Category Archives: Miscellaneous

A Bench with a View

September 29th, 2019 | 10 Comments »

Last week’s blog prompted so many responses that I’m writing about benches again. Kathy Purdy, a friend, regular reader and blogger extraordinaire (you can read her blog here) made the excellent comment that the view from a bench is as important as — more important than? — the design itself. I also have photos of many interesting bench designs that I didn’t include last week. So location as well as design is the focus for this post.

I’ve positioned benches at Glen Villa with the view very much in mind.  A Victorian-style metal frame bench offers a place to look out onto the circular stone wall that stood in front of the early 19th century Glen Villa Inn.

 

No image of the bench, instead an image of what you see sitting on it.
The Yin/Yang at Glen Villa uses contrasting colours, textures, heights and materials to suggest how opposites create a balance in nature, an idea that comes from Chinese philosophy.

 

This very simple bench sitting on the bank above Lake Massawippi draws no attention to itself, leaving that to the view onto the lake.

My husband and his old friend David share a bench on the bank overlooking Lake Massawippi.
The bench almost disappears, allowing the view its full force.

 

Anyone sitting on the bench at the Sundial Clearing looks straight at the tall dead pine tree whose shadow acts as the gnomon, or pointer, to indicate the hour and to suggest the relentless passage of time.

 

I came across this dead pine tree when marking out a new trail through the woods. As soon as I saw it, I knew it would become an important feature.
I came across this dead pine tree when marking out a new trail through the woods. As soon as I saw it, I knew it would become an important feature.

 

The view from the bench above the Skating Pond shows the pond and the surrounding fields and hills.

 

The bench is barely visible in the foreground, taking nothing away from the pond and its surroundings.
The bench is barely visible in the foreground, taking nothing away from the pond and its surroundings.

 

Which is more important in a public garden — the view or the spacing between one place to sit and another? They aren’t mutually exclusive, of course, but sometimes people need to sit and rest. A bench at the botanical garden in Edinburgh looked out on a view that held only moderate interest, but it appeared just when I was ready to take a break, making it perfectly located.

A simple and very stylish bench made from ordinary 2x4s.
This fabulous bench shows how ordinary 2x4s can create elegant and stylish seating. Its design enables people both to see the view and to see each other, thereby encouraging conversation and the sharing of views. The paving underneath adds to the impact.

 

The bench also demonstrates how inventiveness can turn a simple construction into a work of art, using nothing more than 2×4 boards.

 

The same 2x4s, this time without a back.
I saw this fine backless bench at RHS Wisley.

More 2x4s create another very simple bench at Hannah Peschar’s Sculpture Garden. Yet see how effective it is!

Boards laid on end and set on clunky legs make another stylish statement.
Boards laid on end and set on clunky legs make another stylish statement.

Wooden planks that rise up to a climax creative an impressive bench that is a work of art at Pensthorpe Natural Reserve in Norfolk.

The angled back gives this bench its flair.
The angled back and curved seat give this bench its flair.

Wood left in its original form can also create original and effective benches.

 

A bench at Olana, the New York state home of the artist Thomas Church, uses curved branches to create an appealing bench.
A bench at Olana, the New York state home of the artist Thomas Church, uses curved branches to create an appealing bench. I didn’t sit on it so I don’t know how comfortable it is.

 

 

With thought and a desire to construct something special, wood left in its natural form can create wonderful benches. That’s why one of my autumn projects is to convert this tree trunk into a bench.

 

The old maple tree trunk is the right height for a bench and its natural shape is interesting.
The old maple tree trunk is the right height for a bench and its natural shape is interesting.

 

The height is right for a bench and the natural shape of the maple tree trunk is interesting.

 

Another view of the maple tree trunk.
A view of the maple tree trunk from a different angle.

 

But best of all, the view is great.

 

Bridge Ascending, 2011, by Doucet-Saito
Bridge Ascending, 2011, by Doucet-Saito

 

That’s what I call a win/win.

