Tag Archives: The Aqueduct

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.


What’s With the Weather?

July 26th, 2015 | 6 Comments »
  Despite the bright sun that was shining half an hour ago, there's a cloud bursting now, right outside my window. This cloudburst follows another one last night that knocked out our electricity and blew down three birch trees and a maple.   [caption id="attachment_2560" align="aligncenter" width="800"] The birch trees brought down the maple tree. All the trees were big but the birch trees were shallowly rooted.[/caption]   Cloudbursts happen. Rain comes. But these storms are faster and fiercer than anything we are accustomed to here, in the Eastern Townships of


Reviewing My ‘Look Ahead’ Plans

December 2nd, 2014 | 2 Comments »
Don't you hate reminding yourself of resolutions made and forgotten? Yesterday, as a gloomy December began, I re-read a blog post I wrote in January. I was looking ahead then to what I wanted to accomplish in 2014. There were loose ends I planned to tie up, and new projects I hoped to start. I'm sad to say I didn't manage to do even half of what I wanted. [caption id="attachment_1490" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] These rain-dropped leaves are neither loose ends nor signs of projects yet to begin. I just like the photograph. It


At the End of The Aqueduct

September 1st, 2014 | 5 Comments »
A few posts ago, I wrote about the journey that water makes as it flows down the hill and into the lake. A few posts before that, I referred to the 'haste makes waste' pond that is just above the boathouse, the final spot on the water's journey. Today I want to show how important it is to acknowledge errors when you make them -- and don't we all? -- and to correct them as soon as possible, before your eye becomes accustomed to what is there.Here is what the


The Aqueduct, 2014

August 11th, 2014 | 6 Comments »
Last year was the summer of The Aqueduct: a series of mishaps, course corrections, and headaches that resulted in what I believe is a triumph of landscape art and design.This overview of the main portion of The Aqueduct dates from summer 2013.Those of you who were reading Site and Insight last summer may remember the problems we had, catalogued here, here, here, and here. You may remember a passing reference I made earlier this summer about haste making waste, as a hurried decision made last fall proved to be too awful


Ornamental grasses: Part 1, at the aqueduct

October 27th, 2013 | 4 Comments »
I don't know when ornamental grasses began to gain popularity but I'd say that 20-25 years ago, few gardeners used them regularly. Thanks among others to designers like Piet Oudolf from Holland and James van Sweden and Wolfgang Oehme in the U.S., perennial grasses have become popular staples in many gardens. Their fluidity suits a looser, more naturalistic approach to garden design; in turn this more naturalistic approach reflects a modified view of what gardens are, or can be, and how gardens relate to the landscape around them.I first planted an ornamental


The Aqueduct: Success at last?

August 26th, 2013 | 11 Comments »
Last week I was in Quebec City for the annual symposium of the Garden Writers' Association. I met many interesting people from across North America (and one or two from England and elsewhere) and saw some private gardens that had much to offer. I visited some public gardens, some I hadn't seen for years, and one I'd never seen before. I'll write about these gardens, the people I met and the things I learned in the weeks to come. But for now, it's back to the aqueduct and the BIG


The Aqueduct, Part 4: Fine Tuning

July 22nd, 2013 | 2 Comments »
Plugging The Leak is not really fine tuning, but before we can fine tune -- or indeed, before we can do anything more on The Aqueduct -- we have to do it. We thought the problem was the drain that enters the small holding pond below the driveway. We dug up a section along the edge of the drive, removed some perforated plastic drain pipe and backfilled with heavy clay soil. It wasn't a big job and it took only a few hours. But it didn't work. We thought again.


The Aqueduct, Part 3: Planting It

July 15th, 2013 | 4 Comments »
Spring in Quebec comes late. It was mid-May before the ground was dry enough for trucks to cross the lawn. And we needed trucks to complete The Aqueduct. The Aqueduct on April 6. Snow still lingers in shady areas and everything is a mess. The reflecting pool went in -- first concrete blocks, then steel plates to cover them. Inside the pool we added a square box with a perforated bottom. Water would drop into the box and seep out into the pool itself, eliminating splashing and keeping the water in


The Aqueduct, Part 2: Building It

July 8th, 2013 | No Comments »
In my last blog post, I wrote about why we decided to build The Aqueduct (The Aqueduct, Part I: Why We Built It). I explained that we wanted to see and hear the stream that ran down the hill near the house, to replace some dangerous steps, and to create a water feature that harmoniously linked disparate elements in the house and landscape around it. I started planning this project in April 2011, but for various reasons the shovel didn't go into the ground until September 2012, almost a year