Category Archives: Design

Is Mosaiculture topiary?

September 22nd, 2013 | 2 Comments »
Strictly speaking, the answer is -- no. Both are living sculptures, but they are made in different ways. Mosaiculture is also a contemporary form of plant display, while topiary has a long and distinguished history, dating back to  Roman times.So, what are the differences? The most obvious one is that topiary uses a single plant to create architectural and sculptural shapes while mosaiculture creates forms by combining a variety of plants with different colours and textures. Traditionally, creating a topiary took a long time; a plant, tree or shrub was clipped and shaped

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Mosaiculture: a different kind of art

September 16th, 2013 | 4 Comments »
Mosaiculture is the name given to three dimensional sculptures made of plants. This summer, the Montreal Botanical Garden played host to dozens of creations from around the world, all illustrating the theme, Land of Hope. I postponed visiting the show until a few weeks ago, thinking I wouldn't like it. But I did. I was captured by the skill, the scale and the imagination. And by the humour. Who couldn't smile seeing these lemurs, parading along the walkway, tails held high? These ring-tailed lemurs are from Madagascar, an island rich in biodiversity.

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The Aqueduct: Success at last?

August 26th, 2013 | 11 Comments »
Last week I was in Quebec City for the annual symposium of the Garden Writers' Association. I met many interesting people from across North America (and one or two from England and elsewhere) and saw some private gardens that had much to offer. I visited some public gardens, some I hadn't seen for years, and one I'd never seen before. I'll write about these gardens, the people I met and the things I learned in the weeks to come. But for now, it's back to the aqueduct and the BIG

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Defeating the Deer

August 12th, 2013 | 2 Comments »
How hard can it be to build a fence around some shrubs in a field? Not very, you'd think. You'd be wrong. Or you would be if you did it the way I have. Which definitely isn't the way to go. In 2008, I planted a few flowering shrubs along the fence that separates the road from what I call the upper field (because it is higher in elevation than the lower field. Duh.) I wanted to add colour and vitality to an area that offered little visual interest. I

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Circles in the garden

August 5th, 2013 | 3 Comments »
Does nature abhor a straight line?  Writing about triangles at Througham Court made me think about shapes and the effects that different shapes create. Looking through my photos, I noticed lots of rectangles. Squares appeared, but less often, and usually in formal settings. And then there were circles. They were used frequently in some gardens, not in all in others. I started to wonder why. The circular mound at Througham Court Traditionally, the circle is a symbol of unity and perfection. Since all points of a circle are equidistant from

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Rills and Why I Like Them

June 26th, 2013 | 6 Comments »
Water features are an important element in many gardens. Understandably so. Water can reflect the sky, enlarging the space to infinity; it can reflect surrounding buildings or trees, adding stimulating contrasts. It is an ideal environment for certain decorative plants. It cools the air and its movement over rocks or cascades adds a refreshing note. A garden rill is an artificial channel that carries water from one place to another. Historically rills developed from the religious ideas of Persian paradise gardens. They appeared later in Europe, in Moorish gardens like

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Borrowing a View

June 18th, 2013 | 3 Comments »
In England, the idea of enlarging the view beyond a garden wall -- whether the wall is real or metaphoric -- dates back to the 18th century. The furniture and landscape designer William Kent is said to be the first to recognize that land outside a garden's designed space could appear to be part of it. He understood that someone else's fields or farmlands could be 'borrowed' visually to make one's own lands seem larger. At Rousham House in Oxfordshire. Kent "leapt the wall and saw that all nature was a

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Petworth: A ‘Capability’ Brown landscape

June 10th, 2013 | 2 Comments »
I'm in England for the next few weeks, visiting a friend before setting out on a tour of English gardens. On the weekend I spent a glorious afternoon walking through a landscape designed and constructed in the 18th century by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown. Brown created an estimated 170 landscapes in England, many of which remain. Petworth in Sussex, is one of these, and it shows all of Brown's characteristic trademarks. First of these is the broad lawn that sweeps from the house down to an artificially created lake. This simple

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Thinking Big

May 21st, 2013 | 2 Comments »
Recently I saw a photo of a giant yellow ducky floating in Hong Kong harbour. Called Spreading Joy Around the World, it's by the Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman. And it is BIG: 54 ft, or 16.5 metres, tall. The artist said it was intended to make people feel happy. It worked. It made me smile. It also set me thinking about the impact of size in a landscape. At Glen Villa, the Big Chair always brings a smile. From a distance, it’s hard to appreciate the scale. But once someone

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In Transit / En Route: Part Three, the final installment

March 19th, 2013 | No Comments »
Several weeks ago I started a three-part series about an art installation at Glen Villa called In Transit / en Route. I posted the first two parts and intended to post the third in week three. But California and all I saw there captured my attention and my blogging time. So the third part of In Transit / en Route went to the bottom of the pile. Finally, though, it is back at the top. So here it is, the third and final installment. If you want to read (or re-read) the

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