Category Archives: Glen Villa

Garden Visitors

June 27th, 2017 | 10 Comments »

This week the first group of gardeners will be coming to tour Glen Villa. Forty plus members of the Ottawa Garden Club will spend the morning  here, on what I’m hoping will be a sunny day.

They are coming at a good time — the garden is looking fabulous. I rarely write a blog post that’s only about flowers, but this week the blooms are so spectacular that it’s worth showcasing their beauty.

The Aqueduct, where last year I added Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’, Ruby Carousel barberry and Porteranthus (formerly Gillenia trifoliata) to existing boxwood balls, is stunning, a symphony of blue and green.

 

I want to add a tall spiky plant that pops up through the Nepeta at occasional spots and tones in with the barberry and rusty steel. I'm trying several possibilities this year, including early summer blooming Eremurus 'Cleopatra.' I've ordered the bulbs for fall planting.
I want to add a tall spiky plant that pops up through the Nepeta at occasional spots and tones in with the barberry and rusty steel. I’m trying several possibilities this year and have ordered early summer blooming Eremurus ‘Cleopatra’ to try next year.

 

A close-up shows how the nepeta is almost overwhelming the boxwood.  I’m wondering how much I’ll have to cut back in the future. But for now, I’m happy with the balance.

 

flowers (13 of 13)
I plan to add another clump of Porteranthus (Gillenia trifoliata) at the far corner to echo the clump of white shown in the photo above.

 

The Cascade, which in previous years has proved problematic, is looking the best I’ve seen it for a long time. I’m particularly pleased with the two perennial geraniums that I planted last year. Geranium ‘Biokovo’ is a tiny delight…

 

I love the colour of these blossoms and the perky way they stand up above the foliage.
I love the colour of these blossoms and the perky way they stand up above the foliage.

 

,,, while Geranium ‘Hocus Pocus’ brings a touch of dark magic to the scene.

 

I wasn't sure these geraniums would survive the winter in this often damp location, but they have. And soon the plants should be covered with blossoms.
I wasn’t sure these geraniums would survive the winter in this often damp location, but they have. And soon the plants should be covered with blossoms.

 

Near them are plants I started from seed about a dozen years ago, Sanguisorba menziesii. I love the bottlebrush shape and the fabulous burgundy colour.

 

Hmm... maybe these burnets would work in the Aqueduct border. But would they carry enough weight to balance the explosion of Nepeta? What do you think?
Hmm… maybe these burnets would work in the Aqueduct border. But would they carry enough weight to balance the explosion of Nepeta? What do you think?

 

In the Lower Garden, the pink peonies are luscious.

 

Maybe Sarah Bernhardt?
Maybe Sarah Bernhardt?

 

So are the double white.

 

I like any colour of peony. I like the foliage, too.
I like any colour of peony. I like the foliage, too.

 

The Acquilegia canadensis are staying true to themselves, and offer a punch of colour in combination with ‘Bowles Golden’ carex.

 

This combination is growing close to a mustard-coloured Chinese vase. The colours work really well together.
This combination is growing close to a mustard-coloured Chinese vase. The colours work really well together.

 

I don’t have much bright red in the garden, but seeing this  honeysuckle in  bloom, that may change.

 

I planted this honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens 'Major Wheeler') in 2012. This is the first year it has bloomed well. Is a warmer climate the reason?
I planted this honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens ‘Major Wheeler’) in 2012. This is the first year it has bloomed. Is a warmer climate the reason?

 

In the same bed a fingerleaf Rodgersia (Rodgersia aesculifolia) is a standout against a pink-flowered weigela (Weigela florida ‘French Lace’).

 

Rodgersia is pink around the edges... I haven't noticed that on the plants before this year.
This Rodgersia is pink around the edges… I haven’t noticed that on the plants before this year. And not all of the fingerleaf Rodgersias share this colouring, but over half of them do.

 

By the front door, the Anemone canadensis I added last year is doing exactly what I hoped it would do, shining a spot of light in the shade of a pine tree.

 

The white spots on an old-fashioned pulmonaria, variety unknown, are set off by the white blossoms on the anemone.
The white spots on an old-fashioned pulmonaria, variety unknown, are set off by the white blossoms on the Anemone canadensis. The anemone should self-seed and spread.

 

The display is wonderful now and should continue for weeks. Next to come, I think, will be the astilbe in the Lower Garden. Even now, tightly closed, the promise is unfolding.

 

The deep red of Astilbe Fanal is set against the citrus blooms of lady's mantle. Both are just beginning to bloom.
The deep red of Astilbe Fanal is set against the citrus blooms of lady’s mantle. Both are just beginning to bloom.

 

I plan to challenge the members of the Ottawa Garden Club by asking them a few questions. I didn’t think up the questions, I’ve pinched them from one source or another. They seem to be good questions for gardeners anywhere to ask, about their own garden and any garden they visit.

What one thing in the garden would you change? Is there something you’d add or delete? And would you like this garden to be yours?

I hope they send me their answers. Honest criticism is a good way to learn.

