The Holiday Preview 2017

I am chagrined, but not surprised that I have not managed to put up a post in the past 10 days. I have been racing against a November 9th deadline to transform Detroit Garden Works from the fall to the holiday winter season. No one disputes that signs of the winter and holiday in late October or early November is pushing it, but it takes an incredible amount of time to display thousands of small objects in some coherent way. We have to start early.  I have to be ready in advance of those gardeners who will want to assemble winter container gardens, and add outdoor lighting late in November. Designers who shop our store plan in advance too. Every person in all three companies of my companies pitch in. In July, August and September, boxes and more boxes get delivered. Scott checks in every item, and prices them all. They go back on the shelves, until mid October. All of those boxes are brought down, unpacked, and stashed in fiber pots. Out entire stock room is filled to the brim with materials for the holiday and winter. I walk up and down the rows, knowing the design for the display this year’s collection will be driven by the materials. What will we do?

We allocate a bit more than two weeks to remake all 10,000 square feet of the shop.  Every one of thousands of objects gets a hands on treatment. David and Marzela do the lion’s share of the actual display work. I do not envy them their job.  I may move something five times before I settle on something. But they both are good natured and tireless in their efforts to get everything arranged just right.  Both of them have an excellent instinct for good design-we three have worked together a long time. They know my process, and they are not afraid to say no. I treasure this about them. Yes, I have lots of bad ideas. They like me enough to save me from bad decisions.  These two are the stars of the get ready part of the holiday season. They have brought around many a display from ordinary to stellar – plenty of times. Once the big design gestures are complete, we pick out those materials that support this idea for this room – and that idea for that room.

We tackle the airspace first. It only makes sense that anything to be hung from the ceiling needs to be in place before we load up the ground plane with materials. The Branch crew comes on occasion to help with this.  After the airspace, we vignette the walls.  Both David and LaBelle from the Branch Studio hung all of our wreaths. Anything that needs screws or nails are displayed from the top of our walls down.

If there are big and heavy pieces that need moving, my landscape superintendent Dan and his crew come in lend a hand.  I try to be very organized about what I need, as they are still working on late fall landscape projects. Pots get moved up high, into the stock room, or outdoors. Their work clears the deck for the new season.  Just one day before our evening holiday preview, they installed a lot of our outdoor lighting.

The work involved in that transformation from fall to holiday/winter dates really back almost a year.  Rob and Sunne shopped in January of 2017 for what we have available for purchase now. Their work was months in the making.This list is not in order, nor is it definitive. Holiday and winter picks for containers, bulk sphagnum moss in a variety of colors, Edison style light strings and bulbs, state of the art LED holiday and winter lighting, candles of every description from the US and overseas, holiday ornaments and garlands, felt figures and lighted wood holiday villages, hand blown and painted German glass ornaments, garland of every description, ornaments for holiday trees, preserved boxwood wreaths, wood buckets, galvanized metal bread trays so perfect for a holiday table – the list of the materials we have available for winter is long and varied. Many thanks to Rob and Sunne. Their January shopping trip was every bit of 5 days. What they purchased began trickling in to the shop this past July. August and September were noted for holiday deliveries. October meant boxes and boxes delivered just about every day. This past week, our regular UPS driver was saying hello twice a day.

Our once a year evening winter/holiday preview event was this past Thursday night.  I am relieved to say that we finished the last of the display work 30 minutes before our opening. The Detroit Garden Works staff say it was our best holiday party ever. Rob’s lighting was in evidence everywhere. Fresh cooked pizza was available by the slice in the driveway.  Christine manned the bar as she always has. Snow flurries appeared as if we had called them up! Ha. Hooray. Those months of planning in advance helped to create a perfect moment.

To follow are an embarrassing number of pictures of our shop dressed for holiday and winter. Forgive me, but this is a time of the gardening year that I truly enjoy. The fact that the garden is going dormant is a bruising concept. I choose to brush that moment off. Every gardener has a winter season ahead of them that can be delightful. One has only to decide to garden on.

