Category Archives: Plants

Yearning for Spring

February 25th, 2018 | 13 Comments »

It’s grey and nasty today and all I can think about is spring. I know it will come but its arrival seems a long way away.

So instead of moaning, I’m dreaming of snowdrops …


It's easy to see how snowdrops got their name.
It’s easy to see how snowdrops got their name.


and crocus …


Yellow crocus are sunshine to the soul.
Yellow crocus are sunshine to the soul.


and buds beginning to bloom.


When the yellow buttons of Cornelian cherry open up, the shrub becomes a haze of gold.
When the yellow buttons of Cornelian cherry open up, the shrub becomes a haze of gold.


I’m dreaming of stretching out on the grass in Annetta’s garden, gazing at the scilla and bloodroot that cover the hillside.


In April, this whole hillside is covered with blue and white.
In April, the hillside is a mass of blue and white.


I’m yearning for the day when the magnolia buds, now tightly wrapped in their furry coats,


The buds of M. stellata, or star magnolia, begin to form not long after the blossom fades.
The buds of Magnolia stellata, or star magnolia, begin to form not long after the blossom fades.


open to a petticoat pink that dances in the breeze.


Magnolia stellata in the Lower Garden reminds me of a young girl ballerina about to twirl.
Magnolia stellata in the Lower Garden reminds me of a young ballerina about to twirl.


I’m yearning for the day when ferns begin to unfurl…


Ferns cover the woodland floor at Glen Villa.
Ferns cover the woodland floor at Glen Villa.


and daffodils form an orderly line, processing across the grass.


The Dragon's Tail at Glen Villa used to be a grape-hyacinth blue in the springtime, but the bulbs died out. So now the tail is yellow and white.
The Dragon’s Tail at Glen Villa used to be a grape-hyacinth blue in the springtime, but the bulbs died out. So now the tail is yellow and white.


Yearning won’t bring spring any sooner. But I can dream, can’t I?

What are you dreaming about?

Tropical Foliage (and a little bit more)

February 12th, 2018 | 13 Comments »
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It's fascinating to see plants you think of as house plants growing outside. During a recent trip to Florida, I visited a friend and took a quick walk around her garden. The colours and textures were astonishing.     I can't name any of the plants, although they may be familiar to those of you who live in warmer climes.  Nameless or not, I loved what I saw, particularly the large-leafed beauties below.     Who can resist a shape like this rounded indentation? And the colour contrast was delicious.


More Memorable Trees

January 28th, 2018 | 21 Comments »
The Angel Oak is named after a family,
I love trees. Not surprisingly, many of my favourites are in my own garden, Glen Villa, and I wrote about some of them here.  But in my travels, I've come across many other special trees, and they stand out in my memory for different reasons. One I remember because of its size. The Angel Oak, still growing on John's Island, South Carolina after some 400 years or more, is so large that I couldn't capture it in a single photo. I simply couldn't stand far enough away -- the longest branch stretches 187 feet


Special Trees

January 14th, 2018 | 10 Comments »
This maple tree was planted over 100 years ago, as part of the landscaping for the resort hotel, Glen Villa Inn. The hotel burned to the ground in 1909.
A piece about specimen trees in the on-line magazine Gardenista started me thinking about trees and how special they are to me. Having recently planted a long allée of crabapple trees at Glen Villa, (and having written about it here) where the impact stems from the sheer number of trees and the precision of their placement, my mind swung to the opposite end of the spectrum, to individual trees that make an impact on their own. The most important tree at Glen Villa, my garden in rural Quebec, is the basswood, or linden as I


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


Planting for Spring

November 14th, 2017 | 11 Comments »
Empty boxes and bags are proof that all the bulbs are now in the ground.
Last week my computer went on the blink and for three whole days, my typing fingers had a rest. The days off-line gave me time to do other things, but instead of using the time wisely, I wandered around feeling bereft. So it was only yesterday, when all was once again well on the computer front, that I ventured outside to plant bulbs. I should have done this weeks ago but the weather had been so fine, almost summer-like, that I kept putting it off. Until the snow fell.   [caption id="attachment_5837" align="aligncenter" width="3888"] Snow


The Straight and (not very) Narrow

November 1st, 2017 | 23 Comments »
These crabapple trees in front of my daughter's house are Malus 'Dolgo.'
  When is a straight path not straight enough? When is it too narrow? Last March, I decided to transform an unused farm field into something spectacular by lining the path that ran through it  with crabapple trees. When the ground was barely thawed, I paced out the length to determine how many trees to order.   [caption id="attachment_5771" align="aligncenter" width="5169"] This path was a convenient short cut across a flat farm field.[/caption]   I was taken aback. We needed 100 trees, 50 each side, planted at 18 foot intervals. The number made me


The Grandchildren Trees

October 24th, 2017 | 12 Comments »
One grandchild stands next to her tree along with her father.
The year after our first grandchild was born, we planted a maple tree in her honour. A few years later when our second grandchild was born, we did the same. We continued to do this. After each birth, another tree was planted. We planted the trees in a straight row, on the slope of an old farm field where the growing conditions were right -- plenty of sunshine and soil that wasn't too wet or too dry.  When the fifth grandchild was born, there wasn't enough room in the row, so we


Giving Thanks

October 9th, 2017 | 15 Comments »
The foliage of this tree (Nyssa sylvatica) is always colourful in autumn but this is the first time I've seen it with two distinct colours.  Can anyone explain why this happens?
  Today is Thanksgiving day in Canada, and there is much to be thankful for. In the garden, colours are bright.   [caption id="attachment_5729" align="aligncenter" width="2820"] Sedum 'Autumn Joy' lives up to its name.[/caption]   Even when the flowers have faded, I'm thankful for work that's been done.  At the Aqueduct the catmint ( Nepeta racemosa 'Walker's Low') has been cut back, making the bed look more like a monk's shaved head than the overgrown mop of foliage it was only days ago.   [caption id="attachment_5743" align="aligncenter" width="5184"] Those stubs of nepeta between


The Big Meadow, 2017

September 25th, 2017 | 8 Comments »
I took this photo near the end of July. The mown path remained green all summer, thanks to the amount of rain we received.
Is it accurate to call The Big Lawn at Glen Villa The Big Meadow? If you use an American definition, the answer is yes.  If you consult an English dictionary, the answer is less clear. Webster's Dictionary defines a meadow as a tract of low or level land producing grass which is mown for hay,  and that definition fits precisely. Allowing the sweep of grass beside our house that was tended for decades to remain untouched produced six large bales of hay last year, the first year we didn't mow regularly.  Those bales were