The Week Of December 5

Be forewarned, there are an astonishing number of pictures about to come your way. Last was a very busy week for us. But for the pictures, it would all be a blur. My crew is great about photographing everything. They pictures of last years work help inform the work we are doing now. Smart phone cameras and text messages mean I can communicate with the group who is doing the installation while they are 0n site. I hate to have to go back and redo, but I hate worse if something does does not seem as good as it should be. How I am able to stay in touch with my crew means the work is all that much better, the first time around. I can be two places at once-in the shop, and on the job. My landscape crew helps on and off, but they have been finishing up the last of the year’s landscape projects. They will be back today to help out with the work ahead. Buck’s crew at Branch is working for me for the winter holiday season. They makes all of our garlands, and install them. They handle lighting issues. They also install containers.  Marzela and David have been focused on the construction of green blankets and centerpieces. All of us whittle greens for Marzela, as the lot of us can hardly keep up with her. David and Salvadore do a splendid job with construction centerpieces, and adding elements one at a time. I am lucky to have each and every one of this group of 10 people. They are independent, intelligent, and thoughtful. They express their opinions, but not at the expense of keeping up. We do this work together. They go the extra mile, routinely. You cannot teach what they have to offer. They came to me with good values, not the least of which is a commitment to doing a great job. A lot gets done in a week’s time.  You’ll see. What you will see in these pictures is a design direction from me, and a gifted making by them. I help with the fabrication, but I can walk away and come back later, knowing someone will have picked up my part and gone ahead with it.  I still have 15 projects to go. I will be happy if I can finish them by Friday next, but maybe I won’t. I will not push a project out there that is not ready. I am stubborn, that way. The work you are about to see has as much to do with the the relationship we forge with a client as the design and fabrication relationships.  We make a concerted effort to represent their taste. We try for better than they thought they could have it.

winter containers
classic English cast iron boxes with lighted topiary forms

Large Bulbeck lead planter arranged for winter with curly willow, plum eucalyptus, white berry picks, and noble fir

contemporary winter arrangement ready to be installed in a large steel box

late day sun on that large steel box dressed for winter

winter arrangements awaiting installation in a pair of Atelier Verkant stoneware pots on the same projectfinished winter arrangement with yellow twig dogwood, yellow fuzz ball picks and variegated boxwood

pair of handmade concrete pots dressed for the winter season with flame willow, red berry picks, incense cedar and mixed greens

traditional winter arrangement in an urn on a pedestal with red bud pussy willow, green eucalyptus, and mixed greens

winter pots flanking a company entrance with sumac branches, pine cone picks and noble fir

holiday garland and pots with red bud pussy willow, berry picks, bleached pine cones and German boxwood

a pair of Branch Hudson boxes dressed for winter with red bud pussy willow and fuchsia eucalyptus

classic traditional holiday arrangement with red berry picks, holiday sparkle picks, and red sinamay

fountain surround pots for the winter with grassy textured green picks and noble fir

atelier verkantaccompanying atelier verkant pot with silver sparkle branches, grassy green picks, frosted faux evergreen picks, noble and silver fir

a traditionally decorated green garland for the holidays

winter arrangements in classic French orangery boxes with curly copper willow, blue gray eucalyptus, and gold sinamay

pair of custom fabricated concrete planters with winter arrangements with red twig dogwood, plum eucalyptus and mixed greens

outdoor lighted tree decorated with poplar branches, faux cherry clusters and feather birds

a second lighted outdoor holiday tree dressed with poplar branches, feathered birds, and faux cherries.  For extra light at night, the entire trunk of the tree is wrapped with Lumineo LED light strings, ahead of lighting the branches

indoor holiday tree with blue gray glass ball ornaments, gold glittered banana stems, and gold plastic foil stars

winter containers with gray and white branches and picks

contemporary winter wreath and container

contemporary winter container with red twig dogwood, sage eucalyptus and mixed greens

winter pot with white painted branches, pine cone picks, and gray eucalyptus

finished winter pot with frosted pine cones lit from above

a pair of winter containers featuring white eucalyptus and noble fir. The steel garlic topiary forms are strung with lights.

That pair of pots at night

night light

This steel Bethlehem star fabricated and lighted for Christ Church Cranbrook was a project designed, engineered and fabricated at Branch. We delivered this sculpture, and we were there to assist with the installation.

the star shining

This morning, we will resume the work.













  1. Carol Savage says

    I love seeing your very creative ideas! So inspiring!

  2. Jeannine Eitel says

    Fabulous! Stunning! Amazing talented people who created these works of wonder!! I loved every one of them! Thank you Debra for posting all the pictures!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Jeannine, my group is incredibly talented. So happy to have them.They do great work. all the best, Deborah

  3. Cathy Peterson says

    Gorgeous. . . . a talented team indeed! Detroit area residents are very fortunate to have you there.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Cathy, I like my city, but I also like writing this blog-which reaches gardeners in other places. Thanks for reading, and then writing me. all the best, Deborah

  4. Be. Still. My. Heart. You help make people appreciate the nature around them in one of the most challenging seasons for people to just stop. and look. and listen. Thank you for these moments. Wishing you health, joy, and peace for this and all seasons.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Marguerite, I hope that there is a lot of encouragement and a dash of appreciation for nature on these pages. Hoping you have a great holiday. all the best, Deborah

  5. Always outstanding work, and truly amazing given the size of your workspace!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Dan, our garage seems big to me. But then again I know you as a really big thinker. Happy holidays to you! You and Richard did an incredible job with your winter pots. WOW! all the best to you, Deborah

  6. Thank you for taking the time to write this blog…this post is a visual delight!
    Merry Christmas to you and your talented staff.

