The Opening Party

I have devoted a lot of ink on and off over the past 5 years to the story of how my shop came to be.  Why is this?  As important as it was to me personally, I  think it is an interesting story. The bel’occio gene-I think both Rob and I have that.  When I look at these pictures of our opening night, I am struck by how sparsely furnished the space was.  It was a giant expenditure to get the building ready for company.

March-1996.jpgWhat I had to spend left over to furnish it was 1/4 of what it cost to make the space habitable. We did as much of the work as we could ourselves. And we bought a few great things.  Beautiful handmade pots.  An antique iron sculpture from Paris that took the lions share of what we had to spend on ornament.  So we had lots more that opening night in the way of excitement and good will than ornament for the garden.  A place where people would feel welcome came first.

Two of my oldest landscape clients sprung for this opening party-I still work for them both, and love them dearly.  They saw to entertaining my guests. Forging relationships over the landscape is one of the best parts of my job.  They encouraged me to persist in transforming a dream into a reality.  Though that night was many years ago, I still recall it vividly.

I was excited beyond all belief to have Detroit Garden Works full of people for the first time.  No landscape I have designed and installed gets my seal of approval until I see how people interact with it.  Do the spaces work?  Are they comfortable?  Are they on occasion provocative?  Is there a natural and easy flow?  Does it handle traffic, kids, entertaining, reflection and family?  Would you smile, or study what you saw?  This particular landscape was near and dear to my heart.  As it turned out, there was no need to be nervous.  Landscape clients and friends were all about expressing their good will.

March 29, 1996This night was not about making a passing grade. Or who we had been. It was a beginning.  An opening statement. All these years later, it only takes the first signs of spring to bring out the garden in us.

All of the food was served in Italian pots.  Pots from Crete.  Pots from England.  Pots from France.  The big idea here-a garden can nourish.

We had an idea about gardens.  We made that come to life.  This was one of my most favorite gardening moments ever.


  1. Susan Hauser says

    Great photos! Congratulations on your 18 years, and wishing you very many more.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Susan, we hope to have many more too. So happy that we are about to have some spring. Thanks, Deborah

  2. Happy #18! A visit to your garden shop is ALWAYS inspiring! Thank you for sharing your talents!

  3. Félicitations! We are all blessed to have you and Rob in the neighborhood.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Christine, we are equally blessed with passionate gardeners of all kinds that come through our door. Thanks, Deborah

  4. Sto lat! May you both and Detroit garden works survive and prosper another 100 years, it is my go to spot to be both energized and calmed. It is one of my favorite oasis and I love to see all of you and share it with my friends.
    Thank you, elaine

  5. I know I keep saying this in my previous comments – Wish I lived closer to experience ALL of this. Maybe…someday soon on a field trip to the area? CONGRATULATIONS and all the best to many more successful years!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Thanks Trish, we plan to be around, should you be able to make the trip. Even if you can’t, I do enjoy hearing from you. Thanks for that, Deborah

  6. Oh….
    The photos….!
    Where does the time go?
    Such a pleasure to see something so grown so vigorously.

    You’re still here.

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