Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Pining Away

May 4th, 2018 | 16 Comments »

A few weeks ago I posted the photo below on Facebook and asked for ideas about what to do with the trunk of an enormous pine tree that had pined away.


I'm guessing that the big pine was about 150 years old.
The pine tree was about 150 years old.


Many people responded: make it into a table, or benches, a totem, planters, bird houses or toothpicks (hard to imagine how many of those there would be!), an art display: Twenty Ways to Commemorate a Fallen Pine. (Thanks, Janet. I loved that idea.)

But that’s not what has happened.

Once we removed the branches we could see the shape of the tree trunk.  My son-in-law was the first to spot it. Walking along the top of the trunk with his son, he said it looked like a crocodile or a lizard.  He pointed to the knotholes. See the eyes?


Do you see the creature's eyes?
Do you see the creature’s eyes? And the legs?


He said it would make a great play structure and immediately I could imagine grandchildren climbing all over it and using it for games only they could imagine.

The problem was how to move one very big tree trunk from the farmhouse, which we rent out, to our house about a kilometre away. The trunk was long. And heavy. Yes, we could cut it into pieces but much of the attraction came from  the sheer size of the thing. Could we possibly move it in one piece?

As it turns out, yes, we could. And yes, we did.

First, though, a certain amount of head scratching was required.


Hm-m-m. What if we ...
Hm-m-m. What if we …


Luckily, living in the country, equipment that can lift heavy loads isn’t hard to find.


Bruce's big rig was essential.
Bruce’s excavator was essential and thankfully he was just finishing up another job close by.


So with Bruce lifting the heavy end with his excavator, and Jacques lifting the lighter end with his tractor, the journey began.

Across the lawn behind the farmhouse …


The base of the tree had rotted which explains why it toppled.
The base of the tree had rotted which explains why it toppled.


… and along the rocky road that cuts off a corner …


The lift on the tractor is in the front so Jacques was driving backwards for the entire journey.
The lift is on the front of the tractor so Jacques had to back up the whole way.


… then onto the public road that leads to our house.


There isn't a lot of traffic on this road so we didn't cause a traffic jam.
There wasn’t a lot of traffic on the road at the time so we didn’t cause a traffic jam.


Jacques and Bruce drove slowly. Even so, the  tree trunk swayed precariously as they moved down the hill, along a road with lots of dips and bumps. (The road is scheduled to be remade entirely a few months from now. I’m not looking forward to that.)

Our driveway is at the bottom of the hill. I thought they’d have trouble making the sharp turn, but these men are skillful and know exactly what their equipment can do.


Here you see the length of the trunk. I haven't measured it but I estimate it is about 40 feet long.
Here you see the length of the trunk. I haven’t measured it but I estimate it is at least 40 feet long.


The trunk made its way down the driveway …


We only had to cut one low-hanging branch.
Thankfully we only had to cut one low-hanging branch.


… across the lawn (aka The Big Meadow) …


Here it is passing the linden tree at the end of the Big Meadow.
The ground was still wet, even soggy in places, so the excavator made a mess. But the ground will recover quickly once it dries up and the grass begins to grow.


… to its new home on the bank above Lake Massawippi. The whole process took about 60 minutes, not including the head scratching.


We put the tree trunk between two old maple trees, planted about the same time that the pine tree was.
We put the tree trunk between two maple trees that are about the same age  — 150 or so.


Jacques immediately tried it out.


Yep, it works.
Yep, it works. And it’s fun.


The trunk will ooze sap for some time but it will dry out eventually.


It looks a bit like a very large earthworm crawling across the grass.
It looks to me like a very large earthworm inching its way across the grass.


I may cut steps into the right-hand end of the trunk, or shape it like the nose of a crocodile. I may paint the knotholes into eyes or add a snaggletooth to make the croc smile. I may let the sawn circles where branches were removed go grey or I may polish and seal them with shellac.


Love the stubby little legs!
I love the stubby little legs and the snout that points towards the house in the distance.


Or I may just leave well enough alone. But whatever I do (and I welcome ideas, the crazier the better), this creature needs a name.

Suggestions, anyone?


It’s Maple Syrup Time!

