Autobiography of a Garden 9780228013570

A personal story of how an ordinary garden became extraordinary. Autobiography of a Garden details how Patterson Webst

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Autobiography of a Garden
 9780228013570

Table of contents :
Cover
AUTOBIOGRAPHY of a GARDEN
Title
Copyright
Dedication
Contents
Land Acknowledgment
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Chapter 1: Getting Started
Chapter 2: Making History Visible
Interlude Learning to Look
Chapter 3: Discovering What Matters
Chapter 4: Ideas and Inspirations
Interlude Design Tips to Give a Garden Personality
Chapter 5: Monuments, Memorials, and Memories
Chapter 6: Timelines
Chapter 7: Looking Ahead
Appendix A: Questions to Ask Yourself When Visiting a Garden
Appendix B: Dos and Don’ts When Visiting a Garden
Appendix C: Plant Indexes
Further Reading
Index

Citation preview

a u t o b i o g r a p h y of a g a r d e n

TIMELINES

6. La Grande Allée

13. Orin’s Sugarcamp

1. Abenaki Walking

7. Perspective

14. Metaphoric Bridge

2. In Transit / En Route

8. The Past Looms Large

15. Continuum

3. The Clearing of the Land

9. Temple Façade

16. The Elders

10. Turtle Rock

17. Continuum Pool

4. Two Roads

11. The Forms

18. Group of Seven

5. La Seigneurie

12. Mythos

19. Grandchildren Trees

PATTERSON WEBSTER

au t o b io g r a p h y

of a GARDEN

McGill-Queen’s University Press Montreal & Kingston • London • Chicago

© Patterson Webster 2022 ISBN 978-0-2280-1156-9 (cloth) ISBN 978-0-2280-1357-0 (ePDF) Legal deposit third quarter 2022 Bibliothèque nationale du Québec Printed in Canada on acid-free paper This book has been published with the help of a grant from the Eastern Townships Resource Centre.

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts. Nous remercions le Conseil des arts du Canada de son soutien.

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication Title: Autobiography of a garden / Patterson Webster. Names: Webster, Patterson, 1943- author. Description: Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: Canadiana (print) 20220172021 | Canadiana (ebook) 20220172048 | ISBN 9780228011569 (cloth) | ISBN 9780228013570 (ePDF) Subjects: LCSH: Webster, Patterson, 1943- | LCSH: Gardeners—Québec (Province)— Eastern Townships—Biography. | LCGFT: Autobiographies. Classification: LCC SB63.W43 A3 2022 | DDC 635.092—dc23 Maps of Glen Villa Art Garden: Artwork by Caroline George; graphic design by Tim Doherty, VisImage Map showing the location of Glen Villa by Tim Doherty Book design by pata macedo

In memory of my sister, Nancie Roop Kennedy, who loved her garden, and my husband, Norman Webster, for who he was

viii Land Acknowledgment ix Acknowledgments

3 Introduction

91 Interlude Learning to Look

95 Chapter 3 Discovering What Matters

10 Chapter 1 Getting Started

135 Chapter 4 Ideas and Inspirations

43 Chapter 2 Making History Visible

Contents

163 Interlude Design Tips to Give a Garden Personality

247 Appendix A Questions to Ask Yourself When Visiting a Garden

249 Appendix B 165 Chapter 5 Monuments, Memorials, and Memories

Dos and Don’ts When Visiting a Garden

251 Appendix C 185 Chapter 6

Plant Indexes

Timelines

221 Chapter 7

275 Further Reading

Looking Ahead

279 Index

The land on which Glen Villa stands has been a site of human activity for more than ten thousand years. It is the unceded ancestral territory of the W8banaki Nation (Abenaki), the Ndakina. I acknowledge that their stories and beliefs about the land and all that grows under it and on it, the water that runs through it, and the people who have shaped it, inspire and guide me as a guest and as today’s caretaker of the land. Welcome to Abenaki Territory.

Acknowledgments

For their role in helping to shape the garden and larger landscape at Glen Villa, I thank Myke Hodgins, Jacques Gosselin, Ken Kelso, and Eric Fleury. I thank Louise Doucet and Satoshi Saito for the beauty that their sculptures add to the garden, and Mary Martha Guy for her drawings that make Upper Room such a meaningful location. Visiting other gardens helped me to become a better gardener, and my companions on numerous trips enriched the experience immensely. I thank in particular my sister, Nancie Roop Kennedy, with whom I visited dozens of gardens in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, and China. I thank Julia Guest, tour organizer extraordinaire, with whom I planned garden tours to Italy and the uk, and the many men and women who accompanied us on those tours: Cynthia Ballantyne, Janet Blachford, Anne Claener, Ann Dadson, Tom D’Aquino, Pauline Ferrugia, Susan Fitzpatrick, Dennee Frey, Martha Fruchet, Gwen Gaddes, Michiko Gagnon, Gale Hamilton-Murphy, Vera Keyes, Jo LaPierre, Sandra Lawrence, Mike Lawrence, Dorothy Levine, Marilyn Lightstone, Angela Lipper, Sandra MacGillivray, Sally Muspratt, Anne MacLaren, Jane Martin, Eve McBride, Etienne de Medici, Amy Murphy, Mary Nesbitt, Judy O’Brien, Julian Armstrong O’Brien, Lucille Panet-Raymond, Susan Petersen, Cecil Rabinovitch, Bobbi Redpath, Janie Seller, Susan Sherk, Helgi Soutar, Kathryn Stafford, Ellen Wallace, Sue Winsor, Jodi White, Sheila Williams, Barbara Uteck, and Manon Vennat. I thank as well the owners and designers of gardens that have inspired me. These include historic and contemporary gardens in Europe and North America

GLEN VILLA ART GARDEN

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too numerous to mention. Nonetheless, among the many, a few stand out. Topping my list in Canada is Reford Gardens and the International Garden Festival in Métis, Quebec; the historic gardens are a delight, and the annual festival stretches my mind by stretching the boundaries of what a garden can be. The owners and designers of gardens that combine history, philosophy, and horticulture in significant ways helped me to expand my ideas, and for this I thank Sheppard Craige at Bosco della Ragnaia in Italy, Anne Wareham and Charles Hawes at Veddw in Wales, Anna and Robert Dalrymple at Broadwoodside in Scotland, Alasdair Forbes at Plaz Metaxu in England, the late Charles Jencks at the Garden of Cosmic Speculation, and the late Ian Hamilton Finlay at Little Sparta in Scotland. My thanks go to McGill-Queen’s University Press for publishing this book and to Jonathan Crago and Angela Wingfield for their editorial guidance and support. I thank the many friends and associates who offered their advice and encouragement along the way: Louise Abbott, Mark Abley, Alan Allnutt, Ann Charney, Bronwyn Drainie, Vicky Chainey Gagnon, Douglas Gibson, Jane Gibson, Charlotte Grey, Jean-Eude Guy, Mary Martha Guy, John Hay, Niels Jensen, Marie-José Leblanc, Linda Leith, Peter McFarlane, Saleema Nawaz, Cecil Rabinovitch, Alexander Reford, and Gill Sayer. Thanks go to the artists, artisans, and craftspeople whose work enhances the garden and art installations: Suzanne Campeau, Lucy Doheny, Tim Doherty, Richard Duquette, Caroline George, Greg Hirtle, and Justine Southam. I thank my husband, Norman, who always encouraged my ideas for the garden and surrounding landscape. He loved talking about my work and showing it off to friends and relations. Sadly, he died during the final stages of this book’s production. Special thanks go to my children, David, Andrew, Derek, Gillian, and Hilary, for their constant support. I thank my granddaughters, Vivienne Webster and Rosalind Levine, for their help in selecting photographs for this book. Except where noted, I took all the photographs. I also thank Joanne Jones and Claire Paradis whose work at home gave me time to travel, garden, make art, and write. My biggest thanks go to my daughter Gillian Webster. A skilled editor and tough critic, she read my manuscript multiple times, always suggesting ways to make it better. Our numerous conversations clarified my ideas and the writing itself. For her patience and perseverance I owe her an enormous debt of gratitude.

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Your garden will reveal your self. Do not be terrified of that. – Henry Mitchell, The Essential Earthman

Land is not land alone, something that simply is itself. Land partakes of what we breathe into it, is touched by our moods and our memories. – V.S. Naipaul, The Enigma of Arrival

Before it can ever be a repose for the senses, landscape is a work of the mind. Its scenery is built up as much from strata of memory as from layers of rock. – Simon Schama, Landscape and Memory

Landscape is history made visible. – J.B. Jackson, Landscape in Sight: Looking at America

A deeply and properly known stretch of country clamps itself on to your existence like a second skin. It is then, I think, in that marriage of you with your surroundings, that something extraordinary happens. – Adam Nicolson, Perch Hill

a u t o b i o g r a p h y of a g a r d e n

Introduction Often a book about a garden starts with a story of how the land was acquired, how the gardeners searched for years for a particular type of land, in a particular area, and at a price they could afford. That is not how it was for my husband, Norman Webster, and me. The only place where we wanted to be was the Eastern Townships of Quebec, North Hatley was the only place in the townships, and the land where Norman grew up was the only possible land. For years we had spent summer holidays there, and it was, for us and our children, a second home. But the house in which he had grown up had been torn down, the land sold to a neighbour. The little summer cottage where we had spent so many happy holidays was uninsulated, so when we moved from Ontario to Quebec, we began to look for a place we could use year-round. We were lucky. The land that Norman’s father had sold came up for sale. The house there was larger than we wanted, and the property was more extensive, but the opportunity to be where we wanted to be was too good to pass up. The property became ours in 1996, and almost immediately we named it Glen Villa, as his father had named it, after a resort hotel that had once stood on the property. I knew from the first day that I wanted to enhance both the natural beauty of the land at Glen Villa and the sense of peace and calm that it gave me. I wanted to use all the land, not only the sections around the house. And I wanted to create a garden as modern as the house we had acquired. Not long after we moved in, I began to modify the existing flower beds, moving plants here and there, trying to make the garden my own, but increasingly I was

This crumbling wall was once the foundation wall of Glen Villa Inn. An old harrow is a reminder of days when the land was farmed. Joe-pye weed blooming in late summer. Ken Kelso and Jacques Gosselin.

dissatisfied with what I was doing. The garden was beautiful in its way, but it was too traditional, too conventional, too ordinary. There was also an incongruity: the contemporary house was surrounded by pieces of the past. Old stone walls, rusty farm equipment, moss-covered wells, and the foundation of the large resort hotel: these signs of what used to be were everywhere, almost littering the landscape. I liked the sense of history they provided, and the contrast with the contemporary house intrigued me. I began to wonder if I could use them to create a garden that connected our family’s history on the land with what had happened there before us. Could I somehow incorporate my own history as well, my own memories and experiences? Could I create a truly personal garden, one that reflected my way of seeing the world? I began to read garden magazines and to learn about other gardens in other countries. I visited gardens and thought about what I saw. I walked the land around our new house as I had walked the woods in the summers before, when we had lived at the cottage next door, getting to know the property in detail, admiring the towering trees, and observing where water ran swiftly and where it saturated the ground, noting how colours faded when the sun was bright, and how shadows darkened in corners, creating depth and mystery. One day I heard a bird calling two notes, over and over again. The tones were easy to remember, and when I whistled the sound, a friend said it was a blackcapped chickadee. “Listen,” the chickadee said. I whistled the notes again and heard the Beatles singing, “Listen, do you want to know a secret?” “Yes,” I whispered and listened again. I was not a birdwatcher, but walking the land again and again, I began to hear different tunes: trills, soft gargles, the throaty cackles of crows. I heard spring peepers, all shouting together in high pitch, raccoons chatting, and the eerie voice of loons. I began to listen more intently, and the quieter I became,

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the more I heard: the wind as it blew through the treetops, the persistent tap of the woodpecker searching for grubs beneath the tree’s bark, the whisper of roots pushing out underground. I heard coyotes howling at night and saw the carcass of the white-tailed deer they had killed. And gradually, bit by bit, the sense of horror I felt at seeing the deer’s bloody limbs was replaced by fascination. This was nature stripped of romance, seen in its fullness, as it was and as it is. Walking through fields and woods day after day established an intimacy between the land and me that gave me confidence to step outside the conventional boundaries and to think about what a garden is, or can be, in ways that reflected my own sensibilities and my own way of thinking. Gradually I realized that the landscape revealed far more than my family’s history or the history of the people who had lived on it before me. The land had a mind of its own, with memories and stories that went deeper and included far more than I realized. But to hear and understand those stories I had to learn a new language. I had to find a new way of relating to the land. It did not happen overnight. Building this new relationship was a gradual process, and it is a process that continues. I understand that my way of seeing the land is not typical, that the voice I hear may not be what others hear, or what they want to give voice to. My approach does not suit everyone, and that is fine with me. Working in non-conventional ways, I have learned to accept failure as a natural part of the creative process. Without doubt, not everything I set out to do has been successful. Seeds I started refused to germinate. Seeds that germinated refused to grow where I planted them. Plans that were clear in my head collapsed when I tried to impose them on the ground. Along the way I have taken many detours and made many wrong turns, and each mistake has taught me something – about the garden, about the land,

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about myself. Taking the journey with me have been several extraordinary men. Two of them work for us. Jacques Gosselin was employed on the property by our predecessor, and he and I have worked together now for over twenty-five years. More than twenty years ago, Ken Kelso joined us. These two men are my partners, and with time they have learned almost to read my mind. Constantly good humoured, they bring to the job the wide range of skills that are necessary in a rural setting. They are ready to try anything I suggest, even when they are confident that my latest idea is a dud. Best of all, they are always ready to help find ways to make my ideas work. The next extraordinary man is the Montreal landscape architect Myke Hodgins. He set me on the perilous journey of creating a garden that is truly my own, and over the years has become a friend, counselling me when I come for advice, reassuring me that mistakes can always be corrected, and pushing me to keep pushing myself. More recently, my friend John Hay has become an occasional collaborator. A talented costume designer and decorator with a discriminating sensibility and an awareness of the beauty of nature, John left Hollywood to live in North Hatley, and his knowledge and ability to solve problems have helped me find ways to accomplish what I want to do. Finally, there is my husband, Norman. He is not a gardener but he cares deeply about Glen Villa. Over the years he has listened to me patiently, watched me struggle to implement my ideas, boosted me up when I felt low, and cautioned me against aiming for perfection. I thank them all. Without them the garden would not be what it is. As I age, I appreciate more and more how becoming attuned to the garden’s cycle of growth, death, and regrowth shifted my interests from flowers to something deeper. Listening to the land, I observed how my desire to recognize my own past broadened into a need to express a wider time frame, to think about time itself. As I began to think about the people who had lived on the land before me, I began to wonder about those who would follow. What will the garden become under different stewardship? Autobiography of a Garden recounts the garden journey I have taken, from copying others, to learning from them, to striking out on my own. It is a book about the creative process and how ideas change over time, a story of personal growth and how an ordinary garden became one that explores ideas about what a garden can be. It is not arranged chronologically, as so many garden books are; nor is it arranged as a walk through the garden, with descriptions of each garden area, or room, as the walker comes to it. Instead the book is arranged thematically.

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Chapter 1, “Getting Started,” details my first tentative steps in creating a personal garden and the important role that Myke Hodgins played in helping me to see what such a garden could be. I describe the first changes he and I made in building the Cascade, renovating the Lower Garden, and conceiving and creating The Egg, my first solo venture. The rich history of the site led me to consider how I could highlight that narrative in the garden, and in chapter 2, “Making History Visible,” I describe China Terrace, a re-imagining of the large resort hotel that once stood on the site, and Orin’s Sugarcamp, an installation that pays tribute to a man and to the traditional Quebec activity of making maple syrup. With Abenaki Walking, I look farther back in time to honour the first inhabitants of this part of Quebec and to acknowledge the debt that we, the current caretakers of the land, owe to them. As my exploration of history becomes more personal, I describe the transformation of a circular stone wall planted with shrubs into the yin-yang, an Asian symbol, which reflected the years our family lived in China. I explain how rebuilding the foundation wall of the old Glen Villa Inn led to the creation of a new border, the North–South Arrow, and how that addition led me to redesign the yin-yang as a compass rose. Finally, I illustrate how Bridge Ascending, the sculpture that resurrects pieces of a covered bridge, allowed memories of the past to speak in the present. A brief interlude entitled “Learning to Look” follows chapter 2. Drawing on my experience of visiting hundreds of gardens around the world, this pause in the narrative considers how gardeners can get the most out of a garden visit and suggests ways to apply the ideas and inspirations gained to improve their gardens at home. Chapter 3, “Discovering What Matters,” outlines my growing understanding of the elements that mattered most to me – trees and the water on the land. I describe the process of creating the Skating Pond, a project that fulfilled one of my early objectives to use all the land. I trace the progress of water as it flows from that pond through the Asian Meadow and, finally, into the Aqueduct, bringing the sound of water close to the house. Chapter 4, “Ideas and Inspirations,” provides an answer to a question I am frequently asked when speaking to historical and horticultural societies, universities, art groups, and garden clubs: Where do your ideas come from? I outline the disparate inspirations that inspired In Transit / En route, the first art installation that moved beyond the bounds of the domestic garden. I describe two artworks, The Writing Is on the Wall, a neon sign attached to the wall of the house, and Tree Rings, a sculpture that honours the life of a tree, along with two horticulturally inspired projects, Grass Snake, a light-hearted reference to the Garden of Eden,

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Daffodils at the pond. Two inverted and painted branches are part of the installation Abenaki Walking. Crabapple trees in bloom along La Grande Allée. Coneflowers bloom beside the steps to the Lower Garden. Autumn leaves blanket the ground. A wild aster blooms in the grass.

and the Dragon’s Tail, a bright band of colour that flicks across the grass in the way a dragon flicks its tail. A sidebar about how I have incorporated words in the garden to enlarge its scope through allusions and literary and philosophical references concludes this chapter. A second interlude follows, with practical design tips that help to give a garden personality and character. Chapter 5, “Monuments, Memorials, and Memories,” details three projects dedicated to specific individuals who were important in my life. Webster’s Column honours my husband Norman’s fifty-year career in journalism. My father, a brother-in-law, and a sister-in-law are remembered in three painted three trunks called Memory Posts, while my mother serves as inspiration for a woodland installation called Upper Room. Chapter 6, “Timelines,” describes how the goals I set when I first began to work on the garden came together in a single project that explores ideas about history, memory, and our relationship to the land. It describes in detail the impetus behind the four-kilometre-long trail and the art installations located along the way that recall the people and events that shaped the land. Designed to be an open-ended experience, the trail is divided into two parts. Part 1 begins with an installation to focus a walker’s attention on being present in the moment; it continues to present ideas specific to the site and to the history of Quebec. Part 2 offers a broader perspective. It examines the foundations of architecture, gardens, and landscape design, explores how myths shape or distort our views, and presents a way of seeing the natural world that is based on gradual, incremental change. Chapter 7, “Looking Ahead,” examines how a big lawn is becoming a big meadow as I institute a more naturalistic approach to garden design and

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maintenance. I consider the role of native plants and present differing attitudes towards their use. Finally, I consider the future of the land as a whole and how it will be affected by climate and generational change. Read consecutively, these chapters tell the story of how Glen Villa became the place it is today. They present a picture of personal growth and ambition. They tell my story, how I grew as a gardener and as an artist, and they tell the story of the land itself. They are the autobiography of a garden that continues to grow. Finally, a note on nomenclature and the use of common and botanical plant names. I have tried to strike a balance between clarity and easy reading: too many Latin words, shown in italics and set off in parentheses, interrupt the flow of a sentence, but too few can produce confusion. Common names used in one region to describe a plant may be used to describe a totally different plant in another region. This is confusing at best. As a result, I have included botanical names in the text when specifying a particular variety or cultivar or when the common name applies to more than one type of plant. Sometimes I have included botanical names in captions of photographs, but all plants cited or illustrated are included in appendix C that includes both common and botanical names as well as information about how well a plant has performed at Glen Villa. Other appendices include pointers about visiting gardens, and the book concludes with a list of suggestions for books, blogs, and websites that may be helpful.

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1

Getting Started Glen Villa is a magical place. It is a landscape that I have known for most of my life; it is part of the history of my family and the place I love most on earth. Its magic is evident the minute you turn onto the narrow dirt driveway. On your left, a large pond reflects the dark evergreens and white birch trees that grow on the far side. On your right, a farm field climbs a hill, gently at first, then more steeply, rising to a crest where a single tree stands silhouetted against the sky. The scene is quiet and peaceful, and seeing it now, I find it hard to believe that the pond is not natural. Yet it was formed only a century and a half ago, when an early settler dammed a stream, intensifying the force of the water to provide power for the saw and the grist mill he built. Water in the pond now thunders over the dam, which has been rebuilt and strengthened many times over the years, and spills onto boulders left behind as glaciers retreated. From there it drops over smaller rocks, twisting its way through a gorge carved during the centuries, and gradually slowing as the land flattens towards the lake. A short distance past the waterfall, the driveway turns to the right, offering for the first time a view of Lake Massawippi sparkling in the distance. Along the bank of the lake, tall maple trees grow – not the perfectly matched specimens you buy in a nursery today but individual trees, oddly shaped, each with its own character. The driveway rises and falls gently, flanked on the lake side by an expansive flat lawn and on the opposite side by a steep hill. If you are accustomed to the view of the lake, you may ignore the sparkling water and glance up the hill, your attention caught by three white window frames and white columns that look as if they mark the entry to a building. You do not see a building, though, and you make a note

The pond mirrors the trees and sky. The dam dates back to the 1870s.

to ask about this later. Or perhaps you drive on, ignoring the columns and noting instead the birch trees whose white trunks they mirror. The birch trees are aging now, still straight limbed but leaning towards the lake, searching for the sun. If it is early spring when you arrive, you smile at the snowdrops blooming underneath the trees or, a bit later in spring, at the crocuses and daffodils blooming in random groups, little spots of colour that brighten grass beginning to turn green. In early June, you see a hillside awash with ragged robin, buttercups, and lupins, a riot of pink, twinkly yellow, and deep dark blue. Later in the summer, you see the ornamental grasses that edge a path leading up the hill through dark fern woods dotted like a night sky with stars of yellow hawkweed. If you have visited Glen Villa before, you know that the path leads towards maple forests and open fields where wildflowers grow: dandelions, buttercups and yarrow, fragrant bedstraw, blue and yellow iris, goldenrod, boneset, and the milkweed plants where monarch butterflies lay their eggs. Regardless of the season, at the top of a rise, our house comes into view, and water appears again, splashing over rocks in a small version of the waterfall near the road. Nearby, tall posts march their way towards the lake, carrying the water in a channel held high above the ground. The house appears, not rising skyward as so many houses do, but squatting below the drive like a sturdy five-year-old who is studying the ground intently, determined not to be shifted, not now, not ever. Just beyond, the top of a dead tree catches your eye, sunlight glinting off the rings of stainless steel that encircle it. Then another building appears, smaller but with the same flat roof as the house. A garage, you decide, continuing past it, along a drive that suddenly begins to climb, twisting its way through a forest of ferns. Halfway up the hill, on one of the hairpin turns, you come face to face with a tall glass column, an intriguing

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An old maple tree on the bank above Lake Massawippi. Grape hyacinths bloom despite a late snowfall.

sight that makes you want to stop for a closer look. But time is short, so you keep on, first veering left, then taking a sharp right that brings you to the top of the hill. As the ground levels out, if it is early summer you see on your right a path that meanders through spires of lupins, tones of blue and purple that shade into rosy pink. A fence inset with ceramic tiles zigzags along the brow of the hill and beyond. In the distance, once again you see Lake Massawippi, bounded on the far side by land that rises and falls gently in contrast to the steep slope you have just climbed. Another turn, and the drive is flanked by old farm fields that stand open to the sky. In early summer the fields are undulating bands of colour, soft yellows and tawny reds interwoven in patterns that rest the eye, dotted here and there with the bright yellow petals of marsh marigolds and the violet-blue sepals of a blue iris, Iris versicolor, the harlequin blue that appears on the Quebec flag. In July, as the fragrant lady’s bedstraw (Galium verum) comes into bloom, the field becomes a haze of yellow that perfumes every indrawn breath; in August, it is a patchwork quilt of green, a dozen shades or more, each one demanding to be named: emerald, lime, pea, moss, hunter, mint, olive, jade. Ahead of you is the public road that links North Hatley to the neighbouring village of Katevale, officially titled Sainte-Catherine-de-Hatley. Before you reach the road, though, you slow down to examine a group of large heavy branches, forked and inverted. Strange, you say to yourself, they look like people walking through the field. But they cannot go anywhere. They are tangled in barbed wire, their movement

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blocked by a split-rail fence. A frame painted white rears up beside the driveway to hold the group in place, and on it is a label: Abenaki Walking, circa 1867. You may pause to consider the import of the label, or you may simply hurry on your way. If this is your first visit to Glen Villa, you will not know that behind the figures, higher up the hill, in the corner where the field meets the road, there is a pond edged with a boardwalk, with weeping willows that dip into the water and daffodils that explode in spring. From your vantage point on the driveway the pond is hidden, a secret waiting to be discovered. But what you suddenly realize is that you have made a circuit: off to your right, farther down the hill, you glimpse the pond and waterfall where you entered. This is the land that my husband Norman and I acquired in 1996, the place we named Glen Villa. Surrounding it is land that became ours a decade later, when the large farm property that his father had owned was divided between Norman, his brother, and his sister. That land begins at the top of the hill beyond the secret pond. It is a forest now, trees stretching their branches over acres of

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Buttercups carpet an old farm field. Hawkweed carpets the hillside.

land that once were farmed. Across the road is a similar field, neither fallow nor neglected, simply unused, purposeless, its grasses cut once a year to keep the forest at bay. So this is Glen Villa: the house, the garden, the fields, and the forests. Built on the slope of the hill, with its flat roof and barnboard walls, the house almost disappears into the surroundings. When it was built over fifty years ago, it was considered an oddity, and certainly it was different from the traditional New England–style houses that filled the village a mile and a half away. Now, nestled against the hill, it seems to be part of the land. We moved into that house on a hot September day in 1996. Although I thought of myself then as a gardener, I was in fact a neophyte, newly planted in a new land. I knew the names of ordinary plants and followed standard rules about how to use them, but I had no ideas of my own. Perhaps this is not surprising. Gardens are a form of autobiography. They grow as we grow, change as we change, age as we age, and for many years before moving into Glen Villa, I was not really interested in gardening. That has changed. Over the years, as I gradually formed a bond with the land, I moved away from thinking of the land as a place I needed to adorn, to understanding it as the living thing it is, with its own needs, its own design, its own distinctive physical and emotional characteristics. In the process, Glen Villa has become more than a garden; it has become part of me, and I have become part of it.

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]^ I began to love gardens by loving nature. Exploring the property we had acquired, I started noticing more and more: the red squirrel that ran up and down the wall of the house, fussing at me when I invaded his territory; the dandelions that turned the grass to gold; and the hawkweed that sparkled like stars. Why were they called weeds instead of wildflowers? So many flowers that I could not name were growing in the fields and along the edge of the road, and the more I noticed, the more fascinated I became. I read wildflower books, gradually learning the flowers’ common and botanical names. I walked through the fields and along the paths we were cutting in the woods, carrying my wildflower-identification guide with me. I ordered wildflower seeds and seeds for perennials I had only read about, and planted them in the second-hand plastic-hoop greenhouse I had bought from a neighbour, keeping careful notes about rates of germination, the date of planting, and where I placed each plant. I loved what I was seeing in the wild. The shape of the hills and the mountains in the distance reminded me of my grandparents’ farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, a place I loved dearly as a child. There was a grand but gentle sweep to that land and a similar sweep to the land around North Hatley. The similarity appealed to me, but, more than that, it was the sense of ease that

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the land gave me. Water was everywhere, and the old trees along the bank of the lake and in the woods above the house made me feel comfortably rooted. Walking through the fields at Glen Villa, I could not seem to spot any design, any artificial arrangement that abided by the rules I was reading in gardening books. Plants were not there to create a pretty picture. They were not arranged according to height, the colour of the flower, or the texture of the leaves. And yet the results were so much more satisfying than what I began to plant in the formal garden beds around the house. Moving into this new house, I knew I wanted to create a garden of my own, but I was not clear on what I wanted the garden to look like. I did not know what I wanted it to say – about the house, the land, or me and my family. I knew, though, that it would say something. Early on in my life I realized that gardens reflect the people who make them, that they echo their personalities in ways that cannot be missed. My maternal grandmother’s garden was as prim and conventional as every other garden on the street of the small Virginia town where she lived; my paternal grandmother’s farm garden not far away in the Blue Ridge Mountains was generous and productive and as welcoming as she was. My parents did not create a garden at any of the houses we lived in as I was growing up, but they took good care of what was in each one of them, my father mowing the lawn and complaining about the crabgrass, and my mother digging dandelions and trying with only modest success to get flowers to grow. They both viewed working in the garden as a necessary evil and did as little as possible, assigning the work to me and my sister as punishment: one minute of weeding for every minute we came in from a date past our deadline. Understandably, this turned me against gardening until the late 1960s when Norman and I bought a house in Oakville, Ontario. In the first year we lived there I bought tulip bulbs, but I knew so little that I had to ask a neighbour which end was up. By the time we moved into our second house in Oakville, I was a little more knowledgeable. I read books about plants and how to arrange them, planning to redesign the existing garden to make it more livable, but when the time came, we hired a professional whose designs I only tweaked in the years that followed, sometimes adding a plant that caught my eye, sometimes digging up one that did not. I loved the land that surrounded our new house in North Hatley. It was right next door to the little cottage where we had spent many summers, so it felt familiar. In those years I had explored the surrounding woods and streams as I had explored the land at my paternal grandparents’ farm. I cajoled children into exploring with me, and together we picked berries, and every morning before breakfast we swam in the lake. The children climbed boulders to reach

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the waterfall, and we were all lulled to sleep by the sound of the stream that ran alongside our bedrooms. But I had never truly gardened. I even asked my mother-in-law not to put flowers in the cottage window boxes because I did not want to remove the dead blooms. Not with five young children. Not with books to read, meals to prepare, games to play. So for the first few years after we moved into Glen Villa, I did what many new gardeners do: I bought pretty plants and arranged them in a garden that looked much like the neighbour’s – or like the neighbours who had lived around us in England. My husband was a journalist, and when we were posted to England for several years, I visited many famous gardens and left full of admiration for what I saw. But it was the countryside more than the cultivated gardens that caught my heart. In England the history of the land was everywhere, waiting to be discovered: churches and standing stones and uneven ground where a Roman encampment used to be. The people who built these things had lived long ago, but the signs of their presence remained. I loved the history that was all around me at Glen Villa, not only the stone walls, the ancient trees, and the fenced-in fields but also the sense of continuity that came from knowing that my husband had played in the lake as our children had done and as I hoped grandchildren still to come would someday do. But where was I in this story? Someone else had created the garden that I walked through, and someone else had planted the trees and tended the fields. I wanted to put my own stamp on the land, as the Romans had put theirs, to create something that people in the future would see. But what would my stamp look like? I read every book I could find that might help me figure this out. I joined a garden club and listened to what the experienced members said. I made copious notes about flowers and shrubs and sketched one layout after another, but nothing I did felt right. Then, several years after we moved in, Norman gave me a book that brought my disparate ideas into focus. The Inward Garden: Creating a Place of Beauty and Meaning, by the Vermont-based landscape architect Julie Moir Messervy, presented a concept I had been looking for without knowing it. Gardens could be more than pretty places; they could mean something. I branched out from the gardening magazines and how-to garden books and seed catalogues that I had been focusing on and began to search out books that looked at gardens from different points of view: books without pictures, books that treated the subject more theoretically. That was when I stumbled onto J.B. Jackson. An American cultural geographer, Jackson examined topics I had never thought about: why ruins were important, how garages came to be, and how we needed a new definition of landscape – not a term for a painting but for a

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A birch tree gradually splitting a boulder. Here’s looking at you.

way of seeing that recognized what had happened on the land in earlier times. Landscape as history made visible. Reading that phrase, I finally knew what I wanted to do at Glen Villa: I wanted to make history visible. There was so much of it on the land, and I had been hiding that history behind borders of flowers. In a flash I changed the word I was using to describe the place where I worked. It was no longer a garden; it was a landscape. What I added could reflect me and my family. It could honour what had come before and could link memories to the present day. By showing the history of the land and telling the stories of the people who had lived there, I could paint a picture on the living canvas that surrounded me, a canvas that I would become a part of. My picture would go beyond aesthetics. It would strengthen my own emotional response to the land, and this response would lead me and other people who saw the garden towards a deeper, richer experience. While I was walking the paths we were cutting through the woods, this new insight helped me to see things I had missed before. Yes, there were signs of human presence – the sap bucket still hanging from a tree, the gravestone of a well-loved pet – but there were also signs of natural forces at work – the stream swollen by heavy rains that cut a new, straighter channel across the land, the tree growing from a crack in an enormous boulder that gradually was splitting the boulder in two. The more I walked, the more I saw and the more I felt connected to the land. Increasingly it seemed that we were partners, building an enterprise

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together – but not silent partners. Markings on the trunks of birch trees that I had passed many times before now appeared like eyes looking back at me, asking questions I could not answer. How was I to let the land reveal itself? In gardening terms this was easy. It meant observing where the sun shone at different times of the day, where the soil was moist or dry, where it was heavy with clay, and where it was so sandy that it fell apart in my hand. Then it meant applying that knowledge by choosing plants that would thrive in those conditions. In personal terms it was harder. It meant opening my eyes and paying attention to what was there, being quiet and letting the land reveal itself. I understood little of this at first. It took years for me to fully realize that what I wanted was to create an environment that explored ideas – ideas about history, yes, but also ideas about art, architecture, and garden design; ideas about the passage of time, about aging and death. If I went beyond aesthetics, I could create a garden with meaning. That was what I wanted to do. ]^ All of us have places that are special in our lives. Glen Villa is my special place now, but it was not always that way. When I was a child, Virginia was my special place, including Richmond where I grew up and the Blue Ridge Mountains where my grandparents had a farm. My best friend in Richmond lived two doors away, and together we explored our surroundings – the vacant lot on the corner where Indian arrowheads were said to be buried, and the backyards of all the houses along the street. We thought we were spying, totally unseen, on the people who lived there until a woman called out from the back door to her husband, who was raking leaves in the yard: “Who is that in the bushes?” “Oh, no one,” he said, “Just two little girls.” From my grandparents’ house I explored the farm buildings inside the large fenced yard – the wood house where cats ran wild, and the smokehouse where ham hocks were cured for the winter. A trumpet vine grew on the side of the smokehouse, and my sister, Nancie, and I picked the orange tubular flowers to use as witch’s fingernails, annoying our grandmother who saw it as a waste. We annoyed her even more when we and our cousins picked unripe grapes to use for battles in the hayloft of the barn, each grape a hard, green ball meant to sting, each wasted grape one less for the jelly that Mother made in August. Their clear juice would drip overnight from a cheesecloth bag, be boiled the following day, and then be ladled into shiny purple jars that we stored for winter use in the basement in Richmond. The house and barn in the mountains dated back to before the Civil War, and the years had infused both with their own special

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My grandparents’ house in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. A tulip poplar tree stood tall on the hill near my grandparents’ house. A placemat designed by Eric Webster, with Eric and Ibby sitting on Axel, their prize bull. Photographer unknown. Norman, on the left, sits with friends on the dock at the old Glen Villa.

smells: the house had the scent of tobacco and wood stoves and a slightly sour grandparent smell; the barn had the odour of hay and cow’s breath. I was meant to stay close to the house, inside the yard ringed by a white picket fence, and as an obedient child I did. Always drawing my eye, though, was a tulip poplar tree that stood in a farm field at the top of a hill. It was a big tree, and it drew me like a magnet, calling out to me, urging me to explore a wider world. That world included the chicken house. Going there with my older cousins was a regular afternoon ritual. Looking down the driveway from the chicken house, we cousins vied to be the first to spy grandmother coming home from her job teaching farm wives how to can vegetables safely and keep their kitchens clean. Cows with horns sometimes grazed in the field around the chicken house, and despite my mother and the country cousins saying they would not hurt a fly, I was afraid. I was afraid of the hens as well and could only gather the eggs if a country cousin guided my hand underneath the hen’s breast to pull one out. My sister teased me, calling me a sissy and, even worse, a Yankee who deserved to be pecked by the hens. She was right. I knew I was not a true southerner; I had been born in Maryland, north of the Mason-Dixon line, and nothing I could do would ever change that. The morning she combined her insults, calling me a sissy little Yankee, I decided to prove her wrong. I would show her how brave I was; I would break the rules. I would make the long trek to the chicken house alone and gather the eggs myself. The cows were nowhere to be seen as I quietly opened the gate in the picket fence that surrounded the house. Looking both ways to make sure no one saw me, I scurried down the driveway and then began more slowly to climb the big

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hill towards my destination. I entered the dim, smelly chicken house, shooing away the rooster and gingerly filling my basket. But when I turned to leave, the cows had returned. I could hear them breathing and could almost feel the horns goring me as the bull had almost gored my father not long before. It seemed hours before the cows finally moved away, far enough for me to make a run for it. “Where have you been?” my mother asked. “We’ve been looking everywhere.” “Just to the chicken house,” I said. She frowned, unhappy perhaps to discover that I was beginning to stretch my limits. “Did you get any eggs?” “No,” I lied. But the truth was, I had dropped the basket as I dashed across the field, and the eggs had broken, every one. ]^ If Virginia was my special place, North Hatley, Quebec, was my husband Norman’s. In the winter he lived in the nearby city of Sherbrooke, but summers were spent at Glen Villa, his family’s farm, in a rambling wooden house built more than a century ago. His father, Eric, had bought a one-hundred-acre dairy farm there in 1947 and named it Glen Villa after a former resort hotel on the property, which had been destroyed in a fire. The flat ground where it had been was still there. He and his wife, Ibby, built cottages on that ground and invited friends from Sherbrooke to use them for the summer. The friends came, and soon there was an informal colony of young boys and girls, mothers and fathers, even a grandparent or two. There was a rhythm to the days: mothers with children going down for a swim in the lake in the morning, walking home for lunch, then returning in the afternoon to swim again.

