Category Archives: Plants

Vertical Gardens, Spanish style

September 30th, 2013 | No Comments »
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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

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Is Mosaiculture topiary?

September 22nd, 2013 | 2 Comments »
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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

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Mosaiculture: a different kind of art

September 16th, 2013 | 4 Comments »
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Mosaiculture is the name given to three dimensional sculptures made of plants. This summer, the Montreal Botanical Garden played host to dozens of creations from around the world, all illustrating the theme, Land of Hope. I postponed visiting the show until a few weeks ago, thinking I wouldn't like it. But I did. I was captured by the skill, the scale and the imagination. And by the humour. Who couldn't smile seeing these lemurs, parading along the walkway, tails held high? These ring-tailed lemurs are from Madagascar, an island rich in biodiversity.

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My favourite plant: Jeffersonia diphylla

September 9th, 2013 | 2 Comments »
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Gardeners in temperate climes may wonder why I love Jeffersonia diphylla. For them it grows easily, spreads nicely and offers a touch of light in a shaded border. A nice plant, but nothing special. Jeffersonia doesn't grow easily for me. I have to coddle it, and it is one of the few plants at Glen Villa that gets this care.  As for spreading nicely, no such luck. My one plant grew for quite a few years before it produced a baby. Nonetheless, I love Jeffersonia. It is my favourite plant. Not

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The Joy of Weeding

September 2nd, 2013 | 2 Comments »
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We all know that weeding is a chore, right? We also know that a weed for one person is a flower for someone else. Or, as often expressed, it's any plant growing where it isn't wanted.   Some people don't like ajuga in the lawn. I do. Ralph Waldo Emerson said it better, describing a weed as "a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered." My favourite quotation about weeds, though, is Shakespeare's contribution: "Great weeds do grow apace." And indeed, they do. Or, at least, this summer they

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The Aqueduct, Part 3: Planting It

July 15th, 2013 | 4 Comments »
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Spring in Quebec comes late. It was mid-May before the ground was dry enough for trucks to cross the lawn. And we needed trucks to complete The Aqueduct. The Aqueduct on April 6. Snow still lingers in shady areas and everything is a mess. The reflecting pool went in -- first concrete blocks, then steel plates to cover them. Inside the pool we added a square box with a perforated bottom. Water would drop into the box and seep out into the pool itself, eliminating splashing and keeping the water in

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The Darling Buds of May

May 14th, 2013 | 1 Comment »
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Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate;   Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, And summer's lease hath all too short a date.                        --- William Shakespeare Shakespeare's Sonnet 18 provided the title for H.E. Bates' novel. I never read The Darling Buds of May. Never saw the British tv show, either. But I've seen the buds themselves. Rough winds may be shaking them. but they are blooming gloriously

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A river of snowdrops

April 26th, 2013 | 3 Comments »
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Last year I dug up, divided and replanted about a dozen clumps of snowdrops. Amazing how a few bulbs will grow with time. According to my (less than perfect) planting records, originally I planted a few dozen snowdrops, ordinary ones that are readily available in most Canadian gardening catalogues.Thanks to an April 2012 blog post from Kathy Purdy of Cold Climate Gardening I decided to split the clumps. They were starting to look a bit overstuffed and I thought it would be worth the time and effort. Was I ever right!

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Spring arrives at Glen Villa! Finally.

April 22nd, 2013 | No Comments »
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Glory, hallelujah! Spring is finally here. Last Saturday the temperature rose to 24C (75 F). And suddenly, everything was bursting into bloom. Crocuses have been blooming for a few weeks now, and the suddenly warm day will shorten their life span. No matter. They remain a spot of light in the just-coming-to-life grass. No matter how many I plant, there are never enough. Crocuses shine, even in half-dead grass. Buds are forming on the Cornelian cherry (cornus mas), that most difficult of shrubs to photograph. The individual flowers are small and tucked

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A Garden Review: Sunnylands

March 5th, 2013 | No Comments »
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I visited one well-designed public garden in and around Palm Springs, the garden that surrounds the visitor's centre at Sunnylands, the modernist house built for Walter and Leonora Annenberg. Entering the estate, you get a preview of what's to come: lots of barrel cactus arranged in rows that reminded me of dots on an old-style dot matrix printer. Barrel cactus at the entrance to Sunnylands In front of the visitor's centre -- itself a model of contemporary, modernist-influenced design -- is an area where dry land plants dominate. My photo

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