Tag Archives: In Transit/En Route

Goals and Resolutions

January 7th, 2021 | 10 Comments »

In January last year, I laid out six garden goals for the year ahead, never believing I’d be able to achieve them all. I put them on paper nonetheless to give myself something to aim for and, to my surprise, I find that over the last twelve months I completed five of the six. This may be due to Covid-related restrictions that kept me closer to home, or it may be because I was intent on using the time well, but regardless of why, I’m pleased with what I managed to do.

So, what did I accomplish, and what did I leave out?

I finished renovating the dining room table on China Terrace. I replaced the plates and goblets  …

 

The new plates and goblets were put in place in late summer.
The new plates and goblets were put in place in late summer.

 

and added new napkins that I made with help from Lucy Doheny, our very talented local potter.

 

The incised design and imprecise folds make these napkins more casual than the previous ones.
The incised design and imprecise folds make these napkins more casual than the previous ones.

 

In the year ahead, I will work on the iron-frame bed, re-shaping the pillow and re-doing the moss quilt.

 

The original quilt pattern on the bed has disappeared entirely and the moss itself doesn't look great anymore.
The original quilt pattern on the bed has disappeared entirely and the moss itself doesn’t look great anymore.

 

A big project in 2020 was to design and plant the area in front of the foundation wall of the old Glen Villa Inn.  I tried a number of variations and settled finally — thanks to my friend Myke Hodgins, the Montreal landscape architect — on a simple design, a long, straight bed shaped at both ends like an arrow. This design reflects the travel patterns of guests who came from the south to stay at the Inn in the early 20th century and continues to make the historic connections that are so important at Glen Villa visible today. Shown here at the end of September, the North South Arrow is still missing some of the plants I intend to use. Filling the gaps is an obvious ‘to do’ in 2021.

 

The North South Arrow was only partially planted in 2020 but should be finished this year.
The north south orientation provides the greatest exposure for the sun-loving plants I selected.

 

The re-built circular wall in front of the hotel will become the Compass Rose. After a lot of research and with advice from Bob Osborne of Cornhill Nursery in New Brunswick, I chose Chinook Sunrise to fill the currently empty circle.

 

Chinook Sunrise is from the Canadian-developed 49th Parallel series of roses.
Chinook Sunrise is from the Canadian-developed 49th Parallel series of roses.

 

Goal #3 involved the Sundial Clearing that is the destination point for In Transit/En Route, one section of Timelines. The clearing needed serious attention after the dead pine that had served as the gnomen bit the dust in an autumn storm in 2019. In a nice bit of serendipity, a big rock that had to be moved to make way for the North South Arrow turned out to be much larger than it appeared and, when placed upright in the center of the Sundial Clearing, became exactly what was needed to replace the pine.

 

The stone stands in the middle of the clearing and its shadow marks the hour on the painted posts.
The stone stands in the middle of the clearing and its shadow marks the hour on the painted posts.

 

We made a new bench to replace the old one that was rotting and added a steel band, laser cut with the words ‘now maintenant’ to replace the black plastic tubing that previously enclosed the circle.

 

The steel band is rusting nicely.
The steel band is rusting nicely.

 

The fifth project involved extending Timelines to include the big outcropping of rock that was an original inspiration for the trail itself. In another bit of serendipity, we discovered water when we made an exploratory hole beside the rock. Soon we had a pool with mysteriously dark water.

 

The water level rises and falls over the seasons. I have yet to see the frozen version.
The water level rises and falls over the seasons. I have yet to see the frozen version.

 

This pool became part of Continuum, an extension to Timelines that wanders through a field, alongside a stream, into the woods and past the pond, looking at the interconnections between trees, stone and water. In the late fall we arranged rocks on a slope by the pond in the shape of a maple seed, or samara, and over the last month or so, I’ve been drilling rocks in the same pattern, the negative version of the positive outline on the slope.

 

I haven't finished drilling this rock yet but the pattern of a maple seed, or samara, is almost complete.
I haven’t finished drilling this rock yet but the pattern of a maple seed, or samara, is almost complete.

 

I’ve also been working on another extension to Timelines that looks at Greek mythology through feminist eyes. This project is in its early stages but I hope to finish work on this section called Mythos before summer.

Looking back, I can see how much I accomplished. The one goal I didn’t accomplish was fencing in the Lower Garden to keep the deer away. I’ve been thinking about doing this for several years, but finding a design that works in the space isn’t easy.

 

lower garden
With a fence I’d be able to use plants that deer love… and wouldn’t that be nice!

