Tag Archives: winter

This is spring?

March 25th, 2019 | 11 Comments »

According to the official calendar, spring arrived four days ago. Yet two days ago we received the largest dump of snow we’ve had all year — 40 centimeters, or almost 16 inches.

A late winter snowstorm is not unusual in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, where my garden Glen Villa is located. Snow tires are required in Quebec during winter; this year they could be removed legally after March 15. Pity anyone who did that — the big dump came a full week later. Driving during the storm was perilous, even for a population that is accustomed to dealing with, and well equipped to handle, the conditions.


A narrow road runs between these evergreens but you wouldn't know it from this photo.
A narrow road runs between these evergreens but you wouldn’t know it from this photo.


When snow falls in the late winter or early spring it often melts quickly, but this time, with so much snow, the piles will hang around for a while. And while they do, the accumulated snow is beautiful to behold. Some snow is light and fluffy. This snow was heavy, weighing down the branches of the hawthorn trees beside our drive.


I think the branches will recover once the snow melts. But more fragile branches would break from the weight of the snow.
I think the branches will spring back once the snow melts. But more fragile branches will break from this much weight.


Hillsides turned white as the wet snow clung to the branches of trees.


It's difficult to show how white everything looks after a heavy snowfall like this one.
It’s difficult to show how white everything looks after a heavy snowfall like this one.


Bare branches that normally are black turned white, coated with wet snow.


Branches are white against a brilliant blue sky.
Branches outlined against a brilliant blue sky sparkle as the snow begins to melt.


The straight lines of the crabapple allée stood out starkly against the snow-covered field.


The crabapple allée, part of Timelines, a 3 km trail at Glen Villa that explores ideas about time, identity and our relationship to the land.
Someone was snowshoeing along the crabapple allée. This area is part of Timelines, a 3 km trail at Glen Villa that explores ideas about time, identity and our relationship to the land.


In the plantation, where straight lines order you to follow a single path, an old cherry tree twisted and turned, almost as if it were shivering in the cold.


The old cherry tree is named in honour of the Quebec artist Melvin Charney whose photographs perfectly captured the contrast between naturally straight and artificially distorted trees.
The old cherry tree is named in honour of the Quebec artist Melvin Charney whose works of art perfectly capture the contrast between naturally straight and artificially distorted trees.


I can’t help but envy those whose gardens are now bright with colour — daffodils and tulips, muscari and anemones. But those of us who garden in cold climates know we just have to wait. The colours will arrive. Eventually.


Oh, Deer!

March 17th, 2019 | 12 Comments »
Long winters like the one we are experiencing this year in Quebec's Eastern Townships make life difficult for animals.  Deep snow that persists for months makes it hard for deer to find food in the woods and as time passes they come closer and closer to barns and houses. Yesterday I glanced out a window, disrupting two deer who were not far away, searching for something to eat.   [caption id="attachment_7324" align="aligncenter" width="5184"] Here's looking at you![/caption]   As I went to get my camera, another deer appeared.  Then another, and another, and another.


Fishing in Winter

February 24th, 2019 | 7 Comments »
Yesterday the temperature in Quebec's Eastern Townships was hovering just above freezing. The sky was brilliant blue and the sun glinting off clean, fresh snow brought out dozens of people, walking and talking -- and fishing through the ice. We live next door to Manoir Hovey, an outstanding resort hotel and a member of the prestigious international group, Relais et Chateaux.  I didn't have my camera with me yesterday to photograph the fun, but luckily I have photos that I took at Manoir Hovey in 2008 that show a similar scene.


Listening to Winter

January 30th, 2019 | 8 Comments »
On a winter day when temperatures throughout Mid and Eastern North America are plummetting, it is difficult not to project human emotions onto the landscape.  How can winter be so cruel and miserable? A poem by the American poet Wallace Stevens suggests we should think more objectively about what we see outside our door. The Snow Man One must have a mind of winter To regard the frost and the boughs Of the pine-trees crusted with snow; And have been cold a long time To behold the junipers shagged with ice,


Art in Winter

December 11th, 2017 | 18 Comments »
I woke yesterday to a fine dusting of snow, and during the day more snow fell. Today it outlines the branches of the big oak tree by our boathouse and the old crabapple trees by the drive, emphasizing the contrast between rough bark and soft fluffy white.   [caption id="attachment_5887" align="aligncenter" width="3888"] The shape of the crabapple trees becomes dramatic when outlined with snow.[/caption]   The forecast calls for more snow to come, and as confirmation, the sky is grey. But once the snow stops and the barometer rises, the sky will be a clear, bright blue


Is Anything Blooming at Glen Villa?

March 19th, 2016 | 4 Comments »
After more than a month, I'm heading north in a few days, returning to my garden in Quebec. It's been a strange winter... the winter that wasn't, someone called it. So I don't know what I'll find in the garden when I finally arrive. I've heard that in the Eastern Townships, my part of Quebec, the ice on the lake is breaking up and has almost melted. If so, it is earlier than last year.   [caption id="attachment_3731" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] I took this photo last year on April 17 when


Winter Wonderland

January 3rd, 2016 | 11 Comments »
Winter arrived a few days ago. It was later than usual but it came with impressive intensity. Winds blew, snow fell. And now, all around us, are winter's wonders. [caption id="attachment_3347" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Spruce trees are particularly appealing after a winter snowstorm.[/caption]   I'm not sure how much snow has fallen, but judging from the snow peaked on top of the Chinese pot, 10 inches/25.5 cms would be a reasonable guess.   [caption id="attachment_3348" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] The children cavorting on the side of Chinese pot seem to be playing in the


The Colour of Winter

January 28th, 2015 | 3 Comments »
Last week's post titled 'Winter Interest' sparked a critical comment from Anne Wareham, a reader in Wales who is editor of the on-line site ThinkinGardens.  Using the word 'interest' to describe anything in a garden, she wrote, "seems so very odd and hardly apposite really." I agree. Interest is one of those lazy words we use when nothing more precise occurs -- or when our own thoughts are so muddy that precision is difficult. What does 'winter interest' mean, after all? It can't be an attempt to reproduce the colour of summer flowers, or


Winter Interest

January 20th, 2015 | 9 Comments »
When I first began gardening,, I thought that Quebec's winter landscape could offer nothing of interest. Now I realize that I only needed to train my eye to see things differently. Instead of looking to plants for interest, I needed to look for patterns and details. Details like the sun-sparkled fuzz of snow that coated a clump of grass beside the driveway.   [caption id="attachment_1695" align="aligncenter" width="850"] Ordinary grasses are transformed into tiny sculptures when first coated with snow and ice.[/caption]   Patterns like the wavy black line drawn by the not-yet-frozen stream as


Season’s Wrappings

April 6th, 2014 | 6 Comments »
In a cold climate, even the trees wear coats. A few days ago, on the 15th day of spring, this elderly woman was putting a brave face on it.Is it just me, or do others see a resemblance to Gertrude Jekyll?These little guys, though, looked so dejected I wanted to give them a pat on the back. The three Arctic explorers are almost done in.Who can blame them? It's a long trek from the steps to the sidewalk.An erstwhile member of the Ku Klux Klan was looking suspiciously across the