Wildflowers Rule!

September 9th, 2019 | 6 Comments »

Labour Day has come and gone, which must mean that summer is over. But the wildflowers blooming so exuberantly in the fields around Glen Villa, my garden in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, say that isn’t so.


Joe Pye weed has taken over an unused field... and every year I thank it for doing that.
Joe Pye weed has taken over an unused field… and every year I thank it for doing moving in.


Ok, perhaps that’s wishful thinking. The Joe Pye weed that was so gorgeous a few weeks ago is faded now, and while that has its own style of beautiful, it does mean that autumn is almost here.

Many plants age well but Joe Pye could do with some help, I think.
The brown tones of Joe Pye’s seed heads are a bit depressing. Do you agree?


Other wildflowers are still going strong. Golden rod, of course.


golden rod (1 of 1)


White asters …

asters (1 of 1)


… and purple ones.


1. aster purple (1 of 1)


Queen Anne’s lace is everywhere, gorgeous in full bloom,


1. Queen Anne's lace (1 of 1)


and intriguing before it opens, when it is a curled up promise.

1. Queen Anne's lace bud (1 of 1)


I’m delighted to seeTurtlehead (Chelone glabra) return to our fields. It was growing abundantly a few years ago and then disappeared.


chelone close up (1 of 1)


But whether on their own or in mixed groups, a display of wildflowers outshines my best attempts at garden design.

1. mixed (1 of 1)


As invasive as they are, I even like Canadian thistles.


thistle (1 of 1)


Must be my prickly nature!

I’m now scheduling talks for the up-coming year.  You can check out the list of topics on my website or get in touch directly to inquire about other topics, dates and details.




Containers That Match Your Mood

September 2nd, 2019 | 8 Comments »
This combo worked well from late May to late September.
Recently a friend asked if I'd written about container gardening. Her question started me thinking about how the plants on the decks around our house have changed over the years. I pulled out old photos to see if my memory was accurate. Yes, the choices I made had changed. And while that wasn't really surprising, what I noticed most was that the differences year to year reflected changes not only in my experience but also in my emotions and moods. Decks surround Glen Villa, our house and garden in Quebec, offering lots of space


The China Terrace Gets a Face Lift

August 25th, 2019 | 10 Comments »
I used Lamium 'Fancy Nancy' for the bedspread and Alternathera 'Purple Prince' for the pillow.
The title of this post might well be The China Terrace gets a Floor Lift... but that would be confusing and not entirely accurate. So what has happened? The China Terrace, a re-imagining of the grand resort hotel that once stood on the property, was one of the first projects I undertook at Glen Villa. [caption id="attachment_1567" align="alignleft" width="1024"] The entry to the China Terrace uses old pillars I found in a local antique store. The posts that curve up beyond suggest a staircase to an imaginary second story.[/caption]   My


Try and Try Again

August 18th, 2019 | 15 Comments »
The wrought-iron will rust eventually but we can scrape and oil it when it does.
The old saying is a good one: if at first you don't succeed, try, try again. There's a meme in the gardening world started by Bonney Lassie at call Tell the Truth Tuesday. Despite my fair share of failures, I've never joined in. But La Seigneurie, one of the newest parts of my Quebec garden, fits the meme all too well. So even if it isn't Tuesday, here's the truth. In early June this year, we seeded a farm field as part of Timelines, the 3 km trail I've developed that explores questions


A Fence with a Story

August 15th, 2019 | No Comments »
After reading my most recent post about fences, a friend sent me a photo of the fence around the Old Courthouse in St. Louis, Missouri.   [caption id="attachment_7877" align="alignleft" width="5152"] You don't often see turtles on fences. Or at least not in my part of the world.[/caption]   I wondered if Missouri was the turtle state, and if not, what was the story behind the design? This information from a brochure about the Old Courthouse tells the tale: ‘A turtle design on the reproduction courtyard gates commemorates a turtle that once



August 11th, 2019 | 14 Comments »
I designed this fence made of steel posts and wire cable to be as invisible as possible from a distance and attractive up close.
Fences come in all shapes and sizes, yet in one way or another they all serve the same purpose: to separate one area from another. At Glen Villa, my garden in Quebec, the oldest fence separates a former farm field from a driveway.   [caption id="attachment_7852" align="alignleft" width="1024"] It's obvious from the way the tree has grown around it that this barbed wire fence was put up a long time ago.[/caption]   An equally practical but more decorative fence is the one I designed to protect shrubs from the deer that


Paths with Pizazz

August 4th, 2019 | 4 Comments »
The cmbination of regular and irregularly shapes stones along with the plants that break up the stones makes this path at Malverleys particularly appealing.
Many garden paths are ordinary, designed simply to get you from one place in the garden to another. Grass paths, the simplest and least costly type of path to make, appear in gardens so routinely that they almost disappear. Occasionally, though, you'll see a path that stands out. The grass path below is an example. It is well maintained and nicely curved but what lifts it out of the ordinary is the white line that edges it. That line draws your eye along the curve and makes the path itself impossible to ignore.


Garden Paths

July 29th, 2019 | 12 Comments »
The tightly laid stone path at Cottesbrooke, a Queen Anne house in Northamptonshire.
Working on Timelines, the 3 km trail at Glen Villa that opened last weekend, started me thinking about trails and paths more generally, and particularly about the way the size, shape and the material a path is made of affect how we respond. What a difference there is, for instance, between the effect of a winding path made of wood chips ...   [caption id="attachment_7795" align="alignleft" width="4272"] This photo shows a wood chip path at Holbrooke Garden, a naturalistic garden in Devon.[/caption]   ... and a straight path that leads to


Open Garden Day Success

July 22nd, 2019 | 18 Comments »
The rich sounds of the cello could be heard from the Lower Garden right up to the Upper Field. No question, the music added to the special atmosphere.
On Saturday July 20, over 300 people visited Glen Villa to view the garden and walk Timelines, the 3km trail that opened for the first time. The day was exhausting because of the heat and humidity but it was exhilarating to welcome so many people to the garden and to hear how much they enjoyed the experience. Many visitors commented on how well organized we were. For this, I have to thank the 24 volunteers who worked at the registration desk and at various spots around the garden. Of all the volunteers, I want


Wildflowers and Wild Life

July 14th, 2019 | 16 Comments »
For a wildflower to seed itself all over a field ... how lucky is that!
Some wildflowers are called weeds... but often those 'weeds' have pretty flowers. Consider crown vetch, for instance. Its purple flowers are lovely from a distance and it is useful as a temporary ground cover to prevent erosion. But it's also a menace, in some cases covering and shading out native plants.  Chickweed, on the other hand, isn't a problem, although people who yearn for perfect lawns may disagree.   [caption id="attachment_7731" align="alignleft" width="2773"] It's called chickweed because chickens love to eat it. People can too, and its flowers are quite