 

Nor did I keep the one resolution I set, to photograph a particular area in the garden once a month, as close as possible to the same day. I started well, with photographs of the Cascade in January and February, but in March, my resolution began to go south, as resolutions are wont to do.

 

This photo shows the Cascade in January 2020. It looks about the same now.
This photo shows the Cascade in January 2020. It looks about the same now.

 

Despite my inability to stick to a resolution, and even more significantly, despite the extraordinary happenings in other parts of the world, the year 2020 was a good one in the garden. I hope 2021 will be even better. In the garden and beyond.

 

In Transit/En Route in 2020

July 20th, 2020 | 8 Comments »
In Transit/En Route is part of Timelines, the trail at Glen Villa that explores ideas about time, memory and our relationship to the land. Dating back to 2009, it was one of the first sections of Timelines I built and was an inspiration for all that followed. Over the intervening years, In Transit/En Route has undergone many changes, including several iterations of the signs that lead from an old field into the woods. First the signs stood on wooden posts that held red glass squares with circular openings.     I based that design on the Chinese concept of the universe,

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Another One Bites the Dust

November 11th, 2019 | 10 Comments »
The job of rebuilding the hotel foundation wall is progressing but more slowly than we hoped. The slow-down was unavoidable, thanks to (really, no thanks to) the snow that fell this week.   [caption id="attachment_8274" align="alignleft" width="1600"] All the rocks on the right came from the foundation wall which now has been taken down entirely.[/caption]   The snow is attractive, no doubt, but it has come much too early.   [caption id="attachment_8273" align="alignleft" width="1600"] The Cascade looks pretty with its dusting of snow. I just hope the snow won't last too long.[/caption]

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Special Trees

January 14th, 2018 | 10 Comments »
A piece about specimen trees in the on-line magazine Gardenista started me thinking about trees and how special they are to me. Having recently planted a long allée of crabapple trees at Glen Villa, (and having written about it here) where the impact stems from the sheer number of trees and the precision of their placement, my mind swung to the opposite end of the spectrum, to individual trees that make an impact on their own. The most important tree at Glen Villa, my garden in rural Quebec, is the basswood, or linden as I

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Garden Plans: I’m Dreaming Again

March 27th, 2017 | 27 Comments »
Now that winter has dumped several feet of snow on a garden that was almost snow-free, I'm back by the fire, metaphorically at least, dreaming of the seasons ahead.   [caption id="attachment_5009" align="aligncenter" width="600"] I took this photo about ten days ago after a fresh snowfall. Today is grey. And maybe more snow will fall. I hope not.[/caption]   I'm dreaming about a trail that will lead around the property. I'm considering the route it will follow and what I will call it. I know the purpose of the trail -- it will connect art

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Shadows on my Mind

January 18th, 2016 | 10 Comments »
January has brought some bright blue-sky days, with strong sunlight casting shadows on the snow. These dark lines are a common winter sight in Quebec, and in my garden Glen Villa, in Quebec's Eastern Townships.   [caption id="attachment_3429" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Tree trunks cast shadows across the snow. I could say the shadows are like lines on a blank page, except that they aren't.[/caption]   Usually, these shadows are simply a visual echo of the real thing, but occasionally they appear more substantial than the object itself. A bench with an open-work seat becomes solid in

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Reflections and Inspirations

March 16th, 2015 | 13 Comments »
Where do ideas come from? Recently I’ve been working on a talk about using reflecting surfaces in gardens – things like mirrors, water, metal and glass. In the process, I’ve been thinking about gardens in a general way. What is the point of adding a reflecting surface to a garden – a piece of shiny metal, for example? Are the risks of a reflected glare worth whatever magic happens when you see the real thing and its reflection simultaneously? More specifically, I’ve been thinking about what constitutes a reflection, both the

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Circles in the garden

August 5th, 2013 | 3 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

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In Transit / En Route: Part Three, the final installment

March 19th, 2013 | No Comments »
Several weeks ago I started a three-part series about an art installation at Glen Villa called In Transit / en Route. I posted the first two parts and intended to post the third in week three. But California and all I saw there captured my attention and my blogging time. So the third part of In Transit / en Route went to the bottom of the pile. Finally, though, it is back at the top. So here it is, the third and final installment. If you want to read (or re-read) the

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In Transit / En Route: part 2

February 20th, 2013 | No Comments »
The In Transit / En Route trail starts at the edge of a field. with a sign that asks a rather odd question. Where are you? Où êtes-vous? As I wrote in my previous post (In Transit / En Route: the beginning), the words aren't easy to read. The letters are small and the words run together with no breaks. Once someone figures out the question, though, it usually makes them laugh. They make a joke, another person responds, and they laugh as they come up with different answers to this question that

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