Category Archives: Plants

Goals and Resolutions

January 7th, 2021 | 10 Comments »

In January last year, I laid out six garden goals for the year ahead, never believing I’d be able to achieve them all. I put them on paper nonetheless to give myself something to aim for and, to my surprise, I find that over the last twelve months I completed five of the six. This may be due to Covid-related restrictions that kept me closer to home, or it may be because I was intent on using the time well, but regardless of why, I’m pleased with what I managed to do.

So, what did I accomplish, and what did I leave out?

I finished renovating the dining room table on China Terrace. I replaced the plates and goblets  …

 

The new plates and goblets were put in place in late summer.
The new plates and goblets were put in place in late summer.

 

and added new napkins that I made with help from Lucy Doheny, our very talented local potter.

 

The incised design and imprecise folds make these napkins more casual than the previous ones.
The incised design and imprecise folds make these napkins more casual than the previous ones.

 

In the year ahead, I will work on the iron-frame bed, re-shaping the pillow and re-doing the moss quilt.

 

The original quilt pattern on the bed has disappeared entirely and the moss itself doesn't look great anymore.
The original quilt pattern on the bed has disappeared entirely and the moss itself doesn’t look great anymore.

 

A big project in 2020 was to design and plant the area in front of the foundation wall of the old Glen Villa Inn.  I tried a number of variations and settled finally — thanks to my friend Myke Hodgins, the Montreal landscape architect — on a simple design, a long, straight bed shaped at both ends like an arrow. This design reflects the travel patterns of guests who came from the south to stay at the Inn in the early 20th century and continues to make the historic connections that are so important at Glen Villa visible today. Shown here at the end of September, the North South Arrow is still missing some of the plants I intend to use. Filling the gaps is an obvious ‘to do’ in 2021.

 

The North South Arrow was only partially planted in 2020 but should be finished this year.
The north south orientation provides the greatest exposure for the sun-loving plants I selected.

 

The re-built circular wall in front of the hotel will become the Compass Rose. After a lot of research and with advice from Bob Osborne of Cornhill Nursery in New Brunswick, I chose Chinook Sunrise to fill the currently empty circle.

 

Chinook Sunrise is from the Canadian-developed 49th Parallel series of roses.
Chinook Sunrise is from the Canadian-developed 49th Parallel series of roses.

 

Goal #3 involved the Sundial Clearing that is the destination point for In Transit/En Route, one section of Timelines. The clearing needed serious attention after the dead pine that had served as the gnomen bit the dust in an autumn storm in 2019. In a nice bit of serendipity, a big rock that had to be moved to make way for the North South Arrow turned out to be much larger than it appeared and, when placed upright in the center of the Sundial Clearing, became exactly what was needed to replace the pine.

 

The stone stands in the middle of the clearing and its shadow marks the hour on the painted posts.
The stone stands in the middle of the clearing and its shadow marks the hour on the painted posts.

 

We made a new bench to replace the old one that was rotting and added a steel band, laser cut with the words ‘now maintenant’ to replace the black plastic tubing that previously enclosed the circle.

 

The steel band is rusting nicely.
The steel band is rusting nicely.

 

The fifth project involved extending Timelines to include the big outcropping of rock that was an original inspiration for the trail itself. In another bit of serendipity, we discovered water when we made an exploratory hole beside the rock. Soon we had a pool with mysteriously dark water.

 

The water level rises and falls over the seasons. I have yet to see the frozen version.
The water level rises and falls over the seasons. I have yet to see the frozen version.

 

This pool became part of Continuum, an extension to Timelines that wanders through a field, alongside a stream, into the woods and past the pond, looking at the interconnections between trees, stone and water. In the late fall we arranged rocks on a slope by the pond in the shape of a maple seed, or samara, and over the last month or so, I’ve been drilling rocks in the same pattern, the negative version of the positive outline on the slope.

 

I haven't finished drilling this rock yet but the pattern of a maple seed, or samara, is almost complete.
I haven’t finished drilling this rock yet but the pattern of a maple seed, or samara, is almost complete.

 

I’ve also been working on another extension to Timelines that looks at Greek mythology through feminist eyes. This project is in its early stages but I hope to finish work on this section called Mythos before summer.

Looking back, I can see how much I accomplished. The one goal I didn’t accomplish was fencing in the Lower Garden to keep the deer away. I’ve been thinking about doing this for several years, but finding a design that works in the space isn’t easy.

 

lower garden
With a fence I’d be able to use plants that deer love… and wouldn’t that be nice!

 

Nor did I keep the one resolution I set, to photograph a particular area in the garden once a month, as close as possible to the same day. I started well, with photographs of the Cascade in January and February, but in March, my resolution began to go south, as resolutions are wont to do.

 

This photo shows the Cascade in January 2020. It looks about the same now.
This photo shows the Cascade in January 2020. It looks about the same now.

 

Despite my inability to stick to a resolution, and even more significantly, despite the extraordinary happenings in other parts of the world, the year 2020 was a good one in the garden. I hope 2021 will be even better. In the garden and beyond.