Garden Envy

June 20th, 2017 | 17 Comments »
The Upper Field at Glen Villa is a what dieticians argue against, butter spread thick on the ground.
Coming home from a tour of English gardens I felt a short, sharp shock. Everything in my garden looked inadequate, not up to the standard I had come to expect. I moped. I complained. Why can't I grow the hundreds of plants I saw and admired?  Some of them must surely suit my climate. So why don't the garden centres around Glen Villa stock them? Then I faced the facts. My garden will never match the perfection of an English estate that employs six or seven full time gardeners.  The garden centres will

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Open Garden Day 2017

May 14th, 2017 | 3 Comments »
Glen Villa Open House 2017 eng 1200x800
I'm happy to announce that once again this year, we are opening the garden at Glen Villa as a fundraiser for the Massawippi Foundation. Here are the details.     As you can see, the admission goes directly to our local community foundation, Fondation Massawippi Foundation. The Foundation supports community projects -- school playgrounds, a community health centre, meals to shut-ins and seniors and much more. It also supports land conservation through the Massawippi Conservation Trust. In the few short years since the Trust was established, almost 800 acres of

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The flowers that bloom in the spring, Tra-la

May 9th, 2017 | 8 Comments »
untitled (5 of 20)
Gilbert and Sullivan got it right when they wrote about spring flowers. The flowers that bloom in the spring, Tra la, Breathe promise of merry sunshine — As we merrily dance and we sing, Tra la, We welcome the hope that they bring, Tra la, Of a summer of roses and wine. Right now, I'm dancing and singing. Because everywhere at Glen Villa, spring flowers are blooming. Daffodils galore brighten the path to the China Terrace ....   [caption id="attachment_5129" align="aligncenter" width="1319"] We planted these daffodils about fifteen years ago. The

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The Upper Room

April 26th, 2017 | 24 Comments »
The hardscaping for The Upper Room was completed last summer.
After months of anticipation, yesterday we installed the glass panels at The Upper Room. The wait was long but it was worth it -- I am thrilled with the results. The Upper Room is a memorial designed to honour my mother and her beliefs. It's a tribute to family and to the traditions I grew up with in Richmond, Virginia, when classically symmetrical architecture, brick, and boxwood shaped our streetscapes and our view of the world. From inception, brick and boxwood were essential elements of the design. So was a sense of embrace. I wanted the

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The Spirit of Stone: A Book Review

April 10th, 2017 | 10 Comments »
The book is a useful primer on how to use stone in the garden.
I share something with Jan Johnsen, author of The Spirit of Stone -- a respect for stones and the qualities they bring to a landscape. At Glen Villa, my garden in Quebec, I've used stones in paths, steps and walls. I've used them more unusually in the gabion walls of The Aqueduct and in the parking area in front of the house. [caption id="attachment_5034" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Gabion walls can be practical and aesthetically pleasing. A low pool can be attractive to a tiny granddaughter.[/caption]   Two stunning moss-covered rocks in the woods

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Garden Plans: I’m Dreaming Again

March 27th, 2017 | 27 Comments »
You can see a bit of the trail on the left side of this photo, taken in 2009. We cleared brush from this area last fall. Some of the wildflowers have disappeared but the site still feels the same. Is this an example of unity persisting despite change?
Now that winter has dumped several feet of snow on a garden that was almost snow-free, I'm back by the fire, metaphorically at least, dreaming of the seasons ahead.   [caption id="attachment_5009" align="aligncenter" width="600"] I took this photo about ten days ago after a fresh snowfall. Today is grey. And maybe more snow will fall. I hope not.[/caption]   I'm dreaming about a trail that will lead around the property. I'm considering the route it will follow and what I will call it. I know the purpose of the trail -- it will connect art

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Garden Goals for 2017

January 9th, 2017 | 10 Comments »
The tin maple leaves hung in November 2016 are now coated with snow, making the scene even more evocative.
Setting annual goals for the garden keeps me on track and helps me avoid jumping from one thing to another, something I'm all too prone to do. Last year I set 10 goals for myself and discovered, looking back in last week's post, that ten was too many. So in 2017 I'm cutting my ambitions in half and setting five goals for the year ahead. 1. Finish The Upper Room The bare bones of The Upper Room, the new area in the garden that honours my mother and her beliefs, have

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Looking Back and Forth

December 31st, 2016 | 10 Comments »
Since I didn't do anything about new pots, I shouldn't have a photo to illustrate this goal. But I did use Mandeville vines on the living room deck. I've had these same plants for ten years or so, and they continue to provide abundant blooms and colour.
Last December I took the risky step of setting goals for 2016. So as that year ends and 2017 begins, it's time to assess. How much of what I wanted to do did I actually accomplish? 1. The Cascade: As intended, I modified the plantings around The Cascade. I reduced the number of different types of plants, improved the drainage and the soil in the beds themselves. As a result, the plants flourished and I was content. But of course there are always reservations. The Weigela 'Wine and Roses' needs another year

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A Recklessly Record-less Year

December 19th, 2016 | 14 Comments »
This album will be arranged by project, not chronologically.
For the last sixteen years I've kept a record of what happens each year in the garden. I've conscientiously photographed each project I've undertaken, each border as it changed from season to season, each modification I made or was thinking about making. I've stuck these photographs into albums and written comments --  about my intentions for a project, or the weather, what I was wanting to do next -- in effect, about anything that seemed relevant at the time. These albums are immensely helpful. They are a record of how the garden has developed. They both show and tell

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