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Norman was one of a group of boys. He spent his mornings with those boys, swimming and playing catch on the beach. In the afternoon he would head back to the lake or walk up the road to visit his friend Lewis. Then, at the end of the day, he headed up the road again, to bring in the cows with the farmer’s son, young Murray Gardner. The cows were part of farm life – Jersey cows at first, then white-faced Herefords, which Eric thought were likely to be more profitable. Murray’s father, Orin, ran the farm. As a teenager, Norman worked for Orin, haying in the fields and, standing at the bottom of the silo, stamping down the silage that had blown in from above; he hated this hot and sticky job. Working alongside him or helping Ibby with the flowers was “Nap” (short for Napoléon) Inkel. Land was cheap then. When Nap had to sell his small farm, Eric bought it, and as other adjacent parcels came on the market, he bought them too – fifty acres here, a hundred acres there – until finally he amassed almost a thousand acres. But as he and Orin aged, farming became more difficult. The Herefords were sold, and fewer acres were farmed, until gradually the fields began to return to forest. Eric and Ibby continued to spend time in the rambling house that once had been the club house for the hotel’s nine-hole golf course. The house was too large for a couple whose children, they predicted, would never remain in Quebec but would move instead to Ottawa or Toronto or even parts beyond. So in 1964, without consulting Norman, his brother, or his sister, Eric sold the house to Doug and Jane Bradley, next-door neighbours who had been trying to buy the land for several years. He sold the lakefront land where the colony of families had lived, keeping only the woods, the farm fields, and a small cottage beside the lake. Glen Villa as Norman had known it was gone. ]^ My life changed when I met my husband-to-be. After two years at a woman’s college in Virginia, I went to the University of London to study philosophy. At the end of the year I signed up for a student trip to Greece. Standing on the platform of London’s Victoria Station, I assessed the others in the group, hoping to see someone with whom I could spend time in the weeks ahead. As a girl, I had received an allowance, doled out on Sunday afternoons by my father, a man who was careful with his money. To receive my allowance, I had to account for what I had been given the week before, with every penny detailed in books that had to balance. By the time I was a student in London, my allowance was coming quarterly, and perhaps supposing my lesson to have been learned, my father no longer required me to account for what I had spent. Not surprisingly then, I was leaving for Greece with hardly a farthing to my name. Was there a

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Pat in 1964, on her first visit to North Hatley. Photograph by Norman Webster.

nice young man in the group? I smiled when I spotted a slight fellow wearing a beaten-up straw hat and a blazer with a banana tucked into the breast pocket. Over the years, whenever I told the story of our first meeting, I said that my pick-up line had been, “Hi, can I share your banana?” I may have been more subtle, but whatever I said, the words worked. Norman and I spent three weeks together in Greece, and those weeks convinced me that this young man was someone special. He was smart – a Rhodes Scholar, finishing up two years at Oxford where he had studied philosophy, politics, and economics and while he was not as interested in philosophy as I was, he knew far more about the world. Crossing the English Channel, I listened with genuine interest as he explained Canadian history and geography, using the salt-and-pepper shakers in the ferry’s bar to mark the American-Canadian border, and beer mats to mark Canadian cities – Portage la Prairie, Massawippi, Charlottetown, place names I was hearing for the first time. During the weeks that followed, we spent almost every minute together, exploring Corfu on a motorbike, eating sliced tomatoes drenched in olive oil at a café on the beach, and reading companionably in silence. In Athens we toured the Acropolis and the Forum, turned up our noses at the smell of ouzo, and drank the beer he bought instead. We travelled south to the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion and climbed the hills at Delphi to look down on the amphitheatre below. When I headed back to the United States not long after our weeks together, I told my mother that I had met the man I was going to marry. Three years later, I did.

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]^

The house was built circa 1970 by Doug and Jane Bradley. Three sides of the house end in sharp angles. Engelman ivy covers a fieldstone wall. The old entry to the house.

In 1989, almost a quarter of a century after we had married, Norman changed jobs and we moved from Oakville, Ontario, to Montreal. Living now only a ninety-minute drive from North Hatley, we began to use the cottage on the lake more often, driving out there on weekends early in the summer and stretching the summer well into the fall. The cottage was not insulated, making it uninhabitable in the winter months, and after a few years we began to search for a house we could use year-round. The house that Norman had grown up in was long gone – the Bradleys had torn it down only months after they had acquired it. Still, the land was there. So Norman and I approached Doug Bradley’s son Tim, asking if he thought his father would consider selling us the land by the waterfall where the old golf clubhouse had been. Tim paused. By this time his mother had died and his father was ill. “I don’t think you can buy that,” Tim said. “But you might be able to buy it all.” That is what we did. In 1996 we bought the land that Norman’s father had sold and the house that the Bradleys had built, along with some forty acres more. Like Eric, we immediately gave to this new home, right next door to our old cottage, its former name: Glen Villa. What we acquired was an imposing contemporary house on a bluff above Lake Massawippi. Decks surrounded the house, ending in strong diagonal lines, like the ends of pinwheels, and created the impression that, if it wanted to, the house could turn on its axis, could circle as a pinwheel does, blown by the wind. Yet while the architecture suggested movement, the house itself felt stable and well grounded, and the materials it

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was made of – cedar shingles, barn board, and fieldstone – made it feel in tune with nature and the world about. Around the house was an attractive, albeit stodgy, garden. Predictable plants filled a rock garden on a steep hillside, and roses were massed in well-edged beds on a flat bit of lawn. Jacques Gosselin had tended the garden for the Bradleys for twenty-five years, working first as an under-gardener, learning what had to be done, then as the man in charge, supervising an assistant who might one day take over his job. A cautious man, he waited a week or two after we moved in before he asked to talk to me. “I’m an honest man,” he said. “I’ll never cheat you. But I don’t like shouting. If you shout at me, I’ll quit.” I assured him that I was not a shouter, trying all the while not to smile as I remembered weekday mornings when our children were young, and shouting was the only way to get them out the door to school on time. He nodded. “Then we’ll get along fine.” And we did. A Townshipper to the bones, equally fluent in French and English, Jacques knew a bit about everything: how to sharpen a saw or the blades on a mower, how to hill up potatoes and pick off potato bugs, how to build a dock and prune a shrub. Like many raised in the country, he knew trees and their habits, could identify them by leaf, bark, or shape, and knew where each kind grew well and where it did not. Unlike some who work the land, however, he was open to change, willing to try anything I asked. So there was no resistance when I told him that I had asked some professionals from Montreal to take a look at the garden and see what more we could do.

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In July 1998, Myke Hodgins and Audrey Day, his partner at the time, visited Glen Villa for the first time. A week or two later they presented a proposal that laid out the services they could provide and the changes they recommended, which included a new entrance to the house. The entrance we had inherited was at the bottom of a hillside so steep that it needed to be held back by a heavy stone wall. That wall made direct access to the house impossible. Instead, to reach the front door you had to drive past the house to the garage and then return along a narrow, mossy path to reach a small dark courtyard. Neither Norman nor I liked this entrance. He complained that it would be a nuisance to unload the car in the winter when the path was icy or covered with snow. I complained that the entrance felt unwelcoming, as if the house were telling you to go away and leave it alone. To solve the problem, Myke suggested that we lower the driveway in front of the house to reduce what was a drop of twenty feet to twelve feet. He proposed that we plant flowers, shrubs, and trees around the steps that would lead down the hill, making the progress to the front door feel like a walk through a garden. I loved the idea. “So, what plants do you want to use?” As soon as Myke asked the question, I realized I had no idea. I knew a bit about plants, but I knew far less about my own tastes and desires. I left Myke’s office with an arm-load of books and magazines. “Mark anything you like,” he said. “Don’t worry about how many sticky notes you use. The more, the better.” A week later I was back at his office, and based on the photographs I had marked, he proposed a combination of plants: broad crinkly-leafed hostas in tones of blue and chartreuse, a sharp pink astilbe to bloom in mid-summer, hydrangeas, native witch hazels, and a Japanese maple tree whose leaves caught fire in the light. I liked what he suggested, and I liked working with him. In particular I liked the limestones steps he sketched, steps that opened like welcoming arms to connect the house to the driveway above. But lowering the driveway made the steep bank above it even steeper. And it was wet, with water constantly trickling down. To stabilize that bank, he said we had to change the angle to make it gentler. We began work in November 1998, and as we did, we uncovered dozens of springs hidden underground. This delighted me. I missed the stream that ran alongside the cottage next door where we had spent so many summers, and I missed the splash of water tumbling over rocks and the murmur that lulled me to sleep at night. So instead of burying the ground springs and the small trickling stream, we brought them together to create a waterfall, smaller than the one near the road, but one that was big enough to bring the sound of water closer to the house.

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The new entry to the house, with astilbe, hostas, and a sculpture by Louise Doucet and Satoshi Saito.

We used fieldstones to form the sides of the waterfall. Jacques brought in truckloads of rocks from a neighbour’s field and more from one of the many piles that dotted the land – rocks of various sizes and shapes that farmers had moved when they cleared the land. We hired Arlie Fearon, a local man who operated an excavator big enough to lift the heaviest rocks into place, and he waited patiently while Myke and I examined each stone from all sides, deciding where each should go and which side should face out. Then Arlie lifted them into place as gently as if they were babies, about to fall asleep. We found the perfect stone to sit at the top of this new horseshoe-shaped wall, an enormous rock shaped like a spout that funnelled the water into a pool below. “You have to give it a name,” Myke said. I thought for a moment. “The little waterfall?” Myke grimaced. “What about the Cascade?” I looked towards my English friend Gill Sayer who was visiting us as the work was being done. She nodded and the choice was made. Standing well out of the way as huge boulders were lifted into place, almost frozen by an early snowfall, Gill asked me what I was going to plant around the

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Cascade. By this time I was beginning to have ideas of my own, thanks to the gardening books I had started to read. One of them showed a white-flowered hawthorn tree in bloom, a Washington hawthorn that I found particularly appealing because of its name. George Washington was a Virginian, and planting a tree named for him would bring a bit of Virginia into the garden in Quebec. Gill shook her head. “Hawthorns smell bad. Like rotting corpses.” Her nose wrinkled up at the idea. We were close friends, almost like sisters, and had been for decades. I knew I could trust her advice, but I also knew I needed to question it. “How do you know?” She shrugged. “I just do.” I paused, trying to decide if that was an adequate response. Was there another tree that could bring Virginia into the garden? “Ok, not hawthorn. Dogwood.” I pictured the groves of flowering dogwood trees in the garden of the first house I remembered living in, trees that the books had called Cornus florida. “They’re the Virginia state flower. And mother loved them.” “She gave me a dogwood pin. I still have it somewhere,” Gill said. “And there was a story that went with it. Do you remember?” “Of course, I do, I grew up with it.” Like a jaded tour guide, doomed to repeat the tale again and again, I reeled off the points: “The petals are the cross, and the dark spots at the ends are where they hammered nails into Jesus’s hands. And the centre is a crown of thorns.” Myke had been listening. “It’s a nice idea, but there’s a problem. Dogwood trees, the kind you’re thinking about, won’t survive.” He paused, giving me time to accept what he had said. “What about spirea?” I remembered the hedge in the backyard of that same house in Richmond and how Mother had fretted when my friend Mary T. and I stripped the blossoms from the branches, thinking their white flowers would clean dirt off our hands. “Okay, that’ll do. Yes. Spirea.” The following week, after Gill had gone back to England, Myke and I went plant shopping, choosing bridal wreath spirea to spill over the stones at the top of the Cascade and to edge the pool at the bottom. I fell in love with a butterfly bush, Buddleia ‘Black Knight’, and we added it along with several staghorn sumac that Myke promised would grow quickly to display cones of deep red berries with scarlet leaves in autumn that would stand out against the dark junipers he suggested we plant at the rear. We were about to leave when we saw hawthorn trees for sale. He shrugged. “Okay, if you insist.” I did, and in the final design, to please me, he ringed the hawthorns with a small shrub dogwood that he hoped would survive.

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Bridal wreath spirea in bloom by the Cascade. Water thunders over the Cascade after a heavy rainfall.

We built the Cascade in November 1998. Today all that remains of those original plants are the junipers, two hawthorn trees that struggle to survive, and the bridal wreath spirea that drips with cascading blossoms every spring. The dogwood (Cornus stolonifera ‘Kelsey’s dwarf’) succumbed to the cold, as did the butterfly bush, and the sumac never thrived as it was meant to. The Cascade itself has worked beautifully, with water trickling onto the funnel-shaped stone on some days and thundering into the pool below on others. And while the water has always worked well, the plants around it have proved difficult. Many that had started well declined from one year to the next, despite all we did to enrich the soil and improve the drainage. The ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Summer Wine’) that replaced the butterfly bush fell victim to the deer. The dwarf highbush cranberry (Viburnum opulus ‘Compactum’) became bug infested. I turned to invasive plants like blue lyme grass (Leymus arenarius) to fill the bed, but gradually, instead of invading, the grass became sparser. As a last-ditch effort, we removed everything except the spirea, the junipers, and the spindly hawthorn trees. For the second or third time we improved the drainage and added new topsoil and rich compost. Yet again I chose plants that I thought would do well, including Weigela ‘Wine and Roses’, a shrub that had grown well elsewhere in the garden and one that the deer had left alone. I added a small, spreading fleece flower (Persicaria microcephala ‘Purple Fantasy’) whose leaves are marked with a shade of purple that repeats the colour of the Weigela leaves. Near the water I added several umbrella plants (Darmera peltata) whose large, clear green leaves provide freshness and light. I arranged the plants in

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Arrowhead blooms in the Cascade pool.

horizontal bands that ran from one side of the Cascade to the other, establishing a line in contrast to the strong vertical drop of falling water. And half a dozen years later, the plants are growing well. The contrast in colour, form, and texture is satisfying. The fleece flower has to be cut back and controlled to prevent it spreading everywhere and flopping unattractively, but I still like how its shape and colour pick up on the shape and colour of the leaves of the Weigela ‘Wine and Roses’. Yet, as happens quite regularly now in other places in the garden, the most satisfying plant at the Cascade is the wildflower that seeded itself. Arrowhead (Sagittaria cuneata), an indigenous plant, is gradually covering the surface of the pool. Some people might want to pull it out to keep the water open, but I like its dainty flowers that rear up above wedge-shaped leaves. Its presence at the Cascade is somehow reassuring, as if I am doing the right thing, allowing the land to decide what should grow there and what should not. ]^ Working with Myke taught me a lot about plants and the conditions they needed in order to thrive, that it is important to think carefully about what you want to achieve in an area before you start to work on it. More significantly, he encouraged me to have confidence in myself and to push myself as far as I could in whatever new or unusual direction I wanted to go. Increasingly I was realizing that I wanted to transform the garden from a traditional one into something

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special. I liked the tree stump that was part of the covered terrace near the house, but what could I plant around it that would add pizzazz? I daydreamed constantly, coming up with ideas that were totally unrelated to each other. What about putting a gazing ball in the rose garden that the Bradleys had built? What about removing the roses to create a maze like the one at Williamsburg that I had loved as a child? Was there space somewhere for an arbour or for bushes like the ones I had grown up with, for a trumpet vine or real flowering dogwood – not the shrubs we planted around the Cascade, but true dogwood, Cornus florida, the dogwood I had grown up with? The more I dreamed, the more I realized that I needed to make this new place feel more like home. For me, home included every place I had ever lived in and loved. Living at Glen Villa, I felt like I was where I was meant to be. Our first grandchild had just been born, and her birth made me think of my past as well as her future. I wanted this grandchild, and the others I knew would come, to do as I had done, to explore the woods and fields as I had explored the land at my grandparents’ farm – to get to know all the land at Glen Villa, not only the area immediately around the house and the lakefront. In some way that at first I could not explain, I wanted the land to tell its stories. There seemed to be so many. One story was about the first people on the land, the Abenaki. Another was about Glen Villa Inn, the resort hotel that had once stood at the end of our big lawn; still another was about the American families who had come north and built summer cottages on the land all around. Those people had left their marks on the land, marks that were intimidating in one way, yet exhilarating in another. They made me think about the continuity of history and how each of us leaves our stamp on the land we touch. The Bradleys’ stamp was clearly visible although Jacques told me that the gardens had once been much more extensive. Remaining now were a rock garden on a steep slope and several dozen Peace rose bushes that stood guard in tidy beds on the flat stretch of grass below. The rock garden looked tired, like an afterthought, and as lovely as the roses were, I knew I wanted to remove them. They had to be sprayed regularly and replanted every year or two because one or two inconveniently died each winter. Removing them seemed a good way to reduce an unnecessary expenditure, along with the time spent on maintenance. But more than these practical concerns, the roses felt wrong to me. They were out of keeping with the style of the house and out of tune with a feeling that was growing in the back of my mind, a desire to create a garden that told the stories of the land. Myke and I began work on this section of the garden in the spring of 1999, not long after we had finished the Cascade and the garden surrounding the steps to the front door. The first task was to remove the Peace roses that Jacques had

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The stone wall outlines the summer cottage that was torn down when our house was built.

tended lovingly for so many years, spraying and dusting them, pinching off the bugs, and hilling them up against the cold. If he felt sad about their loss, he never said so and never tried to change my mind; he dug them up without a complaint. What had been a rose garden became the Lower Garden, a name chosen because of its location some fifteen or twenty feet below the main floor of the house. With the rose beds gone, the heavy fieldstone wall at the bottom of the hillside rock garden became the strongest feature of the Lower Garden, and it spoke in a voice too loud to ignore. Its rough stones were strong and in practical terms solid enough to support the weight of the hillside above. Visually the wall established a strong horizontal line that echoed the horizontal lines of the house and reinforced the sense of serenity the space gave me. The wall was also a connection to the past, marking the location of the summer cottage that the Bradleys had lived in before they built our current house. I could see that the wall had been the foundation for the back side of that cottage and that the two short walls extending at right angles at each end had formed part of the side walls. Standing on the grass looking up at the slope, I felt like I was inside a roofless cottage, protected from the wind, yet open to the sky above. As comforting as the space was, the sloped rock garden was a disappointment. The previous year I had noticed how few plants were growing there: tulips that popped up at random, a perennial geranium that grew everywhere, and fine peonies. Those peonies reminded me of the ones that grew at my grandparents’ house in Virginia and in our garden in Oakville where our children grew up, and I knew I would keep them, along with juniper bushes that hung over the wall. But the rose bushes had to go. What to add instead? Over the preceding winter, reading gardening books and magazines by the fire, I had gravitated to pictures that showed familiar sights: gardens I had visited in England; gardens full of lilacs like those that grew in our garden in Oakville; brick paths and big globular boxwood like those in Virginia. Gradually I realized that if my garden was to feel like home, it needed to remind me of familiar gardens like these, gardens that were full of plants I could name and recognize: rhododendron and azalea, magnolia and dogwood. Myke assured me that these were precisely the plants I could not have. He suggested alternatives, hardier versions of my Virginia favourites, and I agreed to give them a try. The magnolias we planted in the Lower Garden thrived. The two varieties we chose, Magnolia stellata ‘Leonard Messel’ and Magnolia ‘Susan’, are twenty feet tall now and bloom prodigiously, M. ‘Susan’ often blooming twice in a summer. As I became more confident, I added other plants: lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis) and catmint (Nepeta × faassenii ‘Six Hills Giant’), lavender (Lavendula augustifolia ‘Hidcote Blue’), and balls of wormwood (Artemisia schmidtiana

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Magnolia ‘Leonard Messel’ blooms at the entry to the Lower Garden. Magnolia ‘Susan’ reblooms in August. This late snowfall did not harm the magnolia blossoms. Astilbe ‘Fanal’ stands out against the citrus tones of lady’s mantle. These pink peonies were part of the Bradleys’ garden. Cat’s mint, lady’s mantle, and iris spikes.

‘Silver Mound’) that roll down the hill like bowling balls. I added bleeding heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis), bergenia (Bergenia cordifolia, which is also known as pigsqueak), Ligularia ‘Britt-Marie Crawford’, and deep blue-and-white Siberian iris. Under one of the magnolias I planted ground covers with subtle reflections of colour and shape: creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia aurea), bugleweed (Ajuga reptans ‘Mahogany’), Japanese painted fern (Athryium niponicum var. pictum), and a tiny meadow rue called Evening Star (Thalictrum ichangense ‘Evening Star’). I established a long border on the lake side of the old rose garden, planting hydrangeas and goat’s beard (Aruncus dioicus) whose white flowers stood out against a backdrop of dark spruce trees. I added Japanese spikenard (Aralia cordata ‘Sun King’) for its splashy chartreuse-toned leaves, and astilbe (Astilbe × arendsii ‘Fanal’) for its rich red blossoms. The Lower Garden is beautiful now for months on end. Magnolias and lilacs fill the garden with shades of pink in May and early June. Towards the end of June the pink peonies I saved from the Bradleys’ garden blend with the creamy white of the tree lilac ‘Ivory Silk’. In July the broad leaves of lady’s mantle contrast with the small blue-grey leaves of catmint, while in August spikey iris blades rise above the dark leaves of Ligularia ‘Britt-Marie Crawford’. It is a calm space, with serene colours that give pleasure from spring to fall. A few years ago I added several of my favourite plant, Jeffersonia diphylla, or twin-leaf. Twin-leaf is a true Virginia plant, named by the American botanist Benjamin Smith Barton after the many talented Thomas Jefferson. The plant grows naturally in the Blue Ridge Mountains where Jefferson lived and where my grandparents farmed, and happily for me, the three plants I bought at a nursery near Monticello, Jefferson’s house in Virginia, survived and gradually became adapted to North Hatley’s harsher clime. For people who garden in areas where twin-leaf grows easily, it is a common plant. To me, it is special because of its origins and the way its character and appearance shift throughout the growing season. In spring, tips of reddish purple peek up from the ground. These small tips are hard to see at first; they are almost the colour of the mulch that surrounds them. But soon pale-green vampire-like spears appear, desperately searching for sunlight instead of avoiding it as any sensible vampire would do. When the two-part leaf that gives the plant its common name emerges, the halves seem stuck together like the wings of a new-born butterfly. At first those leaves are a deep wine red, but gradually they become touched with green, with prominent veins that make them look soft and vulnerable. As the leaves unfurl, buds form, then flowers appear. Those flowers are shaped like cups held aloft on rigid stems and are such a pure white that it almost hurts to look at them.

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Jeffersonia diphylla, or twin-leaf, looks different at each stage of its life.

Twin-leaf (Jeffersonia diphylla) is a spring ephemeral, and as with other ephemerals, its short season intensifies its beauty and adds a touch of poignancy. In a good year, if the weather remains cool, the elegant flowers may last a week, but typically they bloom for three or four days only. If it rains, the petals drop quickly. As they do if the wind blows. A day or two with warm weather, and the flowers will simply disappear, making you question if they were ever there at all. The leaves provide a longer show while they grow bigger and broader. They change colour, from wine red to a soft blue green. The two lobes that at first seemed stuck together open wide, suggesting a butterfly about to take flight. Then in mid-summer the plant produces a surprise: a seed pod with two lobes that reflect its twin leaves. The lobes grow, swell, and begin to bulge like the bulging eyes of Kermit the Frog. The seed pod is hinged and develops a cap with a pointed top. The plant begins to smile – rather smugly, I have to say – preparing for its final trick. The hinged pod opens to display a mouthful of cinnamon-coloured seeds, which it spits out with a grin. I wonder sometimes if twin-leaf grew in the woods at my grandparents’ farm. Possibly, because the conditions were right. If it did grow there, I never saw it. But it takes little effort to imagine the sight: a white carpet spread out under black walnut trees, with shafts of sunlight streaming between the tree trunks to brighten patches of ground while leaving others to languish in the dark. Like every flower, twin-leaf ages eventually. Its leaves shrivel and become spotted. The seed pod shrinks like a wizened old man who needs a cane to walk. That is fine with me. According to the information on the label, the plants I bought were carefree. They would spread easily and might even become invasive. Not so in my zone, which is so much farther north than where the plant thrives naturally. I have to coddle twin-leaf, and it is one of the few plants at Glen Villa that get this attention. Still, I love it, not because it is carefree but because it is ephemeral, as fleeting as childhood itself. I am not a child any more. I pay attention now when I walk down the stone steps to the Lower Garden. When we first moved in, I could do this easily, running up or down the stairs without needing a handrail to hold onto, with no fear of tripping. But increasingly I am aware of what the years have wrought, for better and for worse. Fletcher Steele, an American landscape architect, once said that the chief vice of a garden is to be merely pretty. The Lower Garden is pretty, but I hope that it is more than that. After many years of work, the flowers and shrubs combine harmoniously. They bloom from late spring to late fall, with contrasts in height, texture, and leaf shape that add interest even when they are not in bloom. Yet despite the changes Myke initiated and the additions I made in the years that

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Stephandra incisa in autumn, by the steps to the Lower Garden. A zinc spire stands at the entry to the Lower Garden. The Dragon Gate marks the end of the Lower Garden and the beginning of a wilder section.

followed, the strongest element in the Lower Garden is the foundation wall of the Bradleys’ old summer cottage. Its heavy stonework provides a solid base for a hillside that might otherwise feel like it was about to slip away. Visually it anchors the space; metaphorically it connects today’s garden to gardens in the past. The Lower Garden still reflects the shape of the cottage that once was there. Four broad limestone slabs set into sloping grass mark the entry, and beside the steps, to mark the years that our family lived in England, I added a zinc spire from a church in England. On the lake side, opposite the stone foundation wall, a border of local slate marks where the front wall of the old summer cottage might have been. At the far end a gateway marks the exit. Traditionally a garden becomes less structured and manicured the farther it moves away from the house. The gate at the end of the Lower Garden serves as a marker: beyond the gate the land becomes wild, as beautiful in its own way as the Lower Garden is – more beautiful, perhaps, to some. But this is a gate in name only. There is no door to open and close, only posts on one side and a beam overhead. The invitation to explore is always there, open to whoever chooses to accept.

THE EGG Talking to Norman one night shortly after we moved into Glen Villa, I suggested that we cut paths through the woods that rise above the house. He liked the idea.

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Paths would allow us to use more of the land, and this was something we both wanted to do. So, starting the next morning, I began to walk around deliberately, getting to know the new property in detail. Sometimes I walked by myself; sometimes Jacques Gosselin went with me. Having worked for our predecessors for years, Jacques knew the land intimately. With him as my guide I knew we would find the best possible routes. Climbing through the woods one morning, we came upon a sheer rock face, dark and damp, with clefts where tiny ferns were growing. “That’s nice,” I said. “Beautiful, in fact. Let’s bring the path along here.” Jacques nodded in agreement. We continued, letting the land lead the way to the crest of the hill. And there we stopped. A bigger contrast to the beauty of the rock face was hard to imagine. Spindly stunted trees covered the ground, mostly leafless, some already dead, but just beyond we saw something truly spectacular – an enormous boulder left behind when the glaciers retreated. By itself it was stunning, but covered with moss as it was, the sight was unforgettable. Jacques’ mouth fell open. “I’ve been working here for twenty years,” he said. “I never saw this. I never even knew it was here.” There was no question now where the path had to go – exactly where the land had led us, past the sheer rock face and up to the moss-covered boulder. I felt something powerful coming from the rock, and for the first time I sensed an opening, a way I might make this new place my own. But the dead and dying trees had to go.

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Clearing them out was an easy job, an afternoon’s work for Jacques and his new assistant, Ken Kelso. Like Jacques, Ken was a Townshipper, a strong, amiable man, younger than Jacques and willing to put up with his boss’s constant teasing. Once he and Jacques had removed the spindly trees, the crest of the hill became an interesting place in its own right, a welcoming spot that invited me to sit quietly and admire the natural beauty all around. In September that year I began to weed the boulder, removing as much grass as I could reach, leaving a damp carpet of moss behind. And I began to consider how I could develop the clearing we had made. Its most prominent feature was its oval shape. How could I take advantage of that? I thought of things that were oval: racetracks, footballs, eyes on ancient Egyptian paintings, fingerprints, and, most obviously, eggs. The idea of an egg was perfect. It fit the shape of the land, but more importantly it fit my desire to make this garden reflect what came before. Life began with eggs, from which things hatched – both chicks and ideas. I would transform the clearing into a spring garden to reflect the season the earth comes to life again. It would not be a garden in any conventional sense but rather something so out of keeping with the forest around it that people would gasp, as I had when Jacques and I had stumbled upon the mossy rock. The fear that had been overwhelming me disappeared, and I relaxed, knowing that this unlikely rocky crag was where I would put my stamp on the land. Here, in this unlikely setting, I would build a garden that reflected me and where I came from. In traditional southern gardens there is often a central oval of grass edged by a brick path, lined in turn with boxwood. Sometimes there is a stone bench at the end of the oval, or a bird bath at the front. I decided to use these elements at The Egg, applying them with a light touch, my tongue planted firmly in cheek. In my journal I sketched an oval, then added a yellow sac in the centre like a yolk. Instead of a stone bench at the end of the oval, I drew a rustic seat made from woven willow twigs. Around the sides I added a path, not made of bricks but with thick rounds of wood. Alongside the path I dotted green ferns and boxwood, all held together by a low fence woven like the basket I once used for Easter egg hunts. Over the winter I researched appropriate plants for The Egg. I knew that the grass so often featured in southern gardens would not grow in the shady woods so I began looking for something that would. I wanted a plant with white flowers that would contrast with the yolky yellow daffodils I had planted. It did not take long to settle on heart-leafed foam flower (Tiarella cordifolia), an indigenous plant that grew naturally in woodland shade. In bloom it would look frothy, like beaten egg whites, and when the bloom faded, the leaves would remain.

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My idea for The Egg, as shown in a page from my journal. The Egg in the frothy-eggwhite bloom of foam flower.

The foam flower was magnificent. It bloomed, spread, and bloomed again, looking like egg whites beaten for a meringue. Finding a plant for the yolk proved difficult. The daffodils bloomed far earlier than the foam flower. Deer ate most of the yellow wax bells (Kirengeshoma peltata), and even the few plants they left untouched bloomed too late. Kim Vergil, a Montrealer who worked with willow, made an enormous dome from yellow twig dogwood, which worked beautifully until the yellow twigs were no longer yellow. Even brown-toned, the dome failed, gradually disintegrating into a shapeless pile. The dome was not the only failure here. The hemlocks that Myke suggested as a backdrop for The Egg proved to be tasty fare for the deer, and seeing their branches stripped to sticks, Jacques and I removed them entirely. The multi-storey bird cage that I had added as a bit of a joke succumbed to the weather. The area we had cleared to expose the huge mossy rock needed cutting back annually. Weeding the foam flower took hours and hours, particularly since the maple trees that surrounded The Egg produced thousands of trees-to-be. Eventually I gave up. The foam flower began to die out, weeds began to appear, and the rustic bench fell to pieces. Year after year I planned to revitalize the area, but other projects took precedence. The Egg no longer exists, but the fact of it remains, recorded on the mosaic map of the property that I made with my friend John Hay. There, cemented in place, it draws your eye – a thick blob of white shaped like a fried egg with a

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A mosaic map of the property shows The Egg looking like a fried egg.

yellow bead for the yolk. Like the changes that happen so naturally in a garden, The Egg became something else – Upper Room, a memorial to my mother, which I describe in chapter 5. It is fitting that, even transformed, the garden set off in the woods remains linked to Virginia. I grew up there and, in a parallel way, I grew up as a gardener when I designed The Egg. Creating it gave me the confidence I needed to strike out on my own. It confirmed the validity of the concept that became central to the landscape at Glen Villa, that the past was best understood as a pointer to the future. It gave me confidence to accept failure as a natural part of the creative process and it gave me a willingness to carry on, regardless.

