Category Archives: Glen Villa


March 5th, 2018 | 21 Comments »

I’m happy to share some very good news — the Aqueduct at Glen Villa is the winner of the grand prize for design in the residential category at ADIQ, the Quebec industrial designers association.


This view shows the Aqueduct shortly after it was completed in September 2014.
A desire to recreate the sounds of the stream beside our old summer cottage was the initial inspiration for The Aqueduct.


This prestigious prize recognizes the work of designer and friend Eric Fleury, of the landscape architecture firm, Hodgins and Associates (HETA). The walls and landscaping were the work of  Oscar Hache and his team; the impressive steel elements were fabricated by François Beroud and the Montreal firm Designworks.

In twenty years, we’ve made many changes at Glen Villa, transforming the landscape to suit our needs.  The Aqueduct is both the largest project we’ve undertaken and the one with the biggest visual impact.

Before the Aqueduct was built, water moving down the hillside was invisible. The focus of the view was a tree in the distance and a rough stone wall in the foreground.


The view from the deck looking out across the Big Lawn -- attractive but not spectacular.
Before the Aqueduct was built, this was the view from the house looking out across the Big Lawn.


After the Aqueduct was built, the focus of the view changed.  The tree and the stone wall remained, but the dominant element became the water itself. Finally we could see it, hear it and admire it.


The focus of the view is now the water itself -- as it drops from one level to the next and as it reflects the sky and the surroundings. The plantings are bad, either!
The big sweep of lawn is now balanced by the structure of the Aqueduct and the exuberant plantings.


The before and after views are striking in both directions. A grassy slope dominated the landscape when looking towards the house. But to get from the house to the slope was a dangerous undertaking. Rough stones with rounded tops formed the staircase and there was no railing to make the the stairs safer.

Worst of all, nothing fit together. The staircase and the pointed angle at the end of the house were at odds with the rough stone wall, and it was at odds with the lines of the house. Looking out onto the big lawn, nothing held your eye.


The view towards the house shows a grassy slope and, beyond that, awkward stone steps with no railing.
The pre-Aqueduct view towards the house shows a grassy slope and, beyond that, awkward stone steps with no railing.


Once the Aqueduct was built, everything fell into place. The broad steps carried the horizontal lines of the house into the landscape. The sharp triangle of the deck became mirrored in the lines of the reflecting pond and in the channel that carried water across the grass . (You can see the pointed angle of the reflecting pond in the first photo above.)


Water flows from the reflecting pond across the grass and eventually into the lake.
Water flows from the reflecting pond across the grass and eventually into the lake.


These changes altered our view. As significantly, they altered our use of the space. Before the Aqueduct was built, we used this side of the house very little. We had always eaten outside on the deck overlooking the Aqueduct but now in addition we sit on the wooden steps, soaking up the sunshine. We sit in the shade with a book or a glass of wine. We watch grandchildren play on the swings nearby or paddle in the reflecting pond. And always with us is the sound of water and the reflection of the sky above.


Even in winter, the Aqueduct is a delight.
Even in winter, the Aqueduct is a delight.


Congratulations to Eric, Oscar, François and Myke. And thank you for such a wonderful addition to life at Glen Villa.

Yearning for Spring

February 25th, 2018 | 13 Comments »
It's grey and nasty today and all I can think about is spring. I know it will come but its arrival seems a long way away. So instead of moaning, I'm dreaming of snowdrops ...   [caption id="attachment_3744" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] It's easy to see how snowdrops got their name.[/caption]   and crocus ...   [caption id="attachment_6049" align="aligncenter" width="3456"] Yellow crocus are sunshine to the soul.[/caption]   and buds beginning to bloom.   [caption id="attachment_6057" align="aligncenter" width="1807"] When the yellow buttons of Cornelian cherry open up, the shrub becomes a haze


Special Trees

January 14th, 2018 | 10 Comments »
This maple tree was planted over 100 years ago, as part of the landscaping for the resort hotel, Glen Villa Inn. The hotel burned to the ground in 1909.
A piece about specimen trees in the on-line magazine Gardenista started me thinking about trees and how special they are to me. Having recently planted a long allée of crabapple trees at Glen Villa, (and having written about it here) where the impact stems from the sheer number of trees and the precision of their placement, my mind swung to the opposite end of the spectrum, to individual trees that make an impact on their own. The most important tree at Glen Villa, my garden in rural Quebec, is the basswood, or linden as I


