Following my Tree

April 9th, 2014 | 4 Comments »
I was hoping that on this, my second 'follow a tree' post, the Corylus avellana 'Red Majestic' would have shed its winter coat.  After all, the first week of April is over. But that hasn't happened. Along with all the individuals I met up with, wandering around Montreal last week, (and wrote about here) his Majesty is still wearing his robes. Unlike those tidy city dwellers, however, he is looking quite disheveled.I promise, there is a tree hidden under the burlap.And ground under the snow. There are promising signs. Like these

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Season’s Wrappings

April 6th, 2014 | 6 Comments »
In a cold climate, even the trees wear coats. A few days ago, on the 15th day of spring, this elderly woman was putting a brave face on it.Is it just me, or do others see a resemblance to Gertrude Jekyll?These little guys, though, looked so dejected I wanted to give them a pat on the back. The three Arctic explorers are almost done in.Who can blame them? It's a long trek from the steps to the sidewalk.An erstwhile member of the Ku Klux Klan was looking suspiciously across the

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How (not) to design a border

March 31st, 2014 | 5 Comments »
A few years ago, a huge tree blew down. The tree was at the edge of the lower garden, by what we call the dragon gate --  a construction of vertical and horizontal pieces of painted wood that matches architectural elements on our house. The tree and the dragon gate marked the start of a path that meanders through the woods and semi-wild areas of the garden.I cried when this 'tremblant' or trembling aspen blew down in a storm,but soon I preferred the more open view.Losing the tree was sad

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It’s spring? You could fool me.

March 23rd, 2014 | 5 Comments »
I woke this morning to a beautiful winter's day. The sky was blue, the sun was glinting on the newly fallen snow. Gorgeous.A glorious winter day, on the third day of spring.Except that it is meant to be spring. The vernal equinox has come and gone. Officially we are now three days into spring. Only at Glen Villa, it seems we are nowhere near it.Yesterday it snowed. And snowed. And snowed some more: about a foot of the white stuff came down. The accumulation now reaches almost to the railing

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Art in a Garden: ephemeral vs permanent art

March 17th, 2014 | 4 Comments »
Ars longa, vita brevis...When Hippocrates wrote these lines, he was not referring to fine art but to the 'art' of medicine. In effect, he was saying that it takes a long time to acquire knowledge and to perfect skills -- and we have only a short time to do that. (I'd add that the statement is true about gardening, and many other things, too.)Over the years the phrase has acquired a different meaning: that art is what endures. But must it? Is 'permanent' art the best type of art for

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Following a Tree

March 12th, 2014 | 8 Comments »
Lucy Corrander, an English garden blogger at Loose and Leafy, has invited bloggers from around the world to join her in 'following' a tree.Her invitation really caught my attention. It sounded like a great idea ... a good monthly discipline and a way to focus on the changes that occur in a tree over a entire year.So once a month from now on (or so the plan goes), I'll be writing a short entry about the tree I've decided to follow, noting how it changes and develops, month by month.Picking

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Art in a Garden: Yes or No?

March 10th, 2014 | 12 Comments »
Is it something in the air?  Recently I've been reading discussions about the advantages and disadvantages of using sculpture in a garden. Does it add or detract? Some have argued in favour; others are vehemently opposed. The strongest statement of opposition I've read came from a New Zealand gardener, newspaper columnist and blogger named Abbie Jury. "... a garden setting can enhance sculpture but I have never actually seen sculpture enhance a garden. As soon as you drop sculpture into a garden setting, it takes centre stage shouting “Look at me! Look

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A winter song for a winter garden

March 3rd, 2014 | 6 Comments »
I read a fair number of blogs related to gardens and landscape design. Recently, many of these have been full of glee about the approach of spring. They've showcased crocus peeping above ground and shown snowdrops in profusion. Phooey. Where I live, winter is still here and the only garden I see is snow.  (Cue Gilles Vigneault: "Mon pays, c'est ne pas un pays, c'est l'hiver. Mon jardin c'est ne pas un jardin, c'est la plaine...." If you don't know the song, google it here. And wait till Gilles begins

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Vertical Gardens: how high can they go?

February 24th, 2014 | 3 Comments »
Worth Avenue defines high end shopping in Palm Beach, Florida. High end appears in a different guise at a junction beside the avenue, where a vertical garden clothes a bare wall. Eleven different types of plants make up this wall. Late day shadows make the wall look less interesting than it is, but a close-up shows some of the variety of textures and shades of green that create the 840 square foot wall. In total, almost 11,000 plants create a stunning curvilinear design. Four textures and four shades of green.

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Ann Norton Sculpture Garden: a garden review

February 17th, 2014 | 8 Comments »
Combining sculpture and a collection of rare palms, the Ann Norton Sculpture Garden offers a quiet retreat from the up-scale social whirl of Palm Beach, Florida. Palm Beach, after all, was (and in some cases still is) home or vacation playground for many of the world's rich and famous, from the Kennedy and Pulitzer families, to Donald Trump, Bernie Madoff and Conrad Black. Ann Norton was a sculptor who married one of these wealthy men, Ralph Norton, an industrialist and an art collector whose collection became the foundation of Palm

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