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2

Making History Visible FINDING A WAY OF MY OWN: CHINA TERRACE The Egg was my first independent project at Glen Villa; China Terrace was my second. It was a much larger and more complex undertaking. I started work on China Terrace in 2002, exactly one hundred years after the resort hotel Glen Villa Inn first opened for business. As clearly as anything I have done in the last twenty-five years, this project demonstrates how creating a garden is a neverending process. It is a familiar concept in terms of plants – they grow, thrive, and eventually die. The concept is less familiar in terms of conceptual design, but it is true nonetheless. Ideas seed themselves in the mind, then change, develop, or disappear. Designing and planting China Terrace took six years, and the job of keeping it in good order never stops. More significantly, however, it was while building China Terrace that I began to translate the notion of making history visible into an actual installation on the ground. Shortly after we moved into Glen Villa, my daughter Gillian and I went out to explore what we had acquired. Although for over thirty years we had spent holidays in the cottage next door, this was new territory for us, waiting to be discovered. Autumn leaves crunched underfoot as we walked through the woods on what seemed to be an old road heading down a hillside. The suggestion of a road did not surprise me. I knew about the resort hotel that was featured in all the histories of North Hatley and about the summer cottages that were built nearby after the hotel burned to the ground. I knew how North Hatley had become a tourist destination – how a physician from Baltimore, Maryland, had

“discovered” the village and spent the summer there, boarding with a farm family whose descendants are still prominent members of the community. How could I forget such a story when the physician’s name was Dr Powhatan Clarke? That name told me that he was a Virginian, descended from Chief Powhatan, the father of Pocahontas. Not only were Dr Clarke and I both Virginians, but we both came from Baltimore, the city where I was born and where he practised medicine. This double-barrelled coincidence established a connection between my personal history and the history of the place I had adopted as my own. It cemented my interest in the history of the village, how it had developed, the people who came after Dr Clarke, and their descendants who came back in the summertime, year after year. According to the local lore, written down by another Marylander, a summer resident named Hally Carrington Brent, Dr and Mrs Clarke were in Montreal visiting their daughter who was studying at a convent school. While there, they met a woman who praised the beauty of North Hatley. She told them about farm families who took in boarders at a reasonable cost. So instead of spending the summer in Quebec City as they had intended, the Clarkes came to North Hatley. They enjoyed themselves and the next summer they returned, bringing friends with them. Those friends brought more friends, who brought more and more and more, spreading North Hatley’s fame among southern families who had been crippled financially and spiritually by the Civil War. The Ravenals and Pinkneys came from Charleston, South Carolina; Mrs Haxall and Mrs Wise came from Richmond, Virginia; the Daves, Duers, and Brents came from Maryland. And why not? In North Hatley they could escape summer’s heat and humidity without staying in the north with the Yankees, who had defeated them in the war, a lost cause still fresh in their minds. So many southerners came, Mrs Brent wrote, that North Hatley sounded as if it were on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay or the banks of the James River. It looked that way, too, with older women, as if in mourning, dressing only in black. Local entrepreneurs were swift to take advantage of the opportunity, buying and selling land to the families who came year after year. A cotton broker from St Louis, Missouri, built a cottage and a boathouse on land we now own; after he moved to Waco, Texas, centre of the cotton trade, he sold to another family from Baltimore. But by 1901 the southern dominance was beginning to change. Henry Ketcham, a Wall Street lawyer, graduate of Yale, and unsuccessful Republican candidate for Congress, bought the land on which our house now stands. An artist from New York bought an adjacent strip and built another cottage, whose foundations still remain. So many Americans came in the summer that by the turn of the century North Hatley was bursting at the seams. Not everyone wanted

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Glen Villa Inn, circa 1905, shown in a postcard privately printed for G.A. LeBaron. Photographer unknown.

to buy land, and there were only so many farm families that had rooms to spare. Where were the other visitors going to stay? A local businessman named George Albert LeBaron, or G.A. as he was always called, seized the opportunity. He bought a hundred acres of land not far from the centre of the village, close to the stream that once had powered a saw and grist mill and which still ran alongside our old summer cottage. According to the local newspaper, the property was located “in a secluded nook,” with “the most sightly and picturesque situation” of any in North Hatley. There was “a pretty trout brook” running beside it, “in which many a speckled beauty hides.” And there he built a hotel that he named Glen Villa Inn, a three-storey wooden structure, comfortably rustic in the style of the time, that accommodated two hundred guests. G.A. was a savvy businessman and he advertised widely, touting the advantages of the Canadian location. It was “free from malaria and hay fever, void of mosquitoes and black flies, with no fog or mist,” and “sufficiently removed from large city centres and the excursion element to assure refined patronage.”

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Some of the china shards my daughter and I discovered, in a photograph from my journal.

It was also easy to reach. “Refined” patrons could board a train in the evening at Grand Central Station in New York City and wake up the next morning in North Hatley without ever changing trains. Once settled in, they would often stay for weeks at a time – the hotel cost only three dollars a day or eighteen dollars a week, including meals. There was no risk of becoming bored. Guests could play tennis or take carriage rides in the woods, swim or boat on the lake, play billiards or pool in the hotel’s casino, or play golf on the hotel’s nine-hole course, pronounced by its architect, Harry Stark of Englewood, New Jersey, as being “particularly fine.” The hotel did not last long. Shortly before it was to open in 1909 for the eighth summer, it caught fire and burned to the ground. Only the golf clubhouse where my husband grew up was left. Yet stories about Glen Villa Inn abounded. The hotel had 365 rooms, one for each day of the year. The southern ladies who came by train pulled down the blinds of the carriage windows so they did not have to look out at Yankee-land as they travelled through it.

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True or not, those tales were far from my mind as Gillian and I followed the path we had come across. Walking down the hillside between white birch trees, we came to a rectangular area that was unnaturally flat. On the uphill side, defining one side of the rectangle, were the remains of a stone wall. “What do you think? Was there a building here?” Gill asked. I nodded. “Looks like it.” I do not remember which of us noticed sunlight glinting off something partly hidden in the leaves, but I know that when we brushed the leaves aside, we discovered a piece of china. On it were some letters, a large G.V. surrounded by a line. “It’s from Glen Villa,” Gill said. “It has to be.” And she was right. Excited by the discovery, I came back with a trowel and began digging. There were thousands of broken pieces just under the ground, all sizes and shapes, some black, some white, some patterned. Some showed maker’s marks on the base. And a precious few showed the crest of Glen Villa Inn. On those special pieces the initials G.V. appeared in the centre, with the words “Glen Villa” above and the words “Massawippi Lake” beneath. I had no idea what to do with the pieces, and for several years four fullsized garbage cans of them sat in the basement gathering dust. Then one day I saw an article about a new area in the Montreal Botanical Garden called the Antechamber. A photograph accompanying the article showed a woman sitting on a stone bed. Beside her was a rock armchair, and underneath the chair was a carpet made of stones and moss. That was my eureka moment! In my garden journal I wrote what I planned to do: “Use the past in the present: create an outdoor room referring to Glen Villa Hotel. Use the china shards to create a rug. Or make it like a hotel entrance – an oval promontory with the Glen Villa crest set in stone using pottery shards. Add some columns to suggest a porch, some plants like window boxes, and voila!” Looking back at my original notes, I see how my ideas changed as the project developed. Initially I planned to have the “front door” of the hotel centred on the downhill side of the stone wall, with flanking columns to give the doorway prominence. I envisioned a porch with rocking chairs and a mosaic reproducing the Glen Villa Inn logo. Inside the reimagined hotel I pictured flat pieces of slate laid end to end to form a central path, dividing the space into two sections, with a series of “bedrooms” at the back. In one room the bed would be covered with grass, and underneath the “blanket” I would mound up dirt to form the outline of a sleeping body. Another bed would be empty, with a blanket of flowers ending diagonally as if someone had thrown back the covers. As for windows, wooden frames would do the job, with vines growing up them to suggest curtains. There was a problem, though: my ideas did not fit the site. The area was shady. Grass would not grow well, much less the brightly coloured flowers I imagined

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An iron-frame bed sits in what would become China Terrace. Copper tubing frames the stump of a tree. The first version of China Terrace included only a bed and a rocking chair on the “veranda.”

to suggest the bedspread. And how were people to get to the spot? They could not walk to the entry; the hillside below was too steep, and adding stone steps seemed too elaborate an undertaking. Could we slope the hillside, as we had done in front of the house? I called Myke Hodgins, my friend and mentor, for advice. As usual, he did not suggest a solution but rather asked questions. Why had I put the “front door” of the hotel in the middle of the downhill slope? “Because that is where the front door of a hotel is,” I responded. “Is it always? Does it have to be?” He suggested that I move the entry from the front to the corner of the hotel to fit into the contours of the land and that I forget about dividing the space in half. “Use the slate for steps. And encourage moss to grow.” He talked about the contrast that would be established, between dark slate, glassy bits of broken china, and soft fuzzy moss. His mental image gave the project its name: China Terrace. Jacques, Ken, and I started working on China Terrace in April 2002. A back hoe made quick work of levelling the area, a rectangle roughly forty by sixty feet. A local stonemason, Gaston Bachand, repaired the existing stone wall and constructed similar walls to define the borders. He followed the line of the old

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wall, leaving a small nook at one end that was just right for the iron-frame bed I had found at a local antique store. That same month, an article in one of the gardening magazines I subscribed to showed an arbour made of copper tubing, a material that I had decided to use to outline the frames of windows that would look out from the back wall onto a forested slope. Sketches in my notebook show various designs for the windows: elaborate shapes with curlicues and circles. “Hard to make a circle from copper tubing,” Jacques said. “It’d be easier with straight lines.” He was right, of course, and I followed his advice, drawing a simple design that he built easily. In a corner of the wall the iron-frame bed, a type that might have been used in the early years of the century, created a bedroom that every hotel must have. Following Myke’s idea, semi-circular slate steps marked the entry, which was flanked by old porch pillars that I found at the same place I had found the iron-frame bed. In mid-August local artist Caroline George began work on the pièce de résistance, a circular mosaic at the front door that reproduced the logo on the hotel china. Dark pieces of china blackened by the heat of the fire spelled out the initials G.V. in the centre and the words “Glen Villa” and “Massawippi Lake”

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Broken china becomes a mosaic rug at the entrance to China Terrace. The hotel’s name, initials, and location on pieces of broken china. Bleeding heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis). Brunnera macrophylla ‘Looking Glass’ in the “bedroom” at China Terrace. Barrenwort (Epimedium rubrum).

that arced above and below; white pieces filled the surrounding space like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle. Tiny maple leaves surrounded the initials on the china we had found, and for accuracy I wanted to include them. But how? The china I had unearthed was black and white only. But then I remembered the dishes we had used at the summer cottage next door when our children were young. The plates were cracked and chipped, old enough to break into smaller pieces without guilt. Best of all, they were yellow. Once I thought of using them, I thought of the china we used in the winter months when our children were growing up. Could I include it as well? The idea pleased me immensely. Incorporating fragments of family china created a link between me, my husband, and our children and the history of the site, and once in place, the mosaic would, quite literally, cement the connection. Caroline used our old winter china as a border for the mosaic. For the background she used shards that showed the hotel name and logo or had maker’s marks on the bottom. She used bits of the yellow summer china for maple leaves and set it all into cement until finally we had what appeared to be a welcome mat at the front door of the hotel, surrounded by slate steps and flanked by wooden columns. Over the winter months, as I dreamed by the fire, I concocted a story about the hotel, how a young southern girl had come for a visit and had fallen in love with a local boy who worked there, perhaps serving in the dining room, or cutting grass in the garden, or driving the horse-drawn carriage to the village and back. A romantic fiction seemed in keeping with everything I had read about the hotel and definitely corresponded to photographs in the hotel brochure that showed young girls in white supervised by much older ladies in widow’s weeds. Those photographs reminded me of the figures I had seen when I was a girl in Richmond outside the Home for Confederate Widows: old women in black, stooped, and hobbling with canes or seated in pushchairs with nurses behind them. I knew

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that the fictions I was creating stemmed from my own past – after all, hadn’t I met a boy from the north and fallen in love? – but that did not matter. The story was apt and it opened the door to other possibilities. With memories of summer romance in my head, I dreamed about what I would plant the following year. My choices were restricted by the shady woodland conditions, and I narrowed the choice even more when I decided to follow another suggestion that Myke had made – to use plants with romantic names or heart-shaped leaves. I thumbed through books. Maidenhair ferns (Adiantum pedatum) and bleeding hearts (Lamprocapnos spectabilis) were easy choices, as was the wild clematis called virgin’s bower (Clematis virginiana). At one edge of the “hotel” I planted a tiny katsura tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) with heartshaped leaves. In the “bedroom” I covered the bed with a quilt of dead-nettle (Lamium maculatum ‘Goldilocks’). Next to the bed, near a chair with a mossy seat, I planted lady slippers (Cypripedium reginae) and ‘Looking Glass’, a variety of bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla). I planted mourning widow (Geranium phaeum ‘Samobor’), a perennial geranium, outside the bedroom door, where it acted as a chaperone, keeping the young lady in the bedroom away from the leering goat’s beard (Aruncus dioicus) planted nearby. And in case the romance became permanent, I added barrenwort, or bishop’s hat, to perform the marriage ceremony. In the following summers we added more “windows” on the front side of the hotel, with a wooden frame around the copper tubing to give the windows more visual weight. We made cement bricks topped with china shards and laid them out on the ground like walls in an archaeological dig, outlining rooms that had once existed – a bedroom, a dining room, a porch. In an arc we set up banister posts from the hardware store to suggest a circular staircase leading to an imaginary second storey. The biggest change, though, was adding a diningroom table. I wanted to set the table formally, as it might have been set on the

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Norman examines the new dining-room table. Old plates and cutlery, new napkins and goblets. Greg Hirtle burned the hotel’s logo onto wooden goblets.

night before the hotel burned to the ground. To reinforce the link established in the mosaic at the entry, between our family’s history and the history of the site, I decided to set the table with plates from our old family china, breaking them and embedding the pieces in a cement tabletop. Gradually I gathered the necessary bits and pieces. I found old knives, forks, and candlesticks in a local junk store. I bought four bases designed to support a bird bath to use as table legs. Napkins proved more difficult. I made cement napkins inset with china shards, but they looked clunky so I threw them out. I thought of rolling birchbark into napkin rings but knew that the bark would not last. Ceramic napkins seemed possible, but where could I find any? I asked Lucy Doheny, a local potter, if she would make them for me. “No, but I’ll show you how,” she replied. I had never worked with clay before, but thanks to Lucy’s gift for teaching, I discovered I could. With her coaching at every step, I made the napkins at her studio, rolling out clay “dough,” folding it in thirds, and leaving it to dry. Lucy fired the rolls, and I glazed and painted them. On her advice I decided not to

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set the napkins into the cement but to leave them free so they would not crack and break during winter. In mid-July 2007, five years after we had started work at China Terrace, we were ready to make the cement tabletop. We stretched a steel plate over the four bird-bath table legs that I had bought and built sides with wooden boards four inches high to hold the cement in place as it dried. Timing was crucial. The cement had to be poured onto the steel plate in a single step, but to avoid bringing heavy machinery to the site, Jacques and Ken were mixing it by hand. Using an old wheelbarrow, they mixed a load, added tint to make it look like a red velvet tablecloth, lifted and dumped the cement onto the steel plate, smoothed it flat, and worked it well into the corners. Then they repeated the steps, mixing another load and another and another. Once the cement was deep enough, I added the broken dinner plates, cutlery, and candle holders, pressing each piece into the cement just enough to hold it firmly in place without letting it sink too deep. We covered the table with plastic and left it to dry. Five days later, when we lifted the plastic, I realized that several things were missing. There were no glasses, no chairs, and no candles in the candle holders. My sister Nancie Kennedy was visiting at the time, and when she saw the empty candle holders, she walked over to the woods a few feet away and came back with some sticks in her hand: “Will these do?” The sticks were perfect, the right size and shape to suggest a candle without being literal. And that distinction mattered. I wanted China Terrace to be a place where people could imagine the past, a suggestion of what might have been rather than a literal recreation. Still, to set the table formally, I needed to add glasses. I did not want to use real ones; they would quickly become full of leaves, dirt, and rainwater. So I asked Greg Hirtle, a local craftsman, to make wooden goblets emblazoned with the G.V.

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logo, keeping the wood solid, with no place to add water or wine. We also needed chairs, and following my sketches, Jacques made them out of copper tubing, outlining the shape like a child’s drawing, two chairs with arms, six without. The final addition was the rug. I am not sure why I had not made it before we put the table in place, because a rug had been part of the first entry about the hotel I made in my journal. Let me digress for a moment to add a note about the importance of keeping a journal and using it regularly to record what you do in the garden. I cannot emphasize too strongly how helpful your notes will be in the future. The journal will remind you of what you set out to do and how your ideas changed over time. It will track the details that you think you will remember, which you will not – because, believe me, you will forget. You may remember the broad strokes and the general idea, but the details will disappear, and it is the details that matter. It was clear, on seeing the finished table, that I needed to add a rug to define the space. And it had to be big – ten feet by thirteen feet was the minimum. I made a few sketches to determine the design, then started working, setting pieces of broken china into cement blocks that were twelve inches square. I worked for several hours every day, day after day, watching the rug take shape on the floor of the garage. When it became clear that I did not have enough china to finish the job, I decided to use pieces of slate as the centre of the rug, like the medallion on an oriental carpet. Putting the rug underneath the table involved jacking up the bird-bath legs and installing the squares underneath, making sure each was flush and level. Around the central slate medallion I added a row of squares made of cement tinted the same shade as the tabletop, and on the outside edge I placed a narrow border of slate to finish it neatly.

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Making the squares for the rug to go under the diningroom table. Photograph by Norman Webster. Annuals form a coverlet on the iron-frame bed at China Terrace. Three different mosses make a quilt.

Once the hardscaping had been finished, I turned my mind to the plantings. The katsura (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) that I had bought as a tiny shrub had grown into a lovely tree, the mourning widow had thrived, and the row of spirea in front of the window frames flowered freely. The wild clematis called virgin’s bower scrambled over the window frames, as did a fragrant honeysuckle with bright yellow blooms. The perennial dead-nettle that covered the iron-frame bed was a nuisance, though. It had to be dug up every fall and replanted in the spring; the soil on the bed was too shallow for the plants to survive the winter. Through a friend I heard about a woman who was growing moss to order. With the design of a patchwork quilt in mind, I ordered three different kinds: a deep-green velvet moss (Dicranum scoparium), a feather moss (Ptilium crista-castrensis), and a type that the grower labelled as messy hair (Callicladium haldanianum). The mosses proved as reliably hardy as the grower Suzanne Campeau had said they would be, but the pattern was destroyed when some animal – possibly a skunk – decided to use the iron-frame bed as a digging ground. So while no

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patchwork pattern remains, the moss itself does. It is not as thick and luxuriant as I had hoped it would be, but weeding the moss and keeping it free of debris is a relaxing activity that allows my mind to wander. Improving the entry to China Terrace was the next job. I wanted to slow people down as they walked towards the front door of the hotel, to create a sense of anticipation before they entered the ghostly atmosphere of the hotel itself. The growing conditions on the steeply sloped hillside were tough, though: the dry ground was partly shaded. I planted a yellow corydalis that was guaranteed to thrive and spread. It did not. Nor did the bleeding heart (Dicentra ‘Burning Hearts’) or the coral bells (Heuchera ‘Midnight Rose’). I tried native dogwood trees (Cornus alternifolia) and serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis), shrub honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera) and elder (Sambucus canadensis). The deer that freely wandered the property thanked me. Even the plants that the deer ignored disappointed me. Nor did I like the way the shrubs seemed to slide down the hill. In 2018 I divided the slope into four terraced areas separated by low stone walls. I enriched the soil and replanted the terraces with deer-resistant plants, which are living up to their billing – so far, at least. One of the trials that comes with gardening is expecting a plant to behave in a particular way, only to find out that the plant has a mind of its own. Patience is essential, along with an ability to accept failure. In retrospect I see how many mistakes I made at China Terrace. I should have mixed glue into the cement used for the rug; over time, many pieces of china lifted out of the cement and disappeared into the grass. Despite several different versions, the staircase to the imaginary second floor is still not as effective visually as I want it to be. Time has taken its toll as well. Several of the birch trees that I thought of as columns holding up that imaginary second floor have died. The solid wooden goblets rotted, and the freeze and thaw of winter broke the dinner plates on the table into smaller and smaller fragments. For a few years I enjoyed seeing the effects of passing time. The deterioration mirrored an inescapable lesson that every gardener learns: gardens are not immutable creations, frozen in time. Like human beings, they grow, flourish, and decline. And even though it was not plants that were changing, the parallels were clear. I could not stop myself from aging but I could stop its signs on the inanimate objects. In 2020, when I finally decided that the deterioration had gone too far, I asked Greg Hirtle to make new goblets. I purchased eight new plates with the same pattern with which the children had grown up. Again, with help from Lucy Doheny, I made more ceramic napkins, not copying the original design but trying something new, a leaf design cut into the clay, glazed in green.

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A shattered plate and rotting goblet show the effects of time. The dining-room table, in 2021, remade and re-laid. New plates, new napkins, and new goblets. Every dining-room table needs a centrepiece.

I made another change as well. Some years before, Jacques and Ken had put cement bricks inset with broken china flat on the ground. Set end to end, the bricks were meant to suggest non-existent walls between rooms in the old hotel. Grass had grown up around their edges, though, breaking the straight line, and the pieces of china that once had been shiny white were dirtier and darker. If the idea was to be clear, the “walls” had to be rebuilt. Following my directions, Jacques and Ken lifted the bricks and cut the sod to make a wider, straight line. We had used all the broken china that I had found so many years before, which meant that we needed to reuse the bricks we had. To make them more prominent, I decided to edge them with strips of slate that matched those edging the rug under the dining-room table. With new sod in place, the “walls” stood out. China Terrace will never be finished. Nor do I want it to be. Whatever changes occur, I will keep in mind an essential concept: China Terrace is a suggestion of the past, an idea that invites you to imagine what once was or might have been.

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Some years ago I overheard a comment from a visitor who had explored the garden on his own. Returning, he spoke quietly to his wife: “I’ve just seen a table set for the dead. It was amazing.” His comment pleased me. It told me that people would understand what I was aiming to do without having to explain it. They would see, as I did, that recalling the past brings it into the present; with luck, realizing that would make them think, as I do, of how our everyday actions shape the future. Understanding the consequences of that is something I continue to ponder.

HONOURING THE PAST: ABENAKI WALKING

Bricks inset with broken china and edged with slate mark the “walls” between rooms. China Terrace, 2021.

One day, as I was walking along one of the paths that Jacques and I had cut through the woods, I noticed a tree growing on the side of a large moss-covered rock. The base of the tree was divided into two trunks, each of which seemed to be growing out of the rock itself. Separate yet joined as they were, the trunks looked like legs, making the tree itself look like a person striding across the rock, someone who seemed to be moving but could not because he or she was rooted in place. Each time I walked along the path, the oddly shaped tree caught my eye and captured my imagination. Who was walking across the rock? Was it one of the hotel’s summer guests, perhaps the young girl I had imagined, or her summertime love? Was it the ghost of the hotel’s owner, G.A. LeBaron, so disheartened after the hotel had burned down that he had to haunt the land? Or was it someone who would never have ventured inside the hotel, someone who would have been excluded? I imagined figures moving through the woods above China Terrace, almost indistinguishable from the forest itself, appearing as they might have at the time, silent observers of the festivities at Glen Villa Inn, people pushed off their land and seen only at the margins. The idea of showing these original inhabitants of the land pleased me. It was a way of showing another history, another reality. But how could I portray the Abenaki? I thought of using mannequins, modifying the artificial forms with clay and earth to make them appear more natural, but the idea remained nothing more than an entry in my 2008 journal. Still, the idea of honouring the Abenaki presence on the land stayed in my mind. Reading an issue of the magazine Landscape Architecture, I saw an installation at Garden in the Woods, the headquarters of the New England Wildflower Society. The landscape architect W. Gary Smith had used twine to bind slender tree trunks into bundles, which he then used to line the entry to the garden. I loved the effect. It was visually striking and seemed a more

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interesting way to suggest the presence of the Abenaki than anything involving mannequins. A neighbour allowed us to cut several dozen young birch trees in a field he was planning to clear. Jacques and Ken tied them in bundles and placed them alongside a path through the Lower Field. Rising up from the field, their white bark suggested figures in mourning. The twine holding the trunks together suggested artificial restraints, and shadows on the ground suggested that the Abenaki, once present, were no longer there. As summer progressed, the colour of the bark faded, diminishing the impact, so I spray-painted the trunks white. The effect was shocking at first, but after a week or so, when the paint had softened, the bundled tree trunks began to look ghostly again. That gave me a name: Ghost Walk. By this time, finding ways to mark the history of the site where we lived guided everything I was doing on the land, and the concept itself was shaping the way I viewed my surroundings. Did the name Ghost Walk reflect reality? I knew that the Abenaki were the original inhabitants of this part of Quebec. Yet what did I know of them? Very little, I realized. To correct that, I began to read everything I could lay my hands on, spending hours in the McGill University library taking copious notes. I learned that for millennia the Abenaki had hunted in the forests and fished in the deep waters of Lake Massawippi. Their presence stretched back some ten thousand years to a post-glacial era when they had camped along the Magog River not far from Glen Villa, where stone arrowheads, scrapers, knives, and pottery fragments attest to the life they lived. Maybe the tree I had seen was right. Maybe the Abenaki had once crossed the land, moving from their summer to their winter camps. Maybe they had once walked where I walked now, beside the two-legged tree that was rooted in the rock. Reading more, I learned that the Abenaki were one of the Algonquianspeaking peoples of northeastern North America and that their traditional territory extended across northern New England, southern Quebec, and the Canadian maritimes, forming a region they called Wabanahkik (Dawn Land). One of five groups making up the Wabanaki Confederacy, they called their homeland Ndakina (Our Land). For most of the year, extended Abenaki families lived in scattered bands, each man entitled to a hunting territory inherited from his father. They planted crops: potatoes and tobacco along with corn, beans, and squash – the three sisters traditionally grown together, corn stalks supporting the beans as they climb, squash or pumpkins covering the ground to reduce weeds. They hunted squirrels and rabbits, bears and deer, grouse, ducks, and wild turkey, like my Virginia ancestors had done. Unlike my ancestors, though, they lived closer to the land, picking wild berries and mushrooms and gathering

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A tree rooted on the side of a big mossy rock inspired the installation Abenaki Walking. Trees bound in bundles line a path through an old farm field.

nuts. They fished the rich waters of Lake Massawippi, catching smelt in the early spring and lake trout and pike in the summer. They used the materials at hand for the things they needed. Deerskin became dresses and moccasins for the women, and leggings and moccasins for the men. They used birchbark to construct the distinctive peaked hoods they wore, which they decorated with feathers or tufts of animal hair. They used birchbark as well for canoes and for the conical wigwams that they insulated with bearskins. They shaped branches of ash trees into snowshoes and boiled maple sap to make syrup. Much of what I learned conformed to ideas I had grown up with, but other things did not. The language that the Abenaki spoke was a rich language that reflected a powerful connection to the land. Months were not named after Roman gods but after what happened in the Abenaki world. March, when sweetly flavoured sap runs freely, was the month of the Sugar Moon. July was the berry-ripening month; October, the leaf-falling month. Theirs was a concise language in which a single word could express what in English required a phrase or a whole sentence, and the many place names in the area they inhabited reflected this concision and their deep understanding of the characteristics of the land: Missiquoi (lots of waterfowl), Memphremagog (big expanse of water), Coaticook (river of the land of pine trees), and Massawippi (deep still water). Their language was also wryly descriptive: Awanoch, their word for the pale-skinned settlers, combined words that meant “who” and “from”; translated literally, the word meant “Who is this man and where does he come from?” In my research I came across a memoir written in the eighteenth century by Abbé Jacques Paquin that mentioned a First Nations village called Alcigantiko, which was located at the outlet of Lake Massawippi where the village of North Hatley is today. In his memoir the abbot describes how Iroquois attacked the village, massacring most of the inhabitants – Sokokis, Mohicans, and Algonquins, who were distant cousins of the Abenaki. Those who escaped the Iroquois threw themselves on the mercy of the Abenaki, and the groups joined, living together peaceably. Other books paint the Abenaki with a harsher brush. One that I read when I first came to North Hatley was written by the same Hally Brent who described the town as being inhabited by those who spoke in the accents of the US south. Her tales of the Abenaki presence recounted typical stories of early settlers who hunted with the Saint Francis “Indians,” finding them uniformly honest and peaceable “except for the times they had secured whiskey somewhere.” She remembers collecting arrowheads on the beach and seeing small groups of First Nations people who camped by the lake, hunting moose and deer and trapping sable, mink, otter, coon, and beaver. She mentions old women who scarcely spoke English, selling sweetgrass baskets and moccasins. Rereading her book

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decades later, I knew that her stories were coloured by her age and the attitudes with which she had grown up. But how different were they from my own? At the Abenaki Museum in Odanak, Quebec, I heard different stories, about how the Abenaki lived today and about how they lived yesterday, when the world began. Like many North American Indigenous Peoples, the Abenaki believe that the world was created on the back of a turtle. They also believe that the Creator made humans twice. The first humans were formed from rocks. When the Creator saw them, he was unhappy. The humans were clumsy, with heavy feet that damaged the earth as they walked. So the Creator turned them back to stone and looked around to see what else he might use. Growing freely were ash trees. They were tall and graceful, with a straight grain that kept them upright. “Perfect,” said the Creator. And so the Abenaki were given life. Tall and straight, they moved easily across the land, never damaging it but enriching it with their presence. With this picture in mind, I asked Jacques and Ken to scour the woods for ash trees that had forked branches like the one I had seen walking across the big mossy rock. Inverted, they too would suggest people walking. The men came back with large branches of ash and with trunks of maple, cherry, and cedar. Over the winter we stripped the bark, uncovering the raw wood beneath. The maple bark proved hard to strip, and the branches were too large to work with easily, so we put them aside. The raw cherry wood was mottled, like a person diseased, which suggested smallpox and the other diseases brought by Europeans. The ash trees were perfect. During the winter I painted some and left others as they were, natural and raw. On some I added feathers and glass chips to suggest bones and ribs. I painted a tall trunk blue, with rising ribbons of colours to mark the creation of the world out of chaos. To illustrate the world that had been created, I painted a second trunk with a succession of scenes: turtles swimming underwater at the base, a lake bordered by trees in the middle, and mountains rising to the sky beyond. One night a lightning bolt struck a tall tree at the edge of the Upper Field, splintering the top to create a natural sculpture, which sparked an idea. I could tell the Abenaki’s story, starting with the bolt of lightning that had hit the tree. I could use the topography of the farm field to depict how their lives had changed: the farther down the field they moved, the closer they came to the present day and the bundled tree trunks I had named Ghost Walk. My ideas became clearer, my narrative more firmly fixed. Like the outstretched finger on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, the lightning bolt was the generating force that brought the Abenaki’s story to life. From its shattered wood, splinters formed and grew to become human beings, the Abenaki themselves. The tree pieces became taller

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A tree struck by lightning becomes part of Abenaki Walking. Painted and inverted branches become “Walkers.” The turtle pushes away chaos, shown as a painted post, to hold the world on its back.

as they moved down the hill, changing from pieces of natural wood to painted wood, before turning ghostly white. As I worked, I began to see the procession of trees that would walk out across the land. In April, when the ground was dry enough to walk on, Jacques, Ken, and I placed close to the lightning tree the two tree trunks that I had painted, to show chaos and creation. By the middle of May four of the five groups of “Walkers” were in place. First came an individual Walker with tall straight legs, a guide sent out to explore what lay ahead. Two Walkers came behind with a child, moving away from the point of creation and into the unknown. Near the bottom of the hill a split-rail fence prevented a larger group of Walkers from moving freely across the land. Metaphorically the fence cut them off from their past; a year later, to make the point clearer, I tangled those Walkers in barbed wire. At some point I began to worry that the Abenaki’s story was not mine to tell. I talked to several people whose opinions I respected, some Indigenous, some not, stressing that my intention was to honour the Abenaki, not to appropriate their history for my own use. They encouraged me to continue but to give the installation a more positive title, and following this advice, I changed the name from Ghost Walk to Abenaki Walking. Knowing that the Abenaki believe that the world was created on the back of a turtle, I added a large sculptural turtle, eight feet long, its shell made from thick rough pieces of granite that my friend John Hay and I had chosen from Ducharmes quarry in Hemmingford, Quebec. I asked a local woodworker, Rosaire Cliche, to carve a head, feet, and tail that made the turtle seem real, but, to destroy that illusion, I added the post I had painted, the one depicting the Abenaki story of creation, how by rising from the muck, the turtle brought order out of chaos, forming the world we know. I used the topography of the field to suggest a historic progression, from the moment of creation to the years that followed the arrival of European settlers. The turtle and one group of Walkers stood near the top of the field; as the hill sloped down to meet the driveway, the Walkers encountered the split-rail fence and became entangled in the barbed wire. Nearby I erected a single tree trunk painted with an enlarged version of the smallpox bacillus. In the summer of 2011 I exhibited several painted, inverted branches at the North Hatley library and invited people to come to Glen Villa to see Abenaki Walking in situ. Ken Kelso made large picture frames that focused the view of each scene of the Abenaki story. On the frames I added labels like those seen in art galleries, identifying the title of each group: Abenaki I, circa 4500 bc; Abenaki II, circa 1867; Abenaki III: Ghost Walk. Now, years after the first Walker was installed, the lightning tree that provided the initial spark of creation has gone, felled one night by winds that blew down

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Abenaki Walkers become entangled in barbed wire.

many trees. We removed the bundled tree trunks that had formed Ghost Walk and moved the creation post that showed lakes, trees, and mountaintops into the barn, along with some of the painted Walkers that had not found their proper home. I thought then that the work was done, that my version of the story had been told. But in 2018 the Walkers, the split-rail fence, and the smallpox post were given new life as part of a larger installation called Timelines, which I write about in chapter 6. They move out now in new directions, striding through the forest and into a clearing cut by settlers. There they encounter a palisade and see a long split-rail fence that separates the clearing from the surrounding woods. At first I positioned the Walkers along the trail that leads through the clearing, but once the palisade had been built, I grouped them near it, gouged some with the marks of an axe, and charred others to create patterns like fire-burnt flesh. Now, on the far side of the path, they turn their backs to the clearing that the settlers made. Gouged and burned, they bear the marks of the past even as they move off into the uncleared land before them.

