Tag Archives: lower garden

More Befores and Afters

May 30th, 2020 | 8 Comments »

A sudden burst of hot weather brought out shorts, t-shirts and leaves on the trees. It was only two weeks ago, on May 10, that the Cascade at Glen Villa was looking bare and boring.


Will these bare branches ever bloom?
Will these bare branches ever bloom?


Less than two weeks later, boring had become a bouquet of blooms.

Early evening light gives this scene a slight blue tint.
Early evening light gives this scene a slight blue tint.


Yet three days after that, the blossoms were beginning to fade, all thanks to extremely high temperatures.


The Cascade is frothy waterfall of spirea.
At its best, the Cascade is a frothy waterfall of spirea.


The star magnolias in the Lower Garden were in full bloom last week,


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Up close, the blossoms were stunning.


This is Magnolia 'Susan.'
This is Magnolia stellata ‘Susan.’


Three days ago petals began to fall.


Wistful yet wonderful.


And now, the grass that suddenly turned green is spotted with pink.


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Susan is only one of two types of magnolias that bloom in the Lower Garden. Magnolia x loebneri ‘Leonard Messel’ is a later variety, with dark outer petals that fade on the inside to baby pink.


magnolia dark (1 of 1)


A few days ago it was coming into bloom. Now, it is going over fast.

Even though today is much, much cooler, I doubt that 'Susan' will bloom for long.
Even though today is much, much cooler, I doubt that ‘Leonard’ will bloom for long.

Daffodils at Glen Villa began blooming in mid-April. Those on the berm by the Skating Pond that was so gorgeous a month later …


i took this photo on May 17.
I took this photo on May 17.


… are now crumpled remnants of themselves.


Wet handkerchiefs or wet mopheads?
Wet handkerchiefs or wet mopheads?


But to my delight, the late blooming narcissus (Narcissus poeticus) in a shady spot near the front door are still going strong.


Pheasant's eye narcissus, or Narcissus poeticus is delicately fragrant.
Pheasant’s eye narcissus, or the poet’s daffodil, is extremely fragrant. It is also more poisonous than most daffodils.


Hot weather also shortened the season for my favourite flower, Jeffersonia diphylla. Its blossoms are always short-lived, but this year, the flowers that appeared on day 1 ….


Jeffersonia bloomed on May 20.
Jeffersonia bloomed on May 20.


… were dropping, petal by petal, by the end of day 2.


May 22, petals began to drop.
The flowers are gone now, leaving only the beautifully bisected leaves.


For weeks I’ve been looking forward to seeing La Grande Allée in full bloom. The buds were promising.


The buds of Malus 'Dolgo' are tinged with pink.
The buds of Malus ‘Dolgo’ are tinged with pink.


But I could tell that something wasn’t quite right. Individual trees varied considerably. Some looked vigorous, others were thinly leafed.


Thinly leafed tree
Those branches should be lushly, not thinly leafed.


Overall, the Allée didn’t bloom as well as I’d expected. Definitely not as well as I’d hoped. Was the lack of rain responsible?


Not the best, not the worst.
Not the best year, by far. But I’m always optimistic.. Next year will be better.


Last night it rained hard, the first rain we’ve had in weeks. This morning the air is clear and cool and the more plants in the garden are bursting into bloom. The primula I planted several years ago are blooming well, their deep red blossoms providing a sharp contrast to the white blossoms of sweet woodruff (Gallium odoratum).


Candelabra primula 'Miller's Crimson' stand out against the green and white gallium.
Candelabra primula ‘Miller’s Crimson’ stand out against the green and white gallium.


Probably the sweet woodruff will spread too far but for now, I am pleased with its abundance.

What’s blooming in your garden that is giving you joy?

Is it Spring yet?

May 26th, 2019 | 12 Comments »
Spring is here, finally, with the promise that summer is a-comin' in. Or so it feels today. And maybe it will feel the same tomorrow, but who knows? Oscar Wilde said that conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative. Not so for gardeners in the Eastern Townships of Quebec where I garden. Weather means more for us. This year at least it means ground so soggy that farmers still can't seed their fields. It means trees still struggling to leaf out.   [caption id="attachment_7506" align="alignleft" width="5184"]


The Colours of Autumn

October 31st, 2016 | 12 Comments »
I missed the peak of autumn colour this year in the Eastern Townships of Quebec -- where colours are as good as (or better than?) any place in North America -- because of some trips that took me away from home. So when a friend sent me a photo he took a week or so ago of the hills behind our house, I was delighted.   [caption id="attachment_4579" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Our house and boathouse on Lake Massawippi are dwarfed by the hills that rise behind.[/caption]   What a spectacle it was. Friends who were


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


The Lower Garden

June 23rd, 2016 | 8 Comments »
The downside of going away in May and June is not being at home. As much as I loved touring some amazing gardens in England and seeing some inspiring outdoor art, I missed being at Glen Villa, my garden in Quebec's Eastern Townships, during the peak time for planting and transplanting. Not to worry, though, I've made up for it -- my arms, legs, back and shoulders will attest to that. For the last week or more, I've been practically living outdoors, cleaning up, pruning, planting and transplanting, dividing and moving


A Change of (Ad)dress

May 23rd, 2016 | 14 Comments »
  The weather at this time of year does strange things to the mind -- and to the wardrobe. One day is cold, the next is hot. Changing locations makes the uncertainties even worse. What do I pack? Summer dresses or winter woolies? I arrived in England a few days ago on a chilly morning that felt much like the mornings I'd left behind in Canada. But looking out at the countryside, it was obvious that summer was now dressing the fields.   [caption id="attachment_3982" align="aligncenter" width="3888"] A froth of white


How (not) to design a border

March 31st, 2014 | 5 Comments »
A few years ago, a huge tree blew down. The tree was at the edge of the lower garden, by what we call the dragon gate --  a construction of vertical and horizontal pieces of painted wood that matches architectural elements on our house. The tree and the dragon gate marked the start of a path that meanders through the woods and semi-wild areas of the garden.I cried when this 'tremblant' or trembling aspen blew down in a storm,but soon I preferred the more open view.Losing the tree was sad


The Joy of Weeding

September 2nd, 2013 | 2 Comments »
We all know that weeding is a chore, right? We also know that a weed for one person is a flower for someone else. Or, as often expressed, it's any plant growing where it isn't wanted.   Some people don't like ajuga in the lawn. I do. Ralph Waldo Emerson said it better, describing a weed as "a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered." My favourite quotation about weeds, though, is Shakespeare's contribution: "Great weeds do grow apace." And indeed, they do. Or, at least, this summer they


History Made Visible

January 30th, 2013 | 1 Comment »
             “Landscape is history made visible,” said J.B. Jackson, the American cultural geographer. I subscribe wholeheartedly to this idea.             Every piece of land has a history. Glen Villa has lots – in fact, you almost trip over it here. The waterfall, for instance, started life over a century ago, when a stream coming down through the woods was dammed to provide power for a sawmill. The waterfall at Glen Villa   Every gardener may not want to make history visible in their gardens, but