Tag Archives: Glen Villa

Five Good Things and a Bad

June 25th, 2018 | 12 Comments »

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.


Crabapples in Bloom!

June 4th, 2018 | 20 Comments »
May 24, 2018
In just over a year, the Crabapple Allée, aka the Avenue, has gone from dream to dirt, to bloom and gone. We started with this, a dull bare field.   [caption id="attachment_6400" align="aligncenter" width="4272"] I took this photo on April 24, 2017, when I became serious about planting a long allée of trees,. The walk through the trees is part of a larger project I'm still working on.[/caption]   Four months later, The Avenue was beginning to take shape.   [caption id="attachment_6399" align="aligncenter" width="5184"] August 8, 2017[/caption]   By mid-November, the


What’s in a Name?

June 1st, 2018 | 4 Comments »
cardamine diphylla (1 of 1)
I saw this wildflower in the woods last week and was surprised to learn its botanical name, Cardamine diphylla.     I was surprised because only a week or so ago, I looked up the name of another plant, now growing in damp areas in the garden and in the fields at Glen Villa. Its botanical name is Cardamine pratensis.   [caption id="attachment_6380" align="aligncenter" width="3264"] Lady's smock or milkmaids is growing beside the Glen Villa pond. It has bloomed for several weeks.[/caption]   What is the relationship between the two Cardamines? Are


Terracing the China Terrace

May 29th, 2018 | 15 Comments »
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One of the first projects I undertook at Glen Villa was the China Terrace, a contemporary folly that honours an old resort hotel that once stood on the property. I first wrote about it as a conceptual garden. Following that, I wrote about it sporadically, focusing on the changes I made --  the bed that shook off its annuals in favour of a moss quilt,   [caption id="attachment_1565" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Moss forms a quilt on an old iron frame bed.[/caption]   and the staircase leading to the imaginary second and third story that changed, from


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 Way to Go, or Not to Go

May 15th, 2018 | 18 Comments »
The Grotto of the Deluge marks the division between primitive life and the beginning of civilization.
  One of the decisions I have to make when groups visit Glen Villa is which way to go. Shall I to lead the group around the garden this way or that? In some gardens the choice is made for you. There is a set route that the garden maker or garden owner wants you to take. Or that the government authority in charge has dictated. This is the case at Villa Lante, the Renaissance garden built for Cardinal Gamberaia and now owned by the government of Italy. The Cardinal's garden used water to


Pining Away

May 4th, 2018 | 16 Comments »
I'm guessing that the big pine was about 150 years old.
A few weeks ago I posted the photo below on Facebook and asked for ideas about what to do with the trunk of an enormous pine tree that had pined away.   [caption id="attachment_6219" align="aligncenter" width="5184"] The pine tree was about 150 years old.[/caption]   Many people responded: make it into a table, or benches, a totem, planters, bird houses or toothpicks (hard to imagine how many of those there would be!), an art display: Twenty Ways to Commemorate a Fallen Pine. (Thanks, Janet. I loved that idea.) But that's


New Growth

April 29th, 2018 | 12 Comments »
A cheery face looks up to the sun.
Today it is grey and rainy but yesterday felt like spring. And how wonderful that was! Despite the soggy ground, covered in many places with deer pellets and dead leaves, I spent an hour or so wandering around the garden, enjoying the sunshine and the new growth that was popping up in every warm corner. For readers who live in milder climates or in places where spring has truly sprung, the thrill of seeing new growth may have come and gone. But living in a cold climate, where snow is still lurking


As the Garden Turns

April 22nd, 2018 | 12 Comments »
This garden in the Eastern Townships has a splendid view out over the countryside.
Does your garden turn its face to the world or does it veil it off?  The difference says a lot, about you and the style of your garden -- and about the spirit of the times. Recently I spoke to several groups about how to get the most out of garden visits.  Learning to Look: the Art of Garden Observation considers what it takes to really see a garden. A handout for the talk asks some key questions, starting with the garden's context.  How does it relate to the world around it? Is it open to its surroundings or closed off? Topography


The Upper Room in Winter

March 25th, 2018 | 16 Comments »
The Upper Room is pristine in the morning light.
The Upper Room is as glorious in winter as it is in spring, summer and fall. The highlight in every season is the beautiful screen outlining the bare branches of a dogwood tree.   [caption id="attachment_6101" align="aligncenter" width="5184"] The Upper Room stands tall in the morning light.[/caption]   Drawn by the Montreal artist Mary Martha Guy, the tree branches become more starkly striking with the late afternoon sun shining through.   [caption id="attachment_6092" align="aligncenter" width="2862"] The screen is a symphony of blacks, whites and shafts of light.[/caption]   A close-up of four