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HONOURING THE PAST: ORIN’S SUGARCAMP Walking through the woods one day in 2015, I noticed the remains of a stone wall. There was not much to see, only some moss-covered stones piled one atop the other, backing onto a rising slope. I examined the surrounding land for clues to why the wall was there. A narrow strip of level ground above the low wall led to what might have been a path climbing the hillside. Was I really seeing something, or was it my imagination? Later that day I described the spot to Norman. “Yes,” he said, “I know the place. We had a sugar camp there.” He went on to talk about how he and his brother Will, along with Orin Gardner, the farmer who worked for his father, had sometimes helped to gather the sap. That flat bit of ground was where Orin drove the team of Percheron horses that pulled the wagon. He named the horses – Sally and Sue – and told me about the time he had fallen through the ice in the stream nearby, almost drowning in the freezing cold water before his friend Murray pulled him out. The stories appealed to me – not the idea of him almost drowning, but the picture he drew of horses pulling a wagon through knee-deep snow to collect the rising sap. A few days later I returned to the site for a closer look. Searching, I discovered rusty tin cans and bits of metal pipe, even the base of the pan in which the sap was boiled. Each piece captured my imagination, making it easy to imagine the horses’ breath steaming in the cold air, the sound of the harness bells tinkling. But what intrigued me more was the site itself. It was magical. There was a green serenity there that quietened my voice and my soul, a peacefulness that made me want to linger. The moss-covered stones that I had first seen were the only sign of what once had been there, and they were easy to miss. That seemed a pity. I wanted to share the site with other people so that they, too, could hear the birdsongs, the soughing wind, and the voice of the past. How could I draw their attention? I needed to add something to the stone wall, but I needed to use caution – the wrong addition could destroy the magic. I thought about rebuilding one wall of the sugar shack that used to be there, adding tree trunks to mark the corners of the building, or framing in an open door. I decided instead to add a roof. Every local sugar shack had a tin roof, and often it was rusted and falling apart even if the camp was still being used. A man-made addition like a piece of tin would stand out in the woods, automatically calling attention to itself. The triangular peak would draw a line criss-crossing the vertical tree trunks around it, sunlight would reflect on the metal, and the tin might even produce a sound when the wind blew, something hollow and ghostly. It was easy to locate old rusted sheets of tin. Suspended from trees, they became the roof, broken and patched as an old roof would be. Once the sheets were

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A tin roof hangs over a twisted pan once used in the making of maple syrup. Maple leaves made of tin move gently in the wind.

in place, I knew that the sap-boiling pan would sit squarely beneath, providing a reason for the roof to be there. And so the work began. In the 1950s when Orin was sugaring, the forest was clearer, with few dead branches to get in the way of the team of horses he used to collect the sap. Our first job was to remove the dead wood that had accumulated, chipping it to mark a trail. As the space became clearer, my mental image of the past grew clearer as well. The scene was so easy to picture, but something in the surrounding forest was wrong. “Look around,” I told myself. “What has changed?” For the first time I noticed how few maple trees there were, how old they appeared to be, replaced in the decades between then and now by spruce and pine trees that were already growing old. A sugar camp needs maple trees, I thought to myself. But what can I do? I cannot magically make them appear. It was weeks before the idea of using maple leaves came to me, weeks during which I returned to the site again and again. I drew sketches of leaves, deliberately distorting some to suggest how a leaf looks when it falls in autumn, then tracing the shapes onto tin before cutting them out. That autumn, as real leaves were falling, Jacques, Ken, and I carried the tin imitations into the woods, hanging them on wires so they would seem to be falling gently to earth, time past suspended in mid-air. We left the leaves to weather over the winter, and while snow was on the ground, I snowshoed into the woods to see how they moved in the wind. They did not. The wire we had used to hang them was too stiff for the leaves to turn and twist. The shapes were wrong as well, and the way they were hanging did not look natural. So I started again, this time using the shape of a real maple leaf, undistorted. I gave the sketch to Richard Duquette, a local metal worker, and he cut several leaves out of a heavier gauge of tin. We hung a few as a trial, using a flexible wire cable that allowed the tin to move in the wind, to turn and twist as I wanted it to do. These leaves worked, and I asked the metal worker to make more, some two feet across, some three feet, some four. To make them seem more realistic, Ken suggested that we pierce each one just off centre so that their weight made each hang differently. And instead of hanging them from branches, we hung them from metal rods inserted into the trunk of the tree, hammered in at a slight upward angle so that the rods looked like branches. Installing the leaves was a slow process. I walked back and forth in the woods, looking from every direction to decide where each should go, where on the pine and spruce trees that had replaced the maples each should hang, how high off the ground, and at what angle. Each cable was a different length, and the longer the wire, the more natural the leaf looked, the more it could twist and turn in the wind. This meant installing many of the rods as high off the ground as possible.

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Once I had chosen the tree and the size of the leaf, whether two, three, or four feet across, Jacques and Ken went into action. Ken positioned the tractor beside the tree so that Jacques, standing in the front bucket, could drill a hole in the tree trunk, insert the rod, and attach the cable that would hold the leaf in place. Fully extended and raised, the arm of the tractor and the bucket lifted Jacques some ten feet above ground; climbing a twelve-foot ladder placed in the bucket, he could reach up still higher, with a drill in one hand and nothing but his own sense of balance in the other. To say that this was a precarious job is an understatement, and most workers would refuse to do something so dangerous. But not Jacques. He thought it was fun – which made it fun for the three of us. Creating an installation like Orin’s Sugarcamp does not happen overnight. At each step of the way I stopped – for a day, a week, a month or two – to let a new element settle into place. One day after a windstorm I was struck by how many trees had fallen at the same angle, creating diagonal lines that contrasted with the vertical trunks that were still standing. I liked the contrast and decided to reinforce the diagonal line of the tin roof in a similar way. In the woods nearby, relishing the challenge, Jacques found the trunk of a dead maple that was exactly the length we needed. Carefully he and Ken brought it to the site, where we propped it up, one end in the fork of a tree, the other resting on the ground beside an old stump, as if the tree had broken off there. The angle between the stump and the branch that held it up was perfect, not identical to the roofline but so similar that it looked natural. Following the line of the trunk lifted my eye towards an enormous rock on the hillside above, calling attention to a natural feature that I might otherwise have missed.

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Jacques Gosselin stands on a ladder in the bucket of the tractor while Ken Kelso looks on. A fallen tree trunk mimics the angle of the tin roof. Orin’s Sugarcamp in spring. Orin’s Sugarcamp in winter.

I added the fallen tree trunk for aesthetic reasons. It was only months later, after I had returned to the site many times, that I realized it made a statement of its own. A fallen tree reflected the natural process that was implicit in the site – in the rusted tin and the crumpled boiling pan. It echoed what had happened to the maple trees that once were there, and sent a quiet message about nature and the cycle of living things. With the tree trunk in place and the boiling pan centred under the roof, I decided to mark where the front wall of the building had been. I ordered a slab of granite, ten feet long and eight inches wide, to suggest the threshold. It would lie almost flat on the ground, but like a real threshold, you would have to step up onto it to enter. Orin’s Sugarcamp is a short distance into the woods along a well-worn track. The granite slab weighed eight hundred pounds, making it far too heavy to be carried, and despite its weight, its length made it fragile. It was hard to move it across a snow-covered field and a partially frozen stream, but winter was a better season than spring to install the slab, when its weight on wet ground would create deep furrows, or summer and autumn when there was always too much work to do. So on a clear winter’s day Jacques and Ken lowered the slab onto an open wagon, hooked the wagon to a tractor, and began to drive across the slippery snow-covered field. At the edge of the woods they manoeuvred it carefully across the thin ice and continued along the forest track, avoiding potholes and icy patches. Having attached chains from the crate to the tractor, they lifted the slab out of the wagon and lowered it into place. On the upward face, words cut into the stone quoted Chrysippus, a Greek Stoic philosopher: “The gods can be known to exist on account of the existence

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A sign over the trail announces the entry to Orin’s Sugarcamp.

of their altars.” When I saw these words encircling an altar at Little Sparta, Ian Hamilton Finlay’s garden in Scotland, I knew immediately that I would use them at Orin’s Sugarcamp. When we raised the sap-boiling pan to working height, it had suddenly become something more, an altar of sorts. The idea of reverence combined with skepticism that the quotation suggested felt in keeping with my attitudes towards religion. I did not want people to worship the past or the natural surroundings; I wanted them to think about what they saw and why it was there. Months earlier I had considered shortening the quotation but, standing beside the slab, I was glad I had not. The words were not redundant; they were subtle. The philosopher did not simply state that gods existed and that altars proved the fact, but rather that we knew about their existence only by virtue of the memorials we made to them. For me, Orin’s Sugarcamp was a memorial to a tradition. It was and is a memorial to an individual and to the work he and others performed over many years. The slab of granite defines where a wall was once upon a time. Stepping on it now is like crossing into another time and place. The inscription underlines this movement from the everyday world into a place that resembles a shrine, but a shrine that is no longer in use.

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Ideas are one thing; real life is another. Orin Gardner was a real person with his own beliefs. A farmer born and bred in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, he worked for my father-in-law, Eric Webster, for many years and for the previous owner of the property before him. I first met Orin during the summer Norman and I were married. By this time he was getting old, and the land being actively farmed was shrinking. But I clearly remember entering the farmhouse in which he and his wife, Marjorie, lived, and feeling like an intruder despite their welcome and despite the fact that their kitchen with its constantly burning wood stove felt like a miniature version of my grandparents’ kitchen in Virginia. Orin was a strong Christian. Several years after the inscribed slab was put in place, his daughter Deanna visited the site with two granddaughters. She wrote me afterwards, gently stating her concern about what I had done. “My father was a Christian,” she said, “and I worry that someone coming across words mentioning altars and gods in a place named for him will mistake his beliefs.” I was touched by her letter and wrote back, saying that I would look for a way to honour his faith. Several years passed before I found a way. Now, as you approach the installation, a sign hangs across the trail, suspended from trees on either side. The words “Orin’s Sugarcamp” appear in the centre, surrounded by a Christian symbol, one of many that early Christians used to secretly show their faith: a monogram that combines the Greek letters iota (I) and eta (H), the first two letters of the name Jesus. There were many secret symbols I could have used – a stylized fish, the letters alpha and omega, or the ix, which is shorthand for Jesus Christ – but in the end I picked the one that was most familiar to me: the linked letters that appeared on the altar cloth of the church I attended as a girl. Burned into a piece of weathered wood on either side of Orin’s name, they make a statement that many people will not notice, but to me their message is unmistakably clear.

REMEMBERING CHINA: THE YIN-YANG My husband and I lived in China from 1969 to 1971, years that were smack in the middle of China’s Cultural Revolution, when Mao Tse-tung’s ideas shaped the words and actions of China’s enormous population. Norman was a journalist, working for the Globe and Mail, Canada’s leading newspaper. Some years earlier the Globe had set up a bureau in Beijing, and when Norman was offered the post as correspondent there, we quickly accepted; it was a plum assignment that many reporters wanted. We knew that living in a country still closed off from the

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world would present difficulties, particularly since we had two boys under the age of three and I was pregnant with a third. We also knew that my citizenship was a problem: as an American, I was unable to enter China. In order to go with him, I had to give up American citizenship. With few regrets I did; I had known for some time that becoming a Canadian would make Canada truly my home. Living in Peking, as it was called then, was a constant challenge. When Norman, the boys, and I arrived at the apartment where we would live for the next two years, I had my first hint of how much our life had changed: men with rags strapped to their feet were shuffling back and forth to polish a newly sanded floor. The authorities assigned us a cook, a translator, an ahyi to do the cleaning, a driver to shuttle us around, and another ahyi, or auntie, to help me look after the young boys. While their presence made life easier, it also placed demands. The genial cook, trained to cook Western food only, turned out to be a government spy. The translator was a Chinese scholar with minimal English skills, a sad and lonely man whose wife and baby lived thousands of miles away. The cleaning ayah washed diapers by hand, fought a losing battle with the dust that blew in through every window, however tightly sealed they were, and did all she could to keep cockroaches at bay. As for the baby ayah, she believed in keeping her charges happy. Norman’s office was in our small apartment, and her job was to keep the two, then three, young boys quiet while he worked. She accomplished this near impossibility by constantly stuffing them full of rice and sweet candies that they were not meant to eat, or allowing them to colour the walls with crayons. She worked eight hours, no more. If we went out in the evening, she arrived eight hours before we planned to be back, and if we were late, we heard about it the next day from the translator. When David, the oldest of the three boys, turned three, we enrolled him in a nursery school run by the Indian embassy. While he was at school, I attended French classes at the Alliance Française or taught English to two young French boys whose parents were diplomats. I borrowed books from the British consulate and read again and again the books placed in our apartment by Norman’s two predecessors – books about Chinese history and philosophy, Chinese paintings and ceramics. I studied the photographs, learning to appreciate the subtleties of Sung dynasty ceramics, the different styles of calligraphy, and the history of ink paintings. I also learned that hundreds of millions of people thought that China was the centre of the world and that North America was a place of little relevance, far off to the side. Norman was one of only three journalists from the West working then in Peking; the other two represented French and German press agencies. For many months our family was the only family from the western hemisphere, or at least

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David and Andrew Webster, 1971, in front of a picture of Chairman Mao Tse-tung. Photograph by Norman Webster.

the only one that was a member of the foreign diplomatic community. There were other westerners we heard about but never met, foreigners called fellow travellers who supported Mao’s political ideas and waved their little red books as enthusiastically as did the young children wearing red arm bands who stood at street corners, berating ordinary workers; the workers were dressed in standard blue suits and rode bicycles for which they had saved pennies over many months to buy. There were no Americans then, no Canadians apart from a diplomat stationed in Hong Kong who made the occasional visit, and more donkey carts than cars on Chang’An, the Avenue of Eternal Peace. We were isolated from world events in a way that is hard to comprehend now when the world is so much more connected. We could telephone our neighbours but not anyone living outside China. We received news from a Chinese ticker

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tape that rattled away in the middle of the night, boasting of electrification in remote villages and increases in grain production in places I had never heard of. Once every few weeks we received copies of the Globe and Mail, learning weeks after the events that the Canadian parliament had passed a War Measures Act, Apollo 14 had landed on the moon, and the US National Guard had fired on demonstrators and killed four people at Kent State University. As the end of our two-year assignment approached, China began to open up to the West. In October 1970 Canada established diplomatic relations with China, the first Western country to do so since France’s recognition in 1964, and a few months later Canadians began to arrive at a newly established embassy. The American table tennis team competed with Chinese players, a prelude to a broader international recognition. This seemingly insignificant sporting event signalled important changes to come, and Norman’s coverage of the event was carried worldwide. Museums were still closed, and travel outside the city was still strictly controlled, but finally we were able to tour the Forbidden City, to visit the Ming tombs, and to walk along the Great Wall. We were ready to stay on for another year or two, but Norman’s replacement had already been named, so we packed our trunks and returned to life as it had been. But it was not, of course. How could it be? All we had seen and learned had changed who we were. The Beatles had disbanded, and we no longer knew where the centre of the universe could be found. ]^ Eventually, as my need to make history visible became stronger, our experiences in China made their way into the garden. A photograph in the brochure that G.A. LeBaron produced to advertise Glen Villa Inn shows a woman in white sitting on a circular stone wall in front of the hotel. When I started work on the garden, a native shrub, highbush cranberry, filled the centre of that circle. It was badly overgrown and out of proportion with the height of the wall, and while I could have tried to prune the shrubs into shape, I decided instead to remove them entirely. This left me with a question that delights every gardener: what shall I plant in their place? In the winter of 2001 I sketched possibilities. I considered planting circles within circles, each one diminishing in size, and each circle a different colour. I considered spirals of contrasting colours, like a barber’s pole. I thought about mounding the ground inside the circle into a large dome and planting something significant on top. But after studying Chinese history, culture, and art, when faced with an empty circle, I thought of the symbol for yin-yang. Most people

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Ideas for how to plant the stone circle. The yin-yang planted with celosia ‘New Look Red’ and dusty miller.

today recognize that symbol, the circle in which black and white are divided by an S-shaped line. The dot of white that appears on the black side and the dot of black that appears on the white are there to suggest that nothing in nature is one thing only but always contains a piece of its opposite. Each half needs the other to exist, and together they create wholeness and balance. The seemingly paradoxical symbolism of yin and yang – male and female, night and day, active and passive, summer and winter – offered rich planting possibilities. To underline the idea of opposition, I filled the yin-yang with plants that contrasted in colour and height. Since the circle had been built for a Victorian-era hotel, I used bedding plants at first, as the Victorians would have done, laying out one side in red, a hot colour, and the other side in a cool, silvery grey. For several years I used the annuals celosia ‘New Look Red’ and silverygrey dusty miller (Senecio cineraria), but eventually buying and planting these annuals every spring became a chore, and simply repeating the pattern year after year became less and less interesting. I searched for another approach, for some other idea that could reflect the complexity of the yin-yang symbol. The stones that formed the circle were beginning to crumble. They dated back one hundred years or more, and I knew that keeping the edge sharp was essential: without a clearly defined perimeter, the circle would lose its suggestion of cycles and seasonal repetition, ideas that underpin every garden, and the yin-yang symbol would lose its impact. To reinforce both the structure and the idea, I added a

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The yin-yang with Artemisia ‘Silver Mound’ and red brick mulch. Artemisia ‘Silver Mound’ sits in a grey gravel mulch.

smooth bluestone coping to the top of the wall, giving the circle a sleeker, more contemporary look. I also added an S-shaped stainless steel band to separate the sides, and two stainless steel circles to mark the dots. This sleeker look demanded a more contemporary approach to a planting scheme, something that went beyond the difference between hot and cold colours. A contrast as stark as the one between black and white was essential, and the starkest contrast I could think of was between life and death. How could I show that? Flowers that were alive on one side and flowers that were dead on the other was one solution, but I worried that using dead plants would make the garden look neglected. Was there some type of inert material I could use? What about contrasting an ornamental grass that would sway in the breeze with some material that looked too heavy ever to budge? After much thought I planted blue fescue (Festuca glauca) on one side, laying it out geometrically in tidy rows, and spread red brick mulch on the other side. The mulch formed a solid blanket of red, with a rough texture that made a dramatic contrast with the fine blades of the fescue. Looking down on the results, I was sure that many people would dislike the unusual combination, but it suited my purpose, and I was pleased.

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There is an old saying about perennials: in the first year they sleep, in the second year they creep, in the third year they leap. The blue fescue did not wait for year three. By mid-summer of the second year it was totally out of control, taller than I had expected, much more crowded, and looking badly in need of a haircut. Gardening is a continuous process of learning. Blue fescue is a fiddly plant that looks good in its place but does not live long. In the fall we removed about half of the plants, chopped the others back, and waited for spring. I do not know whether we chopped the plants back too severely or did it at the wrong time of year, but the following year the plants struggled. We helped them as we could, fertilizing and watering as needed, but by the end of the summer it was obvious that the grasses had to go. In the spring I replaced them with wormwood (Artemisia ‘Silver Mound’), and for half a dozen years or so its tidy buns of silvery foliage filled the living side of the yin-yang. I liked the wormwood because it required little maintenance, only a trim twice a year to keep it in shape. I added a tree branch painted red like the brick mulch to rise up from the dot in its midst, while a single large wormwood formed the dot on the brick mulch side.

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As I expected, many people found the combination odd, but the strength of the contrast between the two sides, and the balance that the living and the dead created together, appealed to me. Or it did until one more thing changed. If gardening is, as I believe it is, a continuous process of learning, then it is also a process of change that never ends.

THE NORTH–SOUTH ARROW The stone circle that enclosed the yin-yang would have provided a way for horsedrawn carriages to drop off guests at the front door of the old Glen Villa hotel. Entering on the side closest to the hotel, guests would step down, and the horses would continue around the circle, exiting where they had entered. When we added the stone coping to the top of the circle, we prolonged its life, but the foundation wall of the hotel itself was gradually falling down. Partly hidden behind a curtain of vines, with shrubs growing in cracks between the fieldstones used to build it, the wall was on the verge of collapse by 2019. Norman and I faced a decision: would we rebuild the wall or let it continue to deteriorate? We decided to repair it. The wall was all that remained of the historic hotel, and preserving this remnant of the past mattered to both of us. Work began in November, dismantling most of the wall in order to build a stronger base. Rebuilding on the same footprint, the contractors reused as many of the original fieldstones as they could, and Jacques and Ken hauled more from an old stone pile nearby. The rebuilt wall was now seventy-five feet long and rose up fourteen feet above ground at the highest point. No longer hidden by shrubs and vines, it was an imposing feature in the landscape, so strongly evoking the history of the site that the Asian symbolism of the yin-yang no longer felt appropriate. In order to get ideas for plantings that would relate to that history, I dug out old images of the hotel – postcards and illustrations in the brochure that Mr LeBaron had produced. Some of them showed crescent-shaped beds planted with annuals and flanking the driveway that circled the yin-yang. Briefly I considered replicating that design, but my drawings felt too fussy. I toyed with the idea of adding a double herbaceous border leading down to the lake like the ones I had seen in English gardens; bits of the hotel’s asphalt path still remained to provide a central walk so there was a reason for a double border. But I discarded this idea, too; a double border that would need to be at least ten feet wide and well over a hundred feet long felt too grand for the setting. I sketched geometrical designs, beds squared off at right angles to suggest the walls of the hotel, with the stone wall in the centre like a circular staircase leading to non-existent upper floors.

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The rebuilt foundation wall of Glen Villa Inn.

Even though these sketches did not clarify what to plant in the “staircase,” I felt they were leading in the right direction. I emailed Myke Hodgins, saying I wanted to get his ideas on the plantings that would go in front of the newly rebuilt wall, and in February 2020 we met at his office to look at my sketches. By this time we had been working together for over twenty years, and our relationship was no longer that of master and apprentice. He was now a friend and a highly trained and experienced professional who acted as a sounding board rather than a teacher. I knew that we would sit and discuss my ideas and that in the process my sketches would become more refined, more tightly focused, with a sharper direction. That is not what happened. Myke looked at the drawings and shrugged. “They’re a bit boring, don’t you think?” I was taken aback. I had expected to brainstorm my ideas, not to have them dismissed out of hand. “Why not do something dramatic? It’s a big space, there’s room for a big gesture.” We threw ideas back and forth as we had done so often before. Was there something in the history of the site I could use? One of the boats that plied the waters of Lake Massawippi was called Pocahontas, and that name suggested a connection to my native Virginia. But I did not want the story to be about me, so we threw away that idea. What about the fire that destroyed the hotel? Or the man who created it, G.A. LeBaron? He had purchased a farm in North Hatley and had built a housing development. He had also had a store in nearby

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The North–South Arrow prior to planting.

Sherbrooke that sold pianos, organs, and sewing machines – popular items that were on their way to replacing the buggies and buggy whips he also sold. His entrepreneurial spirit was consistent with a big splashy design. It was Myke who came up with the idea that clicked: a design based on the guests who came north by train to stay at Glen Villa Inn. They came to avoid the heat and humidity of the southern states where they lived year-round, and a garden oriented north–south would mimic their travel. It would get the maximum sunlight as well, and that would broaden the range of plants I could use. I liked Myke’s idea and immediately began to call the garden by what seemed an obvious name, the North–South Garden. That spatial orientation would form the basis of the design. But how would it work on site? Where, exactly, would it go, and how would it relate to the hotel wall and the stone circle or to the linden tree that was such an important feature in our daily view? In late February, the snow deep on the ground, Jacques and I went out with a compass to figure it out. Yes, a north–south line could work. It would need to be well away from the hotel wall and the turnaround circle. Positioned north–south between the circle and the linden tree meant it would cross the old asphalt path, and including that path in the design became a possibility. As spring approached, I adjusted the stakes Jacques had planted in the snow and sketched possible dimensions. How long should the North–South Garden be? How wide? How should it end? I thought of the compass needle marking

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north, and in a flash, the straight line acquired arrow points, first at the north end only, then at both north and south ends. Those points gave the garden its final name: the North–South Arrow. With a shape and tentative dimensions in mind, I began to focus on the choice of plants. I knew I wanted them to reflect the idea of north and south, and, for me, that suggested hot colours on the southern end that moved gradually towards cool colours in the north. Southern plants immediately sprang to mind: boxwood because it is a staple of many southern gardens, along with sweet-smelling plants, like lilacs and mock oranges. Their scent made me think of a fictional grandmother, rocking on her front porch, perspiring just enough to set off the fragrance of her face powder. Plants for the north were less obvious. Cooler colours might include silvery greys, but colours could also be darker to echo the north’s shorter days and longer nights. Were these ideas stereotypes? Without a doubt. And for all the turns my imagination could take, the most important consideration remained the deer. I did not want to fence the arrow, so every plant I chose had to be deer-proof, or as deer-resistant as possible. Gradually I developed a list of possibilities, focused around two relatively new varieties of spirea, Spirea ‘Double Play Big Bang’ and Spirea ‘Double Play Blue Kazoo’. Along with the small green leaves of boxwood, I envisioned touches of dark-leafed shrubs, plants like Diervilla ‘Nightglow’ and the feathery elderberry, Sambucus ‘Black Lace’. Perennials for consideration included blue false indigo, coneflower, sneezeweed, Russian sage, and yarrow, all in a mix of shades of blue and sparks of fiery orange. Ornamental grasses were also a possibility. In May we marked out the arrow on site and, based on practical considerations, determined the dimensions: a bed fifteen feet wide and a hundred and ten feet long, with wider triangular arrowheads at both ends. Jacques warned me that the soil on site was a mix of sand and gravel that would need to be modified substantially if I wanted anything to thrive there. His advice was to dig up the top six inches and replace the impoverished dirt with good rich soil. At first I resisted, knowing that contemporary practice dictates that a gardener choose plants to match existing conditions rather than change the conditions themselves. But research suggested that doing that, I would end up with a selection of plants I did not really want. So, reluctantly, I took his advice. He and Ken removed the top few inches of gravel and sand, creating the arrow shape I had settled on, and then added several truckloads of richer soil, some of the huge supply that had accumulated when we dredged the big pond by the road a few years ago. While they were preparing the bed, I was finalizing my list of plants. Shrubs and ornamental grasses would dominate, I decided,

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with perennials playing a supporting role. But how to arrange them? I sketched a rough idea, using diagonal bands of a single plant to hold the long line together. A variety of switch-grass called Panicum ‘Northwind’ was my plant of choice. Its name was appropriate – if I closed my eyes, I could feel the wind blowing southerners north for the summer – and I liked its straight form and the touch of white along the blades that added brightness. I also liked the fact that it did not self-seed and that clumps grew larger year by year, a practical consideration in terms of the number of plants I needed to buy. In my preliminary sketch I arranged Panicum ‘Northwind’ in a line like the railroad tracks that zigged and zagged from the south to the north, bringing southerners to stay at Glen Villa Inn. I drew in boxwood at the southern end, three tall specimens at the points of the southern arrow, and dotted round Buxus ‘Green Velvet’ here and there along the sides, using fewer and fewer and spacing them farther apart as the line went north. I left the north arrowhead blank at first but eventually settled on a straightforward and beautiful ornamental grass, Miscanthus ‘Purpurascens’. Myke suggested I edge the arrowhead with boxwood, but I decided instead to use the wormwood (Artemisia ‘Silver Mound’) that was growing nearby, on the “light” side of the yin-yang. This, of course, took me back to the original problem. If the yin-yang had to change, its symbolism being no longer compatible with the hotel’s history, what concept would I use in its place? I wanted an idea that linked the hotel’s foundation wall on one side with the North–South Arrow on the other. The arrow was all about movement and direction, and in a sense the circle was, too. The final idea came to me in a flash. The symbol on a map that shows direction is called a compass rose, or rose des vents in French. This combination of directional marker and plant name told me right away that the idea was solid. It told me what to plant. Roses, of course. In the spring of 2021 I ordered eighteen Cherokee Sunrise roses to fill the circle. Although they bloomed well in their first year, the bushes are still small and do not add the punch I am looking for, but the promise is there. If only the Japanese beetles leave the roses alone.

LETTING MEMORY SPEAK: BRIDGE ASCENDING In 2001 an old covered bridge about ten kilometres from North Hatley burned down; some said it was set alight by teenagers on a spree. The bridge was at Capelton, a village that is tiny now but used to be the centre of a major mining operation. I had a soft spot for the village despite – or perhaps because of – the slightly creepy feeling it gave me. Capelton was a place apart, cut off from the

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Spring in the first year of the North–South Arrow. Early summer in the first year of the North–South Arrow. Young clumps of Panicum ‘Northwind’ zigzag along the length of the North– South Arrow. Rosa ‘Chinook Sunrise’ in its first year at the Compass Rose.

world. But once it thrived: copper was discovered there in 1863, and the copper mines, the first in Quebec, prospered. Mining at Capelton ended in 1907, but the tailings left behind turned the soil bright orange, creating an otherworldly character that gave the village its strange appeal. Water coming off the orange hill drained into the river, polluting it and harming wildlife. (Thanks to a reclamation project, those hills are now green with native vegetation, and the pollution has been eliminated.) Yet as alien and damaging to the environment as that orange soil was, it held an eerie beauty that could not be missed. Every time I cycled along the bike path that replaced the old railway tracks, I stopped, not to admire but to wonder at the bizarre world that flipped the colour chart, reversing fresh green for bilious orange. As fascinating as the oddly coloured world was, though, the main attraction at Capelton had been the covered bridge. It was old, built in 1862, and the wooden planks shuddered under the weight of cars when a much younger Norman and his family drove across it on their way to North Hatley from the nearby city of Sherbrooke. Eventually the bridge could not handle the traffic, and a new one was built, leaving the covered bridge stranded off to the side. When we heard that the bridge had burned down, Norman and I drove to Capelton to see what remained. Some twisted metal girders lay in the river, and some charred timbers were piled on the bank, but the space where the bridge had been was empty. Standing there, in the presence of absence, Norman said he felt like he had lost a piece of his childhood. Did he have the idea, or did it occur to us simultaneously? Neither of us remembers. But I know we turned to look at each other with the same thought in mind. Could the bits and pieces become a piece of sculpture? Driving home, we agreed to ask our friends, the sculptors Louise Doucet and Satoshi Saito, if they would be willing to take a look, to see if they could create something with the twisted beams. We hauled the steel girders and a few charred wooden beams to Glen Villa, carefully unloading them in the Upper Field close to the driveway. Almost immediately we saw that the place we had chosen for convenience could be the sculpture’s final destination. On one side the ground rose to meet tall trees; on the other side it rose more gently to a small knoll. The two rising levels created a bowl that could embrace the metal pieces and hold them in place visually. Over the following months Louise and Satoshi studied the pieces and measured each one precisely. In the summer of 2003 they invited us to their house to see what they proposed to do with them. We stood outside in the sunshine beside a green board that was angled to reflect the slope of the Upper Field. Jutting out horizontally were strips of copper, each twisted to resemble the shape of a girder. The strips were attached to straight posts, arranged in a grid, and the contrast

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Bridge Ascending, by Louise Doucet and Satoshi Saito.

between the regularity of the grid and the twisted shapes was striking. Norman and I were stunned. We had expected the artists to arrange the pieces in some aesthetically interesting way, but it never occurred to us that they would raise them into the air. As soon as we saw the maquette, we were convinced. Building this new bridge was a big job. Beginning in August, Jacques and Ken dug footings for the grid of steel posts. Owing to the slope, each post had to be sunk to a different distance underground so that the tops of the posts remained at the same height. Getting the levels right was not easy, particularly when, thanks to soggy ground and regular rainfall, the holes filled with water almost as soon as they were dug. Once the steel posts were in place, we raised the girders one by one, using two backhoes working in tandem. Watching the men gently lift the rusty pieces to prevent them from twisting or breaking was stressful in the extreme. Each piece had its particular problem, and each required a particular treatment, but after a week of steady work the final piece was bolted in place. We discussed various names. Capelton Bridge seemed too banal, and Floating Bridge too pretentious. The twisted metal silhouetted against the sky resembled

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Bridge Ascending in winter. A detail of Bridge Ascending on a misty autumn day.

calligraphy: should we name it Sky Words or use the Chinese word for bridge? Finally we agreed to use the name Louise and Satoshi suggested: Bridge Ascending. There was a nice ring to the words, and the suggestion of resurrection seemed appropriate. Over the following winter I considered what I would plant beneath the sculpture. I did not picture anything fancy, only a broad flow of blue interspersed with rounded shrubs to suggest rocks in a river. But gradually I changed my mind. The shadowy patterns formed on the snow over winter, and the natural beauty of the field in spring, convinced me to leave well enough alone. I remembered what the great British garden designer Russell Page once told Rosemary Verey. Assessing the garden that this doyenne of British garden design had created, and discussing a possible new project, he cautioned her: “Make sure that everything you put in the garden adds to it rather than distracts” (quoted in Rosemary Verey, Making of a Garden, page 14). Bridge Ascending needed nothing. Anything added would only distract.

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The earliest extant book on gardening was written in Japan in the eleventh century. It is called Sakuteiki, which means “The Records of Garden Making.” In it the author gives advice on how to make a garden: “Begin by considering the lay of the land and water. Study the works of past masters, and recall the places of beauty that you know. Then, on your chosen site, let memory speak and make into your own that which moves you most.” That is what we did. We chose a site for Bridge Ascending, we allowed memory to speak, and we made into our own something that moved us deeply. The sculpture is an atmospheric work of art, sunny in some lights, moody in others. Its stark beauty is evidence of the type of art to which Norman and I respond, and of how much we value the work that Louise and Satoshi create. It is a daily reminder of the past and how life changes and evolves, not always in ways we expect, not always in ways we choose. Bridge Ascending sends a message of quiet strength, of simplicity, and of a stillness at the centre that reminds me daily to search for my own.

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Interlude Learning to Look

Gardening is a perpetual process of learning to look – to look at what is in front of us and what is inside. That is true whether we are looking at our own gardens or we are looking at someone else’s. But on its own, looking is not enough. The American writer Henry David Thoreau said it well: “It isn’t what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” Here are some suggestions to help you see a garden better.

TAKE TIME Taking time means stopping. It means standing still and looking. Not talking, not thinking of something else; simply absorbing as much as you can of what surrounds you. In today’s world stopping or even slowing down is hard to do. We expect things to happen right away. We send an email, and if we do not get an immediate response, we wonder what is wrong. Gardens do not work that way. When we arrive at a new garden, we are tempted to rush in and to rush through, to make sure we see everything the garden has to offer before we have to leave. But to really see a garden, to get the feel of it, we have to stay longer than we think we can. We have to give ourselves the gift of being totally present. This is as true for me in my own garden as it is in a garden I visit for the first time. In our own gardens we become so accustomed to seeing what is there that we stop truly seeing. So allow yourself to sit down in your garden and to absorb, as if for the first time, what surrounds you. Consider how you might improve it, but also let yourself feel its spirit.

When you visit other gardens, whether they be large or small, public or private, historic or contemporary, try first of all to get an overall sense of the garden’s layout. If your time is limited, focus on the parts that interest you the most, rather than rushing through the garden as a whole. If time permits, return to the part that most aroused your interest to take another look.

USE ALL YOUR SENSES Seeing all of a garden means using all of our senses, not only our eyes. We need to savour the experience, to close our eyes and breathe more deeply, to smell what surrounds us. We need to open our ears and listen to the sounds the garden makes, to wind blowing through the trees, bees buzzing, the crunch of gravel underfoot. We need to feel the world around us – the rough bark of a tree or the smooth dampness of moss. We need to touch the plants, not only look at them, because when we do, our relationship becomes more intimate. Maybe the plant’s leaves are rough; maybe they are smooth. Maybe when we touch the plant, it gives off a fragrance of lavender or cloves or sweet, sweet rose. Those scents help us to know the plant better, to understand it and what it can bring to our lives. While we have to take time to relax and absorb the spirit of the garden, we also have to be wide awake and ready for whatever happens – because some things pass quickly. One moment the sun is shining through the leaves of a tree; the next moment the sun goes behind a cloud. And what a shame it is if we miss those fleeting moments of beauty.

THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU SEE The Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf said that his eyes were his most important tool in the garden. When we visit a garden, keeping our eyes wide open is crucial. This is particularly important in our own gardens where it is all too easy to become accustomed to what is there. When you visit a garden for the first time, consider the big picture before you focus on the details. What kind of garden is it: public or private, historic or contemporary, botanic or art filled? Where is it? When was it built? Who built it? Is it set apart from the world or open to it? Consider the site and the challenges it presents. Is it flat or hilly, sheltered or exposed to the wind? Is the land well used and managed in an ecologically sensitive way? Consider the layout. Is the whole garden visible at once, or is it divided into different areas used in different

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ways? Are there both open and closed spaces? Do paths direct you in a particular way, or are you free to wander? Finally, focus on details. What kinds of plants are used and how are they arranged? Do repeated colours or shapes hold the garden together and give it integrity? Is there water in the garden and how is it used? What materials are used for paths and what is the effect of the choice? Then, as you leave, consider the big picture once again. Does the garden convey a particular atmosphere? Is there a theme that holds it together and is that theme obvious or subtle? Is it predictable or full of surprises? Perhaps most important, how did the garden make you feel?

