Seeing the trees from a distance was like seeing a beacon of light, pulling you into a magic place.

Five Good Things and a Bad

As June shines its way towards July, I’m outside soaking it in and enjoying the garden at Glen Villa. There are too many happy-making things to show in a single post, so today I’m focusing on only four.

First come the hawthorn trees. We planted them more than 15 years ago and they have proved a mixed blessing, blooming well in some years, not so well in others. This year they were spectacular.



Seeing the trees from a distance was like seeing a beacon of light, pulling you into a magic place.
Seeing the trees from a distance was like seeing a cloud of light, pulling you into a magic place.


The roses nearby echoed the colour of the hawthorn blossoms, reinforcing the sense of magic.

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Our predecessors planted the rose bushes about 50 years ago. In 2015 we did some work in the area; disturbing the bushes has given them new life.


Continuing along the driveway, the orange punch of a honeysuckle introduces a new colour. I’m delighted with the way it is climbing up the window frame on the China Terrace, spilling over the top like the froth on an orange soda.


The honeysuckle is growing up one of the window frames on the China Terrace, my re-creation of the old Glen Villa Hotel that stood on the spot.
The honeysuckle is growing up one of the window frames on the China Terrace, my re-creation of the old Glen Villa Hotel that once stood on the spot.


At the front door the colour combo reverts to green and white, with Anemone canadensis emphasizing the white spots on a pulmonaria, or lungwort, that we dug from a neighbour’s house.


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In the middle ages, plants were often named after a bodily organ whose shape they mimicked. Is it the shape of the leaf or the shape of the flower that looks like a lung?


But best of all the good things happening in the garden is at The Aqueduct.

Regular readers may remember that last year I was searching for a plant that would provide an exclamation of colour, contrasting with the fluffy purple/blue of the catmint (Nepeta racemosa ‘Walker’s Low) that dominates the bed.


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I can’t decide whether to keep the white Bowman’s root at the front or to replace it with a large-leafed plant — a hosta or darmera or ligularia. What do you think?


I found it — Eremurus ‘Cleopatra.’ This orange foxtail lily, or desert candle, looks more peachy than orange, but whatever word your eye favours, to my eye the colour is fabulous and the combination dynamite.

A closer view shows the combination more clearly. Keeping the nepeta from swallowing everything around it is the only problem — the boxwood spheres need to be bigger before they can compete. I planted Eremurus once before, at the Cascade, but the ground was too wet and the bulbs rotted. Here, where the ground is drier, the bulbs should survive and the Eremurus develop into big clumps with many blooms. My fingers are crossed.


This 'candle' blooms from the bottom up.
This ‘candle’ blooms from the bottom up. As more of the tiny flowers bloom, the colour becomes more prominent.


So what’s the one bad thing?


With luck the wound will heal and the tree live for another 50 years or more.
With luck the wound will heal and the tree live for another 50 years or more.


In a high wind last week, one limb on the linden tree at the end of the Big Meadow blew off, leaving a gaping wound and a no longer perfectly balanced tree.  The difference from a distance doesn’t stand out but it is visible.

Still, I’m happy. The garden is looking wonderful, the sun is shining and the sky is blue. What more can anyone ask?


The Bowman's root is almost too exuberant.
Bowman’s root is blooming alongside the Nepeta. It is almost too exuberant. Almost.


  • Yes, I think a large-leafed plant to replace the bowman’s root would work better. But I hope you can use the bowman’s root somewhere else. It’s a lovely plant. And you’ll just have to keep whacking back the nepeta until the other plants like the boxwood get bigger. Not a low maintenance combo but an effective one. I have never tried eremurus because I don’t think there’s anyplace here where it wouldn’t rot. The two colors are lovely together.

    • siteandinsight

      Definitely will use the Bowman’s root somewhere else. Glad you like the colour combo, too.

  • For a large-leafed plant, how about rhubarb? I remember seeing the common-garden variety used brilliantly at Quatre-Vents. And the tall frothy flowers would be a bonus.

    • siteandinsight

      True on both counts, but I wonder if it is too tall? The ornamental rhubarb is spectacular. I tried it once somewhere in the garden (can’t remember where) but it didn’t like it and faded away. I need something strong by the stone wall and it might very well be good there. Thanks for the idea.

  • Sad about the linden tree… will be missed!

    • siteandinsight

      I think (hope) it has many years left, even if it will be a bit lopsided.

  • Lisa

    I love Bowman’s Root, but it probably has overgrown its spot in that space — why not add more Eremurus ‘Cleopatra’? A big-leaved plant would just draw attention there (as the Bowman’s Root does). It then would be a calm and harmonious view with a simple design. Just a thought. A beautiful landscape!

    • siteandinsight

      Bowman’s root will find a new home, come fall. I’m still not sure what to put in its place. I want to make sure the Eremurus survives the winter before buying more — it is a pricy bulb. Your point about drawing attention to the spot is an interesting one that I will definitely think about.

  • Jason

    The Eremurus with Nepeta is inspired. Do you keep the Eremurus inside over winter?

    • siteandinsight

      I don’t plan to, and according to the zone numbers, I shouldn’t have to. The issue with Eremurus seems to be too much winter dampness, rotting the bulbs. This area is reasonably dry so I’m hoping the bulbs will survive and grow into big clumps.

  • Judy H

    Oh, so sorry about the linden, it’s such a magnificent tree. I hope it will heal and look okay. It’s such a focal point for the meadow. Coincidentally our neighbor lost a huge branch from a silver maple in his yard last evening. It took out their electric line, but the list of items it missed is much longer – it missed the neighbor, who had just been out in his yard; it missed his sun porch and house, including second story bedrooms; it missed the hedge between our yards, and our garden and our house. So we’re all feeling grateful. We were out at a play, and got his text messages about it, and were concerned, but by the time we got home, the electric company had safely disconnected wires and removed the branch. So I guess we’re grateful for the electric company as well. Now we’ll see what additional sunlight our garden gets – shouldn’t be too big a change except maybe more late afternoon light in winter, which should be good.

    • siteandinsight

      The linden is beginning to fill in already so I think the loss won’t be as bad as I thought at first. We had a tree that lost its leader about ten years ago. I thought it wouldn’t survive or would look misshapen if it did but another branch took the central spot and the tree looks fine. Thank goodness the maple branch did so little damage — everyone was lucky that time.