Tag Archives: garden reviews

Haseley Court and Making History Visible

January 22nd, 2019 | 6 Comments »

My last blog post, about making history visible and listening to the land, struck a chord.  Many readers responded via the Site and Insight web page or commented on Facebook and on the blog itself, saying they were touched by the piece. Several described how experiences in their pasts affected their responses today, both to their own garden and to gardens they visited.

I know that is true for me. I grew up in Virginia, in a house with a big back yard where I could hide under bushes and pretend to be an explorer or anything more adventurous than the little girl I was.  At my grandparent’s farm I could enjoy the garden around the house, with its tall shade trees and enormous boxwood that lined the path to the front door, while always wondering when I would be big enough to go outside the fence.

 

A poplar tree that grew at my grandparents' farm in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia shaped my view of the world when I was a child.
As a child, I wanted to climb the hill at my grandparents’ farm to reach the lone poplar tree that family members discussed and painted. The tree was a magnet, pulling me into the world.

 

A few months ago Anne Wareham, who runs the English website ThinkinGardens, challenged readers to send a review of the best garden they visited in 2018.  This week, Anne ran the final review, the one I wrote about Haseley Court, a garden in Oxfordshire.

 

The topiary chess set at Haseley Court was one of many things I admired there.
The topiary chess set at Haseley Court was one of many things I admired there.

 

I hope you’ll take the time to read my review and to subscribe to ThinkinGardens, if you don’t subscribe already.  As a garden website, it lives up to its billing as

“a collection of challenging, entertaining and exciting garden writing, all contributed for free by some of our very best garden writers. Where else could you find garden writing as good (and honest) as this?”

You might consider subscribing as well to Anne Wareham’s website for her own garden, Veddw, a garden in Wales that showcases history in innovative ways. And visiting it, if your travels take you to Monmouthshire.

Why do I link my review of an English garden to my post about listening to the land and making history visible?

A hint: Haseley Court was created starting in the 1940s by Nancy Lancaster, a Virginian who became one of England’s grand interior designers. I grew up in Virginia. Could there be a connection?

 

Looking up at the sky through this gazebo took me back to my childhood.
Looking up at the sky through this gazebo took me back to my childhood in Richmond.

 

The strength of my response to Haseley Court leads me to wonder: how important a role do our personal histories play in evaluating a garden? Does your personal history, in gardens and beyond, affect how you respond to the gardens you visit? Should it play a role at all?

What do you think?

Garden Hits and Misses

September 30th, 2018 | 13 Comments »
The fountain rises 70 feet into the air. On a sunny day it is beautiful to see. It works via a remote control!
At home after three marvellous weeks visiting gardens (and  friends) in England, I find much to criticize in my garden. After many years of travelling, I've come to expect this -- and to accept that a garden in Quebec's harsh weather conditions will never resemble an English garden, with its lush foliage and flowers, topiary and ancient walls. I've also come to expect that gardens other than my own will disappoint me. On every tour I've hosted, there has always been one garden I particularly looked forward to seeing. On

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Garden Centres and Garden Reviews

September 24th, 2018 | 10 Comments »
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Gardening in Canada can be frustrating. The range of plants available through nurseries or garden centres is minuscule compared with the number available in England. And seeing so many wonderful cultivars that won't survive in my Quebec garden makes me envious of England's more temperate climate. Still, for anyone who loves plants, a visit to a garden centre is always a treat. The group I was hosting on my final garden tour spent a few happy hours wandering around the Burford Garden Company, an Oxfordshire-based enterprise. At this time of year

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Ascott: A Garden Review

October 25th, 2016 | 11 Comments »
The hours are shown in Roman numerals, the text in block letters circling behind.
Note: Recently I became aware of a technical glitz that was causing problems with the delivery of this blog. It has now been resolved. To those of you reading a blog post for the first time, even if you subscribed many months ago -- my apologies for the delay and welcome to the Site and Insight blog! I welcome your comments.   "It is magnificent. It is what God would have done if he had the money."   I don't know whose garden Noel Coward was describing when he penned those words, but you

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Evaluating the Skating Pond

July 14th, 2015 | 12 Comments »
I say without modesty that  this is a great combination of colours and textures.
The Skating Pond was an accident. I didn't set out to make a pond, for skating or anything else. But that's what happened. The genesis for the project was an old covered bridge that played a part in my husband's boyhood. In 2001 vandals burned it down. Seeing the remains, my husband felt as if he'd lost a piece of his past. So we asked our friends, the sculptors Louise Doucet and Satoshi Saito, to resurrect the twisted pieces of steel that by that time were supporting the bridge. The result is

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You Read it Here First!

February 27th, 2015 | 15 Comments »
The band of muscari that whips its way across the grass at Glen Villa was inspired by a photograph on the front of a garden catalogue. I later learned that the photo was taken at Keukenhoff.
I'm a big fan of ThinkinGardens, the British website edited by Anne Wareham. While the bulk of the posts relate to gardening and gardens in England, posts also cover topics of wider interest. As the website itself says, it's a website "for people who want more than gardening from gardens." ThinkinGardens isn't modest or retiring, and neither is its editor. Both aim at controversy, or at least at generating discussion about gardens, garden design, garden practices and philosophies. The website is a compendium of writing that challenges assumptions and makes readers

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Middleton Place: An American Landscape Garden

February 16th, 2015 | 8 Comments »
Camellias are now a mark of southern gardens. They were introduced to America in 1786, at Middleton Place.
Middleton Place is described as America's oldest landscaped garden. Laid out in 1741 with romantic additions dating from the 19th and 20th century, it is a fascinating example of international style with a southern accent.   [caption id="attachment_1826" align="aligncenter" width="850"] Camellias are now a mark of southern gardens. They were introduced to America in 1786, at Middleton Place.[/caption]     A bit of history: First settled in the late 17th century, Middleton Place was acquired by Henry Middleton through marriage. It was the family seat of four successive generations of Middletons

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Evaluating Canada Blooms 2013

March 27th, 2013 | 3 Comments »
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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.

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