USE ALL THE TOOLS AT YOUR DISPOSAL Our eyes are one tool. Cameras and notebooks are others. A camera in a garden is both a curse and a blessing. On the positive side, taking photographs is a useful way of recording information, whether the photograph shows a single plant or a combination of several. Shooting a plant along with its label is easier than writing it down, and a photograph of you and your companion cements the memory of a particular time and place, reminding you of what you saw and with whom you were. Taking photographs also slows us down, and slowing down in a garden is a good thing. Before we press the shutter, we have to choose a point of view, whether to stand back or move in close, whether to crouch down or look up. We may make these decisions quickly, but even a quick choice takes time and requires us to consider the options. On the negative side, using a camera can interfere with the experience. If we spend as much time seeing the garden through the camera’s lens as we do looking at it directly, we fail to see beyond the obvious. We risk limiting our experience, missing the scent of the flowers or the sound of leaves rustling, and leaving ourselves with only a memory of the photographs we took rather than a memory of the garden itself. Notebooks, like cameras, can be both good and bad. Writing things down as you walk around a garden, or taking notes when a garden guide is speaking, can interfere with the experience itself. Taking notes afterwards, or sitting down in the middle of a tour to write down your impressions, can be very helpful. Some things can best be expressed in words, so do not only mention things you liked or disliked but describe the reasons as well. Note-taking can be particularly valuable if you are touring several gardens on a single day or are part of a multi-day tour group. When you visit multiple

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gardens in a short period of time, it becomes very easy to muddle them. Make a few notes about each garden you visit as soon as you can, while your impressions are fresh. Pay special attention to details that will help you keep each garden distinct in your mind. Note any ideas that you may want to consider applying at home. Take a notebook with you when you walk around your own garden and write down things you want or need to do. Along with photographs, make notes about the growing habits of the plants in your garden: when they bloom, whether they need dividing or transplanting, whether they thrive with attention or neglect. If you are like me, you will forget what you need to do if you do not write it down.

REVIEW YOUR PHOTOGRAPHS Photographs not only remind us of things we have seen but also show us details we have missed on site. Details give a garden its character, and taking note of them helps us understand how that character is achieved. Studying photographs of our own gardens is equally helpful. Most computer programs allow us to change a photograph from colour to black and white. With the elimination of colour, the shapes and textures of plants become more obvious, helping us to see where we need to make changes. Heightening the contrast between black and white points out shadows and bright spots, highlighting what may be an imbalance between dark and light. Flipping the photograph horizontally so that left becomes right, and right becomes left, gives us a fresh perspective on the border as a whole, helping us see it as if for the first time.

LISTEN TO YOUR INNER VOICE, THEN QUESTION WHAT IT SAYS Whenever we visit a garden, our inner voices speak to us, letting us know how we feel about what we see. It is important to listen to these voices but not to go along with them willy-nilly. Those voices are shaped by our experiences: what we grew up with, what is in fashion, what our preconceived notions of a garden are. At the same time, those voices may be influenced by a myriad of irrelevant factors: our mood, the weather, whom we are with, whether we are hungry or tired. But if your inner voice tells you something is wrong, pay attention. Trust your instincts; that voice may be right. At same time, question your assumptions. Do you like one garden because it is familiar and dislike another because it is not? Push yourself and open your mind to new possibilities. Be willing to experiment. Be willing to fail.

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3

Discovering What Matters When I first started gardening at Glen Villa, I had no particular style in mind for the garden I wanted to develop. I simply did what other people told me to do. Sometimes their advice was good, sometimes it was not. But as I educated myself, reading and visiting other gardens, I began to develop my own ideas. I began to understand what I liked, what I disliked, and why. Visiting other gardens helped me to discover this. One summer, as my ideas were beginning to form, my sister Nancie Kennedy and I visited Reford Gardens in Grand-Métis, Quebec. Looking at a view along the stream that meanders through the garden, I let out a little sigh. “I like that,” I said, gesturing loosely at what was in front of me. “Why?” my sister asked. That stopped me short. To answer her question I had to look more closely. I had to take my time and let the details of what I was seeing sink in. I had to analyze those details and fit them into a larger picture. Looking at the scene again, I saw how a patch of yellow on one side of the stream was echoed in a larger mass on the other side, not directly across but a bit farther up the stream. I liked that repetition, I decided, particularly the way the second mass cuddled the trunk of a large tree. The mass of yellow blooms seemed brightened by the sparkling water in the stream, and the water seemed to chuckle happily as a result. I began to notice similar details in every garden I visited, and to ask myself if I could create the same effects at Glen Villa. Were colours repeated? Was water used and did it sparkle or flow smoothly? How was the garden organized? Did it use straight lines or curves and which did I prefer? My list of questions kept

growing. As I prepared to visit another garden, I tried to shorten the list. What really mattered to me? Why did some gardens appeal to me more than others? Focusing with a quiet mind, I found a simpler, more basic question to ask: how did the garden make me feel? More than that, how did I want my own garden to make me feel? I knew I wanted the garden to be mine; I wanted to improve it in accord with traditional aesthetics but I wanted it to be original in some way – to be my garden, not a copy of someone else’s. I began to breathe more deeply, allowing each garden I visited to exert its atmosphere. In one garden I felt calm and balanced; in another, sad and lonely. Why? What was it in the garden that evoked these emotions? As soon as I asked that question, I realized I had finally come to the crucial one. In order to make the garden at Glen Villa truly my own, I had to identify the elements that evoked the emotions I wanted to feel, the ones that mattered most to me. The history of the property and the people who had shaped it were obviously important, but what were my emotional triggers? My life was busy, so I knew I wanted the garden to offer peace and serenity but I also wanted it to be stimulating. How was I to combine two styles that seemed at odds with one another? How could I combine plants and ideas in a way that excited both my heart and my brain? Again and again, as I walked the paths we had cut through the fields and woods, I played with the question. I admired the wildflowers growing in the fields and the way water sparkled at the Cascade. I fretted over areas of the property that seemed dull or uninspiring or ones that no one visited. I pruned branches from shrubs and trees, aiming to eliminate the dead wood that interfered with my vision, both actual and metaphoric. One day it dawned on me: I spent more time in two places than in any others – beside the tiny stream near the house and under the big linden tree at the end of the lawn. No wonder the scene at Reford Gardens had appealed: it combined the two elements that mattered most to me – water and trees. Those two elements became the signature of my personal style. Understanding why they were so important, and finding ways to highlight them in the landscape, became the focus as I entered the next phase of creating a garden that was truly my own.

TREES AT GLEN VILLA One of the things Myke Hodgins advised when we began to work together was to plant trees. They are the most important elements in a new garden, he said, because they are the most permanent and take the longest to grow. He called

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them “the bones” of a garden and said that they acted as bones do, holding the garden together and providing the unity it needs. I was happy to go along with his suggestion, and we planted spruce trees to screen a view of the house from the driveway, birch trees to strengthen the tiny groves that were already there, and a Kentucky coffee tree with branches that would spread to provide shade. That tree is still growing, but already I can lie on the grass and look up through its branches at a dappled sky, as I did as a child. Branches, then and now, create a canopy like a ceiling in an outdoor room that offers protection from the elements, and clouds constantly changing shape reduce the distant prospect of an infinite sky to a fragment small enough to contemplate. I resisted, though, when Myke suggested planting maple trees to replace the old ones along the bank of the lake. They would take too long to grow, I said. But I was wrong. The maples we planted elsewhere are full-sized trees now, and even though they are marginal in my climate, the twiggy sycamore trees I planted fifteen years ago are finally developing their distinctive camouflage bark. As they grow, the trees add privacy to a picnic area we occasionally use, creating a sense of enclosure that makes me feel cosseted and loved. The sycamores do not frame a view as a pair of trees can, nor do they hide an unattractive view as even a single tree, carefully placed, can do. Nor are they massed in groups where the colours of their leaves contrast in shades of green and darker colours that edge towards black. Still, the sycamore trees mark a boundary, as trees often do. Here it is between a meadow and the driveway, but less literally it is between today and tomorrow, when the camouflage patterns will be stronger still. In this way trees reflect a point in time. They also provide perspective. A small tree planted in the distance tricks the eye; because it is small, it looks farther away than it really is, and that makes us think that the distance is greater. A large tree planted on top of a hill will make the hill seem higher, and a small plant added in the foreground will strengthen the effect. Some of this I learned from Myke, some from my own observations. In France, driving to Château Vaux-leVicomte, I noticed that the closely planted trees flanking the road transformed an ordinary journey into a stately procession. In Italy, cypress trees carried my eyes up to the sky, while their straight trunks kept me grounded, and the consistent spacing between them created a rhythm as regular as a heartbeat. In Scotland, at Broadwoodside, a line of hornbeam trees (Carpinus betulus) seemed to stretch out forever. The trees looked as if they were evenly spaced, but when I walked the path, I discovered that it was shorter than I had thought: the distance between the trees decreased as the path extended. In England, at Stourhead in Wiltshire, I saw how Henry Hoare and his successors had grouped trees to form patterns of

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The linden tree in each season.

light and shade; at Petworth in Sussex, I saw how Capability Brown had placed single trees and groves to extend the view. Sitting on the bench we had built around the linden tree not long after moving in, I looked out at the lake, noticing how my view was limited and yet somehow enlarged by the row of old maple trees that lined the bank. Planted there when Glen Villa Inn was in its infancy, the trees were as individual as the people who walked beneath them. One tree leaned perilously to the side. Another had branches raised at angles like a semaphore, as if it was sending a message to someone on the distant shore. Those large trees were dying, but even on their last legs they defined the space in the present and linked it to the past. So did the tree I was sitting under. It must have seeded itself; it did not appear in any of the photographs of Glen Villa Inn, yet judging from its size, it was a hundred years old or more. The tree was as perfectly formed as any I had ever seen, and for me it was the crown jewel of the property. It was a member of the Tilia family, or so my tree identification guide told me. When I mentioned it to a homegrown Townshipper and called it a linden, he corrected me. “It’s a basswood,” he said. “Member of the same family but not the kind they have in Europe.” I did not care; for me it was a linden.

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The name linden was more mellifluous than basswood, and even the sound of the word filled my nose with memories of its scent, and my head with folktales and legends. As a young mother I had read stories from Greek mythology to our children, and I remembered the tale from Ovid, how on a cold and stormy night Baucis and Philemon had welcomed two ordinary peasants to their cottage, not knowing that the peasants were Zeus and Hermes. To reward them when they died, the gods transformed the couple’s house into a temple, and the couple into intertwining trees, an oak and a linden. When I read this story to our young boys, I had hummed a tune I had heard as a child, about the death of a boy spurned by the girl he loved, the cruel Barbara Allen. The melody was haunting, and its final words were a moral lesson: out of sweet William’s heart there grew a rose; out of Barbara Allen’s, a briar. What would grow out of my heart? It was mid-summer. The linden tree was in bloom, perfuming the air and attracting bees who buzzed all around me. Sitting on the bench, I watched one bee settle on a blossom, draw nectar, and move to another. The sound made me feel part of their world, as if I, too, were flying into and out of the hive. Gradually, as my mind began to drift, the fragrance of the linden became a different sweetness – the blossoms of the cherry tree that grew outside my bedroom window when I

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was a budding girl, its powder-puff cloud of flowers in the spring as softly pink and innocently romantic as the teen I was then. The image of that tree shifted to become the tulip poplar tree that grew on the hilltop at my grandparents’ farm, and I remembered how that tree had drawn me like a magnet into a larger world. I pictured the black locust tree that grew in the garden in Oakville and saw its sharp-angled branches poking the sky, creating restless patterns that echoed my busy days as a married woman with five children to care for. Sitting there, I understood for the first time how trees echoed my life and shaped my view of the world. Perhaps this is not surprising. Remember the trees that tried to capture Snow White as she ran through the forest? The trees that threw apples at Dorothy on her way to the Emerald City? In these tales and in so many others I knew, trees acted like people. They are shaped like people as well, with a central trunk and branches that resemble arms and fingers, reaching up and out. Their bark is their skin, protecting their heartwood from the outside world, and their flowers and leaves are like the adornments we wear. Trees shape our language as well, and by shaping our words, they shape our thoughts. We speak of branches of knowledge, going out on a limb, turning over a new leaf, getting to the root of a problem. They are symbolic. In Chinese art

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the pine tree symbolizes longevity, and the willow tree flexibility, humility, and sadness. In England the oak stands for all that is strong and hardy about the island nation; in Canada the maple leaf on the flag symbolizes the nation itself. And in Virginia the dogwood is heavily laden with religious connotations that symbolize crucifixion and faith. A Taoist story tells of a tree that produced a peach of immortality every three thousand years; anyone who ate the fruit received eternal life. The moral is reversed in the biblical story. There, the tasting of forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge broke God’s commandment and forced Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, making them mortal. In Norse mythology the ash tree Yggdrasil rose up in the middle of Asgard, where the gods and goddesses lived, and its branches extended up and above the heavens while its roots reached down to the depths of the earth. Early Indian mythology turned the cosmic tree Asvattha on its head, placing its roots in the sky and its branches growing downwards to cover the land below. I was taking a photography course that year and had been collecting photographs of trees, living and dead. When the instructor asked us to put together photographs that would say something about our lives, I decided to use some

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of those photographs, knowing that it would make my presentation different from everyone else’s and possibly more intriguing. I titled the presentation My Life as a Tree. There were no captions on the photographs, and I did not speak as I moved from one to the next. The title page showed the linden tree in three seasons. Its summer branches were freshly green, and they formed a canopy as perfectly round as a child’s drawing. Its autumn branches were brightly coloured, attractive in a flashy way that reminded me of the 1980s, when greed was good and appearance meant all. Its winter branches were bare and starkly black against a muted sky. I did not have photographs of the dogwood trees in whose raked leaves I had jumped as a child, or of the cherry that had bloomed outside my bedroom window when I was a teen. I did have a picture of the tulip poplar tree at my grandparents’ farm, though; I had taken it on a visit the summer before, and it showed a leafless tree, a skeleton of its former self. I then juxtaposed a photograph of petrified wood stretched out on the sand in the Sahara Desert, remnants of a tall tree that once had grown there, with a photograph of a dead pine tree in winter, whose trunk I had painted as a tribute to my father. I combined a birch tree, its bark peeled back to reveal raw flesh, and a maple tree punctured by an old barbed-wire fence. A photograph of an Australian tree, taken on a trip to visit my son and his family, showed a heavily cracked trunk with shiny blood-red sap oozing down; another Australian tree had initials gouged into its heart. That tree was beside a lake, and a boat was tied up to it, kept in place with a locked chain. In my photograph the chain almost cut across the initials CH + JW surrounded by a heart. The night before the class I went over the photos I had assembled. Together they told a story of a life that might have been, a life full of pain and sorrow, but that story was not true for me. My life had not been damaged; I was not bleeding inside or chained in an unhappy marriage. I kept the photographs though and renamed the show My Life as a Tree … and Other Fictions. The other students in the class were puzzled, and when one asked what the photographs meant, I shrugged off the question, simply saying that I had lots of photographs of trees and that combining them created a story. But underneath I knew that, while the slide show did not tell the story of my life, trees did. They underlined the changes I had undergone at each point in my life, and that realization in turn helped me understand what I was learning as I built the garden at Glen Villa: that trees tell the land’s story as well. The petrified wood spoke of a changed environment, saying that today’s desert was once fertile ground. The maple tree pierced with the barbed wire spoke of the time the land was actively farmed. The century-old maples that dated from the days when Glen Villa Inn

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was new spoke of the people who had planted them and the hotel guests who had strolled beneath their branches – those young southern women in long white dresses and the widows dressed in black who were pictured in the hotel brochure. The trees I was beginning to plant spoke of my dreams for the land as it would come to be. Some thirty years ago my sister-in-law planted oak, spruce, and black walnut saplings as part of a government reforestation project. The trees became taller, the spruce crowding out the sun, the oaks forming military ranks. One day I spotted an old cherry tree growing there. By this time the oaks were fifteen or twenty feet tall, with thin trunks that branched well above the ground. The cherry tree, with its twisted trunk and outstretched branches, was a dramatic contrast. The young trees were straight; the cherry tree was twisted in old age and no longer spoke of pink-hued romance. Yet this old woman of a tree was speaking to me as she rebuked the youngsters around her. “Step out of line,” she seemed to say. “Find your own space, your own shape, your own style. Grow to be what you want to be.”

WATER AT GLEN VILLA Many people plan a garden before they begin using sketches or architectural plans drawn to scale. I did not. I do not say this with pride, only as a matter of fact. Forethought helps, but being open to every possibility can produce wonderful results. I had no overall plan in mind when I began to work on the garden. I knew I wanted to respect the natural beauty of the site and to expand the way we used the land to include more than the area around the house and the lakefront. I wanted my grandchildren to explore the far reaches of the property, to get to know it as I had come to know the land at my grandparents’ farm, to climb the rocks by the waterfall as my children had done, and to discover treasures hidden in unexpected places. I believed that at first they would keep to the paths we were cutting through the woods, but I was confident that as they grew older they would go outside those lines, attracted by the sight of an oddly shaped tree or the flash of a white deer’s tail, or a smell they could not identify. Adding destinations that would call them into the wild would make it easier for them to explore. And once they ventured beyond the safety of a path, they would find their treasures. The treasures were there, I was sure. One of those treasures was the water that defined the boundaries of our

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Three seasons at the Skating Pond.

property. It entered our land from untamed woods high above the house, ran through an old farm field and a soggy bit of meadow, before it dropped into the Cascade beside the house. There it disappeared, flowing under the driveway, only to emerge on the downhill side as a narrow channel of water cut deep in the ground. I often sat beside that stream, crouching down to admire the merrybells (Uvularia sessilifolia) I had planted or to photograph ferns as they unfurled. I did not understand at first why the spot appealed to me as much as it did, but gradually I realized that it reminded me of where I used to sit at our old summer cottage next door. There I revelled in the sight and sound of the stream as it tumbled and whirled around rocks, almost forgetting to pay attention to our growing children playing in the shallows nearby. In the morning the stream burbling outside my bedroom window gently woke me, and at night its sounds sent me to sleep. If trees were one emotional trigger that made me love the land, water was another. Water was there on the land, not always visible, not always making its voice heard. Still, possibilities existed. I simply had to help it speak.

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THE SKATING POND The two fields we acquired when we bought Glen Villa in 1996 had been used by previous owners to grow hay for cattle and to provide pasturage for cows, sheep, and, for a time, llamas. For several years after we moved in, we mowed the fields annually, sometimes baling the hay, sometimes letting it lie. For ease of reference I named them the Upper Field and the Lower Field based on their location – one higher up the hill, one lower down. Doing this, I was following the lead of one of the Americans who had come to North Hatley in the summer during the early years of the twentieth century. A southerner, she owned two houses in the village and named them, in her soft southern voice, Miuppah and Miloah. (You need to say them out loud to get the full force of her accent.) The “Loah” Field sloped down to the driveway and the big pond by the road. Wanting to make the entry less formal, I removed a rail fence that separated the driveway from the field and, following Myke Hodgins’ lead, planted trees instead – not a row but a group of hawthorn trees near the road, three black walnut trees near a stand of spruce, and a spiral of oaks partway up the field. I

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The boardwalk forms a backward S curve.

did nothing in the Upper Field and, even though I walked the land regularly, I rarely ventured there. Still, I was curious. Exploring the Upper Field one morning, I noticed that the top end was wet. That excited me – wet ground could become a pond, and a pond would give the water there a chance to become something more interesting than boggy ground that squished underfoot. A pond would be a natural attraction, drawing adults and children alike, fulfilling my goal to use as much of the property as possible. By this time I knew enough to let the land dictate the shape and size of the pond. But underneath this knowledge was a desire. I wanted the pond to look like a painting I had loved as a child, one of many paintings that hung at my grandparents’ house. Each canvas had been painted by one of the great-aunts who were always around, shelling peas and perspiring gently in the summer heat. Aunt Scotty’s painting showed an old mountaineer in worn overalls, his rifle propped beside him. Despite everyone agreeing that she had not got his gnarled hands quite right, this painting was considered the best in the house – not for its own merits but because the Smithsonian Museum had selected it for a travelling exhibition of paintings by southern women. This credential outweighed any other consideration and placed Aunt Scotty’s mountaineer at the top of the heap. I did not dispute this. I acknowledged that her painting was the “best”; even so, I did not love it. I did not even like it as much as I liked Aunt Virginia’s painting of a forest scene in the late afternoon. It showed tall thin trees – black walnut trees, my father said they were, or possibly the American chestnuts that grew there when he was young – separated by long streaks of golden sunlight that formed a path leading off into the distance into a magical somewhere I could not identify. My favourite painting, though, was Aunt Carrie’s. It was a painting of a pond, a schlocky, romantic scene that only a budding adolescent could like.

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A weeping willow tree hung over the water near a humped-back stone bridge, and circling the pond was a grassy path that led to a quiet place to sit. Even as a child I knew the painting was not great art, but the scene drew me in as surely as Cinderella’s fairy tale did, and recreating it on the ground seemed a nice way to honour those feelings. I kept Aunt Carrie’s painting in mind as a guide when Jacques and Ken began to dig the pond in 2004, directing them to dig a little more this way and a little less that way, until the shape resembled my memory. Once it was done, they packed the bottom and sides of the hole with clay – luckily the field was full of it – and created an outlet to channel the water downhill. They hauled rocks from stone piles on the property and added them around the edges to make the pond look as natural as possible, as if it had always been there. They laid sod to create an instant path around the perimeter, as freshly green as the path Aunt Carrie had painted, but despite their efforts, one section of the path remained constantly wet. They added drainage, hoping to divert the natural ground springs that were causing the problem, but the path remained so soggy that each step squelched. “It’s never going to dry out,” Jacques said. “There’s ledge there; the water’s always going to come.” Did Myke suggest a boardwalk, or did I come up with the idea myself? His role was beginning to shift; with every project, as I gained confidence, he held back, waiting for me to come up with a solution before offering one himself. In the same way I was directing Jacques and Ken less and less, giving them the go-ahead, telling them only that I wanted the boardwalk to curve around the edge of the pond, mirroring the S curve of the Dragon’s Tail. Jacques and Ken laid out the boards, and immediately I could see they had it right. Even before they were nailed down, the boards added a strong definition to the edge of the pond and called attention to the rock we had uncovered above. That rock was

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A skipper alights on a type of knapweed. A dragonfly on a day lily. Female mallard ducks congregate at the Skating Pond. A frog hides among the weeds at the Skating Pond. A snapping turtle suns itself.

an unexpected treasure, a gently rounded smooth blue-grey outcrop, the “ledge” that Jacques had identified. Once washed of gravel and dirt, it became a focal point, providing a strong contrast with the rough, rusty-red rock beside it. Jacques was the one who named it the Skating Pond. Getting the berms in the field and the rocks in the water to look natural was taking more time than I had expected, and more time than Norman thought it should. One afternoon he wandered up to the pond to take a look at the work, then pulled me aside: “How much longer is this going to take?” I knew what his question really meant: how soon will Jacques and Ken be able to start repairing the dock or doing whatever it was that Norman wanted them to do. “Not much longer,” I said. “A few days, maybe a week.” The next day I asked Jacques the same question. “How much longer will it take?” “Another week or two, maybe a bit more,” he replied. “Can you do it any faster? Norman’s getting antsy.” Jacques thought for a minute before he replied, not with an answer to my question but with a question of his own: “Have you got a name for the pond?” I told him no, I had not even thought about it. “Then call it the Skating Pond. That might keep him happy.” Jacques was right. He and Norman used to play hockey together during the winter months, driving half an hour or so to the rink in the next town over, and he knew how much Norman loved to skate. Jacques nodded towards the flat-topped rock he and Ken had just placed alongside the water. “You tell him what you named it and then bring him up here. I’ll show him where he can put his skates on.” The next day, standing beside the pond that Jacques had named, I could see Norman’s face relax. I knew he was picturing himself making great swooping

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circles on the ice, teaching grandchildren to skate, playing shinny. One weekend in the following winter he and Jacques cleared the snow from a small area on the Skating Pond and tried to flood the surface to make the ice smooth enough for skating. After several hours with not much accomplished, they gave up. They did not skate on the pond that day, and no one else did either, until last winter when grandchildren did. But the name stuck. The Skating Pond soon became the attraction I hoped it would be. Wildlife began to appear: turtles and frogs, baby ducks and foxes (not a good combination for the baby ducks, I am afraid), dragon and damsel flies, skimmers, and water bugs of all sorts. (And deer, of course. Always deer.) Wildflowers began to seed themselves: ragged robin, buttercups, forget-me-nots, and a black knapweed whose seeds I had collected alongside a highway. To maintain the fiction that the Skating Pond had always been there, I moved some native blue iris from a wet spot in the field to a wet spot beside the water. I added some yellow flag iris from a neighbour’s field, along with a mass of old orange day lilies that I arranged in a crescent beside the water’s edge. Two native shrubs, buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) and snowberry (Symphoricarpus albus), went alongside the stream that fed the pond, and on the berm beside the pond I planted trees: Italian poplars for fast growth, spruce for winter interest, and a butternut for the joy of it. At the pond’s edge I planted three weeping willows. They were small, but I knew they would soon be drooping over the pond, a living canvas that recreated the painting I had loved. Before long the scene contained every element I wanted: a curving path, a weeping willow, even a stone bridge. That bridge was not an elaborate humpedback bridge like the one in Aunt Carrie’s painting; it was simply a flat stone we

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Norman Webster is dwarfed by the Big Chair. The chartreuse leaves of Physocarpus opulifolia ‘Golden Dart’ stand out against the blue-toned rock. Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’ blooms beside the Skating Pond. Daffodils on the berm beside the Skating Pond.

uncovered when we were digging, which Myke suggested was big enough to bridge the stream coming in. With a bridge in place, everything from the painting was there. Except a quiet place to sit. I spotted the “Big Chair” at Canada Blooms, an annual garden show in Toronto. Designed by NIP Paysage, a Montreal firm of landscape architects, the chair was an over-sized version of a Muskoka or Adirondack chair, some ten or twelve feet tall. Part of the Reford Gardens’ display, the chair was a real eye-catcher. People vied to have their photographs taken standing beside it or sitting in it. The chair was not the quiet place to sit that I had originally envisioned; it was something more, something better. Seen from across the field, it looked like an ordinary chair, distorting perspective. Seen close up, it became a centrepiece. Visitors clambered up to sit in it; once there, they looked like children again and smiled. Even though the Skating Pond was as magical as I had hoped it would be, I found it hard to leave well enough alone. One day at a nursery I saw some shrubs with chartreuse leaves, a cultivar of a native shrub called ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Golden Dart’). I pictured their leaves beside the blue-grey rock and crammed half a dozen into the trunk of my car. Another day, at another nursery, I spotted an ornamental grass with a deep burgundy plume that I liked. A few of those Chinese silver grasses (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Malepartus’) went into the trunk, along with some feather reed grass (Calamagrostis × acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’) and several varieties of iris to extend the blooming season. Every plant I saw seemed perfect for one place or another: Achillea ‘Terra Cotta’ alongside the flat rock where we planned to put on skates; Helenium ‘Moerheim Beauty’ beside the rock bridge; Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’ by the edge of the path. I planted daffodils on the berm, a thousand in the first year and thousands more in the

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following years. On the slope above the pond, where wet ground had started to slide, I planted more feather reed grass, two hundred plants in one year, two hundred and fifty in the next. I loved how the grass stood tall and straight and how its inflorescence, or plume, changed colour throughout the season, from soft pink in spring to green in summer to a tawny gold in the fall, mirroring the seasons changing around it. The trick in gardening (and in many other parts of life) is knowing when to stop. Work at the Skating Pond showed me that this was a lesson I had not yet learned. Adding so many plants around the pond made the surrounding field look bare, unfinished. By this time the ninebark shrubs whose chartreuse leaves had contrasted so wonderfully with the blue-grey rock were looking sad, their leaves no longer vibrant but faded, with holes in them like a moth-eaten sweater. I decided to move them into a new bed along the fence that separated the field from the road. This new border had to be big enough to balance the size of the field, and the ninebark on their own did not do the job, so to add bulk I planted several dozens of other deer-resistant shrubs, old fashioned country-type bushes that suited the character of an old farm field – lilac, viburnum, and mock orange. The bushes did not grow, thanks to the white-tailed deer who trimmed every inch of new growth every year. To protect the shrubs I needed a fence. But what kind? Split-rail fences suited the look of a farm field, but they would not keep the deer away. A wooden fence was no good – if it was high enough to thwart the deer, it would hide the shrubs entirely. Every fence I pictured was ineffective, ugly, or pretentious, fine for a suburban garden but not for a farm field. As a last resort I designed a fence myself: a combination of steel posts and thin wire cable that together created a strong sturdy fence, high enough to stop the deer

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Calamagrostis acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ in early summer. Calamagrostis acutiflora in autumn looks like a sun-bleached blonde. Ninebarks ‘Diablo’ (left) and ‘Golden Nugget’ (right) with lilacs in the shrub border.

from jumping over, with openings narrow enough to prevent them sticking their noses through. I mocked up the design on site, determined to build not a rectangular enclosure but one that zigged and zagged, in and out, close to and away from the shrubs. Once they were protected from the deer, the shrubs had a chance to grow. But one border, as large as it was, looked lost in the field. So below it I added a second border with more shrubs, and between the two I added several trees – more weeping willows, another butternut, and a black locust with pendulous blooms – along with a big clump of giant fleece flower (Persicaria polymorpha). The deer left the fleece flower alone. The trees grew, as did the shrubs. The steel posts rusted, blending into the landscape. And I thought that finally everything was right. But it was not. Nine years after we had started the project, the Skating Pond began to silt up. We drained and dredged it, added more rocks in the water, and waited for it to refill. Looking with fresh eyes, I decided that the feather reed grass above the pond needed some other plants to set it off. So I added Japanese blood grass (Imperata cylindrica ‘Red Baron’), thinking its red tips would provide a nice contrast in colour. I added umbrella plant (Darmera peltata) for its broad leaves, and pickerel weed (Pontederia cordata) for its tiny blue flowers. I dug deer-resistant bee balm (Monarda didyma) from a neighbour’s garden and planted it at the edge of the water where I expected it to attract hummingbirds and insects; then I planted carnivorous pitcher plants nearby to eat the insects when they came. In the process I destroyed the natural clarity I had aimed for. There were too many grasses, too many different kinds of plants. And the problem went beyond the plants around the pond. The poplars (Populus nigra ‘Italica’) I had planted on the berm were too tall, and their height threw everything out of balance. The sweep

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of feather reed grass that had looked so good before it filled in was overwhelming everything else, hiding too much of the rock we had exposed. Each plant on its own was good, but too much of a good thing was not a good thing. To restore the balance I topped some of the poplars and kneecapped a few more, reducing their height dramatically. I removed large clumps of feather reed grass from around one of the willows, giving the tree room to breathe. I dug up more clumps above the rock ledge, creating a gap that opened onto the field and tree line beyond. I tackled a spot where ground springs made the bank unstable, adding rocks that now look as if they had always been there. And I planted one more weeping willow. Once again, I thought the job was done. But my friend John Hay noticed something I had missed. Walking along the boardwalk, he noted: “What a shame that when you step off the boardwalk, you see telephone poles and electric wires! Why not turn the final section slightly and add some steps up the bank?” I took his advice. The boardwalk now starts (or ends, depending on which way you are walking) with a strong curve. The steps lead up the bank beside the willow tree planted fifteen years ago and another willow added more recently. The two trees side by side create the impression of a gateway. They focus the view and make the Skating Pond feel more secluded than it is. Their branches droop appealingly, and most people climbing the few steps have to duck as they walk underneath. I like

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The S-shaped boardwalk now ends in a short set of steps. Two round rocks with planks on top make a simple bench. Tree trunks of different heights and widths define an informal border behind ornamental grasses. Different mosses on a rock at the Skating Pond.

this. Ducking slows you down; it changes the way you walk and where you look. It forces you to pay attention, and, in my books, paying attention is a good thing. Some years ago we moved the Big Chair to a new location and added above the pond a simple bench of two planks placed on top of two round rocks. Sitting there, I soaked in tranquility. I admired the reflections in the dark water, the straight line of the reeds, the clouds floating overhead, and the rock whose sharp angles were doubled in the water. I saw the sunlight sparkle, I heard frogs croaking, saw turtles sunbathing, smelled summer heat, and felt autumn chill. The experience was immensely satisfying, and I revelled in the accomplishment. Finally, I told myself, after so many years of adding and subtracting, the Skating Pond was complete. Anything more – or anything less – would tip the balance. Unfortunately the Italian poplars did just that. The trees we had topped were once again becoming too tall, and two of those we had kneecapped died. They needed to go. But as soon as Jacques and Ken removed them, I saw that the gap they left was too large. That was not all that disturbed me. Sitting on the bench, I looked down on the pond. To my right I gazed through the branches of the weeping willow towards the Upper Field, with its array of wildflowers and grasses in myriad shades of green. Those views were splendid. To my left I looked at the back side of the ornamental grasses, and that view was not. I needed to add something to define the boundary between the grasses I had planted and the natural vegetation of the field. That “something” had to look natural but also deliberate. A fence like the ones we had used to protect shrubs from the deer might have worked, but I decided against it as soon as another solution came to mind.

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In the fall of 2021, I grouped tree trunks of different heights and widths to create an irregular, informal line that marked the division between what we had planted and what had grown on its own. Stripped of bark, the trees are tawny now, the colour of the inflorescence of the Korean feather grass, but within a year or two they will turn grey. In the spring and early summer, before the feather grass grows to its full height, the trunks will stand out clearly; in autumn the taller tree trunks will still be visible. Beyond them, five crabapple trees (Malus ‘Snowdrift’) are now filling the gap left when the Italian poplars were removed. Creating an area as layered as the Skating Pond has taken eighteen years. It has involved many hours of sitting beside the water, doing nothing but looking and listening. I know I will continue to sit there in the early morning, watching damselflies spark iridescent in the sunlight or feeling the wind shift to announce an approaching storm. At the end of the day I will walk alongside the water, listening to frogs as they plop into the pond to avoid being seen, chewing on the mint that has seeded itself above the pond, tasting the moist dampness of spring or the cooler air of autumn. Perhaps I have found the perfect balance, but I doubt it. And maybe there is no such thing. But there is a different way. Perhaps the hours spent sitting and looking will teach me to leave well enough alone. To step back, away from my own reflection in the water, and to see instead the land and the sky as they are. To be quiet enough to hear the land speak. That is the better way.

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THE ASIAN MEADOW The zigzag bridge in the Asian Meadow.

