Tag Archives: Abenaki Walking

Autumn Colour Brings Joy

October 6th, 2020 | 4 Comments »

The autumn colours seem particularly intense this year at Glen Villa, my garden in Quebec’s Eastern Townships. Leaves started to turn earlier than usual and the height of the season has almost come and gone. But what a season it has been!

It started early, when a small horse chestnut tree (Aesculus pavia) began to turn.


This photo was taken on September
This photo was taken in mid-September


It continued as the sourgum trees (Nyssa sylvatica) nearby began to change colour. First one tree caught fire …


You can't see the tree itself, only this one branch silhouetted against the sycamore behind. Isn't the contrast gorgeous?
You can’t see the tree itself, only this one branch silhouetted against the sycamore behind. Isn’t the contrast gorgeous?


… then another.


The colour of this sourgum is quite different from the one next to it -- this one a fruit salad of peach and apricot, the other a fire of red-hot apple.
The colour of this sourgum is quite different from the one next to it. This one is a fruit salad of peaches and apricots, the other one a fireplace of red-hot pokers.


Everywhere colour lights up the shade. On the driveway down to the lake…


A view down the driveway hints at the intensity of colour this year.
A photo only hints at the intensity of colour this year.


…  near the house, where the stephanandra (Stephanandra incisa crispa) tumbles alongside the steps …


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… in the Lower Garden where a magnolia is sun-shining its heart out …


The sculpture in the foreground is by Louise Doucet and Satoshi Saito.
The sculpture in the foreground is by Louise Doucet and Satoshi Saito.


… and beside a stone wall, where the leaves of a fothergilla outdo the colours of a motley fool.


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The colours at the Skating Pond are past their peak but are still worth paying attention to.


The water is calm on a grey day.
The water is calm on a grey day.


Along Timelines, the trail that explores ideas about history, memory and our relationship to the world around us, Abenaki Walkers at The Clearing of the Land move proudly into the woods.


I particularly like how the mottled white walkers blend with the white tree trunk behind.
I particularly like how the mottled white walkers blend with the white tree trunk behind them.


The corrugated tin columns that form part of The Past Looms Large stride across a misty autumnal field.


A green path gives added punch to the russet leaves in the foreground.
A green path adds punch to the russet leaves in the foreground.


The temple façade stands out against a background of orange, red, yellow and green.


Is the temple façade under construction or is it falling down?
Is the temple façade under construction or is it falling down?


And everywhere, fallen leaves are scuff-able, offering carefree moments that bring out the child in me.


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Autumn can be a sad season but on a clear day when the sky is blue and the air crisp, I don’t feel sad, I feel energized.  What does autumn bring to your part of the world? How does it make you feel?

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,


Making History Visible

January 16th, 2019 | 12 Comments »
Making history visible on the land is the concept that guides the projects I undertake at Glen Villa, my landscape and garden in Quebec. Recognizing and honouring what happened on the land before I came onto the scene is my way of hearing the voices of the past. It's my way of listening to what the land has to say. The land speaks in different voices from different times. Glacial erratics talk about the ice age. [caption id="attachment_7240" align="aligncenter" width="3271"] Glacial erratics form part of the waterfall at Glen Villa.[/caption]   A wolf tree standing among younger oaks


The Clearing of the Land

August 6th, 2018 | 15 Comments »
For several years now I've been working on a trail that leads through the fields and forests at Glen Villa. Sited along the trail are art installations I'm creating that relate to history, the passage of time and the relationship between art and architecture. I wrote about this for the first time in March 2017. My focus then was to figure out what to call the trail. Thanks to my granddaughter Elinor, there now is a name. Timelines. I like the name. It is short and direct yet suggestive of something


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


Framing the View

August 16th, 2016 | 10 Comments »
"No matter how panoramic its scope, a view of surrounding countryside becomes a genuine garden picture only when it has been framed." - Penelope Hobhouse Recently I came across this statement from the English garden writer and designer Penelope Hobhouse. I read it quickly, nodded in agreement, then paused and read it again. Did I agree? Does a view have to be framed in order to create a 'garden picture'? And what is a 'garden picture' anyway? a photograph of the garden or the picturesque scene itself? The more I considered the statement, the


Layers in the Garden, or The Necessity for Ruins

February 8th, 2016 | 14 Comments »
When gardeners mention layers, or layering, they are often talking about propagating a plant. Tucking a flexible shoot of a shrub underground and leaving it to form roots is one method of layering. Separated from the original, one shrub becomes two or more, depending how many branches were layered. Layering can refer as well to different vertical spaces, from ground covers to perennials that are knee high, at eye level and taller, or to shrubs and trees that tower overhead. It can refer to a succession of bloom, how one flower overlaps with another, before fading


Observing and learning

January 12th, 2014 | 6 Comments »
A few months ago Don Stratham, a New York state garden consultant, wrote a blog post about garden mishaps, or learning from failures in the garden, in his blog called Rooting for Ideas. He listed some of his mistakes -- and what they had taught him. But what his post made me think of was the importance of observation itself, and of taking note of what you observe. I saw this forest scene a few years ago and was immediately struck by nature's artful composition. The contrast between the upright


A study in black and white, bowed and broken

December 30th, 2013 | 10 Comments »
After several more days of snow, our landscape is a study in black, white, and grey... Birch trees on the hillside: an arrangement in grey and black, minus Whistler's mother. with the occasional touch of green... Spruce trees in the lower field and yellow. A touch of yellow on a broken ash tree. So many trees are bowed... Oak, maple, ash and spruce lean dangerously over the driveway. or broken. That stump used to be the bottom of a Schubert cherry tree. The linden, a perfectly formed Platonic idea of


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 –