Category Archives: Quotations

Plus ça change…

April 9th, 2019 | 11 Comments »

This winter feels interminable. Surely in earlier years daffodils have been blooming by now, snowdrops long gone.

Well, no. It’s true that in some years snowdrops have appeared by this date.

 

April 1, 2016 (1 of 1)
These snowdrops were shivering in the cold on April 1, 2016.

 

Crocus have bloomed.

 

These crocus were lighting up the hillside on April 4, 2010.
These crocus were lighting up the hillside on April 4, 2010.

 

Pulmonaria have added their touch of colour.

 

April 4, 2010+ (1 of 1)
This pulmonaria or lungwort was blooming on April 4, 2010.

 

But it is also true that this April is better than some.  A lot better.

 

This photo from April 7 2013 shows a very wintery garden.
This photo from April 7, 2013 shows a very wintery garden.

 

Last year in early April, the crabapple allée was snow-free and the central path, still unseeded, a straight line of mud.

 

Snow lingered in the ditches alongside the allée and the path was straight mud... we seeded it last summer and this year it should be green.
Snow lingered in the ditches alongside the crabapple allée on April 2, 2018.

 

This year on exactly the same date, patchy snow still covered the field around the crabapple allée. But at least  this year the path will soon be green.

 

I took this photo a week ago, on April 2. It looks much the same now.
I took this photo a week ago, on April 2. It looks much the same now.

 

Comparing photos from different years gives me hope. The photo below from a few years ago shows magnolia in the Lower Garden in full bloom on April 23. And that’s only two weeks away.

 

Spring came early in 2012.
Spring came early in 2012.

 

Whatever the weather, though, these guys will still be hanging around, looking like they own the world.

 

Here's looking at you, kid.
Luckily deer don’t like barberry bushes. Otherwise those shrubs would be stubs.

 

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

Listening to Winter

January 30th, 2019 | 8 Comments »
The Abenaki were the original inhabitants of the Eastern Townships of Quebec. This part of my installation, Abenaki Walking, shows the period after the arrival of Europeans, when barbed wire impeded the movement of Abenaki across the land.
On a winter day when temperatures throughout Mid and Eastern North America are plummetting, it is difficult not to project human emotions onto the landscape.  How can winter be so cruel and miserable? A poem by the American poet Wallace Stevens suggests we should think more objectively about what we see outside our door. The Snow Man One must have a mind of winter To regard the frost and the boughs Of the pine-trees crusted with snow; And have been cold a long time To behold the junipers shagged with ice,

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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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As the Garden Turns

April 22nd, 2018 | 12 Comments »
This garden in the Eastern Townships has a splendid view out over the countryside.
Does your garden turn its face to the world or does it veil it off?  The difference says a lot, about you and the style of your garden -- and about the spirit of the times. Recently I spoke to several groups about how to get the most out of garden visits.  Learning to Look: the Art of Garden Observation considers what it takes to really see a garden. A handout for the talk asks some key questions, starting with the garden's context.  How does it relate to the world around it? Is it open to its surroundings or closed off? Topography

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Veddw House Garden

May 22nd, 2017 | 18 Comments »
These hedges were tiny when planted. Very tiny --
 about ankle high. Getting the proportions right must have been a nightmare.
  I'm in England now, about to start on a ten-day garden tour. With my co-host Julia Guest of Travel Concepts in Vancouver, I will take a small group of women to the southwest of England.  But before hitting the road, let me whet your appetite with a review of an extraordinary garden I visited pre-tour. Veddw is the garden of Anne Wareham and Charles Hawes. Located in Wales, just across the border from England in an area of outstanding natural beauty, Veddw pays homage to its surroundings in ways that show respect

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A Doorstep for Orin’s Sugarcamp

December 12th, 2016 | 15 Comments »
Jacques and Ken are skilled workers who can operate almost any piece of equipment, even under difficult conditions.
On the weekend we installed the granite slab that marks the 'front door' of Orin's Sugarcamp, my latest art installation at Glen Villa. (You can read about the project here.) Doing this was tricky. It involved transporting an 800-pound slab of rock across a snowy field and a partially frozen stream on the back of an open wagon. That takes skill, particularly since the snow is very slippery right now. But Jacques Gosselin and Ken Kelso, the talented men who work for me at Glen Villa, managed the job with ease.   [caption id="attachment_4767" align="aligncenter" width="1000"]

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Orin’s Sugarcamp

November 21st, 2016 | 12 Comments »
The distorted the shape of the leaf to suggest how the shape changes in the fall. l
Just over a year ago I began work on a project in the woods at Glen Villa, my garden in Quebec. I was inspired by an exhibition I saw at The Mount, Edith Wharton's home in western Massachusetts. One piece in particular caught my eye, a collection of oddly shaped pieces of wood that contrasted in an interesting way with the straight vertical tree trunks around them.   [caption id="attachment_4682" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Cognito, a sculptural installation by William Carlson[/caption]   I knew almost immediately that I wanted to do something similar and

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The Colours of Autumn

October 31st, 2016 | 12 Comments »
What an array of colours! The view looking out over the Big Meadow never fails to excite me.
I missed the peak of autumn colour this year in the Eastern Townships of Quebec -- where colours are as good as (or better than?) any place in North America -- because of some trips that took me away from home. So when a friend sent me a photo he took a week or so ago of the hills behind our house, I was delighted.   [caption id="attachment_4579" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Our house and boathouse on Lake Massawippi are dwarfed by the hills that rise behind.[/caption]   What a spectacle it was. Friends who were

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Prospect Cottage: A Garden Review

October 12th, 2016 | 12 Comments »
The cottage retains its original strongly contrasting paint colours.
  The garden at Prospect Cottage, located in Kent on England's east coast, was created by the late Derek Jarmon, a filmmaker, diarist and early advocate of gay rights. It is a garden that sits lightly on the land while simultaneously conveying a powerful sense of place. It is also one that elicits a strong response from visitors. Either they like it or they don't, are intrigued by it or walk through quickly, dismissing what they see as a collection of rubbish with some flowers thrown in.   [caption id="attachment_4107" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]

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Framing the View

August 16th, 2016 | 10 Comments »
A pair of trees frame a view. The mown path  directs your eye and your feet.
"No matter how panoramic its scope, a view of surrounding countryside becomes a genuine garden picture only when it has been framed." - Penelope Hobhouse Recently I came across this statement from the English garden writer and designer Penelope Hobhouse. I read it quickly, nodded in agreement, then paused and read it again. Did I agree? Does a view have to be framed in order to create a 'garden picture'? And what is a 'garden picture' anyway? a photograph of the garden or the picturesque scene itself? The more I considered the statement, the

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