Category Archives: Miscellaneous

The Donald Lecture

September 21st, 2021 | 12 Comments »

Last week, I spoke at Bishop’s University to a large group os students, faculty, staff and members of the local community.  My talk was one in a series of lectures held over the past 13 years called the Donald Lectures, sponsored by Bishop’s alumni John Donald. Previous speakers include some real superstars, people like Jane Goodall, Steven Pinker, Jesse Jackson, Edward Burtynski, and Naomi Klein, so I feel honoured to join the list.

Bishop’s 550 seat Centennial Theatre was almost at Covid capacity, with about 200 or more people in the auditorium, and with over 80 more on the live stream. It was the first time in a VERY long time that I’ve spoken in person to an audience, and an even longer time since I’ve spoken to that large an audience.

It was amazing!

 

Photo courtesy of Michael Goldbloom, Principal of Bishop's University.
Photo courtesy of Michael Goldbloom, Principal of Bishop’s University.

 

The questions from students after the talk were challenging. How do you integrate yourself into the landscape, and vice versa; and how do art and gardens fit into the picture? (Wow, that was a tough one.) What was your biggest disaster in the garden? (The first thing that came to mind was trying to get the Aqueduct to work properly. I could have named many others.) What is your most beautiful garden memory? (Impossible to choose only one. So I chose several: three family weddings in the garden at Glen Villa and one mental image from a garden in England where photos were not permitted.)

The talk was on a Wednesday. The following Saturday, students and faculty and community members toured the garden. It was a sunny day that ended in a downpour, well-timed at the end of the morning, after most people had walked the 4 km Timelines trail and had visited most of the garden proper. I had the chance to meet and talk to many students, which for me is always a high point. I saw some old friends and met some new ones. And as always, the day went smoothly thanks to two very special men.

 

Ken Kelso and Jacques Gosselin, the two men whose work makes my job in the garden and wider landscape possible. Photo by Michael Goldbloom.
Ken Kelso and Jacques Gosselin, the two men whose work makes my job in the garden and wider landscape possible. Photo by Michael Goldbloom.

 

A big thank you goes to all those who attended the lecture in person and to the large number who listened to the live stream. It was a real pleasure for me to share my passion and enthusiasm for Glen Villa Art Garden with you all.

The talk is available on Youtube, starting at about 40 minutes into this link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0D7riTGkKg

If anyone watching the link has questions, do get in touch. I’m happy to present this talk or one of several others listed on my website to groups far and wide, either in person or via zoom.

 

Borders, Boundaries and Beds

March 21st, 2021 | 4 Comments »
One year ago, almost to the day, the border between Canada and the U.S. closed. The closing didn't end all movement back and forth but for all practical purposes, for most of us it put an end to easy crossings. Today, no one knows when the border will re-open, and wondering about that unknown date set me thinking about borders and boundaries as they relate to gardens and landscapes. What is the difference between a border and a boundary, and what impact, if any, does a verbal distinction make on the ground? Thinking

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Ruins and Recoveries

December 30th, 2020 | 7 Comments »
What can we say about 2020? Queen Elizabeth's Annus Horribilis comes to mind. So does the subject of ruin -- personal and business ruin, political ruin and the final ruin, death, which came this year for hundreds of thousands of people, more than we imagined possible when the pandemic began. But, Janus-like, ruins have a positive as well as a negative face. It may seem contradictory but history and the evidence of my own eyes tell me that to contemplate ruins is to contemplate the future as well as the past.

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Tree Hugging for Tree Huggers

December 21st, 2020 | 16 Comments »
Do you know when the phrase 'tree hugger' was coined? I didn't, so I looked it up. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the first known use of the term dates from 1965. Other words coined that year: jet lag, mini dress, pop art, teach-in, doo-wop and time traveller. Reading these words, I felt like a time traveller myself. In part this is because those words are so familiar now but also because the connotations of 'tree hugger' have changed so much. In 1965,  tree hugger was a derogatory term. Not so today.

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The Medicine Wheel and the Four Directions

September 20th, 2020 | 4 Comments »
Earlier this week I was fortunate to visit a new installation on the Tomifobia Nature Trail in the company of its creator, Paul-Conrad Carignan, and Paul's partner, Sylvia Bertolini. Paul is a Metis Algonquin-Anishnabe Elder and the site he designed is dedicated to spiritual and healing teachings of the Indigenous Medicine Wheel and its four directions. At a clearing beside the trail, located in Quebec's Eastern Townships close to the border with the United States, large granite slabs, or stelae, rise up at the four directions. Each stone is engraved with an

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Cats, Deer, Grouse and Hogs

June 3rd, 2020 | 2 Comments »
Last week I sent out a single photo as a Wednesday vignette. It showed a groundhog and a cat standing close together, absolutely still.     Lots of people responded to that photo, remarking on how close together the two animals were. But photos can be deceiving. Take a look at the photo below, for instance. Does it show a real deer or a painted silhouette?     I did not manipulate the photo of the cat and groundhog and I've often spotted them together in that same part of the garden.

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Wednesday Vignette

May 27th, 2020 | 6 Comments »
I spotted this couple in the garden a few days ago. Do you think they had seen something ominous? Or was the cat stalking the groundhog?  

Stuck!

May 25th, 2020 | 6 Comments »
You know you are having a bad day when the tractor that is meant to pull you out of the brook runs into trouble en route to the scene. Something on the tractor's winch pulled loose but Jacques Gosselin, a man who can do almost everything, indoors and out, fixed it in a minute using a rock he found nearby.     We were on our way to pull a four wheeler called a Gator out of a stream that, mistakenly, I thought I could cross.   [caption id="attachment_8764" align="alignleft" width="3088"] An 'After' photo of

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Visitors to the Garden

April 6th, 2020 | 4 Comments »
In the last few days, we've had visitors in the garden. Some didn't knock on the door, but they did leave their calling cards to let us know they came around. [caption id="attachment_8585" align="alignleft" width="5184"] Tidy work![/caption]   I can guess who made those holes, but what creature did the work below? [caption id="attachment_8583" align="alignleft" width="3456"] Did a bird strip these trunks bare?[/caption]   Birds are always welcome in the garden. Ducks, too. [caption id="attachment_8582" align="alignleft" width="5184"] I think these mallards are just getting acquainted. But shouldn't he be following her?[/caption]  

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More Advice

March 2nd, 2020 | 10 Comments »
Last week I advised myself not to set overly ambitious garden goals for 2020. I must have been under the weather. This week, I'm back to normal, aiming to accomplish most of the goals I set myself even while acknowledging that doing that will mostly likely be impossible. Although I set six goals for the year, I made only one resolution, which was to photograph one part of the garden every month. Anne Wareham of ThinkinGardens, a site that posts interesting and provocative blogs from around the world, did this last year in her own garden,

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