Prospect Cottage: A Garden Review

October 12th, 2016 | 12 Comments »
  The garden at Prospect Cottage, located in Kent on England's east coast, was created by the late Derek Jarmon, a filmmaker, diarist and early advocate of gay rights. It is a garden that sits lightly on the land while simultaneously conveying a powerful sense of place. It is also one that elicits a strong response from visitors. Either they like it or they don't, are intrigued by it or walk through quickly, dismissing what they see as a collection of rubbish with some flowers thrown in.   [caption id="attachment_4107" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]

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Yin and Yang at the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden

October 3rd, 2016 | 8 Comments »
Vancouver's Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is an  oasis in the middle of a busy city, a place to rest and reflect on a garden tradition that reached its peak in the Ming dynasty (1358-1644). In accord with the Taoist philosophy of yin and yang that guides the garden's design, the aim is to balance opposing forces and thereby to achieve the equilibrium that constitutes perfection.  Behind the walls that separate the garden from the city, contrasts of dark and light, flexible and immovable, rough and smooth, large and small combine to create a picture

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Changing Colours

September 27th, 2016 | 10 Comments »
This year autumn is slow in coming. Often by the end of September, the hills are as colourful as the big box of Crayola crayons I always begged (unsuccessfully) my mother to buy, with trees standing in ranges of red, orange and pink, gold and chartreuse, and occasional patches of dark wintery green. Not this year. Temperatures have remained high and leaves seem reluctant to lose their grip on summer. In the woods and fields around Glen Villa, though, wildflowers appropriate to the season are blooming their hearts out. Asters predominate.

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Fall projects for Gangly Teens

September 21st, 2016 | 10 Comments »
Coming home after a tour of gardens in the UK is always a shock. English gardens are so lush, so flowery, so impressive in predictable and unpredictable ways. In comparison, my garden in mid-September is a let-down. In fact, it makes me think of a gangly 13-year old. The teen may have good bones and a sense of fashion but for the moment the best features are hidden behind braces and a spotty face. Like that gangly teen, my garden is full of promise. It has good bones even if they do seem hidden today,

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The Devil’s Arrows

September 13th, 2016 | 8 Comments »
  For the last ten days I've been touring gardens in Scotland and the north of England.  A few days ago the group I'm hosting stopped to investigate two prehistoric standing stones. Their setting could not be more prosaic -- a hayfield close to a busy highway, not far from the city of York -- but the stones standing there were anything but.   [caption id="attachment_4395" align="aligncenter" width="1224"] Thankfully the hayfield had been cut, allowing us to cross the field without damaging the crop.[/caption]   The stones date from neolithic times, 3500-2500

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The Second Time Around

September 4th, 2016 | 11 Comments »
  Yesterday I arrived in Edinburgh and tomorrow I begin a tour of gardens in southern Scotland and northern England. This tour is similar to one I hosted last September, which means I'll be taking this year's group to many of the same places I visited then. On the 2015 tour I was seeing some gardens for the first time; others I had been to before. So this year I'll be visiting some gardens for the second time, some for the third, some for the fourth or fifth. Like the song says, will I find

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The Big Meadow in August

August 25th, 2016 | 19 Comments »
  This summer I've been watching what used to be a manicured lawn turn into a meadow.  Seeing the changes month to month has shown that what pleased me in June ...   [caption id="attachment_4073" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] The view from the driveway gives some idea of the size of the Big Meadow.[/caption]   became even better in July.   [caption id="attachment_4203" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Grasses on the prairie used to be called oceans of grass. Now I know why.[/caption]   I was thrilled. Was the transformation from lawn to meadow going to be as

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Framing the View

August 16th, 2016 | 10 Comments »
"No matter how panoramic its scope, a view of surrounding countryside becomes a genuine garden picture only when it has been framed." - Penelope Hobhouse Recently I came across this statement from the English garden writer and designer Penelope Hobhouse. I read it quickly, nodded in agreement, then paused and read it again. Did I agree? Does a view have to be framed in order to create a 'garden picture'? And what is a 'garden picture' anyway? a photograph of the garden or the picturesque scene itself? The more I considered the statement, the

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Opening Day

August 5th, 2016 | 10 Comments »
Yesterday's Open Garden Day was a fabulously exhausting experience. Some 325 people attended, and the feed-back was incredibly positive. Best of all, we raised over $6000  for the Massawippi Foundation -- which means we can keep building trails through the land we've conserved, opening to the public a beautiful area previously inaccessible and helping more and  more people appreciate the richness that surrounds us. There were only a few wrinkles, and thankfully not one was serious. We learned some things that will make next year's Open Day even better -- that is,

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My Favourite Place in the Garden

July 29th, 2016 | 14 Comments »
For the last few weeks, everything and everyone at Glen Villa has been focused on preparing for the first (annual?) Open Garden Day on August 4. Twenty volunteers are primed and ready to go, each assigned to a three hour time slot and to a specific area in the garden. When one of the volunteers asked me which area of the garden was my favourite, I was at a loss. How can I pick one place when I love them all? The history associated with the China Terrace fascinates me.  

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