Pining Away

October 27th, 2019 | 8 Comments »

I’m not pining away, but the pine tree is. Or was.

This week we tackled a big job that I’ve been wanting to do for a few years, which was to remove an enormous old pine tree near the bank of Lake Massawippi. The photo below from 2014 shows the beginning of the end of this tree… needles on the upper branches are much thinner than they should be. It also shows how the tree towered above the ones around it.


This photo shows how the pine tree towered above the trees around it.
The boathouse may have been built more in the late 1800s or early 1900s. I haven’t been able to find an exact date but we know it is old.

Several years ago we cut off the dead branches at the top of the pine and not long after the branches below began to die back, leaving an unsightly blunt end to the trunk and dead branches silhouetted against the sky. I looked out over this pine from my desk and from the dining room deck where we eat many meals in warm weather, and with each glance the visual irritation became more acute.

The blunt end of the trunk and the dead branches sticking up into the sky had been a visual irritant for a few years.
The pine on the right in this photo looks taller than the one beside it, but only because it is higher up the bank.


Last week, when I couldn’t stand it any longer, the job finally began. We didn’t measure the tree before we started but we estimate that it was 60 feet tall or more.

That height and the position of the tree made removing it a complex job. We didn’t want to damage the surrounding trees, the boathouse nearby (just out of the photo to the left) or the play structure that our grandchildren use regularly. To be safe we had to remove the branches one by one, winching each down to the ground. And in order for that to happen, someone had to be at the top of the tree, cutting and roping and lowering the branches and sections of the trunk itself.

Jacques Gosselin is a skilled worker. Here he is safely roped in. Even so I held my breath as I watched.


Jacques has cut many trees in his years of garden work. But how often has he been 60 feet off the ground, standing on a single branch, seemingly quite relaxed?


Jacques says he loves to be this high off the ground. Not me!
Jacques says he loves to be this high off the ground. Not me!


It took many hours to complete the job. And what a difference removing the tree has made. No more dead branches silhouetted against the sky. No more blunt end of a trunk drawing attention to itself. Only a larger opening that shows more of the lake beyond.


No blue sky on the day I took this photo, unfortunately.
No blue sky on the day I took this photo, unfortunately.


A small oak tree seeded itself on the lake bank a dozen or so years ago — you can see it on the left side of the opening onto the lake in the photo above. With more exposure to sun, I expect it will grow quickly to fill in the gap. But for the moment, we have a new view across the lake to the far shore.

One job remains: trimming the dead branches on the bottom of the pine tree to the right of the one we removed. Doing this will allow the trunk to stand out from the vegetation behind, adding a strong vertical line that I think will lessen the visual confusion.


Removing those dead branches will make a huge difference, I think.
Removing those dead branches will make a huge difference, I think.


What fall jobs have you tackled recently? Or are you doing as I did, postponing a big job to another year?

Kiftsgate Court: A Garden Review

October 21st, 2019 | 17 Comments »
Kiftsgate Court is one of those English gardens included on many garden tours, in part because it is so conveniently located, just down the road from Hidcote, the iconic garden created by the Anglo-American Lawrence Johnston. The gardens at Kiftsgate were created over the last hundred years by three generations of women -- grandmother, mother and daughter -- each of whom made her own contribution to the garden as it is today. Renowned for the Kiftsgate rose, the garden contains some wonderful areas and some fine plantings, with sumptuous flowers like this one that


Autumn Splendour

October 13th, 2019 | 8 Comments »
This weekend is Canadian Thanksgiving, and today I'm giving thanks for the splendours of autumn.  All week the colours have been spectacular!     This  view along the driveway at Glen Villa gives some idea of how brilliant the colour is.   [caption id="attachment_8143" align="alignleft" width="1600"] The red leaves are a sugar maple on fire. The white posts in the distance mark the entry to the China Terrace.[/caption]   On the stone wall of the house, Engelman ivy is a symphony of scarlet, red and maroon.   [caption id="attachment_8145" align="alignleft" width="1600"]


The China Terrace in Autumn

October 6th, 2019 | 9 Comments »
The China Terrace is my interpretation of history ... a room in the garden at Glen Villa where I have recreated parts of Glen Villa Inn, the old resort hotel that once stood on our property. Towards the end of summer I wrote about the new 'walls' that we installed to mark the division between the different rooms in the hotel: a reception area, bedroom and dining room.  (You can read that post here.) The 'walls' are now covered with autumn leaves, and the grass we seeded over a month