Water coming downhill from the Skating Pond flowed through a flat, nondescript stretch of weedy grass that was dotted with evergreen trees full of dead branches. For want of a better name, I called this place a meadow despite there being nothing meadow-like about it. We passed by each time we drove to or from the house, and every time I tried to think of ways to make the water more prominent and the area itself more appealing. I went for a walk first thing every morning then, and each day I trimmed a dead branch or two with the large clippers I carried, thinking this would help. One tree – a Jack pine, I seem to remember – was particularly scraggy, and I decided to attack it in earnest. I pruned everything I could reach from the ground, then everything I could reach with an extended saw, and finally everything I could reach from a ladder. When all the dead wood had gone, the tree looked bare, but its shape stood out, with twists and turns that were oddly attractive. When Myke saw it, he said it looked like a giant bonsai. So the area acquired a name: the Asian Meadow. Names are powerful tools. Calling the meadow Asian suggested a direction for the space, and I set out to take full advantage of the ideas the name generated. To be accurate I should have called it the Chinese Meadow because most of the ideas that the word Asia generated for me were linked to China and the years we had spent there. Several things held me back, though. I did not want to have both a Chinese Meadow and a China Terrace – that seemed confusing. And really, having lived in Beijing and been allowed only limited travel, I had no

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idea what a “Chinese” meadow looked like. Nor did I want to limit the selection of plants to those that came from China. Japanese irises were on my list, along with Korean waxbells (Kirengeshoma peltata, Korean group), Siberian bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla), and the Himalayan rhododendrons I hoped would survive. So despite the inaccuracies, the name remained. We dredged the soggy area to create a real stream and added rocks to create little pools and waterfalls. To make it easier to cross, Jacques and Ken built a narrow plank bridge using a zigzag design based on a traditional Chinese belief that evil spirits travel only in straight lines. I added a Chinese stone lantern beside the water, hung a Japanese gong from the branch of a pine tree, and planted a dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides), a living fossil that originated in remote areas of China, and Japanese iris beside the stream. But despite thinking I would use only plants that came from Asia, I soon discarded this idea as too restrictive. Instead I planted more trees, seven small sourgum (Nyssa sylvatica), several sycamore trees (Platanus occidentalis), and a variety of native shrubs to break up the space. A piece of flat ground called an Asian Meadow provided specificity of a sort, but on its own it was not enough to draw people to it. Norman suggested that we use a shady section overlooking the lake as a picnic spot. And all of a sudden, the space had a purpose. To set the picnic table off from the meadow as a whole, we decided to build a low fence that would zigzag along the brow of the hill to echo the zigzag bridge. Myke laid out the fence line, almost at random it seemed, by throwing small wooden posts onto the ground. A few years earlier I had bought a number of dark-green Chinese tiles at a store in Montreal, not sure how I would use them but knowing that one day they would come in handy. With my friend Cecil, I set the tiles into the fence at irregular intervals, framing them like the paintings had been framed on the long corridor leading to the Summer Palace in Beijing. At the entry to the picnic area Ken built a tall post inset with more of the antique tiles, special ones whose diamond-shaped design represented old Chinese coins. Jacques and Ken made a picnic table that resembled the square table I had bought in a Beijing junk shop many years before. When we picnicked there for the first time, I was pleased with the way the parts had come together. In one direction I looked out at a typical Eastern Townships view, the lake sparkling in the sunshine and mountains rising in the distance beyond. In the other direction I looked across the stream towards Bridge Ascending, my view framed by the open work of the Chinese tiles. This fortunate happenstance, combining as it did disparate elements from the past, pleased me immensely. Bridge Ascending was a new creation made from scraps of an old covered bridge; the tiles shaping

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Chinese tiles outlined against the snow, with Bridge Ascending in the background. Chinese tiles standing out against the snow. Diamond-shaped cages protect shrubs against the deer. Five small fish and one big fish represent the artist’s view of her family.

my view of it were from another time and a place that was far away. Seeing one through the other reminded me of the advice in Sakuteiki, the Japanese book from the eleventh century. This was my chosen site, and on it I was letting memory speak. I was making into my own that which moved me most. As pleased as I was with this thought, there were practical concerns to manage. To screen the picnic area from the driveway that led to our neighbour’s house, I added a mass of elder bushes (Sambucus nigra ‘Black Beauty’). Unfortunately, despite the assurance that the shrubs were deer resistant, the deer decided otherwise. Year after year they nibbled at the new growth until finally the shrubs gave up and died. I planted other shrubs, also labelled deer resistant, and again discovered, as most gardeners do, that deer will eat anything if they are hungry enough. For a while I protected each shrub individually with a flimsy fence that I hoped would allow it to grow. That fencing continually collapsed as the deer pushed against it. And it was ugly. Every time I passed the meadow, I felt annoyed. The deer were not the problem; the fencing was. A strong permanent fence was the only answer. But what should it look like? The answer came quickly. The fences I had designed for shrubs in the Upper Field worked well. I liked the way the steel posts and cables blended into the landscape, and I decided to use the materials again. I did not want to enclose each shrub in the Asian Meadow in a little square box, though; that would make them look like prisoners in cages. I sketched various layouts, but each seemed random, chosen for no reason. Then I remembered the Chinese tiles in the fence nearby: the centre of those tiles was a diamond, the shape of old Chinese coins. Using the same shape to enclose the shrubs made them seem equally precious.

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Interlocking several diamond shapes allowed me to group the shrubs and to contrast the colour and texture of their leaves: bright and dark-leafed ninebarks (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diablo’ and P. opulifolius ‘Gold Nugget’), upright buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula), and feathery elderberries (Sambucus racemosa ‘Lemony Lace’). I added tulips for spring bloom and scattered lupin seeds everywhere, knowing they would bloom and reseed wherever the ground was right. The fences worked wonders, allowing the shrubs to grow unnibbled. More than that, as the steel posts rusted, they began to echo the rusted metal of the sculpture Bridge Ascending in the adjacent field. The shape of the cages called attention to the Chinese tiles and to the zigzag fence that surrounded the picnic area, bringing these different elements together into a coherent whole. Sadly, the Jack pine that I had pruned so vigorously died, and over the years we have used the picnic table less and less often. I did add one final touch, though. An article in an American gardening magazine to which I subscribed featured a New Jersey man named Mike Patterson who made animal figures from steel. As soon as I read the article, I thought of the Chinese paintings I had seen in which families were portrayed as animals: a rooster and hen with chicks; mama and papa shrimps with baby shrimps; stags and does with fawns. Mike’s catalogue featured fish, and I liked the idea of portraying our family as carp, a quintessentially Chinese fish. I asked him to make six fish, one large one to represent Norman and five smaller ones to represent our five children. There would not be a fish to represent me – I imagined myself as the artist, standing outside the picture and painting what she saw. When the fish arrived, they were all I had hoped for. I installed them on posts in mid-air, raising them above the rippling water as the girders of Bridge

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Ascending nearby were raised above rippling grass. I put the big fish in first, then grouped the others around him. Four fish swam in one direction, the fifth swam the other way. Visitors often ask which of our five children is the rebel. Usually I shrug off the question, saying that I did not have a particular child in mind. Or I say that the fish swimming in the opposite direction could be any one of the five, depending on the day. Sometimes I add that in most families there is one child who stands out, for one reason or another. People nod or chuckle, thinking of their own families. So far, no one has remarked that the “rebel” is swimming with the current, the only one going with the flow and not against it. I am not sure what that says about our family, or if it says anything at all, but I like the idea nonetheless.

THE AQUEDUCT In the summer after moving into our new house, we began to eat breakfast and lunch on the deck, looking out over the big lawn that ran parallel to the lake. From there, on the rare days when the wind was blowing in the right direction, I could hear the stream that ran close by, but regardless of how the wind was blowing, I could not see the water unless I stood right beside it, looking down. Over the years the stream had eroded the earth to form a narrow channel, and that channel directed the water along one side of a stone wall, what was left of the foundation of an old summer cottage. I liked the sense of history that the wall conveyed, but visually it made me uncomfortable – its heavy fieldstones were hard elements in an otherwise soft view. The wall was lopsided as well, not squared off at right angles in the way a foundation wall should be but twisted out of alignment into a triangle. Beyond the wall the lawn stretched out for a hundred yards or more to the linden tree in the distance. The tree was old as well, and its age provided a sense of continuity, connecting past and present in living form as the wall connected them in stone. From the deck the view across the wall to the linden tree was beautiful and should have been satisfying, but it lacked a focal point. The water was invisible. The lines of the house, the deck, and the stone wall went every which way. Nothing connected. It was a space full of beautiful pieces that did not hang together. There was a practical problem, too. The steps from the deck to the ground were not proper steps but large boulders stacked one atop the other. Each boulder was reasonably flat, and anyone with good balance could walk up and down with ease, despite the lack of a handrail. At first I enjoyed the slightly treacherous ascent and descent through foliage that partially blocked the way.

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But increasingly Norman and I were finding the steps too perilous, particularly when wet. We were not old but we were not as agile as we used to be. Nor were our friends and visitors. And there were young grandchildren to consider, their legs too short for the boulder-sized steps. Something had to change, and the change had to start with the stream. I wanted to see the stream and to hear the full orchestra of sounds it could make as it moved over stones and fell from one level to the next. I wanted to see it whirl and sparkle, to see it settle into a calm flat sheet that brought the sky down to the ground and reflected the world around. I wanted water to become the focus of the view but I wanted the other pieces to come together as well. Despite my attempts at designing something to solve the problems, nothing worked. So I called in the professionals, Myke Hodgins and heta, his Montreal firm. Before we met, I laid out my objectives: to make the stream visible from the deck, either as a waterfall or as a cascade stepping down the hillside; to create a flat, reflective pool where the ground levelled out; to make the steps from the deck to the ground safer and more in keeping with other steps around the house; and to bring the disparate lines and materials together in a design that was contemporary, not naturalistic. When we met late in 2010, Myke and his associate Eric Fleury came up with several ideas. Each had advantages, but the one I found most compelling featured steel beams that channelled the water above the sloping ground like aqueducts I had seen in France and Spain. In their drawing, water fell by stages from the elevated channel into a reflecting pool at the base of the old foundation wall. The design was modern, as I had requested, and its details echoed the architectural details of the house. It was daring, and both Norman and I liked what we saw, but we were nervous. To create the necessary height for a waterfall, we would have to change a sloping hillside into two distinct levels, and that meant building a wall. What kind of wall would it be? Years before, at our house outside Toronto, we had installed a gabion wall to prevent erosion along the shore of Lake Ontario. That wall was big and only a little more attractive than the gabion walls that hold up banks alongside highways, walls made of wire baskets filled with rubble and big, jagged rocks. That wall on Lake Ontario had worked, and when Myke and Eric showed us photographs of attractive gabion walls, in which the wire baskets were filled with fieldstones like those lying in the many rock piles on our property, we agreed. Two years after our initial meeting, the wall was built. Snow had prevented us from finishing work that fall, but by the end of June the following year, the construction was completed. We were thrilled. Water began to flow through the aqueduct for the first time. There was only a trickle at first, then a heavier flow that

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pulsed as if mimicking the heartbeat of the earth. I did not know why the water was doing this. Was it caused by an unevenness in the steel channel or by the angle of the steel? Then one night it rained, and the water flow increased, reducing friction. Suddenly the aqueduct was working perfectly. The rill of water moved in gradual steps as it came down the hill, flowing gently through the elevated channel, falling into a steel basin at one level and into the reflecting pool at the next. From there it entered a channel laid flush in the grass where it became a true rill, a tiny stream that fell in small steps as the ground level dropped. The rill directed the water into a circular pond above our old boathouse. This pond dated from the days of our predecessors. Edged by moss-covered rocks and shaded by an enormous oak tree, the little pond was charming, with a rustic quality that made it fit into the landscape. Now, though, the mossy rocks that surrounded it did not suit the aqueduct’s more sophisticated lines. Making the boathouse pond compatible with the new design meant replacing the rock edging with straight-cut stone. It meant changing the shape of the pool from a circle to something more angular. It also meant managing how water entered and exited. In effect, it meant a total redesign. Jacques and Ken removed the mossy rocks while I laid out stakes to determine the shape of the pond, settling finally on an irregular pentagon. I ordered limestone slabs similar to the limestone steps that led to our front door. To emphasize the change in level and accentuate a sense of looking into the depths of water, I asked Jacques and Ken to stack the slabs on top of each other, higher on one side and lower on the other. By this time winter was approaching. Pushing hard to complete the job before its arrival, I made quick decisions. But the following spring I realized my mistake. The stacked slabs were too tall; the wall they created was too massive. I looked at the area from every point of view, but there was no question what had to be done: the slabs had to be removed, and we had to start again. Some people might have groaned and complained. Not Jacques and Ken. With their usual good humour they dismantled the work they had done the previous fall and repositioned the slabs to form a staircase that stepped down to the water, creating a place to sit in the shade. Once the hardscaping had been completed, I began to add plants. From early on I had known that I wanted to use a restrained palette around the reflecting pool, following the contemporary approach that uses a small selection of plants in large numbers. I wanted more contemporary plants, too, arranged in non-traditional ways, plants with strong forms in blue-grey tones to complement the colour of rusty steel. Eric Fleury from heta was directing the project and suggested using ornamental grasses. I happily agreed. In my view they were an ideal choice. On the practical side, they grew quickly, reducing the number of plants I needed to

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In the foreground, Russian sage and Spirea ‘Magic Carpet’; on the hillside, catmint and boxwood. Water pours from an elevated rill into a small basin, before falling again into a reflecting pool. Ferns and rodgersia surround the boathouse pond.

Prairie drop-seed in autumn. Different varieties of sedum form a multicoloured carpet on top of a gabion wall. The gabion wall provides a backdrop for Russian sage and Spirea ‘Magic Carpet’. Boxwood (Buxus ‘Green Velvet’) and catmint (Nepeta racemosa ‘Walker’s Low’).

buy. They were contemporary and related well to the natural landscape around them. They stood upright, mirroring the downward fall of the water. Yet at the same time, they moved in the wind, providing a fluid counterpoint to the static stone foundation wall and the calm, still water in the reflecting pool. Together Eric and I chose three ornamental grasses – reed grass (Calamagrostis brachytricha), prairie drop-seed (Sporobolus heterolepis), and switch-grass (Panicum virgatum). A stately grass that grows in semi-shade and that stands upright without being stiff, the reed grass went into low planters, its green blades shining out against a shady part of the gabion wall. The prairie drop-seed went into the hillside above the reflecting pool. I became aware of this North American native grass when I saw it growing at Le Jardin Plume in Normandy. The plants there were arching mounds of orange and gold that smelled spicy, a bit like coriander. The owners told me that while it was easily grown in full sun in all types of soil, drop-seed could be hard to establish, grew slowly, and did not self-seed. The traits that the French garden designers saw as drawbacks made the grass seem the right choice for me. And so it has proved to be. Now well established, it looks good in all seasons and is particularly splendid in autumn when it explodes, a firecracker of orange-gold that brings down to the ground the fiery autumn colours of the trees that tower nearby. Switch-grass, the third grass that Eric suggested, comes in many varieties. Looking at the possibilities, I chose ‘Shenandoah’. I liked the rusty-red colour of its new growth and the stronger burgundy of its fall inflorescence, both of which would stand out well against the grey fieldstone wall where we planned to plant it. But most of all I liked its name. My grandparents farmed in the Shenandoah Valley, and using ‘Shenandoah’ was a nod to them and a reminder of summers I had spent there as a child. On top of the gabion retaining wall where the soil was thin, we planted three varieties of sedum or stonecrop – Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’, Sedum spurium ‘Red Carpet’, and Sedum reflexum ‘Blue Spruce’ – all three arranged in a “no pattern” pattern. At the base of the wall in a steel planter we put Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia ‘Little Spire’). Alongside the steps in more steel planters we put a ground cover of blue-grey thyme and Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, creating the contrast I wanted between blue grey and rust red. But of all the plants I envisioned, most of all I wanted boxwoods. Boxwoods were deer proof, they were a reminder of Virginia, and they could be trimmed into little round balls like drops of water. I saw them popping up from a blue ground cover as if they were floating on the surface of a lake. For that ground cover I chose a very common blue carpet juniper called ‘Blue Rug’. It was an ordinary plant, readily available, and the deer did not like it. Or so I thought. The first winter the deer nibbled the junipers to death, leaving branches

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Rodgersia aesculifolia. Rodgersia has rough, leathery leaves. Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’, Eremurus ‘Cleopatra’, barberry ‘Ruby Carousel’, and a stationary black cat. The apricot tones of the eremurus contrast nicely with the blue nepeta.

entirely bare. In the following spring we replanted, and all summer the deer left the shrubs alone. As winter approached, Jacques and Ken covered the junipers with burlap, but despite it being securely attached, the deer pushed the burlap aside and nibbled the junipers to death again. I gave up. In the third year I replaced the junipers with catmint (Nepeta racemosa ‘Walker’s Low’). I knew the deer would ignore this plant – it had been growing successfully for several years in the Lower Garden – and they did. The catmint thrived and continues to do so. When it came to choosing plants to go around the boathouse pond, I knew I could not repeat those I had used alongside the reflecting pool because the pool was in full sun and the boathouse pond was in full shade for much of the day. Looking for plants that felt compatible, I chose Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’), a plant I knew would like the damp shade provided by the pond and whose foliage would brighten the darkness. Ferns were an easy choice, and I picked lady fern (Athryium filix-femina var. angustum ‘Lady in Red’) because its red stem echoed the rusting steel. Along with those old reliables I chose mukdenia (Mukdenia rossi ‘Karasuba’ or ‘Crimson Fans’), a plant that was new to me. I liked the form, and the colour of its leaves also mirrored the rusty steel used throughout the Aqueduct. Fingerleaf rodgersia (Rodgersia aesculifolia) with its big, rough-textured leaves, and Siberian iris with its spikey blades, completed the choices. In October 2014 we began the final step in the construction of the aqueduct, replacing the century-old dam above the boathouse with another gabion wall. Finally, by early December, four years after my first meeting with Myke and Eric, the job was done. But in gardens a job is never done. The reed grass (Calamagrostis brachytricha) looked good against the stone wall, but the planter was in too much shade, and the grasses became weaker every year; I replaced the plants with ostrich ferns, which thrive and whose strong green fronds complement the grey stone. The switch-grass proved too wispy to balance the heft of the stone wall behind it; after a few years I replaced it with barberry ‘Ruby Carousel’ whose thorns protect it from the deer and whose colour adds depth and a rich backdrop to the grey-blue tones of catmint. My favourite addition, however, is a foxtail lily (Eremurus). I chose ‘Cleopatra’, an orange-apricot cultivar that adds drama when it blooms, providing a tonal contrast to the rusty steel and the barberry that makes the catmint shine. Years ago, even though I knew I was pushing the zone, I planted foxtail lilies, also known as desert candles, at the Cascade. I do not remember which variety I chose and I was not as consistent then as I am now about noting the name in my journal or on the spreadsheet I keep for all plants in the garden. What I do remember is that the candles or foxtails were spectacular in their first year and missing in action in their second. Probably the ground

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The reflecting pond in summer. The reflecting pond in autumn.

was too wet – these bulbs need sharp drainage – and the tubers rotted away, but the memory of their impact stuck with me. The ground above the reflecting pool is drier and better drained; even so, foxtails remain marginally hardy in my climate. Yet with each year, as the summers become hotter, the bottlebrush spikes increase in number and strength. The Aqueduct is the largest project we have undertaken at Glen Villa; I believe it is also the most successful. In 2018 it won the grand prize in the residential category at adiq, the Quebec Industrial Designers Association. It was a pleasure to receive this award and to see the work of heta, Myke Hodgins, and Eric Fleury recognized. But the biggest pleasure for me is the joy that the Aqueduct gives us all year long. My main objective when we started on the project was to restore the sound and view of the stream that passed alongside the house, to bring to life in our new home my memories of the sight and sound of the stream at our cottage next door. Building the Aqueduct did that and much more. It showcased the panoply of tricks that water can perform, moving swiftly at some points, slowly at others, falling, splashing, sparkling, and resting motionlessly to link sky and trees together, enlarging the space to infinity. Aesthetically it transformed the view onto the big lawn in a way I found satisfying. It rejuvenated a traditional landscape to give it a contemporary flair that was more in tune with the architecture

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of the house, and it brought disparate lines together in a way that made sense. In practical terms, it changed a difficult transition from the deck to ground level into an easy one. It provided us with a place to sit, and the reflecting pool became a regular playground for grandchildren who waded in the shallow water and caught unsuspecting frogs. As delighted as I was and am with these results, the Aqueduct accomplished something I had never anticipated. History became visible as more than an audible recreation of happy memories. The name we gave the project connected it to aqueducts I had seen in Europe: the grand aqueduct at Segovia in Spain and the Pont du Gard in France. Despite the many years that separated them, our aqueduct was constructed along the same principles as those laid out by Vitruvius in De architectura, his treatise published in the mid-first century on architecture and the arts, natural history, and building technology. By calling the elevated channel of water a rill, I linked our garden with the history of ancient Persian paradise gardens and Moorish gardens like the Alhambra in Spain. I linked it to the historic and contemporary gardens I had visited in England, including those of Rousham, Hestercombe, Shute House, and Broughton Grange. In his treatise from the first century Vitruvius identified three elements that make up an ideal construction. It should be useful, strong, and beautiful. I believe the Aqueduct succeeds on all three counts.

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MAKING MAPLE SYRUP More than any other trees, the maple speaks of Quebec. In autumn its fiery leaves colour the woods. In concert with the deciduous ash, poplar, and birch trees and the evergreen spruce, pine, balsam, and hemlock trees that grow in patches everywhere, maple trees in autumn turn the hillsides into a bag of brightly coloured gumdrops, candy for the eyes. And for the tongue. The Abenaki, original inhabitants of Quebec, knew that the maple tree conferred its blessing in the spring as well as the fall. They called the March moon the Sugar Moon to signal the sweetness of spring, when the sap begins to rise and run. Making maple syrup was a tradition then and remains one today: Quebec produces about 70 per cent of all the maple syrup in the world. When Norman’s father ran the Glen Villa farm, he and his farmer-friend Orin Gardner made syrup at what is now Orin’s Sugarcamp. When Norman was a boy, two Percheron horses pulled a sled through woods where tin buckets were hung from maple trees to gather the rising sap. There was a big tub on the back of the sled, and whoever drove it – Orin, most likely – emptied each bucket into the tub. Back at the sugar camp, Orin dumped the sap into a holding tank. From there it went into the boiling pan where the slow process of reducing sap to syrup began. The job of Norman, his brother Will, and his sister Maggie was to glue labels onto the cans, a job that his siblings hated. But everyone loved pouring the syrup onto snow in the spring, onto pancakes in the summer, and onto ice cream all winter long. We still make maple syrup, and although we now use modern equipment, the process remains much the same. It is very labour intensive. Jacques and Ken tap the trees and hang buckets when the snow is sometimes knee deep, which means it takes them a long time. And timing is crucial – the taps that penetrate the “veins” of the trees, and the buckets that hang from them, need to be in place when the sap begins to run. Everything I know about the making of maple syrup I have learned from Jacques and Ken. They are the experts, and their knowledge pays off: for many years Jacques’s syrup won first prize in the county fair. Before I began working with them, I knew that sap was the lifeblood of a tree, carrying nutrients from the earth to the buds and the leaves that follow. I knew that warmer days sent a signal to the tree: time for sap to flow. It is possible that I also knew how that flow varied, in a normal year starting slowly, building to a crescendo, and then gradually tapering to a slow drip. What I did not know was how intense the process of making syrup was, how

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many hours of careful attention it required, and how much skill was needed to ensure that the sap boiled long enough but not too long. Norman’s father used this label for his maple syrup.

Many sugar maple trees grow in the woods at Glen Villa, but because we do not produce syrup commercially, Jacques and Ken tap only some of them. We aim to produce a maximum of forty gallons of syrup, more than enough to serve our family’s needs and to share with friends and neighbours. To produce this quantity, the two men need to collect about sixteen hundred gallons of sap; the standard ratio is forty gallons of sap for one gallon of syrup. They have to hang about four hundred buckets, several on some trees, only one on others. They do not tap the same tree more than two years in a row; although they say that taking a gallon of sap from a tree does not harm it, they like to give the trees a chance to rest. The quantity of sap produced by the trees is out of anyone’s control – that is determined by the general health of the tree and by the weather – so why is there more sap in some years than in others? Jacques explained that to extract the maximum quantity of sap, you need ideal conditions – warm sunny days when the temperature rises well above freezing and clear starry nights when it drops below. “It’s bad if it rains. That slows down the flow and changes the colour of the sap. Watery sap doesn’t taste as good.” Emptying a sap bucket, Jacques continued as I

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watched: “If it’s too hot, the sap is milky, and milky sap makes dark syrup. No, what you want are trees growing on rocky ground. Their syrup’s lighter than the syrup Sap buckets hanging on maple trees.

of trees that grow on clay. And if you want to win prizes …,” he paused, thinking

Steam rises from the evaporator as maple sap is reduced to maple syrup.

syrup doesn’t taste as good, but the judges like it better.”

The concentrated syrup crystalizes when poured onto cold snow.

that he and Ken were having trouble collecting it before the buckets ran over.

Enjoying la tire, or sugar on snow.

says the plastic hoses leave a taste in the syrup, so he drives the tractor from tree to

perhaps about all the prizes he had won, “make sure your syrup isn’t dark. Light

The weather was ideal on that day, and sap was pouring out of the trees so quickly Commercial operations gather sap through plastic hoses, but Jacques prefers to do it the old-fashioned way, but using a tractor instead of horses to pull the sled. He tree, tipping the sap from each bucket into a container on the back of the sled. On that day, back at the sugarhouse, Ken poured the sap through a strainer to remove anything that might interfere with the taste and clarity of the finished product. Free of debris, the sap flowed into a large flat pan, called an evaporator, that sits on top of a wood-fired stove. I did not wait to see the whole process – that takes too long – but that is where the skill comes into play. The sap is heated until it boils, and as it does, it becomes more and more concentrated, the sugary taste more intense. Producers who make a lot of syrup can boil ninety gallons per hour; our smaller and older equipment takes twice as long, and it uses lots of wood. In a typical season we will use about seven runs of wood. That term did not mean much to me at first, but when I looked it up, I learned that a run is a stack of wood that is four feet high, eight feet long, and two feet wide. The width of a run can vary, but for our needs

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the wood cannot be wider than two feet because that is the maximum the firebox on our evaporator can hold. I tried to imagine a stack of wood that was four feet high and fifty-six feet long: that is what seven runs look like, but no picture came to mind, only the conclusion that seven runs total a lot of wood. On the day I watched, Ken and Jacques gathered three hundred gallons of sap, maybe more. They began to work as soon as the day warmed up enough for the sap to run. Reducing the sap to syrup took about five hours. But that was not the end of their day. They had to strain the sap a second time, then heat it in small batches until it reached precisely 211°F, or 59°C. Then they filtered it a final time. Filtering, I learned, is essential: it removes sediment called sugar sand or nitre that interferes with the clarity of the syrup. Keeping the filters and other pieces of equipment clean is essential, too, and that means washing everything that the sap touches, and doing it every single day. Sap picks up the taste of any contaminant, so washing cannot be done with detergents or bleach, only with boiling water. At the end of the day they hung the filters up to dry. Ideally, they would hang them outside in the sunshine, but it is often too cold; on that day they strung the filters up on a line indoors, where they looked like cloth diapers, making the sugar camp look like an old-fashioned nursery. The final step in the maple syrup process is putting the syrup into cans. When Norman was a boy, each can was individually affixed with a paper label that my father-in-law may have designed. Now we use standard 540 millilitre cans labelled

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with a printed scene. To keep the syrup in tip-top condition until we are ready to use it, we freeze the cans and then take them out one by one when we need them. The maple syrup season ends with a party called a sugaring off. Jacques and Ken start a fire early and make sure that the road into the sugar camp has been plowed or, at least, is not too muddy. We invite friends and neighbours, from babes in arms to eighty-year-olds, for a lunch of sausages cooked on an old wood stove, along with salads for the adults and chips for the kids. After lunch everyone waits impatiently by the troughs of packed snow as Jacques boils the syrup again to thicken it a bit more. The magic moment comes when he pours the thickened syrup onto the icy snow. It hardens almost immediately into a caramel-like substance called la tire. English speakers call it sugar on snow. Whatever you call it, once it has been poured, no one hesitates. Using a fork or a Popsicle stick, people dig in, twirling la tire and sucking it like a lollipop or putting the whole sucker into their mouths at once. The concentrated sweetness is balanced by crystals of snow; unbalanced, the sweetness is almost overwhelming. Traditionally, a sugaring off marked the end of winter and the beginning of spring. When the snow began to melt, people would gather for a bit of fun after months spent indoors. In former times the syrup that was not the highest quality was used for la tire. Usually it was served along with yeasty doughnuts, coffee, and dill pickles to cut the sweetness. We prefer sausages and salads, or whatever a guest chooses to bring, along with wine and beer chilled in piles of snow. But one tradition of the season remains the same: the fun of a get-together that includes family and friends of several generations.

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4

Ideas and Inspirations When people ask me where my ideas come from, my answer is rarely the same. Sometimes I say that an idea came from a garden I visited or from a photograph or from the shape of the land. Sometimes I say that an idea came from something I read or from a conversation with a friend or from my imagination. Sometimes I admit that I really do not know. Each answer contains a bit of the truth. Good ideas come from anywhere and everywhere. For me, though, ideas often come from the written word. I have been a big reader since I was a child, and mine is a literary family. As a journalist, my husband wrote daily columns for many years, sharing his views and experiences. One of our sons is a poet; one of our daughters is an editor. Two more sons are historians whose books and articles are published internationally. Two of their spouses are writers – one a freelance journalist and the other a prominent Canadian novelist and short-story writer. Surrounded as I am by writers, it is not surprising that words matter to me. They shape my thoughts, and the way I think often shapes my actions. I am not alone in this. Words surround us. They appear in the names of streets and stores, on buildings and bus stops, in advertisements on the sides of buses, and in graffiti scrawled on every available surface. They are ubiquitous, and the linguistic landscape they produce can influence how we respond to a location: just consider how different you feel when you see a political message scrawled on a wall as opposed to one posted sedately on a lawn sign. In terms of content and placement, words convey much more than their literal meaning. Living in Quebec, the only place in North America where French is spoken by the

majority of the population, I find it impossible to escape questions of language. Within the province, French is dominant, but within North America, Quebec is a small island floating in an English-language sea. To protect the French language, laws in Quebec limit the use of English. That makes for a linguistically charged environment, simultaneously stimulating and challenging. Yet as important as they are in our daily lives, words rarely appear in gardens today, and that means we are missing an opportunity. I am thinking not about words that convey straightforward information – directional signs, words on maps, plant labels, and so on – but about words that speak to the context of the garden and the intentions behind it; words that give an insight into the mind of the one who made it; and words that spur us to look at our own gardens in different ways. The Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte famously painted a picture of a pipe, adding the words “Ceci n’est pas une pipe.” “Just try to fill it with tobacco,” he said to a challenger, underlining the idea that the image of a thing, however

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The Magritte Bridge actually does exist. “Live long and prosper.” Everything depends on your point of view. A granite gravestone marks the entry to The Clearing of the Land.

accurate, is never the thing itself. On a bridge over a small stream I added a message that alludes to this concept. A sign at one end announces an obvious untruth: “Ce pont n’est pas.” A sign at the other end completes the sentence: “Une metaphore.” Seen from the opposite direction, the signs send the same message in English: “This bridge is not / A metaphor.” In both languages, what begins as an untruth becomes a truism, recalling clichés about making connections and bridging differences. Sometimes I refer to this bridge as the Magritte Bridge. Sometimes I call it the Metaphoric Bridge. The label matters less than the idea the bridge conveys. Using both languages reflects the reality of the Eastern Townships, my part of Quebec, where for the most part English and French live compatibly, one side backed by the other. I have used words at Glen Villa in many other ways, in many other parts of the garden, and the way they are written and positioned influences the way we see and understand them – even the way we behave. On signs that line a path into the woods I printed words in English and French in a small run-on script, making them deliberately hard to read in order to slow people down. In the Asian Meadow I placed a tile with a Chinese character flat on the ground, steering eyes downward and limiting the range of vision, for a moment at least. I erected a word at the end of a long allée so that at first the word is barely readable, and by doing this, I encouraged exploration. I have used different materials as well. Words are printed on glass, burned into barnboard, cut out of steel, cut into granite. Each material conveys a different message: glass suggests fragility; barnboard suggests reliability; steel, strength; granite, long life – and also the permanence of death, because why else would we use granite for headstones? The ideas that words connote allow them to convey much more than any dictionary can, and this is true of the names I have given to different sections

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A tree trunk painted yellow offers a choice of route.

of the garden. Far more than simple labels or pointers to this place or that, the names connect one idea to another. Sometimes that can be misleading. Knowing that our family once lived in China, visitors may assume that China Terrace is named for the country rather than for the broken porcelain discovered on the site. Sometimes the connections can amuse: people crossing the Metaphoric Bridge almost always laugh when they read the second sign. To some, words in a garden seem redundant, intrusive even. It is true that the words exist first for me and only secondarily for others, helping me to make a garden purposeful, to a particular end. But words hold layers of memories and associations that linger, which means they can act as prompts or triggers for visitors. Walking through the woods at Glen Villa, visitors come to a place where the path divides. At the junction a sign is nailed to a tree trunk painted yellow: Two Roads. Some people will recognize the poetic reference, others will not, because each of us builds our own meaning in relationship to our own experiences. Does it matter? Is it important to recognize the source to understand the allusion? Does knowing the source enrich the experience? I believe it does but it is not essential. The connections I make when I see the words “Two Roads” inevitably begin with Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken.” But from there my thoughts head off in different directions, depending on the day, as I choose one path or the other. The path chosen by the person who does not recognize the quotation may lead to destinations I never imagined. Words ask us to see the garden through the eyes and minds of many people, not merely our own. They enlarge the garden’s mental ground, broadening it into a collaborative process that includes rather than excludes. And in my opinion, that is a good thing.

