2013: Glen Villa reviewed

The end of January isn’t the obvious time to do a year-end review, but since 2013 is well and truly over,  it’s now or never. And since next week marks the one year anniversary of this blog, and I plan to review some of the top posts and your comments about them, writing a month by month review of what happened this past year at Glen Villa seems a reasonable idea.

So let’s go!


The tiny evergreen seedlings we planted four or five years ago in an area I call the water meadow are finally beginning to show promise. It will be many years yet before they can be called trees, but at least the tops are now higher than the snow.

We planted several hundred seedling trees in 2009.


Snowshoeing, we saw lots of animal tracks, including these from wild turkeys. Turkeys now appear frequently, and are becoming less and less afraid of human contact. (See November for proof.)

Do turkeys get cold feet?


The snowdrops divided and planted in 2012 came up in a very satisfying fashion. Next year they should be better, forming a true river of white. Thank you for the idea, Cold Climate Gardening!

A post by Kathy Purdy of Cold Climate Gardening gave me the idea and the information
on dividing clumps of snowdrops. Thanks, Kathy!


The daffodils on the berm beside the skating pond came up in full vigour. I don’t like how they look, as if arranged in neat little rows. I don’t know how to change them except by digging up every bulb and re-planting. There has to be a better way. Suggestions, anyone?

We plant 1000 bulbs every fall. I like the mixed assortment; they produce flowers
over an extended period — as long as 6 weeks in some years.


I made two modifications to the hotel re-creation that I call the China Terrace. Most successful was the moss-covered bedspread, with moss grown to order by Bryophta, a fairly new company based in Quebec.

An excellent source for moss grown to order is Suzanne Campeau,
head of Bryophyta.  The company is located in Quebec’s Eastern Townships.

Less successful was the new staircase to the imaginary second storey of the recreated inn. Using only copper tubing was a mistake — the staircase looks too flimsy in the open air. The copper tubing needs to be stronger visually so I’ll add some white wooden railings or banister posts in 2014.

I plan to add some white wood banister to this staircase.
Or maybe a side rail, mirroring the risers.


Returning from a garden tour of England, I was inspired to straighten some curves and add edging to the extension of the border in the lower garden, and…

We added a narrow stone band to this new bed in the lower garden,
and to the one in the background in the photo above.

to straighten and edge the walk from the garage to the house. I am pleased with both these changes.

I am standing with my back to the house.
You can see the garage roof at the top right of the photo.


The big project for the summer — and the big headache — was the aqueduct. We worked throughout July and well into August to locate and plug leaks in the system.

Our first attempt to plug the leaks involved digging up part of the driveway.

This involved a lot of digging — more than I want to remember.

The second attempt involved relining the cascade pond and digging a drainage trench
between the cascade pond and the holding pond on the other side of the drive.


August saw us working to correct a problem at the Skating Pond in the upper field. This is a long story that I’ll tell you about in another entry. Thankfully the problem here did not involve leaks. Instead we contended with sliding mud.

We enlarged the pond above the boardwalk instead of adding more drainage.

In August we also finished installing the deer fences I designed, putting them in the upper field and in the meadow.

The deer fence in the meadow


In September, when the aqueduct finally began to work, we added two bead curtains to control the flow of water and to prevent unnecessary splashing.

The aqueduct, with curtains of beads to control the water flow.


With the aqueduct operating, it became clear that the project needed a proper ending, not a climax but rather a conclusion that was in keeping with the elegance of what we’d added. The little round rock-edged bathtub of a pool that sat above the boathouse would have to go. Or would have to be altered. We staked out a new shape and…

A new shape for the boathouse pond: five sides amkes a pentagon.

began work. We didn’t quite finish the project in the fall so that’s a loose end waiting to be tied in 2014.

In the spring we’ll finish the stonework, repair the small waterfall below the pond
and fill in with shade-loving plants that the deer don’t like.
No hostas allowed.


Luckily the weather stayed reasonably good through most of November, allowing me time to install a major sculpture I made for a neighbour. The turkeys at the neighbour’s house weren’t at all sure they liked what we were doing.

A trio of Tom turkeys trot.
That feather on the chest tells you that all three are male.


The sculpture Coup de Foudre, which literally means lightning bolt, stood tall and proud under its first snowfall. Commissioned by a family whose house was destroyed by lightning, the name and form of the sculpture acknowledge that event while also underlining the metaphoric meaning of the phrase, love at first sight.

Coup de Foudre 2013

The sculpture stood tall and proud but the trees did not. They drooped, cracked, and broke. The damage from ice storm 2013 is enormous, and already the air is filled with the sound of chain saws and the sight of broken branches pushed to the side of trails.

A birch trees bows over some rhododendrons,
protected against the deer by a winter fence.

I wish 2013 had ended with blue skies, glorious white snow and no ice, but after reviewing the year as a whole, I’ am content with what we accomplished. My hopes are high for 2014.