Category Archives: People

The Guggenheim Bilbao: more than a Puppy

October 6th, 2013 | 4 Comments »
Jeff Koons is not my favourite artist. In fact, I don't really like his work. But I do like his Puppy. And I loved the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, inside and out.Koons' Puppy is suitably festive outside Frank Gehry's trademark gay curves.In the plaza next to the museum, towering over pedestrians, Koons' highland terrier is a patchwork of colours so bright that it lifts the spirits on a cloudy day. And lifts the corners of the mouths of everyone passing by, as well.A slightly different angle confirms it: this Puppy is BIG.I saw

Read More...

Vertical Gardens, Spanish style

September 30th, 2013 | No Comments »
Patrick Blanc's vertical garden at the Caixa Forum in Madrid is even more spectacular than the photos suggest. It is located in the old section of Madrid, beside the busy Paseo del Prado and near the Reina Sofia, one of Madrid's outstanding art museums.Passers-by give a sense of scale.I wish I could give you some stats about this wall garden: how many plants there are, how high the wall is, how wide, but I can't. I do know that it dates from 2007. And that the expanse of green was lush when I

Read More...

Is Mosaiculture topiary?

September 22nd, 2013 | 2 Comments »
Strictly speaking, the answer is -- no. Both are living sculptures, but they are made in different ways. Mosaiculture is also a contemporary form of plant display, while topiary has a long and distinguished history, dating back to  Roman times.So, what are the differences? The most obvious one is that topiary uses a single plant to create architectural and sculptural shapes while mosaiculture creates forms by combining a variety of plants with different colours and textures. Traditionally, creating a topiary took a long time; a plant, tree or shrub was clipped and shaped

Read More...

Circles in the garden

August 5th, 2013 | 3 Comments »
Does nature abhor a straight line?  Writing about triangles at Througham Court made me think about shapes and the effects that different shapes create. Looking through my photos, I noticed lots of rectangles. Squares appeared, but less often, and usually in formal settings. And then there were circles. They were used frequently in some gardens, not in all in others. I started to wonder why. The circular mound at Througham Court Traditionally, the circle is a symbol of unity and perfection. Since all points of a circle are equidistant from

Read More...

The Aqueduct, Part 2: Building It

July 8th, 2013 | No Comments »
In my last blog post, I wrote about why we decided to build The Aqueduct (The Aqueduct, Part I: Why We Built It). I explained that we wanted to see and hear the stream that ran down the hill near the house, to replace some dangerous steps, and to create a water feature that harmoniously linked disparate elements in the house and landscape around it. I started planning this project in April 2011, but for various reasons the shovel didn't go into the ground until September 2012, almost a year

Read More...

The Aqueduct, Part 1: Why We Built It

July 2nd, 2013 | 2 Comments »
When my husband and I bought Glen Villa in 1996, we moved from a little lakefront cottage into the house next door. We acquired a property that had been loved and looked after beautifully. We counted ourselves lucky indeed. We often sat on the deck looking out towards the magnificent linden tree at the end of the big lawn. We ate breakfast and lunch there, entertained friends, enjoyed the view. Sometimes, in the background, we could hear water trickling over rocks, but we couldn't see the water. And most of

Read More...

Rills and Why I Like Them

June 26th, 2013 | 6 Comments »
Water features are an important element in many gardens. Understandably so. Water can reflect the sky, enlarging the space to infinity; it can reflect surrounding buildings or trees, adding stimulating contrasts. It is an ideal environment for certain decorative plants. It cools the air and its movement over rocks or cascades adds a refreshing note. A garden rill is an artificial channel that carries water from one place to another. Historically rills developed from the religious ideas of Persian paradise gardens. They appeared later in Europe, in Moorish gardens like

Read More...

Borrowing a View

June 18th, 2013 | 3 Comments »
In England, the idea of enlarging the view beyond a garden wall -- whether the wall is real or metaphoric -- dates back to the 18th century. The furniture and landscape designer William Kent is said to be the first to recognize that land outside a garden's designed space could appear to be part of it. He understood that someone else's fields or farmlands could be 'borrowed' visually to make one's own lands seem larger. At Rousham House in Oxfordshire. Kent "leapt the wall and saw that all nature was a

Read More...

Petworth: A ‘Capability’ Brown landscape

June 10th, 2013 | 2 Comments »
I'm in England for the next few weeks, visiting a friend before setting out on a tour of English gardens. On the weekend I spent a glorious afternoon walking through a landscape designed and constructed in the 18th century by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown. Brown created an estimated 170 landscapes in England, many of which remain. Petworth in Sussex, is one of these, and it shows all of Brown's characteristic trademarks. First of these is the broad lawn that sweeps from the house down to an artificially created lake. This simple

Read More...

Garden gnomes and their ilk

June 4th, 2013 | 5 Comments »
This year, the Chelsea Flower Show celebrated its 100th birthday. To mark the event, the organizers broke a long-standing rule and allowed garden gnomes to appear. Celebrities like Elton John decorated and raffled gnomes to raise funds for the Royal Horticultural Society.  It was a publicity stunt that worked. This year's show attracted even more attention than normal, because gnomes were there. This on-line photo was not identified, but surely at least one of these spectators is a royal. It's ironic. The Chelsea Flower Show is an upper class affair, frequented by royalty and

Read More...