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IN TRANSIT / EN ROUTE Some years ago I read a book called Rhubarb by Craig Silvey. The novel is set in Perth, Australia, where my son Andrew lives with his wife, Libby, and their three children. I read the book not long after they were married when I was searching for ways to understand the faraway place where my son had chosen to live. The narrator was a blind girl, and in one section of the novel she describes the experience of walking through a shopping mall. She touches the map of the mall used to orient shoppers, knowing it is totally useless to her. Nonetheless, she describes what she knows is there: an arrow pointing to a red dot and the words “you are here.” Knowing where you are in space is about more than finding or losing your way. The specifics of location, I have discovered, are more important to some people than to others. When I give a talk about Glen Villa, some people need to know where a particular section of a garden is located in relation to the house or where it stands in relation to the driveway or the road. Others do not care. Does this need to know change over time? When I was in elementary school, like other girls, I marked my spot in the world using a long list of addresses that moved from my name and address outward to the universe itself: Pat Roop 1213 Wilmington Avenue Ginter Park Richmond Virginia U.S.A. North America The World The Universe Reading the blind girl’s description of her experience at the mall, the incongruity between the red dot and her ability to see it, set me thinking about how we locate ourselves in a garden. Sight is the sense we use most often, but we also orient ourselves through sounds, smells, and touch. We may see something that reminds us of another place, and then our memory relates a present experience to another time and place. A few years before I read Rhubarb, Jacques and I had laid out a new trail at Glen Villa to replace one that ran underneath power lines. The new path led from an open field into woods where there was no obvious route. Scouting the territory, looking for natural features to provide interest, we came across a tall pine tree. It was dead yet it dominated the small clearing,

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Jacques Gosselin removes bark from a dead pine tree.

soaring to the sky, contrasting impressively with the living woods around it. A natural element in the forest, the tree provided a point of interest along the trail, a marker of where you were or where you were heading. More than a simple marker, though, the tree spoke silently about the passage of time. I photographed Jacques removing bark from the tree and wrote in my garden journal that I would create an art installation there. Thanks to Rhubarb, the installation acquired a name: You Are Here. Initially I pictured the base of the tree circled with something red like the red dot on the mall map, possibly a platform, possibly a bench. But the more I thought about the tree, the more I questioned its connection to the phrase. What did “you are here” mean? In the book it was clear: for a blind girl a red dot on a map was ironic. It did not help her to find her way around; her memory of walking through the space did that. For people who could see, the arrow and the dot told them where they were in relation to other things. Reversing the list I had made as a schoolgirl, I could show that relationship by installing maps along the trail. The first map would show the world as seen from space, with the

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dot and arrow pointing to the general vicinity of Glen Villa. The second map would show North America with a similar dot and arrow. And gradually the maps would zoom in until the final map showed the pine tree alone. I played around with the idea for a while, then discarded it. It was too obvious; it did not add anything significant to the sight of the tall dead pine tree. I thought again about the blind girl and the map she could not see. Were the arrow and dot a silent voice saying she did not belong there in the mall? That idea resonated in uncomfortable ways. I believed I belonged here, at Glen Villa, in North Hatley, and in Quebec, but others were not so sure. As soon as I opened my mouth, French-speaking Quebeckers knew I was not pur laine, someone born and brought up speaking French. Even some friends who knew me well still saw me as an American whose up-bringing meant I could never entirely fit in. So how could I show that I did belong? I thought of photographing specific spots along the trail, superimposed with the words “you are here.” Anyone walking the trail would see a representation of what they were seeing at the same time they were seeing it. I considered photographing a woman with her back to the camera to create a mental progression in the mind of the viewer, the sort of thing you see when mirrors reflect each other. A person on the trail would see a photograph of someone standing where they were standing, looking at the scene they were seeing. Would they imagine someone behind them, seeing them in front of the photograph of the faceless viewer? I walked the trail, choosing specific locations for the signs, photographing each location at different times of day and in different seasons. I thought about the words themselves. Here meant Quebec, so would the words appear in English or French or both? What if, walking the trail in one direction, the signs were in French, and walking the trail in the opposite direction, the signs were in English? I imagined two walkers coming from opposite directions and meeting in the middle of the trail. What language would the sign use where they met? And did the difference in direction and the separation of language send the message I wanted to send? As other questions occurred to me, other concerns arose. A photograph of the back of a woman would not work if the viewer was a man. Nor would a photograph of the trail in winter mesh with the experience in summer. The photographs I had taken were not striking. In fact, there was nothing special along the trail apart from the tall dead pine tree. Yet there was much to notice: sunlight created shadowy pictures on rocks in the late afternoon, or figures dancing across the grass; the marks on birch trees resembled eyes peering back; and a tent-like tumble of branches suggested a temporary shelter made by a previous traveller. Only by my walking the trail repeatedly had these things revealed themselves. So was the project about calling attention to these

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Clover and its shadow. A dancing shadow. Sticks leaning against a tree trunk suggest a makeshift shelter. Originally the signs leading to The Sundial were on wooden posts.

things, about paying attention more generally, or about being aware of how repeating an activity shapes experience? I went back to the beginning. My original idea was about locating yourself in space, at both the micro and the macro level. It had to do with literal and metaphoric movement through space and through time. But the core idea was about becoming aware of the experience. I wanted anyone walking the trail to hear the wind, to feel it, and to see it move through the trees. I wanted them to feel the ground under their feet, to see the insect tracks on a fallen log. And then I wanted them to think about what those observations meant, within both a personal and a broader context. I abandoned the idea of photographs or reproductions of maps and focused instead on the words I would use. They needed to suggest more than the simple idea of “you are here”; they needed to underline the relationship between a specific spot and the larger world. I remembered how the Chinese traditionally represented the universe with a square for the earth inside a circle for the universe. The idea of combining the two shapes appealed to me, and instead of photographs representing a scene, I could show the scene itself. My ideas developed step by step until the final determination. I would erect a square piece of glass. Part would be coloured red like the dot on the map, but the centre would be a clear glass circle. Mentally I pictured people peering through the central circle at whatever lay beyond, wondering if there was something special about the scene that they had not noticed. I pictured them standing back from the signs, then moving closer again, and finally noticing the words printed on the red-tinted glass. The words would be in both French and English. I was not yet sure what the words would say, but I knew that instead of making statements, they would ask questions.

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The tall dead pine tree would be the climax of the trail, but it took a chance sighting to suggest a way to use it effectively. One day Norman and I were in Vienna where he was attending a meeting of the International Press Institute. I was visiting the Schönbrunn Palace as an “accompanying person,” that is, his wife. On the side of the palace wall that faced the garden I spotted a sundial, and all at once, everything clicked. The clearing around the dead tree was a sundial, and the dead tree itself was the pointer, or gnomon. Its shadow would move as the sun moved and, as it circled the clearing, it would bring together a specific time and a specific location in space. Back at Glen Villa we cleared the undergrowth, allowing the tree to stand out more distinctly from the woods around it. On the longest day of the year we returned to the clearing every hour to mark where the tree’s shadow fell. Then we erected posts at the shadow points around the perimeter of the clearing, each post painted with the correct number of red bands to show the hour. I knew that the marks were only approximate and that there would be no shadow on cloudy days, but these minor details did not bother me. The trail and Sundial Clearing were not about telling time with precision but about the implications of its passage. To underline that idea, I added a bench, a simple straight-sided box made of pine boards. On the bench I inscribed the new name of the project; it was no longer You are Here, but In Transit / En route. In 2011, midway through the project, I was approaching seventy years of age, and ideas about the passage of time preoccupied me. The years I had left were shrinking, and I wanted to use fully every moment that remained. Calling the trail In Transit / En route gave physical form to that desire, reminding me, in Zen-like terms, to live in the moment, to take advantage of all the moments offered – from the smell of the ground underfoot to the ache in my back as I walked.

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Red bands mark the hour at The Sundial. The Sundial, as it appeared in the original version.

Walking the trail today, I forget my earlier plans and concentrate on what is there now. The first sign is suspended at the edge of the Upper Field, above the Skating Pond. The centre is a clear circle surrounded by a red film. Words printed on the film in French and English appear as I originally pictured them, with no breaks between the words, in a type so small that it takes time to read: “whereareyou?oùêtesvous?whereareyou?oùêtesvous?” As intended, I slow down when I approach the sign and consider the question, then move ahead, thinking about my response. When I reach Sundial Clearing, I sit down on the hard pine box and notice the pile of woodchips at the base of the dead pine. Woodpeckers have made large holes, and the holes keep growing. How much longer will the tree survive? Other people walking the trail look through the clear glass and take a moment or two to decipher the words. Once they figure them out, they usually laugh, not a belly laugh but a little snort. Sometimes they make a joke, and sometimes their companion responds with another as they vie to come up with different answers to the question. At the top of a slight rise they look left and right, searching for a sign to tell them which way to turn. Off to the right they see a small red picture frame nailed to the trunk of a white birch tree. Looking closer, they see three red lines, one atop the other. Some pause, but most simply look ahead, up the path, to another spot of red. If the sun is shining at a certain angle, the red glass on the next sign seems lit from within, making the words harder than ever to read: “areyouhere?êtesvousici?areyouhere?êtesvousici?” Peering through the clear glass at the woods beyond, they see nothing special, only the forest, with nothing added and nothing taken away. Some people shrug then, check their watch, and turn back. Others scratch their heads or squint to read the run-on words again. Those who carry on climb a short hill to meet another driveway.

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Ahead they see another small red frame and an opening where the path leads back into the woods. Now the terrain begins to change. The ground becomes more uneven underfoot, rockier, and the tree roots that protrude slow down one’s walking pace. On either side of the trail fallen trees create diagonal slashes. The woods are quiet, and by this point people are quiet, too, even if they are walking side by side. When they come to the third sign, they read it easily; they know now how to separate the run-on words into a single question – “areyouherenow?êtesvousicimaintenant?” Still farther ahead they see a tree stretching diagonally above the path. Nailed to the tree trunk are red letters: The Sundial. When they enter the clearing, they know they have reached a special place. A black plastic tube runs around the edge of a circle, separating it from the untouched forest beyond. Standing around the perimeter are the twelve posts that Ken painted with red bands. Near the centre of the clearing is the tall dead pine tree, and in front of it is another sign. The words are not a question now but a statement: “youareherevousêtesicyouareherevousêtesici.” In the centre repeated words make the message clear: “Maintenant Now Maintenant Now.” The posts add a note of mystery. Why are they here? Do they serve some purpose or are they merely arbitrary intrusions in a natural setting? Some people sit down on the pine bench, noting as they do the words “In Transit / En route” carved into the wood. Sitting there, they stare straight ahead at the dead pine, and perhaps they notice the holes gouged in the wood and wonder, as I do, how much longer the tree will survive. They may hear a bird call in the distance or listen for the sound of passing cars. But before long, they will look at their watches. And even if they say nothing, you can almost hear them thinking, “Is it that late already? I’d better get moving.” Some people retrace their steps, rereading each sign as they go. Some follow the path on into the woods and into fields beyond. It does not matter to me which choice they make, whether they return or keep on going. The journey is what counts. That, and thinking about it along the way. A garden can be a journey for the mind as well as for the feet. But people have different views. In Transit / En route and other installations I have created throughout the property generate widely different reactions. For some people the installations are intriguing. Some find them intrusive, some are left indifferent. Only occasionally does someone respond strongly and immediately, finding the signs, words, and thoughts as meaningful as I do. Who knows what accounts for the difference? One day a person may be preoccupied with his or her own thoughts, another day more attuned to what is around them. People may be talking or taking photographs rather than noticing their surroundings. Maybe their shoes are too tight, maybe they are hungry. Maybe being outdoors

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A sign in the middle of the clearing answers the questions posed on the preceding signs. Words carved into the seat of the bench send a message. Suspending the signs allowed them to move in the breeze.

leaves them cold, figuratively or literally. But it is hard not to be aware of the gap that separates the reactions of different people. Some hike through the forest, intent on getting somewhere else, noticing very little. Others spy things I have never seen. I do not remember clearly if anyone ever asked me about the three rippling lines within the small red picture frames that indicate which way to go. People recognize them as trail markers, but how many wonder why I chose this design rather than another? If someone asked, I would probably say that the lines related to the name of a road where I grew up. If they pressed me, I would mention the name, Three Chopt Road, and say that the design mimics the three axe chops made by Indigenous Peoples to mark the trail westward, from Tidewater Virginia to the mountains. I might say that as the early Europeans settlers expanded to the west, into what they saw as a wilderness, they followed the same trail, reinforcing the three chops to keep them visible. Or I could say that the lines reminded me of an ancient Chinese pictogram that represented a river, and that rivers came to symbolize journeys, whether metaphoric or literal. If they kept pressing, I would finally explain how the design connected my experience of living in two different countries to the experience of walking the trail in a third. That final explanation sums up what I still think of when I walk the trail on my own. The walk to The Sundial is a journey, not a long one, less than a kilometre, but like any journey it is also an exploration. Or it can be. In Transit / En route explores a physical space that cannot be seen in a single glance or experienced in a single moment. It explores a mental space, and that exploration requires time, along with effort and thought.

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My neighbour Greg Hirtle carved the words “In Transit / En route” on the seat of the pine bench. After half a dozen years or so the letters began to fade, so I painted them red, and every year thereafter I repainted them, hoping that the act of renewal would keep the thought alive. By the summer of 2019 the bench was no longer safe. The wood at the base where it touched the ground had rotted, and over the following winter we made a new one. Doing this was not hard – the design remained the same, as did the words carved into the seat – but along with the construction of the new bench came other changes. I modified the signs that led to the clearing, removing their heavy wooden frames, and suspending them so that they moved in the breeze; I also changed the central opening from a circle to a square to conform with the Chinese view that the built world, a square, existed within the circular space of the universe. This change was superficial, however, compared with the changes that the natural world was imposing. Evidence of this could not be missed: every time I passed through the clearing, I noticed that the pile of wood chips around the base of the dead pine tree kept growing, thanks to the woodpeckers and other birds searching for tasty insects inside the rotting wood. “Do you want me to take it down?” Jacques asked. “It’s not going to last much longer.” “You told me standing wood lasts for years,” I replied. “It does.” He shrugged and pushed against the trunk, warmed by late afternoon sunlight. “Or it can. Just depends.” In October, pushed a millimetre too far by strong winds, the tree fell to the ground, breaking into many pieces, large and small. Losing the tree made me sad, but its loss presented an opportunity to rethink the project, to make In Transit / En route anew. In fact, did not its very name make change an imperative? As I

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The Sundial Clearing, version 2. The shadow of a standing stone now marks the hours at The Sundial.

began to think about how to replace the tree, my mind filled with options. I could replace the pine with another one, as big a tree as Jacques could safely transplant, or I could dig up a tiny pine tree from some spot in the woods and wait for it to grow. I could add the trunk of a dead tree, not one that was rotting but one that Jacques would cut down; I could remove the branches, could leave bark on the trunk or strip it off. Possibilities multiplied. I could add a post, taller than those that marked the hour, and that post could be made of wood or of metal. The post could stand as straight as the pine tree had, or it could be angled as pointers on sundials are. Or I could leave the sundial without a pointer, making the idea more abstract than it already was. Over the winter months I pondered every aspect of the clearing. The black plastic tubing that marked the circumference of the circle sat uncomfortably in the natural setting, but I had to demarcate the perimeter in some way to set it off from its surroundings. The shadow of the pine tree had signalled the movement of the sun, and it did not matter that the tree was off centre; its imposing presence had sent a message of its own, about permanence and impermanence. Yet no replacement would have a similar impact. And should not a replacement go in the exact centre of the circle? The “Maintenant Now Maintenant” sign stood there now, and I could not eliminate that sign; it sent an essential message about paying attention and living in the present. These questions revolved in my mind. I had no answers, yet as puzzled as I was, I could not ask Myke to help. This was not a question for him to answer, either as a friend or as a landscape architect whose job was to design, plan, manage,

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and steward the land. Nor could I ask Jacques or Ken. I knew that once I had answers to my questions, they would tackle the practical problems presented by those answers and find solutions for each one. But it was up to me to find the answers. This was my job and mine alone. I did not sit and think about this deliberately; I let time resolve the problems. And it did. A rock, a menhir, like the upright stones at Stonehenge – that is what could replace the pine. The solidity and immovability of a standing stone would provide the ideal contrast to the ephemeral quality of its shadow, an elusive shape that would come and go with the sun, continually on the move. I would place the stone in the exact centre of the clearing, where the sign that gave the answer to the questions posed along the trail now stood. I would remove the plastic tubing and replace it with a steel band that repeated the two most important words from that sign, “Now” and “Maintenant.” Those words could be laser cut into the band in the same run-on text that I had used on the signs that led to the clearing. The answers pleased me but led to a potential problem. Could I find a stone that matched the image in my head? I called the local quarry to see if they had such a thing. “Doubtful,” I was told. I searched the woods far and near. I found many possibilities but no rock big enough, with the shape that I wanted – until finally I did. Not far from the house a flat rock was inconveniently located in the way of the new bed we were planting, the North–South Arrow. I had barely considered it, thinking it was far too small. But removing it, we discovered it was over six feet tall and its shape was exactly right. That stone now stands in the centre of The Sundial where the sign that read “You Are Here Maintenant Now Maintenant” used to be. It has a powerful presence that draws people towards it, almost compels them to walk all around it, to feel its rough surface, and to wonder at the glints of light that shine back at them from mica chips embedded within. The black plastic tubing has gone, replaced by the steel band I had pictured. The band was laser cut with the two alternating words in French and English: “NowMaintenantNowMaintenant.” The band circles the clearing, setting it off from the woods, defining the space, and spelling out the moment. It was bright and shiny when Jacques and Ken first installed it in the summer of 2020, but the steel is rusting. Month by month it rusts even more, and its muted tones are integrating the band into its surroundings, making it more and more a part of the whole. The new bench is there, too, reminding anyone who sits on it of the truth we all know but find hard to accept: that we are, each of us, in transit, en route, from the present to an unknowable future.

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THE DRAGON’S TAIL

The Dragon’s Tail with muscari, or grape hyacinth. The Dragon’s Tail with astilbe ‘Veronica Klose’. The Dragon’s Tail with daffodils.

More than twenty years ago a photograph on the cover of a garden catalogue caught my eye. It showed a straight line of tightly packed blue muscari, or grape hyacinths, running through a field of bright green grass. The line disappeared off the top of the page, making it seem as if the line continued forever, into a future I could only imagine. This seemingly endless line appealed to me, as did the contrast between the blue flowers and the green grass. I decided to create something similar. But where? Mentally walking the land, I chose a flat section of grass where four old crabapple trees grew. A straight line did not work in the space but a curved line did, and a curve felt more in tune with the natural surroundings. A curving line also reinforced a shape that was beginning to hold the garden together. This was an S curve, the line of beauty identified by the artist William Hogarth. The steps to the Lower Garden formed an S, the stream through the Lower Field formed an S, and the double helix of the staircase inside the house formed two S shapes twisted together. I walked under the crabapple trees, marking out a curving line; Jacques followed me with the lawn mower, cutting the line in the grass. Once we had finished, he said the shape looked like an animal flicking its tail, a dragon maybe. I loved the image the word conveyed and loved the associations it brought to mind – Chinese dragons embroidered on an emperor’s robe, the Nine Dragon Screen we often visited when we lived in Beijing, and the Chinese idea that a dragon or serpent formed the backbone of the earth. The band of colour acquired a name: The Dragon’s Tail.

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We planted muscari bulbs in the Dragon’s Tail in the fall of 2000. When they bloomed in the following May, the effect was magnificent. The blue line curved along the grass like a twisting road. It disappeared over the top of the hill where the ground dropped off sharply, which left the beginning and end of the line hidden, a feature of good garden design recommended by the eighteenth-century English garden designer Humphry Repton and others. In that first year the display lasted a week or two, but when the foliage died back, the line disappeared. That started me searching for a plant that would bloom later in the year. Astilbe, someone suggested, and I began to research different varieties. I wanted one that bloomed late in the summer to lengthen the flowering season as much as possible, and I wanted to use a colour that differed dramatically from that of the blue muscari. Eventually I found what I was looking for, a bright pink Astilbe named ‘Veronica Klose’. I planted dozens, and when they bloomed for the first time, I was pleased with the choice. But every year, as the crabapple trees grew larger, the astilbe bloomed later and later. The grape hyacinth began to peter out as well. I dug up a few bulbs, but they showed no signs of rot or any other problem. Muscari were meant to multiply, but there were not any offsets, either. Was it my fault? We were fertilizing annually and leaving the foliage to die back on its own. Was the astilbe causing the grape hyacinth to disappear? Was it the deer? They nibbled the muscari foliage in the spring, depriving the bulbs of the nourishment they need to thrive. Was that enough to kill them off? I am still not sure why the muscari faded out, but fade it did. In the fall of 2016 I made the difficult decision to replace the astilbe and the grape hyacinths with daffodils. Planting daffodils was an easy choice – they announce the spring

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so triumphantly that they make me feel good even in anticipation. But they do not last, and finding something to add colour later in the year that allows their spring beauty to thrive remains a problem. I may need to find a new solution, perhaps even a new idea. I do not mind. Gardens are made of materials that grow and change; they are a temporal art and cannot be frozen in time. Keeping a garden alive means being willing to make big decisions and major changes. It means being willing to take risks and to fail. And it is that very willingness that produces a garden that improves with age, getting closer and closer to the paradise we all want our gardens to be.

THE WRITING ON THE WALL A sign on a wall of our house spells out a biblical warning: “The writing is on the wall.” The inspiration for this project came from Broadwoodside, a private garden in Scotland that I visited in 2014 with a small group of women. I was hosting a garden tour, and even though I took another group to visit the garden during the following year, I would jump at the chance to visit a third or fourth time. Broadwoodside is an elegant and inventive garden in which subtle humour mixes happily with artful plantings. In restoring a fifteenth-century steading, owners Robert and Anna Dalrymple dipped into their memory banks, pulling out classical and contemporary references that they adapted to suit their own quirky sensibilities. Three sculpted apples sit on the ground in an apple orchard, one whole, one partially eaten, one gnawed to the core; a statue of a Greek god, Pan perhaps, plays with a yo-yo; an inscription on a bench that appears to be Latin is only a schoolboy’s joke. On my first visit Anna Dalrymple served our group coffee and banana bread in a covered area in the entry courtyard. Behind her was a plastered wall, and cut into the plaster were those words from the Bible: “the writing is on the wall.” Words made literal. Seeing them, I knew immediately I would do something similar, and I knew immediately where the words would go – outside, against the barnboard wall of our house, in a covered sitting area that we call the Log Terrace. There the words would appear in lights, led strip lights perhaps, brightening a dark area with easy access to electricity. I mentioned my plan to my friend John Hay. “Use neon,” he suggested. “Much more interesting.” I pictured the words scrolling across the wall. I liked the mental image and the connections it brought to mind. Neon coloured the world in which I grew up, lighting up the streets at night, advertising diners like Bill’s Barbecue and White Tower, and department

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A neon sign honours the writers in the Webster family.

stores like Miller & Rhoads and Thalhimers. It flashed out the messages that sold every product desired in the 1950s, including, oddly enough, Sauers Vanilla. That sign towered above Broad Street. It was special because it was animated, and the movement in it fascinated me as a child. The word “Vanilla” appeared, letter by letter, while a smiling chef in a tall white hat added the ingredient to his batter, drop by drop. I knew that real vanilla extract was precious – my mother sometimes let me measure it when we made cookies at Christmastime, always cautioning me not to add too much – so his extravagance sent a double message: if you were a man up in lights wearing a chef’s hat, you could be generous; if you were a little girl, you had to show restraint. Using neon not only literally illuminated the message but also lightened it metaphorically. That was important: the words have a long history with negative connotations. If the writing is on the wall, something bad is going to happen, and that something is inevitable. In the Book of Daniel a disembodied hand appears during a feast given by the ruler Belshazzar, writing “mene, mene, tekel, parsin.” Belshazzar asks Daniel what the words mean; he says they are a warning. That night Belshazzar is killed and his kingdom is divided between the Medes and the Persians. Or so the story goes. My sign is not a warning; the bright colours and neon lights undercut any such gloomy prognostication. Putting the words on a wall made me laugh. Like graffiti, they made an impersonal space personal, in part by acknowledging the writers in my family. They did more than recognize them; they honoured them. The words are literally up in lights, like the names of the stars in a Broadway play.

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Tree Rings celebrates the life of a maple tree. Three words sum up the life of the tree.

(Are they an example of Marshall McLuhan’s formulation that the medium is the message?) The sign honours my husband in particular because this was my gift to him when we celebrated our fiftieth wedding anniversary. The cursive letters that spell out the words bring memories of the years that he and I and our still growing family lived in China during the Cultural Revolution. Handwritten “big character” posters (Dazibao) were a common sight then – a popular way to send a public message safely – and placing the words on the outside of the house makes them public, too. My sign is not a copy of the sign at Broadwoodside although the words are identical. Transformed by the material, the style, and the placement, the message changes; it is no longer a warning but a celebration. Adapting it, I made it my own.

TREE RINGS In September 2014 the top of an old maple tree that stood between the house and the garage blew off during a heavy wind storm. Luckily the tree fell away from the house, causing no damage. Left behind was a snag, a fourteen-foot tree trunk that ended abruptly in a jagged point. Without its top the tree was dead. The obvious thing was to remove what was left, either cutting the trunk off at ground level or removing it, roots and all. I decided to do neither but rather to create a sculpture to celebrate the life of the tree, from the time its seed germinated to the night it lost its upper branches. Circling the tree trunk now are stainless steel rings that vary in width, some narrower, some wider. These rings record how the tree grew, more in some years, less in others, and that pattern of growth reflects what happened in terms of weather each year. Was it particularly wet or particularly dry, unusually hot or unusually cold? And how did those external conditions affect the tree itself: did it flourish or merely survive? Words appear on three of the rings. On the lowest ring is my approximation of when the tree was born, “circa 1848.” Another date appears on the highest ring, “2014,” the year the tree died. The dates were important, but on their own, they were not enough. I wanted to say something about the life of the tree, and finding those words was a challenge. A year before, I had visited Little Sparta, the garden of the Scottish poet Ian Hamilton Finlay. In his poetry and in his garden, words expressed ideas about life, death, war, and history, and always he compressed his ideas into as few words as possible. Inspired by him, I wondered what few words I could find to express the ideas I wanted to convey. Throughout the summer I tried different words on my increasingly impatient family until

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finally, after several months, I found those that said it all: “Seed, Shade, Shadow” – the life of the tree described into three alliterative words. The sculpture is as satisfying today as it was when we installed it in 2015. The stainless steel rings are bolted to steel posts that have rusted, as I knew they would, while the stainless steel remains shiny. On bright days the rings glint in the sunlight; on cloudy days they add a touch of light. In winter, surrounded by snow, they leave shadows that move with the sun around the unmoving tree. As with other sculptures I have made, I learn something new about Tree Rings every day, as it begins to reveal unanticipated secrets. The top of the trunk is not as pointed as it was originally; time has softened the shape and will continue to do so until eventually the point will disappear entirely. Woodpeckers are adding holes of various shapes and sizes. No matter. The sculpture is monumental, more so than I expected, but it is quieter, too. It does not impose itself on you but lets you discover it bit by bit. The three words “Seed, Shade, Shadow” speak to me. The dates satisfy. Together they honour the life of the tree, as I hoped they would.

GRASS SNAKE Words are an important inspiration but they are not the only source of ideas. When Myke Hodgins and I began to work together, he gave me a stack of books to look at. “Mark the pictures you like,” he said. “It’ll help me understand you better.” I did not really see the point but I lugged the books home anyway. A week or two later I came back with a full wad of yellow notes sticking out from the pages. I do not remember what pictures I marked but I do know that I have continued to follow this practice. Looking at my bookshelf, I see notes sticking out from books about Chinese and Japanese gardens, English country gardens, and historic European gardens. In a drawer I have several thick files labelled “Ideas” that are full of pages torn from magazines with pictures of things I liked; on them I scribbled notes to explain what I liked and how I might adapt the image to make it my own. In one of the books an image showed grass growing up a staircase and continuing onto the side of a building. It was and remains captivating: the grass, like a shag carpet installed vertically, transformed an ordinary building into something extraordinary, something that felt alive. I wondered how the designers had managed the trick. How did they get grass to grow on a vertical plane? How did they keep the grass alive throughout the year, how did they maintain it? But along with these practical questions I wondered whether I could do something similar. I did not want to grow grass on the side of our house but perhaps on

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Ken Kelso and Jacques Gosselin install Grass Snake. A grandchild admires Grass Snake.

one of the old maple trees that was almost dead. Could I get grass to grow up its trunk? The tree was in the perfect spot – in full sun for most of the day, with just a bit of early morning shade. It was also off the beaten track so if the project failed, what would it matter? I talked to Jacques. Could we make a slurry with clay and grass seed and spread it on the bark of the tree? “Yes, maybe,” he said, “but why not use sod instead?” When Myke suggested winding the sod around the tree trunk like a snake instead of installing it as a single mass, I knew I had to try. The idea of using grass to create a grass snake made me laugh. It made the name obvious, too: a snake in the grass, made of grass, became Grass Snake. Jacques and Ken installed the sod, Jacques standing on a ladder, and Ken standing in the bucket of the tractor while I stood back to direct the placement. The men shifted the sod this way and that to avoid the stub of a branch, or a hole too large to straddle, and slowly, by trial and error, we found the line that made the grass strip look like a snake slithering its way around the tree trunk. Once it had been nailed to the dying tree, they covered the sod with chicken wire to hold it in place and added a perforated soaker hose along the top of the sod with a timer to keep the grass green throughout the summer. We left the sod in place over the winter, and when we took it down the following spring, its imprint on the tree trunk provided a guide for the fresh

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The snake’s eyes are red reflectors, and the tongue is a strip of tin painted red. Grass Snake sloughing off its skin in late winter.

sod that would replace it. I knew by then that I wanted to make the snake more realistic so I asked Jacques and Ken for ideas about what we could use for the snake’s eyes and tongue. Jacques suggested round red reflectors for eyes and tin for the tongue. Ken cut out the tin, forking the tongue at the end before painting it red. In the third year we added the final touch – a big red apple. Grass Snake at Glen Villa is an obvious allusion to the biblical Garden of Eden. Winding its way up the tree, the snake brings to mind paintings by Lucas Cranach and Albrecht Dürer and other artists who have treated the theme through the years. Using reflectors for the snake’s eyes and painted tin for the tongue give the allusion a contemporary twist, but even without them, a snake reaching out for an apple is an idea that is widely understood. It can even be seen as a cliché. But it also suggests something that every gardener believes, that while one’s gardens may be wonderful, they remain imperfect, a suggestion rather than a realization of paradise.

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WORDS IN THE GARDEN The sign warns of danger and points to a place with a view.

Historically, words in gardens revealed the character of the garden’s creator. In the Italian Renaissance garden of Bomarzo, for instance, the garden’s owner bragged about his creation. “You, who have travelled the world in search of great and stupendous marvels, come here, where there are horrendous faces, elephants, lions, ogres and dragons” (quoted in Helena Attlee, Italian Gardens: A Cultural History, page 95). At the seventeenth-century Villa Cetinale the wealthy Cardinal Chigi made it clear that he did not care what anyone thought. British writer and garden design aficionado Harold Acton translated the Latin inscription on the villa as follows: “Whoever you are who approach, that which may seem horrible to you is pleasing to me. If it appeals to you, remain. If it bores you, go away. Each is equally agreeable to me” (Wikipedia). In eighteenth-century England, garden owners were more discreet, but the words they used still tell us something about them and their attitudes towards their society and cultural environment. At Stourhead, quoting Virgil and Pope, Henry Hoare highlighted his education and his position in society. Lord Cobham at Stowe

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declared his political colours in the inscriptions at the Temple of British Worthies, linking Englishness with the virtues of Rome. At Rousham, General Dormer History spelled out on the back of a bench at Veddw, a garden in Wales. The shape of land described musically. One of many signs at Little Sparta, a garden in Scotland.

eulogized his dog Ringwood, “an otter-hound of extraordinary sagacity.” (It is hard to know what to make of this memorial: was Dormer a man obsessed with death, as some scholars say, or was he simply an Englishman who loved his dog?) Sadly, few garden makers today use words for any purpose. There are notable exceptions. In a Zurich garden designed by Dieter Kienast, the words “et in arcadia ego” that form a concrete balustrade speak clearly about the relationship of

the garden to the Alpine landscape beyond. In Italy, at Bosco della Ragnaia, the non-garden garden created by the artist Sheppard Craige, inscriptions reflect his approach to the land, a combination of whim and study. At Little Sparta, Ian Hamilton Finlay’s garden in Scotland, serious and playful words link the site to other times and places. At Broadwoodside, another Scottish garden, words add humour. And those old standbys, memorials to well-loved animals, remain popular. One that I saw in a contemporary garden in New York state has an eighteenth-century ring to it: “Candy Kid, a tangerine canary, mellifluous and saucy pet.” The power of words lies not only in what they say but in what they suggest. “Fruscio” carved on a stone at Bosco della Ragnaia brings the wind to mind; spoken, it makes the sound of the wind audible, no matter the weather. “Picturesque” cut into a board leaning into the water at Little Sparta makes us question our understanding of the word and look at the landscape with questions in our mind.

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“Look-out” painted in red letters in a neighbour’s garden gives a warning as well as pointing towards a good place for a view. Words connect one idea to another, a place close at hand to another far away. Words on a bench at Veddw, a garden in Wales, spell out versions of the property’s name from the mid-1500s to the mid-1900s; by doing this, they signal the current owners’ recognition that others before them have left their marks on the land. Words offer evidence of emotional connections to particular locations or particular people. A sign identifying a stream as Nanna’s Narrows tells me that the garden is used and loved by multiple generations. The single word “Austin” in a Texas garden displays the owner’s attachment to the place where she lives. Words that mislead deliberately can be the source of humour. Playing off the idea of mislabelled plants, tags hanging from trees in a courtyard at Broadwoodside label each tree with a different name although it is clear that the trees are identical. In the same garden the Latin inscription on a stone bench turns out not to be Latin at all but a set of words that have to be spoken to make sense. Taking the time to figure out the joke adds to the pleasure of being in the garden; it makes it more fun. Using Latin can cause problems, though, because fewer and fewer of us now can translate the words or understand their allusions. The problem is even greater when the inscription is in classical Greek. As a result we may feel puzzled, irritated, or excluded. But whatever our response, the message is lost. Even when we can

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read a sign, we may not understand it. At Little Sparta words and the ideas behind them are often obscure. What are we to understand when we are faced with an epigram from the French revolutionary Saint-Just, or with words identifying Apollo as a terrorist, or the single word “Claudi” inscribed on a bridge? As visitors to the garden we have a choice: we can shrug with indifference, as the Renaissance Cardinal Chigi did to the reaction of his visitors, or we can stop and think. Why did the artist put those words there? What connections was he making between the garden and the larger world? These threads are like breadcrumbs. We can follow them if we choose – on the spot or later with Google’s help or with reflections of our own – or we can ignore them entirely. The latter choice leads nowhere; the former leads to someplace unknown. If we follow, the chances are that the words and allusions will come to life and add richness and levels of meaning to the garden and to our experience of it.

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Interlude Design Tips to Give a Garden Personality

DEFINE YOUR GARDEN WITH PLANTS = Choose a plant that grows well in your garden and make it your signature plant. = Choose a signature colour for your plants and use that colour in all its shades and tones. = Use out-of-the-ordinary plants as focal points. = Use ordinary plants in unusual ways. = Use hedges, high and low, to separate areas. = Trim hedges to create unusual shapes. DEFINE YOUR GARDEN WITH HARDSCAPING = Use paths, fences, walls, or gates to creation divisions within the garden. = Use mirrors to create the illusion of more space. = Create changes of level with decks and steps, low walls or paving. = Pick a locally sourced stone and use it consistently throughout the garden. = Use your signature colour for chairs, cushions, pots, and other useful objects. = Use mowing to create geometric patterns in the grass. GO OVERBOARD! = Repeat plants, shapes, or signature colours everywhere. = Use every available planting spot: not only in pots and in ground but also on steps and in walls. = Take colour contrasts to the maximum.

= Emphasize contrasts in size and scale. = If a setting calls for a grand gesture, do not be afraid to make it. = Emphasize contrasts in light and shade.

AVOID THE PREDICTABLE = Upset expectations. = Establish a theme and then vary it. = Copy good ideas and modify them to suit your purposes and your site. = Repeat plants, colours, shapes, and textures but do not let the repetition become boring. = Use ordinary objects or materials in unusual ways. = Combine colours that are not usually combined. = Lose your preconceptions and use your imagination. = Be frivolous and add some humour.

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5

Monuments, Memorials, and Memories As I worked on the landscape at Glen Villa, making history visible became the guiding force of all my actions. To link the past and the present, I interpreted the Abenaki’s story using forked ash branches, inverting them to suggest people walking across the land. To recall the years in which Glen Villa was intensely farmed, I gave pride of place to old farm equipment used by our predecessors. I combined pieces of our family’s china and broken shards from Glen Villa Inn in the mosaics at China Terrace and transformed a circular wall into the yin-yang as a reminder of our years in China, before changing it yet again into the compass rose to recognize the travel patterns of guests who had stayed at Glen Villa Inn. In other, smaller ways I referred to our personal history. I erected a zinc church spire at the entry to the Lower Garden to recall the years we had lived in England; I planted magnolias and azaleas in the Lower Garden as living links to my origins in Virginia. The most personal stories, though, were those I told through memorials to family members. Each one of them was dear to me. Some have died, and others are very much alive.

