Happy Birthday!

January 24th, 2016 | 13 Comments »

Three years ago, on January 26 2013, I wrote my first blog post. Since then I’ve published 170 pieces, an average of slightly more than one post per week.

In my first post, I wrote that I saw the blog as a forum, a place to reflect on my own 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 matters.”

By sharing, I think I really meant clarifying. Because that’s what writing these weekly posts does for me. It forces me to think more precisely, to decide what I want to do, and why.

Over the three years, I’ve written 95 posts about Glen Villa, more than on any other topic, and even a quick review of those posts shows how much the garden has changed in that time. The Aqueduct is the biggest change. This major project modified the way we view and use the garden, shifting the focus from one side of the house to the other.

 

This photo is from September 2014. The plants have grown a lot since then.
This photo is from September 2014. The plants have grown a lot since then.

 

The gabion wall by the parking area in front of the house continued the reorientation that started with The Aqueduct, changing Glen Villa from a garden with a ‘country’ feel to one that is much more contemporary.

 

A newly-built wall uses stones in gabion baskets, to create a more architecturally interesting look.
I hoped to find an interesting name for this area and several people suggested ideas. But it remains nameless… the parking area, or le parking en français.

 

In the Upper Field and in the Asian Meadow, I designed deer fences that allowed that shrubs to grow so much that they all will need a good hair cut, come summer.

 

The shrubs have grown much larger since this photo from 2014.
The shrubs have grown much larger since this photo from 2014.

 

I started a new bed in a neglected area beside the house and named it The Gravel Garden for obvious reasons.

 

This photo shows a larger section of the area.
This photo shows The Gravel Garden and the adjacent area. I may enlarge the garden to include this section. Or I may not… time will tell.

 

I modified plantings at The Skating Pond…

 

The rocks look reasonably natural.
Too much Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’ is too much of a good thing. Weeds are too much of a bad thing.

 

and at the Yin/Yang.

 

The painted tree branch is like the black dot in the white circle of a yin yang symbol. It corresponds to the inert gravel used for the 'hot' side of the circle and it also adds height.
I replaced Festuca glauca with Artemisia ‘Silver Mound’ and added a painted tree branch for height and to continue the idea of opposition that is integral to the yin yang symbol.

 

I chronicled the changing seasons at Glen Villa, complaining of storm damage in summer, fall and winter, and bragging about our award-winning maple syrup in spring.

 

The trees that the storm blew down were big, but shallowly rooted.
The trees that the storm blew down were big, but shallowly rooted.

 

I ‘followed’ a tree, first a contorted hazel that I didn’t really like, then a linden tree that I dearly love.

 

A stormy sky in the late afternoon adds drama to the scene.
A stormy sky in the late afternoon adds drama to this scene, Glen Villa’s Big Lawn.

 

I wrote about the art installations in the garden, those I designed

 

My grass snake reaching for the apple reminds me that my garden is not paradise. But it comes awfully close.
My grass snake is one of the more light-hearted works in the garden. We install it annually. The snake reaching out for the apple reminds me that my garden is not paradise. But it comes awfully close.

 

and those created by others.

 

Bridge Ascending, 2011, by Doucet-Saito
Bridge Ascending, 2011, by Doucet-Saito

 

I wrote about plants, including my favourite, Jeffersonia diphylla.

 

This spring ephemeral doesn't bloom for long -- about 15 minutes in a good year. The seed pod reminds me of a smiling alien.
This spring ephemeral doesn’t bloom for long — about 15 minutes in a good year. The seed pod reminds me of a smiling alien.

 

I reviewed gardens and garden books and wrote about people whose work inspires me.

 

This sculpted amphitheatre is by the English designer Kim Wilkie.
Kim Wilkie is one of many English designers whose work I admire. This sculpted amphitheatre is at Great Fosters in Surrey.

 

Writing weekly is occasionally a chore but I’m afraid that if I miss one week, I will miss the next week as well. So I keep writing, and I’m glad I do. Writing  clarifies my ideas. It helps me determine what works and what doesn’t, and why. It provides a record of what happened at any particular moment and allows me to understand why I did one thing rather than another.

The best thing about writing this blog, though, is getting to know the people who read it. Some of you are friends, some are acquaintances, some are people I’ve met only on line, who I may never meet in person. But to all of you I send a big thank you. Thank you for taking the time to read these weekly posts and for commenting on them. (You can now comment as a guest; I’m told this makes the process much easier. So if you haven’t done so, I hope you will.)

Thank you for sharing your ideas and experiences. Long may it continue!

 

Shadows on my Mind

January 18th, 2016 | 10 Comments »
Tree trunks cast shadows across the snow.
January has brought some bright blue-sky days, with strong sunlight casting shadows on the snow. These dark lines are a common winter sight in Quebec, and in my garden Glen Villa, in Quebec's Eastern Townships.   [caption id="attachment_3429" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Tree trunks cast shadows across the snow. I could say the shadows are like lines on a blank page, except that they aren't.[/caption]   Usually, these shadows are simply a visual echo of the real thing, but occasionally they appear more substantial than the object itself. A bench with an open-work seat becomes solid in

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Madoo Conservancy: A Garden Review

January 11th, 2016 | 20 Comments »
Red circles, yellow benches, green foliage: a colour combination very much at odds with the Chinese style pavilion.
The Madoo Conservancy is a garden created over a period of almost forty years by the artist Robert Dash. Located in Sagaponack, New York, at the eastern end of Long Island, it is a destination garden, described as a magical oasis that evokes delight. It is a garden praised by many, including Rosemary Verey, the former doyenne of British gardening who designed gardens for Prince Charles, Elton John and the New York Botanical Garden. I've even heard it described as a masterpiece. So why did I find it a disappointment?

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Winter Wonderland

January 3rd, 2016 | 11 Comments »
Spruce trees are particularly appealing after a winter snowstorm.
Winter arrived a few days ago. It was later than usual but it came with impressive intensity. Winds blew, snow fell. And now, all around us, are winter's wonders. [caption id="attachment_3347" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Spruce trees are particularly appealing after a winter snowstorm.[/caption]   I'm not sure how much snow has fallen, but judging from the snow peaked on top of the Chinese pot, 10 inches/25.5 cms would be a reasonable guess.   [caption id="attachment_3348" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] The children cavorting on the side of Chinese pot seem to be playing in the

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