 

 

The Right Bench in the Right Place

September 22nd, 2019 | 11 Comments »
The colour of this bench makes it memorable, even without the names and dates of previous owners painted on the back.
Garden benches come in all sizes and shapes. Some are strictly utilitarian, some decorative, and some add meaning to the garden through their design. The simple utilitarian version of a bench is a familiar sight, whether with a back ... [caption id="attachment_8053" align="alignleft" width="3696"] This bench from a garden in Newfoundland invites you to sit down and admire the pond and the plants around it.[/caption]   ... or without.   [caption id="attachment_8056" align="alignleft" width="3888"] This bench is stylish even though simple in the extreme, thanks to the chunky legs and squared

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Fences

August 11th, 2019 | 14 Comments »
I designed this fence made of steel posts and wire cable to be as invisible as possible from a distance and attractive up close.
Fences come in all shapes and sizes, yet in one way or another they all serve the same purpose: to separate one area from another. At Glen Villa, my garden in Quebec, the oldest fence separates a former farm field from a driveway.   [caption id="attachment_7852" align="alignleft" width="1024"] It's obvious from the way the tree has grown around it that this barbed wire fence was put up a long time ago.[/caption]   An equally practical but more decorative fence is the one I designed to protect shrubs from the deer that

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Paths with Pizazz

August 4th, 2019 | 4 Comments »
The cmbination of regular and irregularly shapes stones along with the plants that break up the stones makes this path at Malverleys particularly appealing.
Many garden paths are ordinary, designed simply to get you from one place in the garden to another. Grass paths, the simplest and least costly type of path to make, appear in gardens so routinely that they almost disappear. Occasionally, though, you'll see a path that stands out. The grass path below is an example. It is well maintained and nicely curved but what lifts it out of the ordinary is the white line that edges it. That line draws your eye along the curve and makes the path itself impossible to ignore.

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Introducing Mr. Albert Stumpson

July 3rd, 2019 | 6 Comments »
stumpy (2 of 5)
For many years a pine tree towered over an old house where a tenant farmer once lived.   [caption id="attachment_6230" align="alignleft" width="4000"] You can see the tall pine tree behind the house in this photo from 2009.[/caption]   In search of the sun, it gradually leaned farther and farther away from the house. Until one day, it fell.   [caption id="attachment_6221" align="alignleft" width="4316"] The screened porch on the farmhouse is the perfect place to sit on a summer's evening.[/caption]   When the branches were removed, my son-in-law noticed that the

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Canada Geese Go Home!

June 23rd, 2019 | 15 Comments »
Canada geese are gorgeous birds to look at. But why, oh why, do I have to see them here at Glen Villa? Towards the end of May I saw two adults swimming with their little ones. How many babies were there?   [caption id="attachment_7636" align="alignleft" width="1790"] Talk about getting all your ducks in a row....or your geese in this case.[/caption]   The goslings swam in and out of sight, and each time I counted I got a different number. But I could see there were a lot of them. The next

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Open Garden Day Tickets on Sale!

May 20th, 2019 | No Comments »
Saturday, July 20 is the day and you are invited!   Come and explore the wonders of the garden and landscape when Glen Villa opens to the public as a fundraiser for the Massawippi Foundation and Conservation Trust. All proceeds from your admission fee go to support land conservation, community projects and a network of trails that lead through pristine woodlands, preserved in perpetuity by the Conservation Trust. Buy your tickets now for a morning or afternoon visit!      

Oh, Deer!

March 17th, 2019 | 12 Comments »
Here's looking at you!
Long winters like the one we are experiencing this year in Quebec's Eastern Townships make life difficult for animals.  Deep snow that persists for months makes it hard for deer to find food in the woods and as time passes they come closer and closer to barns and houses. Yesterday I glanced out a window, disrupting two deer who were not far away, searching for something to eat.   [caption id="attachment_7324" align="aligncenter" width="5184"] Here's looking at you![/caption]   As I went to get my camera, another deer appeared.  Then another, and another, and another.

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Fishing in Winter

February 24th, 2019 | 7 Comments »
This photo from 2008 shows the yurt on the ice.
Yesterday the temperature in Quebec's Eastern Townships was hovering just above freezing. The sky was brilliant blue and the sun glinting off clean, fresh snow brought out dozens of people, walking and talking -- and fishing through the ice. We live next door to Manoir Hovey, an outstanding resort hotel and a member of the prestigious international group, Relais et Chateaux.  I didn't have my camera with me yesterday to photograph the fun, but luckily I have photos that I took at Manoir Hovey in 2008 that show a similar scene.

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Listening to Winter

January 30th, 2019 | 8 Comments »
The Abenaki were the original inhabitants of the Eastern Townships of Quebec. This part of my installation, Abenaki Walking, shows the period after the arrival of Europeans, when barbed wire impeded the movement of Abenaki across the land.
On a winter day when temperatures throughout Mid and Eastern North America are plummetting, it is difficult not to project human emotions onto the landscape.  How can winter be so cruel and miserable? A poem by the American poet Wallace Stevens suggests we should think more objectively about what we see outside our door. The Snow Man One must have a mind of winter To regard the frost and the boughs Of the pine-trees crusted with snow; And have been cold a long time To behold the junipers shagged with ice,

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