April 9th, 2018 | 14 Comments »
Jacques ladles the syrup into the final boiling pan.
It's that super sweet time of the year, when sap is transformed into maple syrup. We've been making maple syrup at Glen Villa for many years now. My father-in-law tapped trees and the site of his old sugar camp is now an art installation in the woods.   [caption id="attachment_5000" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Orin's Sugarbush is a magical spot in winter, when snow outlines pieces of rusted tin, suspended from surrounding trees to suggest the roof that once was there.[/caption]   Making maple syrup takes time, particularly if you do it


The Best Egg Ever

April 3rd, 2018 | 6 Comments »
What's Easter without an egg or two?   With 18 family members around on the weekend, the eggs disappeared almost as quickly as they were found.   This most beautiful of eggs was a special treat... before,   during,     and after.     Thanks, Sandra!

Metis International Garden Festival

August 22nd, 2017 | 6 Comments »
The optical illusion never fails to delight.
  Recently I visited the International Garden Festival at Metis, Quebec. I've attended the Festival many times since it first opened in 2000, but in previous years I've gone with adults. This year was special -- I went with two teenage granddaughters.   [caption id="attachment_5512" align="aligncenter" width="1425"] The festival gardens are adjacent to the St. Lawrence River in a part of Quebec that offers much to explore.[/caption]   Playsages, the theme for this year's Festival, was a good fit for the three of us. The word is a mash-up of languages, blending


Now for a Rest!

July 31st, 2017 | 14 Comments »
As the day began, I snapped one photo of cars parked in the field. It was the last photo I took for the day.
The last few weeks have been busy. Preparing the garden for visiting groups and getting everything in place for Saturday's Open Garden Day has been fun, but also a lot of work. And now that August is here, I'm ready to put my feet up -- for a day or two, at least. But first, I want to thank the 20 volunteers who worked at the Open Garden Day. They made the day a success, and I couldn't have done it without them. The weather cooperated beautifully, and the day


Vancouver Gardens

July 10th, 2017 | 14 Comments »
this Japanese maple is in my brother-in-law's garden, a beautifully cool and shady spot.
I'm on my way back to Quebec now, after five days in Vancouver. It's been a terrific trip. The weather has been spectacular and the opening of my exhibition, Clichés to Live By, was a huge success -- lots of people of all ages and lots of positive feedback. Along with visits to the Winsor Gallery to see the show, I've been walking around Kitsilano, the area of Vancouver where I stayed. 'Kits' was named after a Squamish chief, August Jack Khatsahlano. Once it was a dense wildlife-filled forest; now Craftsman-style houses


Clichés to Live By

July 3rd, 2017 | 15 Comments »
George Bush's statement was a promise not to raise taxes. Did he?
I'm thrilled to announce that an exhibition of neon art I've created will open on July 8 at The Winsor Gallery in Vancouver, British Columbia. The Winsor Gallery features cutting edge contemporary art, and I'm honoured to be exhibiting there, where artists of the calibre of Alexander Calder, Attila Richard Lukacs, Patrick Hughes, Angela Grossman and Fiona Ackerman have been shown. This exhibition gives me special pleasure: the invitation to exhibit came as the result of two garden visits. The first visit happened several years ago when I went to Broadwoodside, a garden near


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


Thinking about Gardens

February 13th, 2017 | 17 Comments »
This sign seen at the wonderful Italian garden Bosco della Ragnaia, created by Sheppard Craige, says it all: If not here, where?
After a short but enjoyable holiday in Florida, I'm back in Quebec. Moving from one weather system to another that is radically different strains the body and provokes obvious questions. Why leave ocean breezes for frozen lakes, or blue skies and green palm trees for white snow and grey skies?   [caption id="attachment_4918" align="aligncenter" width="600"] The angle of this photo tells you how hard I was working in Florida. Don't laugh: leaning back and doing nothing takes some doing. (Ok, not much.)[/caption]   It is cold here. And it keeps on snowing,


Do You Care about Garden Trends?

January 30th, 2017 | 23 Comments »
I lifted from this photo from an on-line article in the English newspaper, The Telegraph. The cut-line that ran with the photo reads "This year, look out for cacti, price wars and carrot yoghrt," says Matthew Appleby.
Do you pay attention to garden trends or do you think they are a pile of baloney? Every year about this time, I read an article telling me what's in and what's out. Hot new plants are described. I read that there's a colour I can't live without, or that shrubs are making a comeback. (When did they ever go away?) These articles appear in magazines, newspapers and on-line sites in countries around the world.  Sometimes they are based on surveys, sometimes on opinions, sometimes on catchy phrases. Alliteration abounds. As do odd conclusions.