Category Archives: People


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.

Malverleys: A Garden of Contrasts

November 27th, 2017 | 17 Comments »
Vivid colours appear in the hot border. Contrasts are more subtle in the cool-toned border but are still  dynamic and inventive.
Winter is almost here in Quebec, which means that not much is going on in the garden at Glen Villa. So instead of moaning about that, I'm remembering one of the gardens I visited in England last May. Malverleys is a large private estate, rarely open to the public, so the small group of gardeners who were on the tour I was hosting was fortunate to be able to visit. We were doubly fortunate to tour the garden in the company of Mat Reese, the head gardener. Anyone who subscribes to Gardens Illustrated, or


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


Gardeners (and Gardens) to Remember

June 7th, 2017 | 14 Comments »
This garden by James Alexander Sinclair showed the relationship between sound and motion. Water gurgled and spouted in response to sound waves. Very ingenious.
I'm home again at Glen Villa, my garden in Quebec, after touring gardens in England. In ten days, the small group I was hosting visited 17 gardens, each special in its own way. Add in the Chelsea Flower Show and pre-tour visits to three other gardens and you can imagine the result: more photos and memories than a dozen blog posts can handle. Let me mention a few highlights. (More blog posts will come once I catch my breath and begin to assimilate all I saw.) The Chelsea Flower Show


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



February 27th, 2017 | 10 Comments »
North is a direction, an idea, an experience. North as designed by the architects Suresh Perara and Julie Charbonneau of the Montreal firm PER.CH is a triumph. Using familiar materials, PER.CH turns the idea of north on its head. Literally. Thirty-nine fir trees hang upside down from a metal framework, their soft green triangles pointing down to a bare Toronto beach.   [caption id="attachment_4945" align="aligncenter" width="2000"] Photo courtesy of Suresh Perara.[/caption]   North is one of eight installations that make up Winter Stations, an exhibition on the shores of Lake Ontario. Now


A Doorstep for Orin’s Sugarcamp

December 12th, 2016 | 15 Comments »
Jacques and Ken are skilled workers who can operate almost any piece of equipment, even under difficult conditions.
On the weekend we installed the granite slab that marks the 'front door' of Orin's Sugarcamp, my latest art installation at Glen Villa. (You can read about the project here.) Doing this was tricky. It involved transporting an 800-pound slab of rock across a snowy field and a partially frozen stream on the back of an open wagon. That takes skill, particularly since the snow is very slippery right now. But Jacques Gosselin and Ken Kelso, the talented men who work for me at Glen Villa, managed the job with ease.   [caption id="attachment_4767" align="aligncenter" width="1000"]


Melvin Charney’s Garden in the City

November 28th, 2016 | 10 Comments »
A grassy meadow abuts a busy Montreal street.
Melvin Charney’s garden made for the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal is firmly and unequivocally a city garden. It is surrounded by traffic on all sides, rising up from a piece of land lost between the entry and exit ramps of a busy expressway. It is composed of elements found in many gardens -- plants, sculptures and the fragments of buildings -- yet it combines them in a way that makes this garden unlike any other I know.   [caption id="attachment_4713" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] A grassy meadow abutting a busy Montreal street


Orin’s Sugarcamp

November 21st, 2016 | 12 Comments »
The distorted the shape of the leaf to suggest how the shape changes in the fall. l
Just over a year ago I began work on a project in the woods at Glen Villa, my garden in Quebec. I was inspired by an exhibition I saw at The Mount, Edith Wharton's home in western Massachusetts. One piece in particular caught my eye, a collection of oddly shaped pieces of wood that contrasted in an interesting way with the straight vertical tree trunks around them.   [caption id="attachment_4682" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Cognito, a sculptural installation by William Carlson[/caption]   I knew almost immediately that I wanted to do something similar and


Remembering the Dead

November 6th, 2016 | 22 Comments »
My father's post is in the foreground, my brother-in-laws in the background.
With Remembrance Day fast approaching, I'm remembering people who were important in my life and looking at how the Memory Posts I painted in their honour are faring. The inspiration for my Memory Posts came from a visit to the National Gallery of Australia and its Memorial Hall.  Created by indigenous artists from Central Arnhem Land in Australia's Northern Territory, The Aboriginal Memorial is an installation of 200 hollow log bone coffins.   [caption id="attachment_4600" align="aligncenter" width="1600"] Photo courtesy of the National Gallery of Australia. The curving path represents the Glyde River in