Hooray! It’s Pumpkin Time

October 19th, 2015 | 14 Comments »
Montreal is blessed with several great outdoor markets. My local one is the Atwater Market, smaller than some, larger than others. It sells meats, fish, cheeses, breads, fruits, vegetables and almost every sort of food you can put a name to.  At this time of year, though, the Atwater Market is brimming over with pumpkins.   [caption id="attachment_2908" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Traditional pumpkins piled high, at the Atwater Market.[/caption]     It seems to me that pumpkins used to come only one way: big, round, and orange. No more. The variety

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What Makes Sculpture Work?

October 12th, 2015 | 6 Comments »
In the last week I've been visiting gardens and looking at sculpture and art installations, indoors and out. I've visited art museums, gardens where sculpture is integrated into the setting, gardens with temporary sculpture exhibitions and sculpture parks where commissioned pieces are site specific. It's been a fabulous experience, instructive as well as enjoyable. I started my week with a return visit to Naumkeag, the Massachusetts garden created by the landscape architect Fletcher Steele for his friend, client and collaborator Mabel Choate. Sculptural elements are incorporated into this garden in a particularly effective

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What an Honour!

October 4th, 2015 | 6 Comments »
Site and Insight: Reflecting on Art and Landscape has been honoured with a prestigious Silver Award for electronic media. The award, for the website overall, was given by The Garden Writers' Association, a large American-based organization that brings together garden writers from around the world.     Site and Insight was one of 231 entries judged by a panel of distinguished members of the gardening, communications and academic communities. Judges evaluated entries for accuracy of information, content, organization, style and originality. At the annual symposium held this year in Pasadena, California,

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Is a Clearing in the Woods a Garden?

September 27th, 2015 | 13 Comments »
"A natural clearing in a wood is a glade. But a perfectly round clearing the same size, in the same wood, becomes a garden."                                             ... Juan Grimm, Chilean landscape architect   Ten years ago, in March 2005, we planted a ring of trees in a clearing in the woods. The clearing had been used as a staging area the previous winter, a place where the trees we were selectively cutting were

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Home Again — and Happy To Be Here

September 21st, 2015 | 6 Comments »
  What a pleasure it is to return to Glen Villa, my garden in Quebec, after three weeks spent visiting gardens in Scotland and England. Seeing so many amazing places there,  I was worried that my own garden would be a disappointment. It wasn't. It isn't. Yes, I can see dozens of things, large and small, that need attention, but to return to a vegetable garden overflowing with produce and a landscape that never fails to delight makes me glad to be home.   [caption id="attachment_2791" align="aligncenter" width="800"] The shrub border

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Shaping the Earth

September 16th, 2015 | 8 Comments »
Over the last week, as part of a tour I've been leading through gardens in Scotland and the north of England, I've been fortunate enough to see four earth works created by Charles Jencks. Jencks is an American architectural theorist, writer and landscape architect who has lived in Scotland for many years and now divides his time between lecturing, writing, and designing in the USA, the UK, and Europe. There are similarities between the four projects I saw, but each is based on an idea derived from contemporary science. And while the

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Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens

September 6th, 2015 | 6 Comments »
The Princes Street Gardens sit in the centre of Edinburgh, in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle. They were created in the late 1700s and early 1800s after a loch, originally part of the castle's defences, was drained.   [caption id="attachment_2732" align="aligncenter" width="1224"] The castle hill was a volcano 350 million years ago.  Railway tracks run in the moat that used to protect the castle.[/caption]     The gardens are divided in two sections, East and West, that together cover some 37.5 acres (154,000 sq metres). They are the best known  public

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Trees at Glen Villa

August 30th, 2015 | 8 Comments »
Trees play a major role at Glen Villa, my garden in Quebec's Eastern Townships. They provide shade in summer, colourful foliage in autumn and the promise that comes with spring green buds. In winter bare branches of deciduous trees offer a stark colour contrast outlined against the snow, and evergreens provide structure and a touch of colour in an otherwise muted world. Despite their many virtues, trees are not care-free. The old ones, in particular, need attention. At Glen Villa we have trees of all sorts, sizes and ages; but we have LOTS of

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The Dragon’s Tail

August 23rd, 2015 | 8 Comments »
One of the first flower beds I added at Glen Villa was The Dragon's Tail, a line of grape hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum) that sweeps across a flat grassy area like a child's scribble.   [caption id="attachment_2677" align="aligncenter" width="800"] This photo is from 2007, the spring after we planted the muscari bulbs for the second time.[/caption]   I laid out the shape with a lawn mower, cutting a gentle curve, then altering it slightly to add a bit more movement. A friend named it -- he said the shape looked some wild animal,

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The Challenges of Container Gardening

August 17th, 2015 | 6 Comments »
  A common principle of garden design states that the style of a house should be mirrored in the style of the garden. A Georgian brick house is most comfortable surrounded by a symmetrical garden, a country cottage by loose and flowing borders. While this 'rule' is not iron-clad and exceptions can be successful if skillfully done, ignoring the architecture of the house when planning a garden just isn't smart. I believe the same principle applies to container gardening.  The style of the plants, the containers that hold them, their placement and arrangement need to fit

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