Garden Paths

December 28th, 2017 | 14 Comments »
Ragged robin, lupins and buttercups edge the path that leads to the China Terrace, the re-creation of Glen Villa Inn.
As the end of the year approaches, I'm thinking about transitions. In  the context of gardens, transitions are often linked to paths. Paths lead you somewhere, either literally or metaphorically. They take you through different landscapes -- meadows, forests, open fields -- whose settings evoke different moods. They come in all shapes and sizes -- grassy and gravel, broad and narrow, straight and curved. One path may lead to a specific place, another to nowhere in particular and yet a third to someplace unknown, a future waiting to be discovered. Anyone visiting Glen Villa, my garden in Quebec,


Art in Winter

December 11th, 2017 | 18 Comments »
The shape of the crabapple tree becomes dramatic when outlined with snow.
I woke yesterday to a fine dusting of snow, and during the day more snow fell. Today it outlines the branches of the big oak tree by our boathouse and the old crabapple trees by the drive, emphasizing the contrast between rough bark and soft fluffy white.   [caption id="attachment_5887" align="aligncenter" width="3888"] The shape of the crabapple trees becomes dramatic when outlined with snow.[/caption]   The forecast calls for more snow to come, and as confirmation, the sky is grey. But once the snow stops and the barometer rises, the sky will be a clear, bright blue


Planting for Spring

November 14th, 2017 | 11 Comments »
Empty boxes and bags are proof that all the bulbs are now in the ground.
Last week my computer went on the blink and for three whole days, my typing fingers had a rest. The days off-line gave me time to do other things, but instead of using the time wisely, I wandered around feeling bereft. So it was only yesterday, when all was once again well on the computer front, that I ventured outside to plant bulbs. I should have done this weeks ago but the weather had been so fine, almost summer-like, that I kept putting it off. Until the snow fell.   [caption id="attachment_5837" align="aligncenter" width="3888"] Snow


The Straight and (not very) Narrow

November 1st, 2017 | 23 Comments »
These crabapple trees in front of my daughter's house are Malus 'Dolgo.'
  When is a straight path not straight enough? When is it too narrow? Last March, I decided to transform an unused farm field into something spectacular by lining the path that ran through it  with crabapple trees. When the ground was barely thawed, I paced out the length to determine how many trees to order.   [caption id="attachment_5771" align="aligncenter" width="5169"] This path was a convenient short cut across a flat farm field.[/caption]   I was taken aback. We needed 100 trees, 50 each side, planted at 18 foot intervals. The number made me


The Grandchildren Trees

October 24th, 2017 | 12 Comments »
One grandchild stands next to her tree along with her father.
The year after our first grandchild was born, we planted a maple tree in her honour. A few years later when our second grandchild was born, we did the same. We continued to do this. After each birth, another tree was planted. We planted the trees in a straight row, on the slope of an old farm field where the growing conditions were right -- plenty of sunshine and soil that wasn't too wet or too dry.  When the fifth grandchild was born, there wasn't enough room in the row, so we


Giving Thanks

October 9th, 2017 | 15 Comments »
The foliage of this tree (Nyssa sylvatica) is always colourful in autumn but this is the first time I've seen it with two distinct colours.  Can anyone explain why this happens?
  Today is Thanksgiving day in Canada, and there is much to be thankful for. In the garden, colours are bright.   [caption id="attachment_5729" align="aligncenter" width="2820"] Sedum 'Autumn Joy' lives up to its name.[/caption]   Even when the flowers have faded, I'm thankful for work that's been done.  At the Aqueduct the catmint ( Nepeta racemosa 'Walker's Low') has been cut back, making the bed look more like a monk's shaved head than the overgrown mop of foliage it was only days ago.   [caption id="attachment_5743" align="aligncenter" width="5184"] Those stubs of nepeta between


The Big Meadow, 2017

September 25th, 2017 | 8 Comments »
I took this photo near the end of July. The mown path remained green all summer, thanks to the amount of rain we received.
Is it accurate to call The Big Lawn at Glen Villa The Big Meadow? If you use an American definition, the answer is yes.  If you consult an English dictionary, the answer is less clear. Webster's Dictionary defines a meadow as a tract of low or level land producing grass which is mown for hay,  and that definition fits precisely. Allowing the sweep of grass beside our house that was tended for decades to remain untouched produced six large bales of hay last year, the first year we didn't mow regularly.  Those bales were