My favorite part of this early holiday/winter season is the challenge to make good design sense of an ocean of materials. Like the landscape, I am looking at architecture, style, mass, color, line, shape and form. My more than favorite part are those people who make a point of seeking me out to talk to me. They respond to work we have done, and make a point of engaging me. That talk, person to person, gardener to gardener, is the best part of every gardening season.

Should you be near enough to our shop, I would urge you to visit. You will not be disappointed.  I rather think you would be energized, and inspired.  If you are too far away to visit our shop, enjoy these photographs. From me, to you.

shop vignette

dressed for the winter/holiday season

leaf ornaments

rustic wood villages

stocked for the holiday and winter to come


winter vignette

gorgeous velvet pumpkins

holiday ornaments

rustic wood boxes

German hand blown and colored holiday ornaments

winter picks for winter container arrangements

winter vignette

small glass balls in neutral colors

The shop

The winter and holiday season to come? The shop is ready to help with that.











  1. Silvia Weber says

    Looks fantastic!
    We’ll be up, of course!

  2. Janet Aronoff says

    More delectable than the best candy store

  3. if you have an online shopping presence could you advertise?……..those of us who are too far away to get to you would love to have access to your style and brilliance……

  4. Jennifer Taylor says

    Oh my Gosh! And I thought the summer shop was fabulous! Your winter holiday offerings are incredible. How I envy your customers who live within driving distance of the shop! Thanks so much for sharing Deborah.

  5. Marie Lundrigan says

    Dear Santa, oh how i wish i could. Your shop has left me awe struck . From Newfoundland to you its a long way to go but i sincerely thank you for your pictures. Maybe someday i will make the trip thats how inspired i was.

  6. Marie Lundrigan says

    Dear Santa , if only i could. Your shop has left me in awe. So beautiful. Alas, the distance from Newfoundland is a little far but your beautiful pictures may inspire me to take that trek one day . Thank you for sharing its breathtaking.

  7. Lynn Taggart says

    I rather think that it’s a good thing our little band of church gardeners in Salem, MA can’t make it to Detroit, because – well – budget. Your holiday sensibility is so beautifully understated.

  8. I wish I was several hundred miles closer. Everything looks so truly wonderful!! Well designed and presented and so seasonally creative. You all have such talent and creativity, thank you so much for all that you share here for those of us who can’t be there. Trying to figure out if a road trip is possible!!

  9. Heather Watt says

    Your shop and all its merchandise look fantastic. I live in Stirling, Scotland and if I had one wish it would be to visit your store at this time of year. I just love every single item from the velvet pumpkins to the magnificent colours of pots and the lighting to match.

  10. Tom Baldinette says

    “Every gardener has a winter season ahead of them that can be delightful. One has only to decide to garden on.” Thank you, Deborah, for the wonderful thought, and inspiration, for the coming season.Tom in NC.

  11. Lisa at Greenbow says

    Delightful tour of your facility. It is an inspiration even through photos. I hope your Holiday season is a success. Cheers.

  12. Sarah Harris says

    Your shop always amazes me with its unexpected take on the holidays. Wish I lived closer so I could shop with you. – A Mississippi Friend

  13. Gorgeous! Wish I were there!!!! ❤️

  14. Looks delightful. Inspiration. Overload. Hope your winter season is the best yet. If I get to Detroit someday you will be on my destination list. Thanks for all your beautiful work. Catherinel

  15. Can’t wait to get in there to pick out festive materials for my clients containers and window boxes!! Merry Merry, Detroit Garden Works!!

  16. Dying to know what those crazy walls of living green material are composed of. They look fantastic!!!! Photo 7…..

  17. I am regular follower and have never felt so disappointed that I live in the UK and can’t visit your amazing store. Your creative team have done a top notch job, it looks just like Christmas should. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Jo, in a way, you are visiting the store. I try to post a lot of pictures. I hope your holiday season is terrific too. all the best, Deborah

  18. Dawn Young says

    Wow really love your photos of your store. I wish I lived close enough for a drive to see you. I’d could go crazy there. Maybe next year we will take a road trip to see your store.

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