Time To Read

DSC_7376I always buy myself a few books at year’s end.  My library is big enough that friends and family are afraid they might duplicate what I already have. Worse, they fear buying a book that isn’t of interest, or is off point. I am not offended in the least.  Choosing a book for me is not an easy task. My tastes are quirky, and wide ranging. I have a long history of collecting books on gardening and landscape design. My library has shelf space devoted to design from lots of countries, regions, and cities. What I love in a book is not something I much discuss with anyone. It is by and large a private matter, based on whatever is going through me at the time. This is not so unusual. The choice of a book, no matter the subject, is a personal matter.  Buck likes to buy me books-I humor him with a list. This goes on all year round. He never fails to deliver 2 or 3 books. Buck keeps me reading, Christmas Day.   Part of the solitary end of the season pleasure is looking into what books I might want to own. I don’t know what I read that made me interested in David Culp’s book, The Layered Garden. But I was intrigued enough to buy the book. The idea of a discussion of how a garden might be layered-what did that mean, exactly?  I read the book over the past 2 days. The book is better than I imagined it would be.  How so?  His writing is excellent and lively.  His thoughts on the garden are well thought out-succinct. The horticulture is spot on. The photographs are heavenly. But most importantly, the book makes it obvious that his relationship to his garden, and to horticulture, is a multi-layered affair.

The-Layered-Garden.jpgMy favorite written passages in the book are in the forward. He speaks to what motivates him to share his experience of the garden. The history, and present-all folded into one.  I admire that he would do whatever he could to encourage people to garden. That almost every question can be answered with a yes is a world view well worth some thought. It has much to do with why I write here, and why I will continue to write.    I hear from readers every day.  They are by and large just as passionate about the act of gardening as I am. They have lives not so different than mine.  We share a lot.  A reader sent me a letter and pictures just a few days ago. He makes me feel like everything I have ever done to make or write about making a garden or a landscape  was well worth my time. To follow is his letter, and his pictures.  Thanks, CT.

Dear Deborah,

I truly hope you are doing well! We corresponded earlier this year about my design needs, and unfortunately my idea has become a dream deferred. And since the ideas of my local designers are unimaginative and template-like, I’ve been working at it on my own. It’s been quite a journey, but I’m appreciating the process. In all I want to thank you for your time. I also want to thank you for your inspiration from afar. Your blog is rich and full of passion–I love it.

This fall I started compiling ideas for outdoor winter decorations–I had never done it before–at least to the DGW scale. I looked many places, but always came back to the designs you all put together for your shop and your customers. The thought, the setup, the attention to detail, the process–it’s a privilege to see. I’ve always had an eye for the finer and more intricate things, no matter the art. But sometimes it’s difficult to figure out how to achieve the same end when you don’t know the means. But you have been a teacher, and I have been eager to learn. Many of the materials you use and write about are not readily accessible to me, so I had to drive some distances as well as send for lots of it. Margarita was also such a great help when ordering from your shop!

Anyway, after weeks of working (my wife thought I was deranged) I put together a few containers and a garland. The process…painstaking but well worth the work. I have an even greater appreciation for what you and your crew does. I think you once wrote that Buck always stresses the approach to the work. And doing this all on my own, I can’t agree more. In fact, my 27ft garland…a 3 person job. I was in a pinch with time, and with no help it took 3 1/2 hours to hang. I’ll NEVER do that again. But I learned from it all. I even made a small pot for my neighbor after she saw my work. My designs aren’t original as you can see, haha. But it was nice to have a reference point for my first crack at this. I’m enchanted with the turnout…and so are my neighbors. I’m sure you have hundreds or even thousands of followers that feel the way I do. But I wanted to take the opportunity to tell you that I appreciate all that you do and all that you know.

Happy Holidays to you Deborah and the entire Detroit Garden Works crew! Enjoy the pix.



CT 1a gardener’s expression of the holiday

CT 2holiday entry

CT 4a winter container

CT 5How I love the letter and the pictures from CT. He read what I wrote, and said yes, David Culp style.Though he stuck close to my designs this year, I know the next season around he will venture out entirely on his own. CT-I cannot wait for your pictures, next year.  Why wouldn’t I? If I encourage any person to garden, my writing will have been worth so much more than I ever imagined it would. David Culp said everything about the process of gardening that needs saying-just my opinion.  His garden is extraordinary. His book is well worth the read. The heart this book is everything I would wish for any gardener, including myself, for the new year. Layered.



  1. Excellent!

  2. Just like grandma said, “sharing is caring” and Deborah is the Queen of caring!

  3. Paula Venti says

    Love this post !!!

