Category Archives: Travel

A Change of (Ad)dress

May 23rd, 2016 | 14 Comments »
  The weather at this time of year does strange things to the mind -- and to the wardrobe. One day is cold, the next is hot. Changing locations makes the uncertainties even worse. What do I pack? Summer dresses or winter woolies? I arrived in England a few days ago on a chilly morning that felt much like the mornings I'd left behind in Canada. But looking out at the countryside, it was obvious that summer was now dressing the fields.   [caption id="attachment_3982" align="aligncenter" width="3888"] A froth of white

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Open Garden Days, New Talks and Garden Tours

May 17th, 2016 | 4 Comments »
  For a year or more I've been thinking about opening the garden to the public. Last week I bit the bullet and announced  that on August 4, I'll be holding an Open Garden Day. The Open Garden Day is a fundraiser for Fondation Massawippi Foundation, a community organization that supports land conservation and special projects in the communities that border Lake Massawippi. Visitors will be asked either to join the Foundation or to make a voluntary contribution. Will there be hundreds of people or only a handful? I have no idea. But I hope there will be

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Visiting Gardens: Nine Do’s and a Don’t

April 20th, 2016 | 10 Comments »
Visiting gardens is one the joys of my life. For the last four years, I've been hosting small group tours to gardens in Britain and Italy, working alongside an outstanding professional travel agent based in Vancouver. Julia Guest at Travel Concepts does the detailed planning that is essential to ensure a good garden tour. Without her work, the tours couldn't happen. Without the cooperation of individual garden owners, the tours wouldn't be as inspirational. And without the companionship of the men and women who have been part of the tours, they

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Magnolia Plantation: A Garden Frozen in Time

March 5th, 2016 | 12 Comments »
  Magnolia Plantation is one of South Carolina's premier attractions. Located on the Ashley River near Charleston, it bills itself as America's last large-scale Romantic-style garden. It fits the definition. It is a garden where form, balance and symmetry are thrown to the wind, where views are calculated to appeal to emotion rather than reason and where paths wander around dark reflecting waters that hide the realities underneath.   [caption id="attachment_3620" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Reflected in the dark water, the Long White Bridge is the height of southern romance. It's hard to resist

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The Wild Life on Kiawah Island

February 29th, 2016 | 4 Comments »
Strictly speaking, the headline on this week's blog post should read wildlife instead of wild life. Because for the last few weeks life here has been anything but wild. Instead, the days have passed gently, giving me a very welcome break, with time to read, think and bike around the island, enjoying everything I see. Birds abound here. Cormorants are everywhere, gathering most mornings for a confab on a nearby golf course ...   [caption id="attachment_3626" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Do you think they are gathering for a caucus? Politics is all

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Patterns and Politics

February 22nd, 2016 | 8 Comments »
  For the last week I've been enjoying warm snow-free days on Kiawah Island, a vacation spot off the coast of South Carolina. One of the joys of being here (apart from the weather, of course) is seeing plants I can't identify. This isn't because they are rare, it's because they are unfamiliar, and in vacation mode I can't find the energy to look them up.  Cycling around the island, with the sun warm on my shoulders, I simply enjoy what I see.   [caption id="attachment_3575" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] These palms have

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Layers in the Garden, or The Necessity for Ruins

February 8th, 2016 | 14 Comments »
When gardeners mention layers, or layering, they are often talking about propagating a plant. Tucking a flexible shoot of a shrub underground and leaving it to form roots is one method of layering. Separated from the original, one shrub becomes two or more, depending how many branches were layered. Layering can refer as well to different vertical spaces, from ground covers to perennials that are knee high, at eye level and taller, or to shrubs and trees that tower overhead. It can refer to a succession of bloom, how one flower overlaps with another, before fading

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Madoo Conservancy: A Garden Review

January 11th, 2016 | 20 Comments »
The Madoo Conservancy is a garden created over a period of almost forty years by the artist Robert Dash. Located in Sagaponack, New York, at the eastern end of Long Island, it is a destination garden, described as a magical oasis that evokes delight. It is a garden praised by many, including Rosemary Verey, the former doyenne of British gardening who designed gardens for Prince Charles, Elton John and the New York Botanical Garden. I've even heard it described as a masterpiece. So why did I find it a disappointment?

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A Year of Visiting Gardens

December 20th, 2015 | 13 Comments »
2015 was a bumper year for garden visits. I'm almost overwhelmed when I realize how many gardens I visited -- well over 100 by a quick count. Some days, I found the experience exhausting; every day it was fun. My year of visiting gardens started in February when I saw two outstanding gardens in South Carolina. Middleton Place lived up to its reputation as one of America's premier historic gardens. Begun by Henry Middleton in 1741,  the garden follows the principles of André Le Nôtre -- which means that order, balance and focal points enlivened by

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Broadwoodside: A Garden Review

November 22nd, 2015 | 16 Comments »
Broadwoodside is the garden of Robert and Anna Dalrymple. Located some 20 miles east of Edinburgh in Gifford, East Lothian, Broadwoodside is a garden of subtle humour and artful plantings. When the Dalrymples bought the property in the late 1990s, it was nothing but a collection of derelict farm buildings. Since then, under their direction, gardener Guy Donaldson has planted a series of gardens nestled within walled courtyards and in areas outside the walls.   [caption id="attachment_3039" align="aligncenter" width="768"] Would I have had the courage to renovate this property? I seriously doubt it.

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