Tag Archives: Big Meadow

The Middle of August

August 13th, 2018 | 13 Comments »

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.

The Big Meadow suffered badly as well. Grass that in previous years was tall and lush hasn’t grown. From a distance, it looks fine although not as interesting as in previous years.


The Big Meadow
The path running through the Big Meadow makes it clear that the unmown grass is intentional


But up close, it simply looks weedy. The patch of dock that normally disappears in the thick grass stands out like a rash that refuses to heal.


Red dock, or sheep sorrel (Rumex acetosella), is patchier than in previous years.


Not all is a loss. There is a dainty white wildflower, member of the aster family, that is adding a touch of interest.


a member of the aster family?
This wildflower is one of many composites or daisies in the aster family. There is more of it this plant this year than last. Calling it dainty is a nice way of saying that it doesn’t make a big impression. I’m hoping,, though, that with more and more of it, eventually it will.


The Cascade is lush and green.


The Ligularia is drooping.
The Ligularia has almost finished blooming but still provides a touch of yellow.


The Aqueduct looks good although the Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ that made such a show for a month or more has been shaved back to allow for a possible second bloom.


The Prairie Dropseed, sporobalus heterlopis is coming into its own.
The Prairie Dropseed, Sporobolus heterolepis, is coming into its own. In another few weeks it will begin to change colour, ending as a golden-orange that blends well with the rusted steel edging the reflecting pool.


in the reflecting pool, the tadpoles that gave grandchildren such a treat in early July have grown up into frogs.


Nice noises come from these little guys.
These little guys can make a lot of noise. I think their sounds are magnified by the steel surrounds.


I’m not a fan of the strong yellows and oranges that thrive in late summer so there isn’t a lot of colour in the garden at the moment.  Instead, green and white dominate.  By the kitchen door, white spears of clethra, or summersweet, pierce the green surroundings. Its fragrance is powerful in the sunshine, attesting to the honesty of its name.


clethra (1 of 1)
The yellow edge on the hosta in the background is the sort of yellow I like at this time of year — soft and creamy.


Near the front door and in the Lower Garden, lacecap hydrangeas add another touch of white. They are blooming well now, with weeks of bloom still to come.


hydrangea (1 of 1)


Near the Lower Garden, a PeeGee hydrangea is loaded with blooms.


This peegee hydrangea (more properly called Hydrangea paniculata 'Grandiflora') is one of the most cold-hardy varieties. It was here when we moved into the house 22 years ago.
This peegee hydrangea (more properly called Hydrangea paniculata ‘Grandiflora’) is one of the most cold-hardy varieties. It was here when we moved into the house 22 years ago.


Yet as so often seems the case, my favourite flowers are the wild ones. Arrowhead is shooting everywhere in the shallow waters of the pond by the road.


wildflowers (4 of 7)
Arrowhead, or Sagittaria cuneata, is also known as Wapato or arum leaf arrowhead. It is an indigenous plant that grows best is shallow, still or slowly flowing water.


Another white wildflower is blooming at the edge of the Skating Pond.


wildflowers (1 of 7)
I call this Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum). Please correct me if I am wrong.


The spires of steeplebush (Spirea tomentosa) are appearing in every field and damp spot.


wildflowers (2 of 7)
Steeplebush is also known as hardhack on account of the toughness of its stems. Butterflies and other nectar-feeding insects find the flowers highly attractive.


The scabious in the fields has mostly finished blooming but the thistles (probably Cirsium discolor) are continuing the colour theme.


wildflowers (6 of 7)
The young leaves and stems of this field thistle are edible if boiled. Or so I’m told. I can’t say I’m ready to try them. Native Americans used the roots to make poultices for treating wounds and boils.


Most splendid is the field of Joe Pye weed. It covers something like an acre of wet ground and photos can’t begin to capture the impact of so many plants in full bloom in a space contained by tall trees.


wildflowers (7 of 7)
From some angles it seems that the flowers will go on forever.


A single mown path leads through the area. Yesterday, the path was almost blocked by falling stems. Moving along, touching plants carefully to avoid the bees and butterflies, was a breath-taking experience.


Joe Pye trail (1 of 1)
When upright, some of these plants are 7 or 8 feet high.


One of these days we may make a trail into the centre of the display, with a small viewing platform a few feet above ground. I can only imagine how wonderful it would be, to look out on the flowers spreading in every direction.

Or — more likely — we will never get around to it, relying on imagination instead.

The Big Meadow, Year 3

May 24th, 2018 | 13 Comments »
Saturday late afternoon-020
In 2016, in order to discourage Canada geese from 'littering' the  lawn, we began to transform it into a meadow. We didn't follow the advice given by experts on how to create a meadow -- their process involved too much work and too much expense. Instead we simply stopped cutting the grass. We let it grow throughout the season and cut it only once in the fall, to mulch the leaves and to cut down any trees that were taking root. Now, entering the third year of this experiment, it is fascinating to see what is appearing. From a


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


Fall projects for Gangly Teens

September 21st, 2016 | 10 Comments »
The line of green clearly marks where you are meant to walk. But now that all the grass is cut, it is easy to walk anywhere.
Coming home after a tour of gardens in the UK is always a shock. English gardens are so lush, so flowery, so impressive in predictable and unpredictable ways. In comparison, my garden in mid-September is a let-down. In fact, it makes me think of a gangly 13-year old. The teen may have good bones and a sense of fashion but for the moment the best features are hidden behind braces and a spotty face. Like that gangly teen, my garden is full of promise. It has good bones even if they do seem hidden today,


The Big Meadow in August

August 25th, 2016 | 19 Comments »
The mown path makes this work. Showing a human intervention is essential.
  This summer I've been watching what used to be a manicured lawn turn into a meadow.  Seeing the changes month to month has shown that what pleased me in June ...   [caption id="attachment_4073" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] The view from the driveway gives some idea of the size of the Big Meadow.[/caption]   became even better in July.   [caption id="attachment_4203" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Grasses on the prairie used to be called oceans of grass. Now I know why.[/caption]   I was thrilled. Was the transformation from lawn to meadow going to be as