  7. Silvia Weber says


  8. Christine Beck says

    Merry Christmas to you and all those at Detroit Garden Works that do such a wonderful job in making our Christmas a little brighter.

  9. June Ormesher says

    All so beautiful… I think you need a branch office here in Plano, Tx! Love the creative ideas— I have done floral arranging for years but have never done anything with outside creations! an inspiration.. Merry Christmas to you all … you better stop writing here and get those 15 projects done!!! keep up the beautiful work!

  10. Charisse Andrews says

    Wonderful, Fabulous! Happiest of Holidays to you and to all of your staff. I so very much enjoy your posts.

  11. Michaele Anderson says

    There can never…let me repeat Never…be too many pictures of these super gorgeous container creations. My eyes drink them in with an almost desperate thirst.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Michaele, you have been reading my essays a very long time. I am so pleased you are still keen about them. Have a great holiday season! all the best, Deborah

  12. I am soooo glad you take your camera with you!! Your blog and pictures truly make my day and always bring me back to my own “soft place in nature” where I feel anything can be done if you have the materials! Love!!!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Serena, every material has a home. But no doubt good materials make the work easier. The best fun is the challenge. best, Deborah

  13. Book? Television show? Instagram account, at least? I feel like everyone in the country ought to have the chance to see what you do. You inspired me to stick berry picks and gold sprayed whatsits into my California front door pot of cyclamen. You shouldn’t feel bad about that;), silly as it looks I get great pleasure from it. Thank you for your talents and hard work.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Lisa, to are too kind. I have no idea what the future holds. I am too busy trying to get the here and now taken care of. all the best, Deborah

  14. Deborah, You sure do make decorating fun & challenging! Can you please tell me how do I bleach pine cones??

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Val, mine come that way from Spain. I would not try bleaching them yourself. The shop carriesw them for sale. best, Deborah

  15. Pamela Brady says

    Hi Deborah,

    Thank you for your beautiful and inspiring posts!
    Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!

  16. Lisa Narozanick says

    All I can say is, “Aaaahhh”.

  17. Laura Willson says

    Deborah, your work is just amazing!!! We need a branch office here in New England. Do you speak and show your work at any conferences or symposiums? (And not just holiday “decorating, but seasonal displays too! We would love to have you come East and showcase your work. Looking forward to your response! THANK YOU!!! Happy Holidays!!!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Laura, I did public speaking for 30 years. But when I turned 65, I took that off my plate. This blog is my way of speaking, coming from me in Michigan to you in New England. Happy to hear from you-thanks. all the best, Deborah

      • Laura Willson says

        Hi Deborah
        I COMPLETELY understand!!! I wish I found you years ago! Hopefully you’ll do a book someday and hopefully I’ll get to Detroit one of these years!
        THANK YOU for inspiring me❤️

  18. Everything is beautiful!

  19. Lisa at Greenbow says

    Wear me out just thinking about doing all of these pots. I know you and your crew brings much joy and beauty to these places. After seeing all of these I had to get out and try my hand at this. I got my mini pot (compared to these) decorated. I just need some lights in it. Fun fun…

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Lisa, the pictures on this post represent a fraction of the work we did last week. Not every picture is publish-worthy! 10 people can accomplish a lot in a week-11 if you include me. best, Deborah

  20. Jen Moneage says

    Absolutely beautiful and amazing work! I so wish you were here in South Carolina 🙂

    Might I ask, how do you get the noble fir so beautiful around the base of the containers? Do you mount it on a styrofoam ring?

  21. Sandra Barnes says

    Wonderful inspiration for me in England. I always look forward to your creative emails. I only wish that I lived near to your shop!!

  22. Every photo just beautiful, but ESPECIALLY the outdoor tree with poplar branches, faux cherries, feather birds and mini lights. Thank you for sharing and Merry Christmas.

  23. I am always excited to see your emails in my inbox. They are truly a bright spot in my day! Thank you for the endless inspiration. Happy Holidays to you and your crew!

  24. Lisa Barnett says

    Thank you so much for writing the blog and sharing all the beautiful photos.
    Your work is such an inspiration to us all. I love coming into the store to get ideas for decorating my home and my fireplace is adorned with some beautiful beaded swags that I purchased from you several years ago. I always receive compliments on them. Happy Holidays to you and your talented staff!

  25. I can’t add anything that hasn’t already been said. Thanks and well done. A delight for the eyes and soul.

  26. Bonnie yerkes says

    It’s a happy day when you pop up in my inbox!! I’m always sharing your blog with other avid gardeners. If you posted every day it still wouldn’t be enough for me! Kudos to you and your staff for the wonderful work, and thank you for sharing it with us. Please–which lights did you use on the two outdoor trees? They are gorgeous. Stay warm out there.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Bonnie, see my response to Donna above. There is only 1 tree, but some pictures are from outside, and others were taken inside. We did do an installation today. We did not do the lights in the pots-it has just been too cold to have bare fingers arranging light strands. We’ll go back when it warms up a bit. best regards, Deborah

  27. Sharon Rink says

    I am in awe of your talents! Thanks for sharing them with us! I too construct winter containers for a public garden in Iowa. I am still learning & experimenting. It’s a process & I enjoy that. My question is would you tell me where some of the items are that you use…colored seeded eucalyptus, bleached pinecones, flame willow, etc. Finding sources for materials is definitely time consuming & frustrating. Thank you & Merry Christmas to you & your staff!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Sharon, you are right-sourcing great materials is time consuming, expensive and frustrating. Rob does that job for us full time. Lots of landscape designers and other related professional people shop at Detroit Garden Works. Call Heather at 1 248 335 8089 for details. The Art Institute of Chicago ordered winter materials from us, based on one of my designs. The winter pots outside the front of the museum look terrific! Merry Christmas to you too! all the best, Deborah

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