  4. Lisa - Ontario says

    I love the Layered Garden. I was having problems sharing it with my Aunt because it would leave my house for a few months. My garden library has been expanding at an alarming rate this last year or two. Many come second hand from the UK. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone to pick out a book for me. Odds are pretty good that I have already bought it, or have it on order. I am currently reading the Gardener of Versailles. It wasn’t what I thought it would be, but I am thoroughly enjoying it.

  5. Deborah: Every time I read your blog I am inspired….I love your ideas and thoughts…Thank-you for taking the time to share with us….Now, I have a new book to read!

  6. WOW! CT is a very observant student! I think he even found the same color of eucalyptus. Nice job

  7. Annette Eberhardt says

    I agree! I read David Culp’s book, The Layered Garden, this past fall. I renewed it from the library three times and still ended up buying the book! The pictures are fabulous. His information is just wonderful and inspirational. I guess it’s a lot like your blog! Thank you, Deborah. I am always amazed at how much information you were willing to teach other people. I am thankful because I learn so much from you. Happy New Year!

  8. I heartily second your recommendation of David Culp’s excellent book, which I only learned of a few months ago. I got myself a copy immediately because I knew it would be instructive and a pleasure — I’d visited his garden ten years ago, his gardening conditions and climate have a lot in common with mine, he combines southern Appalachian roots with very high-level Philadelphia horticulture, and he’s just a terrific enthusiast, teacher, and positive force by example. It also came at the right time for me, after a late summer and fall in which I re-immersed myself in the garden after a decade of neglect. I’ll be lending out The Layered Garden, especially to garden friends who were with me on that visit — but I’ll be asking for it back before too long!

  9. I just placed an order of this book from our library. The pictures inside the online book are worthy of everyone’s attention. Thank you, Deborah, for sharing all that is beautiful.

  10. Wow, CT’s pictures show that he has turned inspiration into mastery. His creations are wonderful tributes to all that you have shared with your readers this past month. That garland over the front entry way is particularly impressive and putting it in place all by himself had to be a bear. You and David Culp are both very effective communicators in sharing your passion for gardening.

  11. another book!!
    grandmothers are the best, my career in this industry was sown by my grandmother.

    for a first effort CT is well on his way, what an astute student which has to be rewarding for you deborah. i savor every post and count my blessings for you

  12. Dear Deborah,

    A gardener, a teacher, an inspiration for me and for many.

    I thank you.

  13. FABULOUS……….truly FABULOUS!!

  14. You inspire so many! Especially me. I was actually inspired by the Branch fountain in my holiday decor. I was so struck by the incredible texture and form of that piece. So I arranged my Christmas Eve bar as a hedge. I wired hundreds of pine cuttings to a cheap table to make, at least what I felt, an extremely unique and special piece. If you’re interested, there are photos of it in the most recent post on my lazy blog. Just scroll down and be sure to enlarge the photo as it shows up slightly cropped on the page.
    Layered garden has been on my list. If you like it, I’m sure I will as well! Happy New Year and thank you for so graciously sharing your talent.

  15. I thought he did an excellent job … they turned out great! I would never be able to tell this was his first attempt.

  16. Jo Adkison says

    Your blogs and pix are just pure joy!
    Thank you so very much!

  17. Mary brooks says

    A hearty Amen to TCs comments. I love your design work and your philosopy to life. It is always a treat when your next post comes. Thank you for sharing, teaching and inspiring me and so many others. Wish I lived closer to your shop. Blessings, MB

  18. Mary Griggs says

    Had the honor of hearing David Culp lecture last spring. It was awesome! Congrats to CT his design was beautiful! Deborah, what CT said was so true. Thank you! Thank you for your continued inspiration. Thank you for taking the time to teach us. I always take away something.

  19. Great roundup as usual, really enjoyed your article. Thanks for sharing your article with us. It’s very inspiring to plant and decor it in your own house.

  20. I don’t think there is any question how far-reaching your work goes via this blog. I accidentally stumbled upon it years ago and have been following faithfully ever since. I’m inspired, intrigued and educated with each post. I came to gardening late in my life, and dove in head first. Aside from all the wonderful wisdom and knowledge I gain, I am continually reminded that I should step up my game. No other person or thing other than this blogs asks me to be better than my best when it comes to gardening and design. Thank you for being there!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Mario, thank you for this letter. I appreciate it, truly. To a better garden for us both. best, Deborah

  21. Susan Atchley says

    Dear Debra,
    I echo Mario’s comments above. I could not improve on his articulate and heartfelt message. It is exactly as I feel. I also wish to thank you for the referral to “The Layered Garden.” It is a fabulous book on many levels. I am halfway through and all other activities pale, so I keep on reading. What a delightful way to spend a cold winter day.

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