The Skating Pond, August 2018

August 19th, 2018 | 3 Comments »

Sometimes small changes make a huge difference, or as I wrote last fall, Little Things Mean a Lot.  I was writing then about some small changes I’d made at the Skating Pond at Glen Villa, my garden in Quebec. Later in the fall, after I wrote about the changes, I made one more. I added a bench.

 

The slate under the bench was left over from a previous project.
The slate under the bench was left over from a previous project.

 

My sister immediately said the bench looked wrong — and she was right.

 

Looking up at the first bench from the boardwalk told me that my sister was right. I needed to change the bench.
Looking up at the first bench from the boardwalk told me that my sister was right. I needed to change the bench.

 

It took me almost a year to replace that bench. The new one does everything I wanted it to do. Unlike its predecessor, it almost disappears into the landscape.

 

From the far side of the Skating Pond, the bench almost disappears.
From the far side of the Skating Pond, the line of the bench echoes the line of the boardwalk.

 

The materials are simple and appropriate for the setting.

 

A side view of the new bench shows how simple it is -- two rocks and two planks.
A side view of the new bench shows how simple it is — two rocks and two planks.

 

From the boardwalk looking up, the bench appears like a natural element, not a decorative seat as the previous one was.

 

This view from the boardwalk shows
This view from the boardwalk shows how  comfortably this bench fits the landscape.

 

I’m happy with this modest change. As small as it was, it re-affirms for me how important it is to keep looking and to make changes when you need to.

What about you? Have you made a small change in your garden that has made a big difference?

 

 

The Middle of August

August 13th, 2018 | 11 Comments »
The Big Meadow
In the middle of August the garden at Glen Villa is just beginning to emerge from an unusually long dry spell. A few days ago we had rain -- buckets of it that washed out our driveway and threw a section of bank into Lake Massawippi. (We repaired the driveway; the lake itself may take care of the landslide.) Before the rain, plants were wilting badly. The leaves on a catalpa tree we planted years ago first drooped, then began to curl up and turn brown; thankfully they are now starting to recover.

Read More...

The Clearing of the Land

August 6th, 2018 | 15 Comments »
This is how the water meadow looked in 2009 after we first cut a path through it.
For several years now I've been working on a trail that leads through the fields and forests at Glen Villa. Sited along the trail are art installations I'm creating that relate to history, the passage of time and the relationship between art and architecture. I wrote about this for the first time in March 2017. My focus then was to figure out what to call the trail. Thanks to my granddaughter Elinor, there now is a name. Timelines. I like the name. It is short and direct yet suggestive of something

Read More...

Midsummer Medley

July 23rd, 2018 | 14 Comments »
nepeta (1 of 1)
Mid-July is truly the middle of summer in North Hatley, Quebec, when both the flowers in the garden at Glen Villa and the wildflowers in the fields strut their stuff. The Nepeta racemosa 'Walker's Low' at The Aqueduct is still blooming, a month after it began. The Eremurus 'Cleopatra' that provided such a wonderful vertical accent has faded now, but its candles remained lit for several weeks. Only in the last few days  have they been extinguished.     Nearby, a clematis (Clematis 'Inspiration') with the same colour tonality as the

Read More...

Open Garden Day and Garden Talks

June 29th, 2018 | 5 Comments »
If we open the garden next summer in mid-June, we might see this field of buttercups.
Many people have asked when we will be opening the garden to the public this year. The sad news is, we won't.  This summer we are working on various garden projects that need time to settle in. But I hope that in 2019 we will have one -- or maybe two -- open garden days.   [caption id="attachment_6418" align="aligncenter" width="3586"] If you visit the garden next summer in mid-June, you may see this field of buttercups.[/caption]   Many people have also asked about where and when I'll be speaking. Coming up on July

Read More...

Five Good Things and a Bad

June 25th, 2018 | 12 Comments »
Seeing the trees from a distance was like seeing a beacon of light, pulling you into a magic place.
As June shines its way towards July, I'm outside soaking it in and enjoying the garden at Glen Villa. There are too many happy-making things to show in a single post, so today I'm focusing on only four. First come the hawthorn trees. We planted them more than 15 years ago and they have proved a mixed blessing, blooming well in some years, not so well in others. This year they were spectacular.     [caption id="attachment_6453" align="aligncenter" width="5184"] Seeing the trees from a distance was like seeing a cloud of light,

Read More...

A Victorian Garden

June 17th, 2018 | 15 Comments »
Baptisia is growing in my garden. Seeing this combo makes me want to add some orange poppies.
Yesterday I spoke at the Colby-Curtis Museum in Stanstead, Quebec, home to the Stanstead Historical Society. The museum is a local treasure, housed in a classical revival-style villa built in 1859 called Carrollcroft.   [caption id="attachment_6429" align="aligncenter" width="5184"] The house, its gardens and adjacent stable and carriage house, tell the story of the Colby family, a prominent local family of American origin. The family donated the house and its contents to the Stanstead Historical Society in 1992. Exhibitions provide insight into the social and cultural history of the county which borders Vermont.[/caption]   The current

Read More...

Crabapples in Bloom!

June 4th, 2018 | 20 Comments »
May 24, 2018
In just over a year, the Crabapple Allée, aka the Avenue, has gone from dream to dirt, to bloom and gone. We started with this, a dull bare field.   [caption id="attachment_6400" align="aligncenter" width="4272"] I took this photo on April 24, 2017, when I became serious about planting a long allée of trees,. The walk through the trees is part of a larger project I'm still working on.[/caption]   Four months later, The Avenue was beginning to take shape.   [caption id="attachment_6399" align="aligncenter" width="5184"] August 8, 2017[/caption]   By mid-November, the

Read More...

What’s in a Name?

June 1st, 2018 | 4 Comments »
cardamine diphylla (1 of 1)
I saw this wildflower in the woods last week and was surprised to learn its botanical name, Cardamine diphylla.     I was surprised because only a week or so ago, I looked up the name of another plant, now growing in damp areas in the garden and in the fields at Glen Villa. Its botanical name is Cardamine pratensis.   [caption id="attachment_6380" align="aligncenter" width="3264"] Lady's smock or milkmaids is growing beside the Glen Villa pond. It has bloomed for several weeks.[/caption]   What is the relationship between the two Cardamines? Are

Read More...

Terracing the China Terrace

May 29th, 2018 | 15 Comments »
terraces (1 of 1)
One of the first projects I undertook at Glen Villa was the China Terrace, a contemporary folly that honours an old resort hotel that once stood on the property. I first wrote about it as a conceptual garden. Following that, I wrote about it sporadically, focusing on the changes I made --  the bed that shook off its annuals in favour of a moss quilt,   [caption id="attachment_1565" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Moss forms a quilt on an old iron frame bed.[/caption]   and the staircase leading to the imaginary second and third story that changed, from

Read More...