When I look out my bedroom window, this is what I see. Or what I will see before long. Lake Massawippi isn’t frozen yet, but frozen or not, the prospect reminds me that this is the time of year to look ahead.
And to look back. What did I accomplish in the garden this year and how does it compare with what I set out to do?
I planned to renew the bed on the China Terrace, and I completed half the job. The pillows were plumped but I didn’t change the moss as I intended. That easy task is one I will do in the spring. Or so I hope.
I fiddled with the plants at the entry to the China Terrace and while I’m not yet satisfied with the results, I am happier than I was a year ago. I am very happy with the dining room table. The new napkins and goblets compliment the centrepiece that I arrange every year, and the romantic atmosphere I’m going for is enhanced by autumn leaves. If only I’d straightened the candlesticks (i.e., the pieces of wood) before I took the photo!
I continued to move plants around in the North South Arrow, the bed I started in 2020, to give the long narrow shape more structure. I hope that moving the Miscanthus into an arc at the middle will prove to be a good choice. I definitely liked the way it looked in the fall.
Again this year, I did not fulfill a goal I set for myself a few years ago, to fence the Lower Garden. I am ready now to accept that I never will do this and I’m glad. The idea was to protect the shrubs and flowers from the deer, but opening and closing a gate would make every trip from the house to the lake more difficult, particularly when hands are full of towels and other paraphernalia.
As usual, many things were done that I didn’t plan to do. I planted new trees, three multi-stem birches at the end of the Big Meadow, five crabapples on the berm beside the Skating Pond and one more crabapple by the steps that lead from the house to the Lower Garden.
Jacques and Ken, my left and right hands, rebuilt a set of steps that lead through the garden. (Amazingly, I do not have a photograph of the new steps, so a photo of the old ones will have to do.)
Steps that were part of the wall of the old Glen Villa Inn, an early 20th century resort hotel that once stood on our property, were also rebuilt. The new steps are still steep but a lot safer now that the tread is flat.
In the wall to the left of the steps is an alcove that possibly held a fireplace in the original hotel building. Filling that alcove is one of my goals for 2022. When we re-built the wall in 2019, following the same footprint and using the same stones, we found many items, including some lovely old coloured bottles.
My plan for next year is to display those bottles and some of the other items we found in a glass case that I used in an exhibition of my art some years ago. I will cover the bottom of the case with a golden velvet cloth and stain the new legs to match the existing stain.
I will continue to work on Timelines, the 4 km trail that leads through fields and forests to tell the story of the land. In the section called The Clearing of the Land I will add four painted tree trunks to suggest a settler family. These static trunks will contrast with movement shown by forked branches, inverted to suggest people walking. These ‘walkers’ are the Abenaki, the original inhabitants of the land, and the contrast is meant to make a point about occupation and displacement.
Also underway is a collage on another tree trunk. Once finished and enclosed in a clear plexiglass column, the maple trunk will become part of Continuum, the section of Timelines where trees are shown in their many stages and uses. Covered with photos of paintings of trees, it will be the central point of a group of seven maple saplings. The section will then get a name: the Group of Seven. (For non-Canadians, the Group of Seven were artists working in the early 20th century who glorified the landscape of northern Canada. Trees featured prominently in their iconic paintings and I will use many reproductions of these in the collage.)
An unexpected decision towards the end of last summer points to a goal for 2022 and beyond — the transformation of what was becoming an increasingly weedy Big Meadow to a meadow full of native wildflowers and grasses. In September, we dug up and seeded a large section of the Big Meadow and we will dig and seed another section next year. Seeing how the bare ground changes over the next two or three years is an exciting prospect.
Every year I set more goals than I can realistically accomplish but next year I have only two big projects in mind: to launch the book I’ve written about Glen Villa, to be published mid-year by McGill-Queen’s University Press, and to open the garden one day a month from June through September. The prospect of sharing the garden with other people, through words and visits, makes me very happy.
Setting goals gives me something to look forward to, but each of us approaches the year ahead in our own ways. Do you set garden goals? Did you manage to do all you intended to do? Or are you content with your garden as it is? If so, lucky you!