Category Archives: People

Haseley Court and Making History Visible

January 22nd, 2019 | 4 Comments »

My last blog post, about making history visible and listening to the land, struck a chord.  Many readers responded via the Site and Insight web page or commented on Facebook and on the blog itself, saying they were touched by the piece. Several described how experiences in their pasts affected their responses today, both to their own garden and to gardens they visited.

I know that is true for me. I grew up in Virginia, in a house with a big back yard where I could hide under bushes and pretend to be an explorer or anything more adventurous than the little girl I was.  At my grandparent’s farm I could enjoy the garden around the house, with its tall shade trees and enormous boxwood that lined the path to the front door, while always wondering when I would be big enough to go outside the fence.

 

A poplar tree that grew at my grandparents' farm in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia shaped my view of the world when I was a child.
As a child, I wanted to climb the hill at my grandparents’ farm to reach the lone poplar tree that family members discussed and painted. The tree was a magnet, pulling me into the world.

 

A few months ago Anne Wareham, who runs the English website ThinkinGardens, challenged readers to send a review of the best garden they visited in 2018.  This week, Anne ran the final review, the one I wrote about Haseley Court, a garden in Oxfordshire.

 

The topiary chess set at Haseley Court was one of many things I admired there.
The topiary chess set at Haseley Court was one of many things I admired there.

 

I hope you’ll take the time to read my review and to subscribe to ThinkinGardens, if you don’t subscribe already.  As a garden website, it lives up to its billing as

“a collection of challenging, entertaining and exciting garden writing, all contributed for free by some of our very best garden writers. Where else could you find garden writing as good (and honest) as this?”

You might consider subscribing as well to Anne Wareham’s website for her own garden, Veddw, a garden in Wales that showcases history in innovative ways. And visiting it, if your travels take you to Monmouthshire.

Why do I link my review of an English garden to my post about listening to the land and making history visible?

A hint: Haseley Court was created starting in the 1940s by Nancy Lancaster, a Virginian who became one of England’s grand interior designers. I grew up in Virginia. Could there be a connection?

 

Looking up at the sky through this gazebo took me back to my childhood.
Looking up at the sky through this gazebo took me back to my childhood in Richmond.

 

The strength of my response to Haseley Court leads me to wonder: how important a role do our personal histories play in evaluating a garden? Does your personal history, in gardens and beyond, affect how you respond to the gardens you visit? Should it play a role at all?

What do you think?

Oudolf at Pensthorpe

September 16th, 2018 | 10 Comments »
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Over the last half dozen years or so,  I've visited several gardens in England designed by the Dutch plantsman, Piet Oudolf. These include Bury Court in Hampshire, Scampston Hall's Walled Garden in Yorkshire and Hauser & Wirth in Somerset. Because I've seen and enjoyed these gardens, I was eager to see Oudolf's Millennium Garden at Pensthorpe Natural Park in Norfolk. (A review of Scampston Hall's Walled Garden is here.) Pensthorpe was Oudolf's first commission in the U.K. Planted in 2000 and up-dated in 2008, the Millennium Garden is part of a larger natural reserve.

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Petworth: a Landscape by Capability Brown

September 9th, 2018 | 18 Comments »
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On a sunny day, what could be more agreeable than strolling through a landscape designed by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown? Earlier this week, two friends and I took advantage of the fine weather to do just this when we visited Petworth House in Sussex. The landscape there is one of the finest surviving examples of Brown's work. Walking through the 700-acre park, the surroundings appear to be totally natural, but in reality Brown shaped each part of the land with his customary flair.   [caption id="attachment_6709" align="aligncenter" width="4272"] This view from the

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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!

The Upper Room in Winter

March 25th, 2018 | 16 Comments »
The Upper Room is pristine in the morning light.
The Upper Room is as glorious in winter as it is in spring, summer and fall. The highlight in every season is the beautiful screen outlining the bare branches of a dogwood tree.   [caption id="attachment_6101" align="aligncenter" width="5184"] The Upper Room stands tall in the morning light.[/caption]   Drawn by the Montreal artist Mary Martha Guy, the tree branches become more starkly striking with the late afternoon sun shining through.   [caption id="attachment_6092" align="aligncenter" width="2862"] The screen is a symphony of blacks, whites and shafts of light.[/caption]   A close-up of four

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Congratulations!

March 5th, 2018 | 25 Comments »
A desire to recreate the sounds of the stream beside our old summer cottage was the initial inspiration for The Aqueduct.
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.   [caption id="attachment_344" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] A desire to recreate the sounds of the stream beside our old summer cottage was the initial inspiration for The Aqueduct.[/caption]   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

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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

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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

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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

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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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