You Read it Here First!

February 27th, 2015 | 15 Comments »

I’m a big fan of ThinkinGardens, the British website edited by Anne Wareham. While the bulk of the posts relate to gardening and gardens in England, posts also cover topics of wider interest. As the website itself says, it’s a website “for people who want more than gardening from gardens.”

ThinkinGardens isn’t modest or retiring, and neither is its editor. Both aim at controversy, or at least at generating discussion about gardens, garden design, garden practices and philosophies. The website is a compendium of writing that challenges assumptions and makes readers think. It also entertains.

So I am particularly pleased that a blog post I wrote for this site has been re-posted on ThinkinGardens.

You can find it here:  http://thinkingardens.co.uk/reviews/art-or-science-a-review-of-througham-court-by-pat-webster/

Why not read the article again? Or if you are a new subscriber, why not read it for the first time? And then let me hear from you. What are gardens for? After taking a virtual tour, do you ache to visit Througham Court or does it turn you off?

Would you rather see this…

 

Througham Court 2013-111
Pretty flowers drape over a pretty stone wall beside nicely curved stone steps, at Througham Court, England

 

or explore the meaning of this?

 

Unusually strong colours and a dynamic design characterize this viewing platform at Througham Court.
Unusually strong colours and a dynamic design characterize this viewing platform at Througham Court.

 

Or, like me, are you greedy and want to have the best of both?

At Glen Villa, my garden in rural Quebec, I want beautiful surroundings. And for most of the year, even when we are buried beneath huge piles of snow, I have them, in spades. Much of the beauty is natural, much is cultivated.

 

The band of muscari whips its way across the grass at Glen Villa. I call it the Dragon's Tail.
The band of muscari whips its way across the grass at Glen Villa. I call it the Dragon’s Tail.

 

But even the most glorious beauty is not enough. I believe that for a garden to be successful, it needs to mean something. It needs to go beyond aesthetics, to deal with questions that matter.

 

The sundial clearing is the culmination of an installation I made for Glen Villa. Titled In Transit/En Route, it raises questions about time and being present in the moment.
The sundial clearing is the culmination of an installation I made for Glen Villa. Titled In Transit/En Route, it raises questions about time and being present in the moment.

 

 

The American landscape architect Fletcher Steele said it well: “The chief vice in a garden is to be merely pretty.”

Do you agree?

 

What to see when the flowers aren’t in bloom.

February 23rd, 2015 | 6 Comments »
This tree was flowering when we arrived. But it is the only one I've seen.
Coming to South Carolina in mid-February, I expected to see daffodils and crocus, maple trees budding out, azaleas and the flowering trees that speak of spring in southern climes. But not this year.     [caption id="attachment_1868" align="aligncenter" width="850"] Ok, I did see one flowering tree -- this one. But until yesterday it was the only one  I had seen.[/caption]     Temperatures have been much lower than normal, so low that ponds have frozen.  It's only a skim of ice. But it is ice all the same.   [caption id="attachment_1861"

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Middleton Place: An American Landscape Garden

February 16th, 2015 | 8 Comments »
Camellias are now a mark of southern gardens. They were introduced to America in 1786, at Middleton Place.
Middleton Place is described as America's oldest landscaped garden. Laid out in 1741 with romantic additions dating from the 19th and 20th century, it is a fascinating example of international style with a southern accent.   [caption id="attachment_1826" align="aligncenter" width="850"] Camellias are now a mark of southern gardens. They were introduced to America in 1786, at Middleton Place.[/caption]     A bit of history: First settled in the late 17th century, Middleton Place was acquired by Henry Middleton through marriage. It was the family seat of four successive generations of Middletons

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Following a Tree: What’s in a Name?

February 9th, 2015 | 4 Comments »
This is how the linden might be looking today. Notice the figure next to it -- he is about 6 ft tall, which gives you an idea of the height of the tree, around 60 ft.
This year I am following the tree at the end of the big lawn at Glen Villa, my garden in rural Quebec. The botanical name of the  tree is Tilia americana. I call it a linden. That's not wrong -- the tree is a member of the linden family. Like many living things, it goes by several names. In England, it is a lime tree. In North America it is commonly known as basswood. Today I'm far from home, on holiday some 1800 kilometres/ 1100 miles to the south. So I can't trudge across the snow

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Grassy Garden Paths

February 3rd, 2015 | 5 Comments »
A straight path at Stancombe Park in England edged with stone leads to the sculpture of a stag.
Today, when nothing for me but snow and ice is underfoot, I am thinking about garden paths and how they affect the way we move through our gardens. The material used for the path, its width, whether it is straight or curved, whether we can see where it is leading or not -- these aspects and more shape the style of our gardens and influence how we respond to them. Compare for a moment this grassy path ....   [caption id="attachment_1772" align="aligncenter" width="850"] A straight path at Stancombe Park in England leads to

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