(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

March 2nd, 2016 | 4 Comments »
  I don't normally post more than once a week but the wildlife here on Kiawah Island keeps giving me pictures to share. Yesterday I spotted this Great Blue Heron fishing... and enjoying the catch.   [caption id="attachment_3651" align="aligncenter" width="828"] Yum yum![/caption]  

The Wild Life on Kiawah Island

February 29th, 2016 | 4 Comments »
Strictly speaking, the headline on this week's blog post should read wildlife instead of wild life. Because for the last few weeks life here has been anything but wild. Instead, the days have passed gently, giving me a very welcome break, with time to read, think and bike around the island, enjoying everything I see. Birds abound here. Cormorants are everywhere, gathering most mornings for a confab on a nearby golf course ...   [caption id="attachment_3626" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Do you think they are gathering for a caucus? Politics is all

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Patterns and Politics

February 22nd, 2016 | 8 Comments »
  For the last week I've been enjoying warm snow-free days on Kiawah Island, a vacation spot off the coast of South Carolina. One of the joys of being here (apart from the weather, of course) is seeing plants I can't identify. This isn't because they are rare, it's because they are unfamiliar, and in vacation mode I can't find the energy to look them up.  Cycling around the island, with the sun warm on my shoulders, I simply enjoy what I see.   [caption id="attachment_3575" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] These palms have

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Crocus on my Mind

February 15th, 2016 | 10 Comments »
  For the last few days I've been driving south, from Montreal to South Carolina. I was expecting the days to get warmer and they have, but not by much. Along the Skyline Drive in Virginia, snow was very evident, up close ...   [caption id="attachment_3531" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] I like these trees and the way the branches are twisted by the wind and weather. Can someone identify them for me?[/caption]   ... and in the distance.   [caption id="attachment_3532" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Snow covered the ground on mountain ranges that retreated

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Layers in the Garden, or The Necessity for Ruins

February 8th, 2016 | 14 Comments »
When gardeners mention layers, or layering, they are often talking about propagating a plant. Tucking a flexible shoot of a shrub underground and leaving it to form roots is one method of layering. Separated from the original, one shrub becomes two or more, depending how many branches were layered. Layering can refer as well to different vertical spaces, from ground covers to perennials that are knee high, at eye level and taller, or to shrubs and trees that tower overhead. It can refer to a succession of bloom, how one flower overlaps with another, before fading

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The Writing is on the Wall

February 1st, 2016 | 18 Comments »
  The writing is on the wall -- not metaphorically but literally.   [caption id="attachment_3465" align="aligncenter" width="3888"] What more is there to say?[/caption]   This latest work of art is a collaboration with my friend and neighbour John Hay. He and I previously collaborated on a mosaic map of Glen Villa and a giant turtle that sits in the Upper Field. More significantly, though, the project is a departure for me. As my granddaughter pointed out, it is the first piece I've conceived that doesn't relate to nature or natural materials in one way

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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

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Shadows on my Mind

January 18th, 2016 | 10 Comments »
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 »
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 »
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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