Tag Archives: Glen Villa Gardens

More Advice

March 2nd, 2020 | 10 Comments »

Last week I advised myself not to set overly ambitious garden goals for 2020. I must have been under the weather. This week, I’m back to normal, aiming to accomplish most of the goals I set myself even while acknowledging that doing that will mostly likely be impossible.

Although I set six goals for the year, I made only one resolution, which was to photograph one part of the garden every month. Anne Wareham of ThinkinGardens, a site that posts interesting and provocative blogs from around the world, did this last year in her own garden, Veddw, and her idea inspired me to do the same. (I highly recommend subscribing to both blogs and to visiting Veddw if you are in Wales or anywhere nearby.)

So far I’m on track. I took photos of the Cascade from several points of view in January and February and will take the March photos within a day or two.

The Cascade in early January 2020.
The Cascade in early January 2020.

 

The point of taking these photos regularly is to see how an area changes over the year and, by studying the photos carefully, to assess whether and how the area can be improved.

Covered as it is now with snow and ice, I can’t discover anything about the plants at the Cascade, regardless of how closely I examine the images. But I can admire the patterns that water makes when it freezes.

 

I took this close-up of frozen water in February as part of a group of photos showing the Cascade from different angles.
I took this close-up of frozen water in February as part of a group of photos showing the Cascade from different angles.

 

Much more useful will be my spring to fall photographs when I can truly assess the plantings. Studying these photos afterwards will help me to notice things I miss on site. And believe me, I always miss something.

 

Cameras see everything. I took this photo to assess the area but didn't even notice the hose until I looked at the photo afterwards.
Cameras see everything. I took this photo to assess the area but didn’t even notice the hose until I looked at the photo afterwards.

 

In a talk I give about getting the most out of garden visits, I show a photograph of our Lower Garden in colour.

 

Part of the Lower Garden at Glen Villa
Part of the Lower Garden at Glen Villa

 

Then I show it in black and white.

 

The same photograph, with the colour removed. This is easy to do on most computer photo programs. I use Lightroom.
The same photograph, with the colour removed. This is easy to do on most computer photo programs. I use Lightroom.

 

Then I flip the black and white photo horizontally.

 

Flipped, the area looks totally different to me... I'm not accustomed to seeing it this way around.
Flipped, the area looks totally different to me… I’m not accustomed to seeing it this way around.

 

I find that doing this is very helpful. I am able to focus more on shapes and textures when colour is removed, and when the scene is presented in an unfamiliar way, I see it with fresh eyes.

Studying photographs of gardens I visit is equally helpful. Often, there is simply too much to see or to absorb when you visit a garden, and looking closely at photos afterwards may allow you to identify details you missed on site. My photos of one English garden showed differences I’d totally missed during the visit.

 

How many differences can you spot when you compare the two staircases and the surrounding areas?
How many differences can you spot when you compare the two staircases and the surrounding areas?

 

Identifying these differences helped me to understand one of the ways in which that garden achieved its particular character. Details made the difference between ‘great’ and ‘just fine.’ And isn’t that what we all want for our gardens, that they be as good as they possibly can be?

Plus ça change…

April 9th, 2019 | 11 Comments »
This winter feels interminable. Surely in earlier years daffodils have been blooming by now, snowdrops long gone. Well, no. It's true that in some years snowdrops have appeared by this date.   [caption id="attachment_7384" align="aligncenter" width="1353"] These snowdrops were shivering in the cold on April 1, 2016.[/caption]   Crocus have bloomed.   [caption id="attachment_7387" align="aligncenter" width="3648"] These crocus were lighting up the hillside on April 4, 2010.[/caption]   Pulmonaria have added their touch of colour.   [caption id="attachment_7394" align="aligncenter" width="2384"] This pulmonaria or lungwort was blooming on April 4, 2010.[/caption]

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Jeffersonia Diphylla: My Favourite Plant

March 31st, 2019 | 14 Comments »
March is not leaving like a lamb. Lake Massawippi is still frozen solid, snow still covers the ground and today the wind is blowing fiercely. These unusually late winter conditions are discouraging, to say the least. But on the up side, they are giving me time to review some of the blogs I've written since I posted for the first time in January 2013. Over six years, in hundreds of blogs, I've reviewed books and gardens, considered issues in garden design, looked at how art is used in gardens and chronicled the development

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Planting for Spring

November 14th, 2017 | 11 Comments »
Last week my computer went on the blink and for three whole days, my typing fingers had a rest. The days off-line gave me time to do other things, but instead of using the time wisely, I wandered around feeling bereft. So it was only yesterday, when all was once again well on the computer front, that I ventured outside to plant bulbs. I should have done this weeks ago but the weather had been so fine, almost summer-like, that I kept putting it off. Until the snow fell.   [caption id="attachment_5837" align="aligncenter" width="3888"] Snow

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The Lower Garden

July 19th, 2016 | 6 Comments »
It's garden visit time at Glen Villa. Last week a group from Quebec City visited the garden; this week it's a group from Ontario and the following week it's another group from Quebec. Then, on August 4, comes the big Open Garden Day when we could realistically have 500 people or more. I think all gardeners would agree -- it's satisfying when your garden looks good, or at least when it looks good enough to bring you that frisson of pleasure that tells you your work has paid off.  But when visitors

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Evaluating the Skating Pond

July 14th, 2015 | 12 Comments »
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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Reviewing My ‘Look Ahead’ Plans

December 2nd, 2014 | 2 Comments »
Don't you hate reminding yourself of resolutions made and forgotten? Yesterday, as a gloomy December began, I re-read a blog post I wrote in January. I was looking ahead then to what I wanted to accomplish in 2014. There were loose ends I planned to tie up, and new projects I hoped to start. I'm sad to say I didn't manage to do even half of what I wanted. [caption id="attachment_1490" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] These rain-dropped leaves are neither loose ends nor signs of projects yet to begin. I just like the photograph. It

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It’s Raining: David Francey at Glen Villa Gardens

November 11th, 2013 | 9 Comments »
This post comes with a link to Rain, a music video filmed at Glen Villa and in and around North Hatley, Quebec where I live. The video features Canadian folk singer-songwriter David Francey. As you will hear from his accent, David was born in Scotland and immigrated to Canada as a boy. For some years he lived just down the road from us, and his wife Beth, a biologist, helped me learn to 'read' the woods that surround us. David won the John Lennon prize and has received multiple Juno Awards.

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Introducing Glen Villa

January 26th, 2013 | 3 Comments »
People say that a first blog post should start with a statement of principle, something that lets people know what the blog will be about. I’m not sure how this blog will evolve. I know I want to write about my garden, Glen Villa, and about how it got to be what it is. I want to write about art and the installations I’m building throughout the property. But more, I want to share my ideas about what a garden is, what it can be, and why it matters –

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