Tag Archives: garden design

The Grandchildren Trees

October 24th, 2017 | 12 Comments »

The year after our first grandchild was born, we planted a maple tree in her honour. A few years later when our second grandchild was born, we did the same.

We continued to do this. After each birth, another tree was planted. We planted the trees in a straight row, on the slope of an old farm field where the growing conditions were right — plenty of sunshine and soil that wasn’t too wet or too dry.  When the fifth grandchild was born, there wasn’t enough room in the row, so we started a second one. When that row filled up, we started a third, and then a fourth.


One grandchild stands next to her tree along with her father.
A grandchild ignores her tree while her father assesses its height  She’s a lot taller now and so is the tree. He isn’t.


All of a sudden — or so it seemed — we had ten grandchildren and ten maple trees, planted in a triangle like the pins in a bowling alley.


Ten maple trees mark the birth of ten grandchildren.
Ten maple trees mark the birth of ten grandchildren.


By last summer, the trees were big enough to have an impact. But the long grass in the field hid the triangular shape.


There's a shape here? You could fool me.
There’s a shape here? You could fool me.


In order to emphasize the shape and to draw attention to the trees themselves, we started to mow around them.


The mown grass set off the shape but not enough.
The mown grass exposes the tree trunks, setting the trees off from the field.


Mowing helped make the shape clear, but it didn’t help enough. We sprayed a white line on the grass.


Spray paint does the job quickly but doesn't last long
Spray paint did the job quickly but it didn’t have enough visual weight.


That helped a bit more, but the spray paint didn’t last very long.

Recently I returned to the problem, searching for a solution that would showcase the trees but wouldn’t require too much maintenance.

I think I’ve found it.


How long will the spray paint last? Time will tell.
How long will the spray paint last? Time will tell.


A steel bar mounted on steel legs now marks each corner of the triangle with a sleek silver line. Next summer we may spray paint the legs that hold the bars above the grass silver as well, or we may leave them to gather even more rust.


A close up of the steel bars shows how simple this solution is. Fingers crossed that it does the job.
A close up of the steel bars shows how simple this solution is. Fingers crossed that it does the job.


The spray paint didn’t end the necessary tweaking. Because almost three years ago, grandchild #11 appeared on the scene. Where could we put her tree? The triangle was complete.

If her tree wasn’t part of the pattern, did it have to be a maple? Her mother suggested we choose a tree that bore fruit — appropriate for a little girl, she said. Until a few weeks ago, this youngest tree stood in the same field, not far from the other grandchildren trees but not part of the group either. Her cousins didn’t like that. They said she was being left out.

What could I do but listen?

Now the youngest (the final?) grandchild’s tree is in place. It stands opposite the tip of the triangle, elevated on a berm like a conductor leading an orchestra.


Grandchild tree #11 faces Grandchild tree #10.
Grandchild tree #11 faces Grandchild tree #10. She is planted about 4 ft higher than the other trees.


And to make sure the others know who is in charge, we planted a crabapple!





Now for a Rest!

July 31st, 2017 | 14 Comments »
As the day began, I snapped one photo of cars parked in the field. It was the last photo I took for the day.
The last few weeks have been busy. Preparing the garden for visiting groups and getting everything in place for Saturday's Open Garden Day has been fun, but also a lot of work. And now that August is here, I'm ready to put my feet up -- for a day or two, at least. But first, I want to thank the 20 volunteers who worked at the Open Garden Day. They made the day a success, and I couldn't have done it without them. The weather cooperated beautifully, and the day


Defeating the Deer

August 12th, 2013 | 2 Comments »
How hard can it be to build a fence around some shrubs in a field? Not very, you'd think. You'd be wrong. Or you would be if you did it the way I have. Which definitely isn't the way to go. In 2008, I planted a few flowering shrubs along the fence that separates the road from what I call the upper field (because it is higher in elevation than the lower field. Duh.) I wanted to add colour and vitality to an area that offered little visual interest. I


Circles in the garden

August 5th, 2013 | 2 Comments »
Does nature abhor a straight line?  Writing about triangles at Througham Court made me think about shapes and the effects that different shapes create. Looking through my photos, I noticed lots of rectangles. Squares appeared, but less often, and usually in formal settings. And then there were circles. They were used frequently in some gardens, not in all in others. I started to wonder why. The circular mound at Througham Court Traditionally, the circle is a symbol of unity and perfection. Since all points of a circle are equidistant from


The Aqueduct, Part 2: Building It

July 8th, 2013 | No Comments »
In my last blog post, I wrote about why we decided to build The Aqueduct (The Aqueduct, Part I: Why We Built It). I explained that we wanted to see and hear the stream that ran down the hill near the house, to replace some dangerous steps, and to create a water feature that harmoniously linked disparate elements in the house and landscape around it. I started planning this project in April 2011, but for various reasons the shovel didn't go into the ground until September 2012, almost a year


The Aqueduct, Part 1: Why We Built It

July 2nd, 2013 | 2 Comments »
When my husband and I bought Glen Villa in 1996, we moved from a little lakefront cottage into the house next door. We acquired a property that had been loved and looked after beautifully. We counted ourselves lucky indeed. We often sat on the deck looking out towards the magnificent linden tree at the end of the big lawn. We ate breakfast and lunch there, entertained friends, enjoyed the view. Sometimes, in the background, we could hear water trickling over rocks, but we couldn't see the water. And most of


Petworth: A ‘Capability’ Brown landscape

June 10th, 2013 | 2 Comments »
I'm in England for the next few weeks, visiting a friend before setting out on a tour of English gardens. On the weekend I spent a glorious afternoon walking through a landscape designed and constructed in the 18th century by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown. Brown created an estimated 170 landscapes in England, many of which remain. Petworth in Sussex, is one of these, and it shows all of Brown's characteristic trademarks. First of these is the broad lawn that sweeps from the house down to an artificially created lake. This simple


Evaluating Canada Blooms 2013

March 27th, 2013 | 3 Comments »
Flowers do not a garden make. Nor a garden show. Nonetheless, for me flower arrangements were the highlight of this year’s Canada Blooms. And I am not a flower arranger. Not any good at it, and not interested in becoming any better. But I do like art, and to see amazingly artful compositions made with plant material was a nice treat. Can you imagine the time and effort it took to create this gold ribbon winner? Nancy Wilson's gold ribbon winning painting reflects an amaryllis tucked into the arch behind.


A Garden Review: Sunnylands

March 5th, 2013 | No Comments »
I visited one well-designed public garden in and around Palm Springs, the garden that surrounds the visitor's centre at Sunnylands, the modernist house built for Walter and Leonora Annenberg. Entering the estate, you get a preview of what's to come: lots of barrel cactus arranged in rows that reminded me of dots on an old-style dot matrix printer. Barrel cactus at the entrance to Sunnylands In front of the visitor's centre -- itself a model of contemporary, modernist-influenced design -- is an area where dry land plants dominate. My photo