Category Archives: Plants

Crabapples in Bloom!

June 4th, 2018 | 20 Comments »

In just over a year, the Crabapple Allée, aka the Avenue, has gone from dream to dirt, to bloom and gone.

We started with this, a dull bare field.


I took this photo on April 24, 2017, when I became serious about planting The Avenue.
I took this photo on April 24, 2017, when I became serious about planting a long allée of trees,. The walk through the trees is part of a larger project I’m still working on.


Four months later, The Avenue was beginning to take shape.


August 8, 2017
August 8, 2017


By mid-November, the site was a mess of wet earth and newly planted trees.


November 9, 2017
November 9, 2017


While the trees rested, I kept my fingers crossed. How would they survive the freeze and thaw of a difficult winter?


January 25. 2017
January 25. 2017


By early May, we were beginning to find out. Some trees were leafing out, obviously fine. Others were looking doubtful. Possibly they were slower growing, possibly they were dead or dying.


May 8, 2018
May 8, 2018. By this time we’d seeded the bare ground and were waiting for the seeds to turn it from tan to green.


Two weeks later, the excitement was building. Some trees were in bloom, others were about to start.


May 22, 2018
May 22, 2018


Warm weather began to open more blossoms but the full impact was not yet there.


May 24, 2018
May 24, 2018


On May 26, only two days after I took the photo above, the trees were in full bloom. The sky was grey, though, so I decided to wait until the following day to photograph the trees at their best.

That night it rained. Hard. The next morning, all the blossoms were gone.

I’m disappointed not to have a photo of the trees fully in bloom, but the image is there in my mind. Considering that this was their first year, the trees bloomed magnificently. Next year they will be better. And the year after, better still.


June 3, 2018
June 3, 2018


The best news is that every tree made it through the winter. Hooray!


What’s in a Name?

June 1st, 2018 | 4 Comments »
cardamine diphylla (1 of 1)
I saw this wildflower in the woods last week and was surprised to learn its botanical name, Cardamine diphylla.     I was surprised because only a week or so ago, I looked up the name of another plant, now growing in damp areas in the garden and in the fields at Glen Villa. Its botanical name is Cardamine pratensis.   [caption id="attachment_6380" align="aligncenter" width="3264"] Lady's smock or milkmaids is growing beside the Glen Villa pond. It has bloomed for several weeks.[/caption]   What is the relationship between the two Cardamines? Are


Terracing the China Terrace

May 29th, 2018 | 15 Comments »
terraces (1 of 1)
One of the first projects I undertook at Glen Villa was the China Terrace, a contemporary folly that honours an old resort hotel that once stood on the property. I first wrote about it as a conceptual garden. Following that, I wrote about it sporadically, focusing on the changes I made --  the bed that shook off its annuals in favour of a moss quilt,   [caption id="attachment_1565" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Moss forms a quilt on an old iron frame bed.[/caption]   and the staircase leading to the imaginary second and third story that changed, from


The Big Meadow, Year 3

May 24th, 2018 | 13 Comments »
Saturday late afternoon-020
In 2016, in order to discourage Canada geese from 'littering' the  lawn, we began to transform it into a meadow. We didn't follow the advice given by experts on how to create a meadow -- their process involved too much work and too much expense. Instead we simply stopped cutting the grass. We let it grow throughout the season and cut it only once in the fall, to mulch the leaves and to cut down any trees that were taking root. Now, entering the third year of this experiment, it is fascinating to see what is appearing. From a


New Growth

April 29th, 2018 | 12 Comments »
A cheery face looks up to the sun.
Today it is grey and rainy but yesterday felt like spring. And how wonderful that was! Despite the soggy ground, covered in many places with deer pellets and dead leaves, I spent an hour or so wandering around the garden, enjoying the sunshine and the new growth that was popping up in every warm corner. For readers who live in milder climates or in places where spring has truly sprung, the thrill of seeing new growth may have come and gone. But living in a cold climate, where snow is still lurking


The Unsprung Spring

April 16th, 2018 | 14 Comments »
Poor little snowdrops, coated with ice from this morning's freezing rain.
Spring just won't make up its mind. One day it cracks open the door, the next day, slams it shut. And I'm fed up! Come on, Spring, get a move on. Some years, snowdrops have finished by now. This year, they have barely started.   [caption id="attachment_6147" align="aligncenter" width="2334"] These poor little snowdrops are coated with ice from this morning's freezing rain. And yes, that's a patch of snow in front of them.[/caption]   In a normal spring, by now water would be splashing gaily over the rocks at The Cascade. Instead


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


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 ...   [caption id="attachment_3744" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] It's easy to see how snowdrops got their name.[/caption]   and crocus ...   [caption id="attachment_6049" align="aligncenter" width="3456"] Yellow crocus are sunshine to the soul.[/caption]   and buds beginning to bloom.   [caption id="attachment_6057" align="aligncenter" width="1807"] When the yellow buttons of Cornelian cherry open up, the shrub becomes a haze


Tropical Foliage (and a little bit more)

February 12th, 2018 | 13 Comments »
untitled (3 of 9)
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