year.  In the past 6 years, we have raised over 60,000.00 to benefit the programs of the Greening of Detroit.  Why would we do this?  This is our city. We have no idea to run away from trouble.  We have the idea to do what we can, to meet the trouble face to face.  7 gardeners have been working very hard to make their gardens a delight.  We thank them.  Should you take the tour, you will be delighted, entertained, and challenged.  Every dollar we collect for tickets goes directly to the Greening.   The Sunday weather promises to be v77 degrees, and sunny.  Perfect touring weather.

Should you have the idea to support an organization whose sole mission for 23 years has been to green up a city with strong industrial  roots-take the tour.  We need each and every one of you, more than ever.  This Sunday, July 21, from 9 to 4:30.  Our dinner reception begins at 4:30.  Hope to see you.


  1. chris webb says

    your courage inspires me.i love your “can do” attitude. and bringing small farms back into the city is brilliant! talk about sustainability. more power to you.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Chris, the Greening has been sponsoring urban farms and teaching in Detroit for more than 2 decades. They are the ones with the can do attitude. We just try to support their work. Thanks, Deborah

  2. Gene Miles says

    I understand your desire and I share that with you. I am a city manager and I knew as things became worse that Detroit was in grave trouble. Now you may ask how does a city manager tie a troubled community to gardens…easy! Here is why, I have always loved gardens and have done all I can to bring them to the communities I have served, but in the past two years I found more there…well I think I knew it was there I just had no idea. Gardens, parks, trees and Tree City programs give so much to a community and as sad as it makes me, I guess sometimes it is the loss of this makes us realize what it brings to our lives…and a community in such distress brings pain to me, like it does to you.

    I am participating in our local garden tour which is a fund raising project for our local music programs, both in school and local entertainment. I am not a gardener, but I have become one thanks to my wife, Peggy (I tried to paste a picture of her and part of our garden, but I couldn’t make it work.). Below is the note I will share with all who come to look at our garden this Saturday, and I hope they are able to get a sense of the wonders we find in these places we call “our gardens”.

    Peggy Taylor-Miles Her Garden
    I have to tell everyone that spends time in Peggy’s garden that she would have never allowed me to do this. She loved to garden but she never thought or felt her garden was “grand” enough to be part of any garden tour. She also knew a great deal about gardening and plants, all I ever did was provide some labor and frankly I didn’t do much of that…I always had a “good idea” for the weekend and to be honest it was often “how do I get out of gardening?” My best plan was always to take her shopping at a nursery which she was more than willing to do and we would buy all kinds of goodies for the garden, and guess what, “I would not have to supply labor, just tell her the following week how great all of the new stuff looked.”
    As many of you know things have changed a great deal for me as Peggy lost her battle with ovarian cancer this past spring and I now look for ways to still communicate with her as I was far from ready to let her go. My communication with her is in this garden, small and simple as it is, I am able to find her there with me as I tend to this wonderful little space. This is a special place for all of Peggy’s family and I hope it can be a special place for you today…thank you for stopping by and remember “In your garden you will find all we experience in our life… beginnings, growth, learning, giving, getting along with others, bad days and good days, hard work, beauty of all that is life, aging, disease, healing, and yes…death.” It is all here, so today I hope you enjoy your time in all of these gardens and are able to go home and enjoy your garden, big or small or even in just a couple of pots in your window…it is all of life in front of you.

    Thanks Deborah for reading my thoughts…Gene Miles

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Gene, thanks for your letter-it is a very powerful testament to the healing power of a garden. Deborah

  3. Here in Melbourne, Australia, I have just heard on the radio about Detroit’s problems. Wishing you all the best for your gardening tours and all the best for the future of Detroit City.

    • Deborah Silver says

      I have great hopes that this moment is the first step towards a healthy city. Thanks for your letter.

  4. Sadly, I will be unable to attend your fabulous garden tour and reception, but I will be there in heart. My check for Greening is in the mail. When asked where I’m from I answer Detroit and do so with my head held high. I look at your gorgeous Branch containers downtown as the beginning of a new era – bright and beautiful. To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.
    Thanks Deborah for making our world a more beautiful place.
    Nancy Szerlag

  5. Mariana Greene says

    My husband of 35 years is from Detroit, now living in Dallas, where I was born and raised. I wish we could be there to see the beautiful gardens on the tour. Gardening has brought joy and healing to my life, and I know it can be a comfort to Detroiters in the even tougher times ahead — in the publc green spaces and in backyard Edens. I am sending a check. I only wish it could be much, much bigger. I send hugs of support to Detroiters, my fellow Americans.

  6. I found your Pinterest and am so happy to see you spreading such beauty and gardens around Detroit. My parents grew up in Detroit and their stories of childhood are about a very different city. I dearly hope it could become that kind of city again for future generations. But it has likely permanently shrunk so why not become a garden and forest preserve city? With neighborhoods between the greenery. Wouldn’t that be so much healthier for people, in a lot of ways. My husband just got back from a month in Bangalore, India and while it’s a city with plenty of concrete, it’s known as the garden city of India and all the trees and gardens help make the urban environment friendlier for the people.

    I must stop by your store the next time I’m around Detroit visiting family!

  7. Can we still buy tickets the day of the tour?

    • Deborah Silver says

      Yes you can. We open at 8am tomorrow. We can also email tickets to you. call 248 335 8089 Thanks.

  8. Deborah, I come from Australia, and just started reading your blog as I love your design ideas and gardens. I just read your latest post about the Detroit bankruptcy and am so inspired by your views. I wondered how ordinary Detroit citizens must be facing this, and what they are thinking. I love that you don’t think about running or moving … just face the situation head on!
    I have a 30 acre property that I am slowly doing up … mostly in the garden, and sometimes I just want to run away. I never would have taken this on, if I knew how much work 30 acres would be – but like you, I will just keep going face to face, small steps … eventually leaving a legacy of beautiful trees and designed garden. Thanks for your inspiration!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Julianne, so great to hear from you. Face to face and small steps-we share this. Thanks, Deborah

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