A path of exploration
Unveiling the beauty and meaning behind art and gardens


Continuum, Continued

November 23rd, 2020 | 4 Comments »

Over the last few weeks, while the weather was remarkably kind, I’ve continued to work on an extension to Timelines, the trail that explores ideas about memory, history and our relationship to the land. I wrote about the initial work on Continuum in my last blog post, almost a month ago.  Since then, lots has happened.

We added a wonderful tree trunk bench alongside the stream, right next to the old lid from a sap bucket that was used, who knows how many years ago, when maple syrup was being made at Orin’s Sugarcamp. (There are multiple posts about this installation, another part of Timelines. You can read about it here and here.


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I gathered remnants of that maple syrup-making operation found along the trail and arranged them in a haphazard way next to the newly-chipped path.


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At the top of a rise in the open field, we erected Tree Square, a new, very simple sculpture that shows the squared-off heart of a tree trunk, surrounded by the side pieces that were removed.


The raw wood will turn grey over the winter, allowing it to blend in even while standing out.
The raw wood will turn grey over the winter, allowing it to blend in even while standing out.


We removed brush that was hiding some of the ancient trees along the wooded part of the trail, like these two Elders, one living, one dead.


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Simply trimming back the brush revealed more treasures, like this gorgeous stump and the ancient tree behind it.


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The trail now leads past an area where trees have been cut, leaving stumps as their only testament.


The area looks bleak, perhaps, but the stumps as well as the young trees that will be planted are all part of a process.
The area looks bleak now, but the stumps as well as the young trees that will be planted illustrate different times in an evolving process.


Rocks outlining the shape of maple seeds, or keys, or samaras, are now in place on the slope above the pool we dug this summer.


I need to tweak the shape but the idea is there.
I need to tweak the shape of one of the samaras but the idea is there.


I still need to drill the rocks that will sit at the bottom of the slope, near the water where a stick is now. Doing that is work for the winter months, when it is too cold and snow too deep to work outdoors.

On another front, the napkins I made for the newly-set dining room table on the China Terrace were fired by our local potter, Lucy Doheny. She showed me what to do (I wrote about that here) and then left me to it — and I’m thrilled with the results.


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I’m also working on a second extension to Timelines, to the area called Mythos  … but sharing that story will have to wait for another day!




October 27th, 2020 | 12 Comments »
This is how the rock looked in 2013, before I started on the trail extension.
"There is often a huge difference between an idea and its realization. Ideas must be put to the test. That's why we make things, otherwise they would be no more than ideas." Andy Goldsworthy's words ring true for me. I have more ideas than I can realize, certainly more than I can act on in my lifetime.  Folders splitting at the seams contain scribbled thoughts and doodles, pages torn from magazines, projects detailed but never executed. So when I begin to translate an idea into the reality that Goldsworthy speaks


Autumn Leaves

October 12th, 2020 | 11 Comments »
The Forms are one installation on Timelines, the trail at Glen Villa that explores ideas about history, memory and our relationship to the land.
Walking through the woods recently, I passed this installation, called The Forms.   [caption id="attachment_9253" align="aligncenter" width="3728"] The Forms represent the basic building blocks of the constructed world. They are one part of Timelines, the trail at Glen Villa that explores ideas about history, memory and our relationship to the land.[/caption]   The colours of the plexiglass shapes stood out from the muted tones around them, attracting me like a magnet. Closer, I noticed leaves scattered on top of them, some haphazardly, some artfully arranged.     The contrast in colours atop


Autumn Colour Brings Joy

October 6th, 2020 | 4 Comments »
The colour of this sourgum is quite different from the one next to it -- this one a fruit salad of peach and apricot, the other a fire of red-hot apple.
The autumn colours seem particularly intense this year at Glen Villa, my garden in Quebec's Eastern Townships. Leaves started to turn earlier than usual and the height of the season has almost come and gone. But what a season it has been! It started early, when a small horse chestnut tree (Aesculus pavia) began to turn.   [caption id="attachment_9230" align="aligncenter" width="2541"] This photo was taken in mid-September[/caption]   It continued as the sourgum trees (Nyssa sylvatica) nearby began to change colour. First one tree caught fire ...   [caption id="attachment_9228" align="aligncenter"


Visitors at Glen Villa

September 29th, 2020 | 11 Comments »
The team from NIP Paysage stand beside Bridge Ascending, a sculpture by Quebec artists Louise Doucet and Satoshi Saito.
Last week was very unusual -- after a summer of isolation, living inside a family-only bubble, two groups of visitors came to tour Glen Villa. One group came from NIP Paysage, a landscape architecture firm in Montreal whose name reflects its approach to every project it undertakes. To understand, you need to know that NIP is the French acronym for a PIN, or Personal Identification Number. So, as its website states, "NIP aims to reveal the true character of the environments upon which it intervenes." I first met two of the principals


The Medicine Wheel and the Four Directions

September 20th, 2020 | 4 Comments »
Paul stretched the deer skin for his drum and holds workshops to teach others how to do the same.
Earlier this week I was fortunate to visit a new installation on the Tomifobia Nature Trail in the company of its creator, Paul-Conrad Carignan, and Paul's partner, Sylvia Bertolini. Paul is a Metis Algonquin-Anishnabe Elder and the site he designed is dedicated to spiritual and healing teachings of the Indigenous Medicine Wheel and its four directions. At a clearing beside the trail, located in Quebec's Eastern Townships close to the border with the United States, large granite slabs, or stelae, rise up at the four directions. Each stone is engraved with an


The Dining Room Table on the China Terrace

September 4th, 2020 | 10 Comments »
china terrace (6 of 10)
The China Terrace is my way of representing the past in the present, of giving a new life to memories of the years when Glen Villa Inn welcomed summer guests from near and far. According to a local newspaper of the time, Canadians and American visitors "from every state in the Union" came to spend their holidays here in North Hatley, Quebec. The hotel's life was brief, though. Built in 1902, it burned to the ground in 1909, shortly before opening for its eighth season. Not long after moving into Glen Villa in 1996, I discovered an


Marian Coffin, Landscape Architect

August 24th, 2020 | No Comments »
Winterthur (3 of 4)
In this year, the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment that gave women in the U.S. the right to vote, I'm thinking about American women from that era and the gardens they created. Marian Coffin (1876-1957) was one of the most sought-after of these women, particularly in the years before World War II. Trained at MIT between 1901 and 1904, one of only four women in the landscape architecture program, she went on to design over 50 significant estate gardens, mostly for wealthy clients on the East Coast. Her most important commission was


The Yin Yang is Remade

August 10th, 2020 | 10 Comments »
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You know how one thing leads to another? That's what is happening this year at Glen Villa. Last November we began to rebuild the foundation wall of the old Glen Villa Inn.  Once the job was complete and I saw the impressive wall, I knew it needed a garden to complement it. The result is the newly planted area, the North South Arrow, now beginning to grow in. Between the hotel wall and the Arrow is a low circular stone wall. Its original purpose was to provide a turn-around for horse-drawn carriages bringing


A Three Part Garden

August 3rd, 2020 | 2 Comments »
Meagher, Timelines-010
A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to visit a garden in the small village of North Hatley, Quebec, where I live, to see the work of garden makers Jane Meagher and Jean Vanaise. Here, over about ten years, they have transformed a one-acre town lot into a lushly varied garden. The transformation began when they decided to renovate and enlarge their house.  Before they began, the garden around the building was mostly grass plus a few bunches of flowers scattered more or less randomly. Not so today. Now their mini-paradise is set off from the street and