Do flowers make a garden?

February 9th, 2014 | 21 Comments »
Must a garden have flowers? Must it have trees and shrubs? Must it have plants at all? I think most people would say yes. But consider England’s great landscape gardens. Some of those designed by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown in the late 1700s had few if any flowers. And what about that masterpiece of garden art, the Ryoan-ji  garden in Kyoto? This garden from the late 1400s contains only sand, rock and small islands of moss. This image of the Ryoan-ji's Zen garden is from Wikipedia. So, is “garden” simply a word to be defined

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Lady Byng, Where Are You?

February 2nd, 2014 | 1 Comment »
The hunt is on for a lost peony, the Lady Byng. This special peony was said to be very pretty, and it definitely was colourful, bright crimson carmine with a distinctive cushion of buff and deep red.  It was also expensive: in 1926, it cost an astronomical $35. This is what it looked like:     The only known photograph of the 'Lady Byng' peony The peony was developed by Harry Norton, a Canadian peony breeder from Ayer’s Cliff, Québec, who bred many peonies in the early years of the 1900s.

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Happy Birthday to a one-year old blog!

January 27th, 2014 | 12 Comments »
A year ago this week I wrote the first entry for this blog, Glen Villa: Site and Insight. In the introductory post, I acknowledged that I didn't know how the blog was going to evolve. I know I want to write about my garden, Glen Villa, and about how it got to be what it is. I want to write about art and the installations I’m building throughout the property. But more, I want to share my ideas about what a garden is, what it can be, and why it

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2013: Glen Villa reviewed

January 20th, 2014 | 4 Comments »
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! January: The tiny evergreen seedlings we planted four or five years ago in an area I

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Observing and learning

January 12th, 2014 | 6 Comments »
A few months ago Don Stratham, a New York state garden consultant, wrote a blog post about garden mishaps, or learning from failures in the garden, in his blog called Rooting for Ideas. He listed some of his mistakes -- and what they had taught him. But what his post made me think of was the importance of observation itself, and of taking note of what you observe. I saw this forest scene a few years ago and was immediately struck by nature's artful composition. The contrast between the upright

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Looking ahead: Glen Villa in 2014

January 5th, 2014 | 8 Comments »
I don't make New Year's Resolutions. But planning ahead for the garden is a regular winter activity. So this is what I plan (correction: make that hope) to do in 2014. 1. Clean up loose ends. This category includes more things than I like to think about. I often start new projects before the old ones are finished, but this year I intend to do some tidying up before beginning anything new. (Ok, I suppose that counts as a resolution.) Loose end #1 is the final aqueduct pool, just above

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