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Unveiling the beauty and meaning behind art and gardens

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Autumn Colour

October 16th, 2018 | 6 Comments »

Autumn is spectacular in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. Unfortunately I’ve had little time to enjoy it this year, because earlier this month we sold our condominium in Montreal where we’ve lived for the last 22 years. Cleaning and sorting and disposing of the contents has taken a lot of time and effort. In fact, it’s been a real slog but thankfully I’ve had lots of help from family members. (Thank you, each and all!)

Understandably, blogging has taken a back seat to household work. But this past weekend, I took a break to enjoy some of the best that autumn offers. Here are a few scenes from Glen Villa, where, as of next week, I’ll be spending all my time. (Hooray!)  (And yes, if you do the math, you’ll see that the gap between sale and occupancy was less than three weeks. Whew!)

First is this scene along our driveway.

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White birch trees stand out against colourful leaves. The white wooden doorway in the distance marks the entrance of the China Terrace, the re-imagining of the old resort hotel that once stood on the property.

 

Nearby is this group of trees, resplendent in their brilliance.

Maple trees gleam in the sunlight.
Maple leaves gleam in the sunlight, offering a sharp contrast to the slender tree that has lost its leaves.

 

There’s a froth of colour at the Aqueduct.

Prairie dropseed, or Sporobolus heterlepis, drips and droops beside the Aqueduct.
Prairie dropseed, or Sporobolus heterolepis, drips and droops beside the Aqueduct. The red shrub behind it is Barberry ‘Ruby Glow.’

 

Beside it, this work horse spirea offers an unexpected touch of colour.

 

The reds, yellows and greens of Spirea japonica 'Magic Carpet' take us for an autumn ride.
The reds, yellows and greens of Spirea japonica ‘Magic Carpet’ take us for an autumn ride.

 

By the front door, our native witch hazel, with its twisted trunk, has an Asian look.

 

Soft tones of yellow and green adorn the witch hazel (Hammamaelis virginiana), while the twisting trunk adds an Asian touch.
Soft tones of yellow and green adorn the witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana).

 

At its feet are bergenia.

 

Bergenia leaves present themselves as Christmas colours, red and green.
Bergenia leaves present themselves as Christmas colours, red and green.

 

Change in the garden occured gradually. A few weeks ago, the trees had only begun to turn.

 

A few weeks ago, the trees had only begun to change colour. The Glen Villa flag flies proudly above the Lower Garden.
The Glen Villa flag flies proudly above the Lower Garden.

 

Some things, though, never change — a turkey is always a turkey.

 

Wild turkeys enjoy walking along the Crabapple Allée.
Wild turkeys enjoy strolling along the Crabapple Allée, munching as they go.

 

A late Happy Thanksgiving to Canadian readers, and an early one to Americans. And to those who celebrate neither, Happy Fall.

Garden Hits and Misses

September 30th, 2018 | 13 Comments »
The fountain rises 70 feet into the air. On a sunny day it is beautiful to see. It works via a remote control!
At home after three marvellous weeks visiting gardens (and  friends) in England, I find much to criticize in my garden. After many years of travelling, I've come to expect this -- and to accept that a garden in Quebec's harsh weather conditions will never resemble an English garden, with its lush foliage and flowers, topiary and ancient walls. I've also come to expect that gardens other than my own will disappoint me. On every tour I've hosted, there has always been one garden I particularly looked forward to seeing. On

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Garden Centres and Garden Reviews

September 24th, 2018 | 10 Comments »
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Gardening in Canada can be frustrating. The range of plants available through nurseries or garden centres is minuscule compared with the number available in England. And seeing so many wonderful cultivars that won't survive in my Quebec garden makes me envious of England's more temperate climate. Still, for anyone who loves plants, a visit to a garden centre is always a treat. The group I was hosting on my final garden tour spent a few happy hours wandering around the Burford Garden Company, an Oxfordshire-based enterprise. At this time of year

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Oudolf at Pensthorpe

September 16th, 2018 | 10 Comments »
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Over the last half dozen years or so,  I've visited several gardens in England designed by the Dutch plantsman, Piet Oudolf. These include Bury Court in Hampshire, Scampston Hall's Walled Garden in Yorkshire and Hauser & Wirth in Somerset. Because I've seen and enjoyed these gardens, I was eager to see Oudolf's Millennium Garden at Pensthorpe Natural Park in Norfolk. (A review of Scampston Hall's Walled Garden is here.) Pensthorpe was Oudolf's first commission in the U.K. Planted in 2000 and up-dated in 2008, the Millennium Garden is part of a larger natural reserve.

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Petworth: a Landscape by Capability Brown

September 9th, 2018 | 18 Comments »
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On a sunny day, what could be more agreeable than strolling through a landscape designed by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown? Earlier this week, two friends and I took advantage of the fine weather to do just this when we visited Petworth House in Sussex. The landscape there is one of the finest surviving examples of Brown's work. Walking through the 700-acre park, the surroundings appear to be totally natural, but in reality Brown shaped each part of the land with his customary flair.   [caption id="attachment_6709" align="aligncenter" width="4272"] This view from the

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Ends and Beginnings

September 3rd, 2018 | 6 Comments »
Spirea japonica 'Crispa'
I head to England today, where I'll be hosting my final garden tour. I'm sad about this ending, but at the same time, I'm happy to remember the people and places that have formed such a rewarding part of my life. And as I keep reminding myself, ends are also beginning. Before leaving for England, I took a walk around  the garden at Glen Villa to see what's in bloom and to assess what needs to be done when I return. Generally, things are looking pretty good.   [caption id="attachment_6668" align="aligncenter" width="4272"] The deer

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Mushrooms

September 2nd, 2018 | 9 Comments »
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This is a bumper year for mushrooms. On a short stretch of path in the woods, I spotted six different types. I didn't pick any or examine them carefully, and without noting the specifics of their gills and stalks, I can't identify them with certainty. Mushroom identification is tricky in the best of cases, and without being sure what each is, I definitely won't eat them. But the differences in colour and shape are interesting.   [caption id="attachment_6660" align="aligncenter" width="1543"] Is this one of the edible puffballs?  Maybe, maybe not.[/caption]   [caption id="attachment_6661" align="aligncenter" width="1444"]

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Nine Bridges, to Where?

August 30th, 2018 | 13 Comments »
The cedar will turn grey over the winter.
Last week we added two new bridges on the Timelines trail. They aren't large constructions but both allow us to keep our feet dry. The first bridge, near the end of the avenue of crabapple trees, avoids the ditch at the end of a culvert that goes underneath a road that connects our village of North Hatley to the neighbouring village of Sainte-Catherine-de-Hatley -- formerly known as Katevale.   [caption id="attachment_6611" align="aligncenter" width="4272"] Over time we've made this ditch deeper and wider by driving through it in a small all-wheel vehicle.[/caption]   The

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The Skating Pond, August 2018

August 19th, 2018 | 16 Comments »
A side view of the new bench shows how simple it is -- two rocks and two planks.
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.   [caption id="attachment_6599" align="aligncenter" width="5184"] The slate under the bench was left over from a previous project.[/caption]   My sister immediately said the bench looked wrong -- and she was right.   [caption id="attachment_6600" align="aligncenter"

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The Middle of August

August 13th, 2018 | 13 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.

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