Grassy Garden Paths

February 3rd, 2015 | 9 Comments »
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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The Colour of Winter

January 28th, 2015 | 3 Comments »
Last week's post titled 'Winter Interest' sparked a critical comment from Anne Wareham, a reader in Wales who is editor of the on-line site ThinkinGardens.  Using the word 'interest' to describe anything in a garden, she wrote, "seems so very odd and hardly apposite really." I agree. Interest is one of those lazy words we use when nothing more precise occurs -- or when our own thoughts are so muddy that precision is difficult. What does 'winter interest' mean, after all? It can't be an attempt to reproduce the colour of summer flowers, or

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Winter Interest

January 20th, 2015 | 9 Comments »
When I first began gardening,, I thought that Quebec's winter landscape could offer nothing of interest. Now I realize that I only needed to train my eye to see things differently. Instead of looking to plants for interest, I needed to look for patterns and details. Details like the sun-sparkled fuzz of snow that coated a clump of grass beside the driveway.   [caption id="attachment_1695" align="aligncenter" width="850"] Ordinary grasses are transformed into tiny sculptures when first coated with snow and ice.[/caption]   Patterns like the wavy black line drawn by the not-yet-frozen stream as

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Througham Court: A Garden of Ideas

January 13th, 2015 | 7 Comments »
Are gardens intellectual endeavours or places to soothe the spirits? If a garden is intended to be a conceptual work of art, does it succeed if it has to be explained? And what responsibility rests on the person viewing the garden to understand the ideas that shaped it? Make the questions personal: should I have to work to understand what a garden is about or is it enough merely to enjoy what I see? If I don't understand the ideas, on what basis do I judge the garden? Visiting Througham Court in

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A New Tree to Follow

January 7th, 2015 | 16 Comments »
Last year I 'followed' a tree, a rather pitiful corkscrew hazel, becoming less and less enamoured with it as each month passed. But I enjoyed the process of closely examining the tree and chronicling the changes month to month -- and I enjoyed following other trees written about by other tree lovers from around the world. I did this thanks to a meme hosted by the English blogger Lucy Corrander at Loose and Leafy. All this led me to decide to 'follow' a tree again this year. But instead of following a

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