 

Tree Hugging for Tree Huggers

December 21st, 2020 | 16 Comments »
Seen at the botanical garden in Sydney, Australia
Do you know when the phrase 'tree hugger' was coined? I didn't, so I looked it up. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the first known use of the term dates from 1965. Other words coined that year: jet lag, mini dress, pop art, teach-in, doo-wop and time traveller. Reading these words, I felt like a time traveller myself. In part this is because those words are so familiar now but also because the connotations of 'tree hugger' have changed so much. In 1965,  tree hugger was a derogatory term. Not so today.

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Autumn Leaves

October 12th, 2020 | 11 Comments »
The Forms are one installation on Timelines, the trail at Glen Villa that explores ideas about history, memory and our relationship to the land.
Walking through the woods recently, I passed this installation, called The Forms.   [caption id="attachment_9253" align="aligncenter" width="3728"] The Forms represent the basic building blocks of the constructed world. They are one part of Timelines, the trail at Glen Villa that explores ideas about history, memory and our relationship to the land.[/caption]   The colours of the plexiglass shapes stood out from the muted tones around them, attracting me like a magnet. Closer, I noticed leaves scattered on top of them, some haphazardly, some artfully arranged.     The contrast in colours atop

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Autumn Colour Brings Joy

October 6th, 2020 | 4 Comments »
The colour of this sourgum is quite different from the one next to it -- this one a fruit salad of peach and apricot, the other a fire of red-hot apple.
The autumn colours seem particularly intense this year at Glen Villa, my garden in Quebec's Eastern Townships. Leaves started to turn earlier than usual and the height of the season has almost come and gone. But what a season it has been! It started early, when a small horse chestnut tree (Aesculus pavia) began to turn.   [caption id="attachment_9230" align="aligncenter" width="2541"] This photo was taken in mid-September[/caption]   It continued as the sourgum trees (Nyssa sylvatica) nearby began to change colour. First one tree caught fire ...   [caption id="attachment_9228" align="aligncenter"

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The Yin Yang is Remade

August 10th, 2020 | 10 Comments »
untitled (1 of 10)
You know how one thing leads to another? That's what is happening this year at Glen Villa. Last November we began to rebuild the foundation wall of the old Glen Villa Inn.  Once the job was complete and I saw the impressive wall, I knew it needed a garden to complement it. The result is the newly planted area, the North South Arrow, now beginning to grow in. Between the hotel wall and the Arrow is a low circular stone wall. Its original purpose was to provide a turn-around for horse-drawn carriages bringing

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A Three Part Garden

August 3rd, 2020 | 2 Comments »
Meagher, Timelines-010
A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to visit a garden in the small village of North Hatley, Quebec, where I live, to see the work of garden makers Jane Meagher and Jean Vanaise. Here, over about ten years, they have transformed a one-acre town lot into a lushly varied garden. The transformation began when they decided to renovate and enlarge their house.  Before they began, the garden around the building was mostly grass plus a few bunches of flowers scattered more or less randomly. Not so today. Now their mini-paradise is set off from the street and

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The Upper Room in 2020

July 6th, 2020 | 19 Comments »
untitled (1 of 7)
The Upper Room is the memorial I created to remember and honour my mother. Designed to reflect the things most important to her -- her family, her religious beliefs and her dedication to Virginia and its institutions --  the Upper Room is a small formal area set amidst a natural forest on a hillside above our house. I wrote about its creation in a post you can find here, gave an update on the project here and showed how it looked in winter in a post here. Although my mother died in 2010, it wasn't until

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Planting the North South Arrow

June 25th, 2020 | 4 Comments »
plants in pots
Last week I wrote about the genesis of the North South Arrow, the new area we are planting at Glen Villa, describing how the concept for the area changed over time. Today I'm writing about the plants I chose and how I decided to arrange them. Jacques had warned me that the soil on site was a mix of sand and gravel that would need to be modified substantially if I wanted anything planted there to thrive. His advice was to dig up the top six inches and replace the

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The North South Arrow

June 15th, 2020 | 10 Comments »
G.A. LeBaron used this business card -- an early example of salesmanship that goes some way to explain why he was so successful.
Months ago, when we were rebuilding the foundation wall of Glen Villa Inn, the huge resort hotel that once stood on our property, I began thinking of a new planting area to complement the new wall. A photo taken shortly after the hotel burned down in 1909 showed plants arranged around the low stone wall in front of the hotel, where horse-drawn carriages circled to pick up and drop off hotel guests. The planting around that circular wall prompted me to consider a similar arrangement. [caption id="attachment_8368" align="alignleft" width="1600"] The

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Flowers, Fields and Food

June 8th, 2020 | 1 Comment »
aqui with spirea (1 of 1)
An assortment of photos shows the variety of what is happening now at Glen Villa, my garden in Quebec's Eastern Townships. Flowers are blooming everywhere. One that I am particularly fond of is columbine. The native variety, Aquilegia canadensis, grows freely in many spots in the garden. In the photo below, it complements the colour palette of new growth on a spirea, Spirea 'Magic Carpet,' a shrub that the deer ignore. (Hooray!)     Years ago, I started various columbines from seed, including some seed I brought back from Australia. I

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