Long winters like the one we are experiencing this year in Quebec’s Eastern Townships make life difficult for animals. Deep snow that persists for months makes it hard for deer to find food in the woods and as time passes they come closer and closer to barns and houses.
Yesterday I glanced out a window, disrupting two deer who were not far away, searching for something to eat.
As I went to get my camera, another deer appeared. Then another, and another, and another.
I couldn’t get a definite count — the deer kept coming and going, in and out of view — but there were at least eight of them. As I watched, they lined up single file, as if they had decided to go for a walk along the bank of the lake.
To get a closer look, I quietly opened the door and went out onto the deck. But of course, that startled the deer. They took off across the snow-covered ground. First three came into view,
… then four …
… then five.
Not all of the deer bounded away. One stood his ground, glaring at me, before going back to nuzzling his neighbour. The others just stared, as if asking me why I was still standing there, invading their space.
A friend once called deer rats with long legs. She may be right. In summer, they are a real pest, nibbling and sometimes destroying all my favourite plants. But seeing them run and leap through the snow, I couldn’t help but admire their agility and grace. And acknowledge that they live here, too.
Yesterday the temperature in Quebec's Eastern Townships was hovering just above freezing. The sky was brilliant blue and the sun glinting off clean, fresh snow brought out dozens of people, walking and talking -- and fishing through the ice. We live next door to Manoir Hovey, an outstanding resort hotel and a member of the prestigious international group, Relais et Chateaux. I didn't have my camera with me yesterday to photograph the fun, but luckily I have photos that I took at Manoir Hovey in 2008 that show a similar scene.
On a winter day when temperatures throughout Mid and Eastern North America are plummetting, it is difficult not to project human emotions onto the landscape. How can winter be so cruel and miserable? A poem by the American poet Wallace Stevens suggests we should think more objectively about what we see outside our door. The Snow Man One must have a mind of winter To regard the frost and the boughs Of the pine-trees crusted with snow; And have been cold a long time To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
My last blog post, about making history visible and listening to the land, struck a chord. Many readers responded via the Site and Insight web page or commented on Facebook and on the blog itself, saying they were touched by the piece. Several described how experiences in their pasts affected their responses today, both to their own garden and to gardens they visited. I know that is true for me. I grew up in Virginia, in a house with a big back yard where I could hide under bushes and pretend to be an explorer
Making history visible on the land is the concept that guides the projects I undertake at Glen Villa, my landscape and garden in Quebec. Recognizing and honouring what happened on the land before I came onto the scene is my way of hearing the voices of the past. It's my way of listening to what the land has to say. The land speaks in different voices from different times. Glacial erratics talk about the ice age. [caption id="attachment_7240" align="aligncenter" width="3271"] Glacial erratics form part of the waterfall at Glen Villa.[/caption] A wolf tree standing among younger oaks
England has many fine gardens. Houghton Hall in Norfolk is one of the finest, offering a stimulating combination of horticulture, contemporary art and history that is far too much to absorb in a single visit. The most popular part of the garden is the five acre Walled Garden. Divided into contrasting areas, the Walled Garden contains a double-sided herbaceous border, an Italian garden, a formal rose parterre, fruit and vegetable gardens, a glasshouse, a rustic temple, antique statues, fountains and contemporary sculptures. With so many aspects, the area could feel muddled or over-crowded,
This final post of 2018, written on the last day of the year, brings the garden at Glen Villa to a close -- for now, at least. August is high summer in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. [caption id="attachment_7121" align="aligncenter" width="5184"] The trail through the Joe Pye weed is luscious in August, for bees and for pedestrians.[/caption] Insects make their presence known. [caption id="attachment_7122" align="aligncenter" width="1797"] I'm not sure what flying creature this is, but I love the translucency of the wings.[/caption] NOTE: Thanks to Mark A. for identifying this
The meadows and fields at Glen Villa are white with snow in December, but in June and July, they are alive with colour. [caption id="attachment_7079" align="aligncenter" width="5184"] Lupins brighten meadows and fields in late June and early July.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_7092" align="aligncenter" width="5184"] Buttercups and dandelions colour a field yellow.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_7088" align="aligncenter" width="5184"] Ragged robin turns this field rosy pink.[/caption] Closer to the house, colours appear in smaller doses. [caption id="attachment_7090" align="aligncenter" width="5184"] Hawthorn trees are a froth of white.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_7096" align="aligncenter" width="5184"] Old-fashioned day lilies
On a surprisingly mild winter's day -- not at all typical for Quebec in December -- I'm remembering the garden at Glen Villa as it looked earlier this year. January brought lots of snow. [caption id="attachment_7035" align="aligncenter" width="5184"] A stream coming down the hill marks an S-curve at the entry to Glen Villa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_7036" align="aligncenter" width="4836"] The Crabapple Allée marches across the open field.[/caption] February brought snow and gloomy skies. [caption id="attachment_7037" align="aligncenter" width="3456"] My sculpture Tree Rings honours the life of a maple tree that died
Do Christmas trees qualify as topiary? We never think of them as such but they fit the definition -- the Oxford dictionary calls topiary the "art or practice of clipping shrubs or trees into ornamental shapes." And surely Christmas trees don't grow naturally into the perfect cones commonly seen but have been pruned and clipped to shape them. [caption id="attachment_5888" align="aligncenter" width="2099"] This cone-shaped spruce tree is attached to the chimney stack at Glen Villa. It hangs right outside our front door.[/caption] As a young gardener, I disliked topiary, thinking that it was a distortion