Category Archives: Plants

Houghton Hall: A Garden Review

January 6th, 2019 | 8 Comments »
Add something about building
England has many fine gardens. Houghton Hall in Norfolk is one of the finest, offering a stimulating combination of horticulture, contemporary art and history that is far too much to absorb in a single visit. The most popular part of the garden is the five acre Walled Garden. Divided into contrasting areas, the Walled Garden contains a double-sided herbaceous border, an Italian garden, a formal rose parterre, fruit and vegetable gardens, a glasshouse, a rustic temple, antique statues, fountains and contemporary sculptures. With so many aspects, the area could feel muddled or over-crowded,

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A Year in the Garden: Part 3

December 31st, 2018 | 6 Comments »
Autumn colours is spectacular1
This final post of 2018, written on the last day of the year, brings the garden at Glen Villa to a close -- for now, at least. August is high summer in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. [caption id="attachment_7121" align="aligncenter" width="5184"] The trail through the Joe Pye weed is luscious in August, for bees and for pedestrians.[/caption]   Insects make their presence known. [caption id="attachment_7122" align="aligncenter" width="1797"] I'm not sure what flying creature this is, but I love the translucency of the wings.[/caption] NOTE: Thanks to Mark A. for identifying this

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A Year in the Garden, Part 2

December 28th, 2018 | 6 Comments »
My son and grandson spotted this fawn very shortly after the baby was born.
The meadows and fields at Glen Villa are white with snow in December, but in June and July, they are alive with colour. [caption id="attachment_7079" align="aligncenter" width="5184"] Lupins brighten meadows and fields in late June and early July.[/caption]   [caption id="attachment_7092" align="aligncenter" width="5184"] Buttercups and dandelions colour a field yellow.[/caption]   [caption id="attachment_7088" align="aligncenter" width="5184"] Ragged robin turns this field rosy pink.[/caption]   Closer to the house, colours appear in smaller doses. [caption id="attachment_7090" align="aligncenter" width="5184"] Hawthorn trees are a froth of white.[/caption]   [caption id="attachment_7096" align="aligncenter" width="5184"] Old-fashioned day lilies

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A Year in the Garden, Part 1

December 23rd, 2018 | 9 Comments »
A stream coming down the hill marks an S-curve at the entry to Glen Villa.
On a surprisingly mild winter's day -- not at all typical for Quebec in December -- I'm remembering the garden at Glen Villa as it looked earlier this year. January brought lots of snow.   [caption id="attachment_7035" align="aligncenter" width="5184"] A stream coming down the hill marks an S-curve at the entry to Glen Villa.[/caption]   [caption id="attachment_7036" align="aligncenter" width="4836"] The Crabapple Allée marches across the open field.[/caption]   February brought snow and gloomy skies. [caption id="attachment_7037" align="aligncenter" width="3456"] My sculpture Tree Rings honours the life of a maple tree that died

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Topiary for the Holidays

December 14th, 2018 | 8 Comments »
Each bird is slightly different, and each has its own personality.
Do Christmas trees qualify as topiary? We never think of them as such but they fit the definition -- the Oxford dictionary calls topiary the "art or practice of clipping shrubs or trees into ornamental shapes." And surely Christmas trees don't grow naturally into the perfect cones commonly seen but have been pruned and clipped to shape them.   [caption id="attachment_5888" align="aligncenter" width="2099"] This cone-shaped spruce tree is attached to the chimney stack at Glen Villa. It hangs right outside our front door.[/caption]   As a young gardener, I disliked topiary, thinking that it was a distortion

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Garden Centres and Garden Reviews

September 24th, 2018 | 10 Comments »
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Gardening in Canada can be frustrating. The range of plants available through nurseries or garden centres is minuscule compared with the number available in England. And seeing so many wonderful cultivars that won't survive in my Quebec garden makes me envious of England's more temperate climate. Still, for anyone who loves plants, a visit to a garden centre is always a treat. The group I was hosting on my final garden tour spent a few happy hours wandering around the Burford Garden Company, an Oxfordshire-based enterprise. At this time of year

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Oudolf at Pensthorpe

September 16th, 2018 | 10 Comments »
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Over the last half dozen years or so,  I've visited several gardens in England designed by the Dutch plantsman, Piet Oudolf. These include Bury Court in Hampshire, Scampston Hall's Walled Garden in Yorkshire and Hauser & Wirth in Somerset. Because I've seen and enjoyed these gardens, I was eager to see Oudolf's Millennium Garden at Pensthorpe Natural Park in Norfolk. (A review of Scampston Hall's Walled Garden is here.) Pensthorpe was Oudolf's first commission in the U.K. Planted in 2000 and up-dated in 2008, the Millennium Garden is part of a larger natural reserve.

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Ends and Beginnings

September 3rd, 2018 | 6 Comments »
Spirea japonica 'Crispa'
I head to England today, where I'll be hosting my final garden tour. I'm sad about this ending, but at the same time, I'm happy to remember the people and places that have formed such a rewarding part of my life. And as I keep reminding myself, ends are also beginning. Before leaving for England, I took a walk around  the garden at Glen Villa to see what's in bloom and to assess what needs to be done when I return. Generally, things are looking pretty good.   [caption id="attachment_6668" align="aligncenter" width="4272"] The deer

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Mushrooms

September 2nd, 2018 | 9 Comments »
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This is a bumper year for mushrooms. On a short stretch of path in the woods, I spotted six different types. I didn't pick any or examine them carefully, and without noting the specifics of their gills and stalks, I can't identify them with certainty. Mushroom identification is tricky in the best of cases, and without being sure what each is, I definitely won't eat them. But the differences in colour and shape are interesting.   [caption id="attachment_6660" align="aligncenter" width="1543"] Is this one of the edible puffballs?  Maybe, maybe not.[/caption]   [caption id="attachment_6661" align="aligncenter" width="1444"]

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The Middle of August

August 13th, 2018 | 13 Comments »
The Big Meadow
In the middle of August the garden at Glen Villa is just beginning to emerge from an unusually long dry spell. A few days ago we had rain -- buckets of it that washed out our driveway and threw a section of bank into Lake Massawippi. (We repaired the driveway; the lake itself may take care of the landslide.) Before the rain, plants were wilting badly. The leaves on a catalpa tree we planted years ago first drooped, then began to curl up and turn brown; thankfully they are now starting to recover.

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