WEBSTER’S COLUMN For over fifty years my husband, Norman, worked as a journalist. From about the age of ten, when he received a reporter’s notebook as a Christmas present, he knew that working for a newspaper was what he wanted to do with his life. He started early, as reporter and then editor of The Campus, the student

newspaper at Bishop’s University in Lennoxville, Quebec, and worked part time for the Sherbrooke Record. Late in 1964, the year we met, he began a full-time job with the Globe and Mail, Canada’s national newspaper, reporting first in Toronto, then in Quebec City. He specialized in covering politics, and he was reporting on activities of the federal government in Ottawa when we married. He was good at his job, and his bosses recognized that. Only months before our first child was born, we moved to Toronto, and Norman began to move up the ranks, from reporter, to editor of the weekly colour magazine, to member of the editorial board, to assistant to the editor. In 1969 he was offered a plum job as the Globe and Mail’s correspondent in China. After we talked it over, he accepted enthusiastically. During the two years we lived in Beijing, 1969–71, he gave readers around the world such a vivid picture of what life was like for ordinary Chinese people that his reports earned him a National Newspaper Award. His coverage of the visit of the American table tennis team to China, which led the two countries to re-establish diplomatic relations, was carried internationally, and his photograph of the team on the Great Wall was on the cover of Time magazine. When we returned to Canada, Norman began to write a daily column and to give regular commentaries in French on Radio Canada about a different type of life – Ontario provincial politics. As the Globe’s columnist at Queen’s Park, the seat of the Ontario government, he made provincial affairs more interesting than they had ever seemed to be. In 1978 he was offered the job of London correspondent, and we promptly accepted, moving a few months later into a house in Wimbledon with our three boys and two young girls. For three years Norman travelled around the United Kingdom, Europe, and Africa, reporting on political affairs and giving readers a look into the daily lives of politicians and non-politicians alike. Returning to Canada, Norman soon became editor-in-chief of the Globe and Mail. In this position he played a huge role in shaping Canadian public opinion, and the National Newspaper Award he won for editorial writing reflected not only his ability to present convincing arguments but also his skill as a writer. When Saturday Night magazine, one of the country’s most important sources of political and cultural news, was threatened with closure, he became its owner, not preventing but staving off for years its eventual demise. Then in 1989 he left the Globe to become editor-in-chief of the Montreal Gazette, writing a weekly column about national and international politics as well as about life in Quebec when a campaign for the province’s independence was close to succeeding. Wanting to reach an even broader public, he wrote a weekly column in French for Le Devoir, Canada’s intellectual French-language newspaper. Going beyond the country’s border, he joined the board of directors of the International Press Institute,

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an organization fighting for press freedom around the world, and together we attended their twice-yearly meetings in Europe, Asia, South America, and Africa. After fifty years as a journalist, Norman began to think about retiring. By then we were living part time at Glen Villa, and I had been working on the garden for almost ten years. I wanted to recognize all he had accomplished as a journalist and began to consider how to do that. Could I make a memorial of some sort, a monument to mark his achievements? When I mentioned the idea, he objected strenuously. “Monuments are for dead people,” he said. “Or dictators. Look how many have been toppled – Stalin, Lenin, Saddam Hussein.” “You’re not a dictator,” I replied. “I’m not dead yet either.” That comment made me pause. I knew that in so many ways statues, monuments, and memorials were tricky things to get right; the controversies then raging about statues of Confederate generals made that clear. Those statues and memorials, though, had helped to form my view of the world, and however different my adult views were from those I had held as a child, the memories were still present, inescapably so. As a girl growing up in Virginia, I regularly drove along Richmond’s Monument Avenue past those southern generals – J.E.B. Stuart who waved his hat like a gallant, Stonewall Jackson who sat as solidly motionless as the wall that gave him his name, and Robert E. Lee, considered the greatest of them all. Mounted on his horse Traveller, Lee towered above the passing traffic, incomparably handsome, patrician in his outlook and a man said to live by his principles – after all, had not he turned down the offer to lead the Union forces, unable to desert his southern roots? I felt proud of these Confederate heroes and associated myself with them, in particular with the statue of General A.P. Hill that stood near our house in Ginter Park. I knew nothing about General Hill, but the fact that we shared the same initials (Alice Patterson for me, Ambrose Powell for him) established an illusionary link that allowed me to bask in his glory. I was proud of the connection, however coincidental and tenuous it was. A.P. Hill was someone to look up to. All nine-and-a-half feet of him stood erect on a gleaming white pedestal that was itself on top of a mound that lifted him even higher. He was not the only general I admired. At school, teachers made it clear that I was meant to feel that way about all the Confederate generals, and everything I heard outside school told me the same. Their monuments confirmed what I knew then as an obvious truth. A man on horseback was a triumphant military leader. If he faced north as Stonewall Jackson did, he had died in battle. If he faced south as General Lee did, he lived on to serve the South. When I was a child, it never occurred to me that others might see the Confederate statues as a distortion of the truth and a celebration of slavery. Growing up, I never knew that many southerners fought for the North or that

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generals like the Virginian George Thomas, the “Rock of Chickamauga” and commander of the Union Army of the Cumberland, remained loyal to the Union, unwilling to break the oath they had taken. No one mentioned Robert Anderson, a native of Kentucky and a former slave owner who commanded the Union forces at Fort Sumpter, or Admiral David Farragut, a Tennessee native who remained loyal to the Union when the Civil War began. But children grow up. Over the years my opinions have changed dramatically. So while I wanted to commemorate Norman’s career, I knew I needed to do it in a way that recognized his achievements without putting him on a pedestal, either literally or figuratively. After considering dozens of ideas, I settled on a contemporary design for his monument. It would be a tall glass column rising up from a stainless steel plinth that would stand on a granite base. Columns were time-honoured markers of people’s achievements, dating back to Roman times at least. And for Norman the shape had a double meaning: for years he had written a newspaper column, and that wordplay made the design choice obvious. Carved into the base would be the names of places from which he had reported, and on the plinth would be the names and dates of the different newspapers for which he had worked. Filling the glass column would be newspapers, stacked neatly one on top of the other. I explained what I wanted to do, but still Norman objected: “I don’t want a monument to myself, and nobody else does either.” “Your children do, and so do I.” I worked away at his objections for months until finally he agreed. “But we have to lighten it up. Give it some humour.” He thought for a moment. “We can add quotations about journalists.” The “we” said it all. Tacitly he had agreed to the project, and shortly afterwards the two of us began to collaborate actively. He produced a long list of the places he had reported from, and together we pruned the list to 160 locations. He suggested showing their relative importance in his career by making some place names larger than others. He determined what size each name should have; I grouped them by continent and decided where each should go on the granite base. Norman came up with quotations about journalists and journalism, and I decided where they should appear. During the winter I worked out the construction details. With Jacques and Ken handling the drill, we made holes in newspapers we had saved and stacked the papers on a central post to keep them securely in place. We had to turn the papers every now and then to keep the stack even, moving the thicker, folded edge from one side to another, and doing this, we discovered that a pattern emerged, a contrast between folded and trimmed edges that added visual interest. Although I knew it would not be obvious, I decided to make fifty alternating layers, one with

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Webster’s Column honours Norman Webster’s career as a journalist.

A close-up of newspapers stacked inside the column, with an autumn leaf. Locations engraved on the granite base show some of the places from which Norman reported.

fold facing forward, the next with the fold facing back, to represent Norman’s fifty years as a journalist. To make the resulting pattern as strong as possible, I needed to use a single edition of a newspaper. A quick phone call to Alan Allnutt, then the publisher of the Montreal Gazette, was followed a short time later by the delivery of a stack of papers eight feet tall. The papers were from a Sunday edition that, by chance, had a photograph of Montreal’s St Patrick’s Day parade on the front page. That photograph brought an added bonus: the bright Irish green on the folded edge added a punch of colour that made the pattern stand out. We installed the column beside the driveway, partway up the hill, in the spot that Norman had chosen. The location had not been my first choice, but he insisted, and I am glad he did because the location underlined an irony that I found amusing: a viewer either approached the column reverentially, looking up, or disdainfully, looking down, reinforcing the ironic tone of the quotations he had picked. People visiting the garden today circle the column to read the words. On the front Norman’s name and the summary title, “50 Years of Journalism,” appear above the names of media for which he worked: The Globe and Mail, The Gazette, The Campus, The Sherbrooke Record, Saturday Night magazine, Radio Canada, Le Devoir. They read the place names carved in the base, moving around the column slowly and marvelling at the far-flung locations (Windhoek, Sana’a, Changsha) along with places closer to home (Grassy Narrows, Chicoutimi, Tuktoyaktuk). They read the quotations he chose. On one side the phrases relate to the Globe and Mail where he spent the bulk of his career. The newspaper’s motto, “The subject who is truly loyal to the Chief Magistrate will neither advise nor submit to arbitrary measure,” appears above a quotation from the paper’s long-time editor, Richard J. Doyle: “Don’t assume a god-damn thing.” Visitors laugh at the quotations about journalists – “Nattering Nabobs of Negativism” (Spiro T. Agnew); “Today they blacken your character, tomorrow they blacken your boots” (Benjamin Disraeli) – and others about journalism itself – “Si le journalisme n’éxistait pas, il faudrait surtout ne pas l’inventer” (Honoré de Balzac). If they are familiar with Quebec politics, they laugh at the quotations from Le Devoir, or perhaps shake their heads ruefully, remembering the referendum on Quebec independence that the newspaper supported and that Norman, as columnist, opposed: “Quelle audace,” “Bon pour la cause souverainiste!” and “Déporter Webster?” What they never do is ask about the initials that appear below one set of words. When Norman showed our son Derek the list of quotations he wanted to use, Derek’s reaction was immediate and strong: “Dad, where is your quote? You have to say something yourself.” At first Norman demurred, protesting that

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he had nothing to say. But he came back less than five minutes later with the words that appear below those of Richard Doyle: “There’s nothing that smells like a newsroom.” Typically modest, he did not want to use his name, only his initials. “How will people know it’s you?” I asked. “They’ll know,” he said. And he was right.

MEMORY POSTS My father, Ralph Goodwin Roop, was a southern gentleman. In today’s world that description carries both positive and negative connotations, and I use it advisedly, for both words applied to him in one way or another. He grew up on a farm in the mountains of Virginia, not a gentleman’s farm but a true working one in which he learned to do his part as the oldest child in the family. He was a smart boy, home-schooled by his mother, and at age sixteen he went to Virginia Tech to study agriculture. He completed a master’s degree in economics at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and put that degree to work by establishing a company that sold fuel oil. He was successful financially, but despite this he remained rough around the edges, never entirely comfortable with those who grew up with wealth. Like many fathers in the 1950s, he was a strict disciplinarian. When my sister Nancie and I went out on dates, we obeyed to the minute the deadlines he set because we knew that being late meant hours of work, weeding flower beds in the garden. He worked hard and was careful with the pennies he earned; he was also generous to others and honest to the core. Most of all, he was a storyteller. He loved to talk, and although many of his stories were embarrassingly personal, they were always told with a twinkle. When he died in 2006 at the age of ninety-one, I knew I wanted to tell his story but I did not know how. Several months after my father’s death Norman and I were visiting our son Andrew and his family in Australia. In Canberra we toured the National Gallery of Australia, planning to concentrate on the Aboriginal art that is so much a part of that country’s art and life. We entered a memorial hall created on Australia’s two hundredth anniversary to commemorate the Indigenous Peoples who had lost their lives defending their land. Two hundred hollow tree trunks stood there, one post or log coffin for each year since the Europeans had arrived. A path like a river led through these posts, and walking the path, I was awed by the extraordinary work that had gone into creating them, the intricate carving and the fine cross-hatching that made the posts shimmer in the natural light. The images on each differed, but together they seemed to sing. Their song was powerful, with words that spoke not only of a respect for the dead but also

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of a respect for life. Emotionally I found them more powerful than the fine war memorial we had visited the day before. The posts were magnificent works of art, but they went well beyond that. They sang of loss, but more strongly they sang of resilience, of transition and regeneration, of a connection to an ancestral past that continued in the present. Seeing them, I wondered if I could celebrate my father and his life in a similar way. Could I incorporate his stories into a memorial that honoured his life, as the hollow log posts honoured Australia’s Aboriginal past? On the first anniversary of his death I began to paint a post in his memory. I used half of a sixteen-foot white pine tree that had fallen the year before, setting it up in a workshop in the garage at Glen Villa and leaving the other half behind. On the first day I coated the tree trunk with white gesso, creating a ghostly base for the patterns and symbols I planned to add: dots forming puffs of smoke that rose from the pipe he habitually clenched in his teeth; circles like clocks to suggest his obsession with schedules and punctuality; inverted V’s to suggest the mountains where he had grown up; and dogwood blossoms, bricks, and boxwood to suggest Virginia. Happily, the tree trunk was marked by rough rings where branches had been, and these rings divided the length into panels that could contain separate scenes and separate memories. I knew, though, that the scenes would all be connected by a long sinuous line like the one that connected me to him. I did not know how successful I would be – I was attempting to do something I had never done before – but I was happy to try. I spent many hours over the months that followed, and many of my initial ideas fell away as the work progressed. That did not bother me; it was the process that mattered. I photographed the post each week, watching my memories become painted symbols, adapting ideas to take advantage of the irregularities of the tree trunk, taking my time and relishing the time spent remembering. From the beginning I knew that this Memory Post would go along a trail through the fern woods, beside a large rock marked with a natural curiosity, a line of quartz that formed the letter A. Putting my father’s post beside the A rock seemed obvious, like alpha and omega, because he had been at my beginning. And when several months later I began to paint a second Memory Post, in honour of my brother-in-law, I knew his post would go there, too. Ralph Roop and Duncan Kennedy were good friends, and their Memory Posts reflect this: they are made from the two halves of the same tall pine. Like my father’s post, my brother-in-law’s is painted with symbols and designs that suggest his life and what he believed in. Duncan C. Kennedy III, often called Putt, was married to my sister, Nancie Roop, my only sibling. Like both of my parents,

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A post painted to honour Ralph Roop stands next to a rock where quartz forms an A. A close-up of the dots that form painted patterns. Memory Post II honours Duncan Kennedy. These Memory Posts were made from the same pine tree.

Putt was a Virginian, and he and Nancie met at a freshman introductory dance in her first year at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in Lynchburg, Virginia. They married four years later, a few weeks after she graduated, and they stayed on in Lynchburg for a few years, living close to the college. I followed Nancie to the college and spent many hours at their house, so I knew Putt well. He was easy to like, a handsome guy with an affable manner that made others comfortable. He was deeply religious, reading the Bible daily, practising and living his morality but never preaching or proselytizing. In the mid-1970s he and Nancie and their two sons moved to England, and for years Putt travelled extensively in the Middle East, selling mobile phones, products that were new at the time. The family moved back to North America in the 1980s and lived in Rochester, New York, before Putt and Nancie retired to Annapolis, Maryland. Through all those years we saw each other regularly, and her boys were close in age to ours. We drove around Lake Ontario from Oakville to Rochester, and they made the trip in reverse. We shared holidays and complaints about growing children and aging parents. We spent birthdays together and welcomed the millennium with many glasses of champagne. Putt died at the age of sixty-nine, far too young, from an auto-immune disease called Wegener’s granulomatosis, now called Granulomatosis with polyangeliitis (gpa). His death left my sister bereft and made me very angry. As a sort of catharsis I gouged long slashes in his tree trunk, burned the gouges with

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a blow torch, and painted the scorched parts red like blood. My father’s post had been painted in tones of blue, brown, and white, but I used purple and gold for Putt’s post – purple to symbolize his faith and gold to mark his generosity of spirit. And while I intended the gouges to show my emotions, almost by chance, once the Memory Post had been completed, the gouges seemed to smile and dance with life as Putt had. We installed my father’s post in July 2006, and over the summer I walked past it almost daily, pausing for a moment to trace a pattern and to remember. We installed Putt’s post the following year on his birthday in May, even though the ground was still covered with patches of snow. During the winters that followed, the posts brought colour to a cold, white world. Snow fell, leaving white caps on top. (This, I think, would have made my father laugh – he grew up in Snowville, Virginia. Alpha to omega once again.) Sadly, the following year I began to paint a third Memory Post, to honour my sister-in-law, Diana Graham Webster. Diana died in February 2008, at the age of sixty-eight. She was an exuberant woman married to Norman’s brother, Will. She was a great dancer and was striking to look at – not beautiful but glamorous in a 1968 sort of way, with heavy eyeliner and geometrically cut hair that changed colour regularly, from shades of blond to bright, bright red. Everything about Diana was pushed to the limit. Along with masses of makeup, she wore big earrings and many strands of jewellery. Her house was full of flowers, and

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Memory Post III honours Diana Webster. Details on Memory Post III.

she entertained lavishly, welcoming everyone to the feast. Generous to a fault, she sent beautifully wrapped presents for Christmas and birthdays to nieces and nephews who adored her and who eagerly anticipated her gifts and her hugs. Diana’s ears intrigued me – the insides were pink and luminescent like the inside of a conch shell. In the week before she died, Norman and I were in Florida, visiting Nancie and sharing her sorrow. While Norman went to Vancouver to be with his brother, I stayed behind with my sister. On the day Diana died, I went to the beach and picked up dozens of small shells, each the luminescent pink of her ears. I knew I would paint a post for her, and I knew I would use them on it. I did. Instead of the rough-barked white pine that I had used for my father’s and brother-in-law’s posts, for Diana’s post I used a tall cedar, stripping the bark to reveal a smooth, slightly oily surface. I painted the post gold, then attached the seashells to the post with clear silicone and applied thick gobs of paint in peachy salmon and turquoise, her favourite colours. I took apart some of my old jewellery and restrung the beads, then hung them like necklaces on the post. Interspersed with the strings of beads were small mirrors. I hesitated before using them, fearing they would be seen as signs of vanity, particularly on a post painted in honour of a woman, but I included them anyway. Mirrors allowed

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passers-by to see themselves. Reflected in the tiny mirrored circles, observers saw themselves as part of their surroundings, not separated from them, and for me that reflected Diana’s open-armed spirit. In 2005 in Slate magazine the architect Witold Rybczynski wrote about memorials. He started by asking, and then answering, a simple question: “What makes a good memorial?” “Since memorials have only one function – to commemorate people or events for posterity – a simple answer might be, a good memorial is one that endures.” If this simple answer is correct, the Memory Posts at Glen Villa are failures. Time is doing its job, returning wood to soil. Because I stripped the bark and painted directly on the cedar tree trunk, Diana’s memory post is weathering more slowly than my father’s and brother-in-law’s, which I painted on the bark. But even in its first year Diana’s post began to change as the gold base faded to blend with the autumn gold around it. The bark on the two men’s memory posts lifted and fell off gradually, making it harder and harder to pick them out from the living trees around them. This is most evident on Putt’s post. The painted sections lifted around the area I had gouged and burned, leaving the heart of the unadorned tree trunk exposed. I like what this implies. I also like how the painted dots on my father’s post increasingly resembled insect tracks, as if art was becoming the nature it copied. At one time I thought about protecting the posts – putting them in glass cases perhaps or removing the bark and repainting the posts entirely – but I know now I will not do this. The Aboriginal Pukumani posts that inspired my Memory Posts are allowed to deteriorate naturally, and I, too, am happy to leave the posts as they are. Eventually they will rot and complete nature’s cycle, coming from the earth and returning to it. Standing, they recall individuals who will eventually be remembered only by their descendants. Decaying, they show something more than the memory of an individual. Their materials show a connection to the earth, and the way in which those materials change speaks to the inexorable passage of time. This concept, integral to gardens and my approach to the landscape, makes these personal Memory Posts relevant to all.

UPPER ROOM November 11 is Remembrance Day, and it is my birthday. It is also the day on which my mother died. Many people say it is sad that she died on my birthday. On the contrary, I say, it is appropriate; it is a day of remembrance. We were together when I was born, we were together when she died, and I will always

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remember. She was ninety-seven years old and ready for death when she died. Happy for it, I believe. She died in 2010, and it took me five years to figure out how to remember her in the garden. I did not want to paint another memory post; her life seemed to call out for a memorial of a different sort. The design had to reflect who she was: a person with a deep religious faith who believed in the importance of family; a strict no-nonsense woman who lived according to society’s rules, who insisted that her children do the same while also insisting that they were always to be the best they could be; and a mother who rarely expressed her love openly, yet one whom I always pictured with arms stretched wide, ready to welcome me home. I knew I wanted her memorial to be in the woods where I built The Egg, one of my first garden projects. The Egg was located on top of a slight rise beside an enormous moss-covered rock, and there, through the use of boxwood, I had established a link between Virginia and the beginning of a life. By this time, some fifteen years after my building The Egg, the area was looking tired; it needed a remake. Transforming it into a memorial for her would extend the link from the beginning of life to the end of life, and that symbolism pleased me. To reflect my mother’s formality and the formality of historic Virginia gardens, I wanted the memorial to be symmetrical, and for that to work well, the ground had to be flat, not an irregular slope. I wanted it to include boxwood and brick, elements found in traditional Virginia gardens, and somehow to include a tree. Genealogy was important to my mother, and the idea of incorporating some kind of family tree in her memorial seemed fitting. I pictured the spreading branches of a flowering dogwood, Cornus florida. Those branches could hold family names going back generations, and with each birth a new leaf could be added. Dogwood was the Virginia state flower, and putting those names onto its branches would connect her family to the state she loved. Unfortunately, as Myke Hodgins had told me many years before, a flowering dogwood would never survive in Quebec, and even if it did, it would never bloom in the shade of a forest. I needed to find another tree that would convey a similar message. But think as I might, no tree came to mind. Nor could I come up with a clear picture of the memorial itself. I asked Jacques and Ken to level the ground, which they did, creating an oval approximately thirty feet long and twenty-four feet wide. I hoped that flat ground would sharpen my ideas, but still they refused to come into focus. So as I had done before when stuck with a problem, I consulted Myke Hodgins. He listened to my ideas and asked a question or two that forced me to choose the most important of my many ideas; then, focusing on them, he sketched a simple design – steps leading up the hill to a central entry in a retaining wall, and a flat space beyond, paved with brick and hedged with boxwood.

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A preliminary sketch for Upper Room (formerly The Egg) shows how much ideas can change over time. A roughed-out view of what became Upper Room.

I liked his sketch. It was simple and used brick and boxwood in appropriate ways, but it failed to include a tree. The idea of a tree remained in my head as a key component of the design, but regardless of the type of tree I pictured, it lost its impact when I imagined it in the midst of a forest. Could I use the image of a tree, if not a real one? Immediately the idea clicked. I imagined the outline of a dogwood tree engraved on glass, then immediately saw it in reverse: clear glass for the shape of the tree, frosted glass around it. A design like that would allow real trees to be seen through the clear glass, and that clear, empty space would mirror my mother’s absence. By April 2016, Myke’s quick sketch had become a plan with three terraced levels: an entry, a main section, and a smaller space at the top, like the chancel in a church. The glass screen with the outline of a dogwood tree was at the top terrace, arranged in an arc like Mother’s embracing arms. To fill the space, we needed five connected panels, each six feet tall and two feet wide. I asked my friend the Montreal artist Mary Martha Guy to draw a dogwood tree, and she agreed, showing me a full-sized sketch that took my breath away. While she worked on the details, I began to search for a name for the area. The Sanctuary struck the right religious note but omitted other aspects of Mother’s personality and interests. For a while I considered the Narthex, the name given to the vestibule at the church attended by our family when I was young, knowing from those years that a narthex was an entrance to a larger space. I liked thinking of my mother’s

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memorial in those terms, as a space set off from, but marking an entry to, the naturally sacred forested space around it. Myke questioned whether anyone would understand the reference; I argued that people’s lack of understanding would be a plus if it made them look up the word and consider the connotations. Still, he argued against it, and wavering, I called my sister Nancie to ask for her opinion: “What about calling it the Sanctuary?” “Nope, sounds like a spa.” “The Narthex?” Even over the phone I could feel her hesitation. “The Upper Room?” This was the name I favoured. “That was the book Mother read, do you remember?” “Of course, I do. That’s why I thought of it.” So Upper Room it was. Finding the name in French was harder. In garden terms, the area was a “room,” a space defined and set off from the space around it. Topographically, it was “up,” higher on the hillside than our house and the garden around it. That meant that in French it could be called La Chambre Supérieure. But that translation omitted the religious overtones of the words in English: the Last Supper was held in an upper room, and The Upper Room was the name of the book of daily devotional readings that both my sister and I remembered Mother reading. Knowing this, a translator I consulted suggested we translate it as Le Cénacle, which we did. By the end of 2016, Le Cénacle was almost complete, missing only the glass panels that would show the outline of a dogwood tree. We began to install those panels, fabricated by Deirdre and Holden Collins at Vitrerie vm and Peter Collins Design in Montreal, on a warm sunny day in April 2017. Mary Martha Guy and her husband, Jean-Eudes, were there with me, and we held our breath as two workmen carried the first panel down the hill over uneven ground that was slippery with wet leaves. Positioning the first panel, the middle of the five, was crucial; if it was out of position, everything that followed would be wrong. But it went in smoothly, and by lunchtime, three of the five panels were in place. By mid-afternoon, the job was done. I was thrilled. The impact was even greater than I had expected, and Mary Martha’s drawing was exactly right. The oversized dogwood petals she had placed with such care led the eye up and down, providing a sinuous rhythm. Overlapping branches ended with the delicacy of a Chinese ink painting. There were unexpected surprises, too. Standing in front of the screen, I saw through the etched glass, clearly in some places, more darkly in others, to the woods beyond; I saw myself reflected in the woods behind me; I saw sunlight coming through the clear glass to leave shadows of the outlined branches on the ground

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Upper Room with yew-tree columns.

in front; and perfectly placed in the centre, I saw through the glass to the trunk of the tall maple tree beyond. That afternoon we replanted the boxwood shrubs we had planted temporarily when we began the project eighteen months earlier: we cleaned them, gave them a preliminary trim, and planted them again along the sides of the brick paving. I did not intend to use many other plants – the surrounding forest provided its own beauty – but I did want to plant low-growing ground covers around the boxwood and at the base of the dogwood panels. I chose bunchberry (Cornus canadensis), a native plant whose leaves and flowers are miniature versions of the flowering dogwood tree. In front of the boxwood I planted bleeding heart (formerly Dicentra spectabilis, now Lamprocapnos spectabilis ‘Alba’), and in the space behind I used native ferns transplanted from the forest. These ferns, commonly called Christmas ferns (Polystichum acrostichoides) because they

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remain green all year long, felt very comfortable in the space, and the evergreen symbolism felt appropriate in an Upper Room. At the corners of the symmetrical space I wanted to plant evergreen trees that would rise like columns supporting the roof of the sky. There were not many trees to choose from; they had to grow in the shade and not taste good to deer. I considered many trees but I kept circling back to yews. Years earlier in England I had learned from my English friend Gill Sayer that yews grew in churchyards, and this connected them symbolically with my mother’s religious nature. There were other religious links as well: the red heartwood and white sapwood of the yew were thought to symbolize the blood and body of Christ, and since yews can regenerate from shoots near the base, the trees could also symbolize resurrection. More than the legends that surrounded them made yews my first choice. Hicks yews (Taxus × media hicksii) offered the shape I wanted, and their dense shiny green needles brought light into the shaded woods. The problem was that deer loved them. If we were to plant yews, we had to fence them in. Trees individually caged did not appeal to me, but fencing the entire Upper Room did. A fence defined the space and set it off from the surrounding woods, and a fence built with steel posts and cable like ones we had built elsewhere on the property would almost disappear visually, leaving the view clear from inside and out. Jacques and Ken built the fence in June 2017, and shortly after, they planted the four handsome yews I had located. I designed benches to resemble church pews, and a local craftsman, Mario Vaillancourt, made them of sturdy white oak. Facing each other, their quiet dignity reinforced the sense of peace that permeated Upper Room. Cousins from the United States whose mother had been a close friend of my own visited that fall, and seeing them and my sister sitting on the benches gave me a great sense of satisfaction. The plants needed time to grow in, and depending on how they fared through the winter months, I knew I might have to tweak the selection. But for the time being, the area was complete. Unfortunately, deer crawled beneath the fence, destroying the yews. I replanted them, and Jacques and Ken added another strand of cable closer to the ground, securing it to prevent the deer from entering and destroying the new yews. For some reason, though, by springtime the trees were dead, with every needle as dry and dusty as straw. Now, standing in the four corners, straight cedar tree trunks rise towards the sky like columns in a Gothic cathedral. Impressive as the tree trunks are, the glass panels remain the heart of Upper Room. In winter the interplay of light and shadow is particularly strong. The space between the panels becomes a shadow

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The yew trees were replaced with tall cedar tree trunks. Sunlight shining through the glass panels designed by Mary Martha Guy.

line, and sun shining through the clear glass makes the shadows of the branches dance across the snow. Shadows become figures walking behind the screen, like the inverted tree branches used to create Abenaki Walking. The dogwood blossoms are less distinct, but they are there, visible to anyone who wants to see. Webster’s Column is a memorial to the living and not to the dead, but like the Memory Posts and Upper Room, it tells a story about the person honoured and about the person who remembers. In his article about memorials Professor Rybczynski complained that contemporary memorials are bedevilled by a storytelling impulse. Perhaps he is right, but I would argue that people want stories. They need them as a way to understand both the past and the present. Upper Room and Memory Posts at Glen Villa are private, not public, memorials. That difference meant that I did not need to consult anyone but myself when I made them. I did not have to take into account diverse points of view or consider what message I wanted the memorials to convey. They were, and are, my way of marking lives that were lived. Fading paint does not mean fading memories. My father’s memory post gives me joy; every time I pass it, I think of him and smile. Before his own death late in 2019, my brother-in-law Will regularly stopped by Diana’s post to say hello to his wife, and his children do the same. My sister Nancie also visited her husband Putt’s post whenever she came to North Hatley. Sadly, she died in March 2021. It was sudden and quite unexpected, and thankfully she died without lingering or suffering pain. My task now is to find a fitting memorial for her and another for my brother-in-law Will. I do not know what form these memorials will take or where they will stand, but it is

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likely that Will’s memorial will stand near his wife Diana’s, and Nancie’s near her husband Putt’s, quiet markers of the years they spent together. Like the Aboriginal tradition that inspired them, each of these memorials represents the spirit of a person who was important in my life, and their presence in the woods keeps that spirit alive. Many who visit the garden, who knew none of the family members honoured by the memorials, use them to connect with people they love who are no longer here. The Memory Posts have that power; so does Upper Room. When I go there, I think of my mother; when I think of the place, I think of her. These memorials function “as an intimate experience of loss,” to use Rybczynski’s words. So I believe they are good memorials after all.

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6

Timelines Timelines is the culmination of my work at Glen Villa. The trail that leads through fields and forests brings together the goals I set when I first began work on the garden. It makes the landscape personal, reflecting as it does my way of seeing the world. It makes history visible in terms of what occurred on our particular piece of land and, more broadly, in terms of the foundations of architecture and the history of gardens and landscape design. It enlarges the sections of property we use regularly and, in the process, brings us closer to using all the land. Timelines has done more than meet those original goals. It has changed a rural landscape that was typical of Quebec’s Eastern Townships into an experience that engages the senses and the mind. Walking the trail is a journey that can be undertaken and appreciated on many levels, as a pleasant hour or two in the woods or as an occasion to re-examine what has come before, either in broad historic terms or in more personal ways. The journey can arouse all sorts of emotions – surprise, confusion, admiration, anger, joy, amusement, even sorrow. It can result in aching feet or aching brains, taxed by ideas that stretch the mind and the imagination. It can arouse happy or painful memories, aesthetic pleasure, indifference, or irritation. The fact that different people respond differently gives Timelines its power; like so many journeys, its rewards come in response to what the traveller invests. In a way that I never expected, Timelines has given voice to the land itself. I set out to make a trail that connected the art installations I had created or envisioned, but Timelines ended up allowing me to do much more. The land kept

revealing itself, urging me to consider how to amplify its voice so that others could hear what it was saying. Discoveries multiplied: the rock shaped like a turtle, the trees arranged in processional rows, the water underground that was waiting to become a pool. Each discovery led to an installation that was not arbitrary but made in response to what the land demanded. Its whispered words forced me to move beyond merely representing the past into exploring how the past shapes the present, and how present actions extend into the future. Whatever Timelines is for others, for me it is an occasion for contemplation. Literally, though, Timelines is a four-kilometre trail that leads in and out of fields and forests, dark and sunny places, groomed and wild, to explore ideas about memory, identity, and our relationship with the land. The ideas along Timelines are not presented chronologically. There is no single thread leading upward, from stooped ape to upright man. Instead, postures and events are mixed. Something that happened a long time ago may follow something that happened recently or may point towards something that has not happened yet, and this mix allows someone walking the trail to consider past, present, and future as part of a single whole. Walking the trail takes an hour or two, depending on whether you walk briskly or pause to consider the installations and reflect on the moods and ideas that each one offers. The trail begins in the Upper Field, leading past Bridge Ascending before climbing to the Skating Pond. There it enters the woods past the questioning signs of In Transit / En route, to The Sundial where the passage of time is marked on painted posts. It continues into a clearing defined by a split-rail fence, passing alongside Abenaki figures made of ash trunks now gouged and burned to suggest the pain inflicted upon them. Next comes an open field where crops are planted in long narrow strips as was done when France governed Quebec. Crossing the public road that bisects the Glen Villa land, the trail continues along a grand tree-lined avenue, across an old pasture marked by corrugated tin columns and the façade of a Greek temple, before once again entering the woods. There it passes coloured Plexiglas shapes and a sign that points towards Mythos. Turning off the well-worn trail, the Mythos path leads into a dark wood infused with a sense of ancient mysteries that quietens every voice. The walker skirts a giant spiderweb, men turned to stone, a column atop a hill, and a seat facing a mirror where a curious individual may examine her image and hear the oracle speak. A short distance beyond, this byway rejoins the beaten track to head towards Orin’s Sugarcamp, where maple syrup once was made. Emerging from the woods, the path leads through yet another field, where the installation Continuum both begins and ends. Along the way it passes maple trees at all stages of growth and installations that suggest the many ways

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in which the trees are used: as a source of syrup, building materials, and art for human beings; and as a source of food and shelter for animals and birds. On the far side of the field, walkers cross the public road they had crossed before, climb a slight rise to reach the Grandchildren Trees, and finally return to where their journey began. When I first started to work on the garden, I had no plan to build a trail, but as I became more attuned to the land itself, ideas began to form. I took note of unusual features in the woods: a rotting tree with a sharp point inside that showed where a branch once had grown; a tree that bent over an old trail like an arbour; a sheer rock face that reared up from the ground. Each spoke to me in its own voice, suggesting ways to bring out its essence. At home in front of the fire I tore photographs out of magazines and took notes from whatever book I was reading. I sketched ideas or objects that appealed to me: a brightly coloured cube sitting in a dark forest, a stone base circling the bottom of a tree trunk, a single word or a quotation that drew my attention to something I might otherwise have missed. Everything went into a file folder labelled “Ideas” that I would comb through from time to time, discarding some bits and adding others. Gradually the ideas began to coalesce in the form of a trail. Determining the route that the trail would follow was not straightforward. The starting point near the house was clear, but once the path entered the woods, it could go in many directions. It could pass the foundations of an old building or follow an old carriage trail that dated back to the days of Glen Villa Inn; it could cross the public road to enter a sunny field or head into deeper, darker woods. I knew, though, that I wanted the trail to start and end at the same point, to illustrate an idea expressed by T.S. Eliot in Little Gidding that encapsulated something of my sense of the trail: “We shall not cease from exploration / And the end of all our exploring / Will be to arrive where we started / And know the place for the first time.” I also knew that whichever route the trail followed, the sheer rock face would be part of it. Shortly after coming across this natural feature for the first time, I began to call it the Rock of Ages. The hymn played in my mind as we cleared small trees that were hiding it from view, and as we worked, I began to consider what an installation there might look like. Was the rock to be a hiding place or a stage? Each time I passed, I remembered other times I had passed. I remembered the ideas that had occurred to me then – the poems, the songs, the multiple points of reference – and I remembered other states of mind and mood. Together these layers of experience, one atop the next, were like strata in the rock itself, almost invisible to the naked eye but present nonetheless. The solid mass of rock had been exposed by retreating glaciers, and consistently I

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thought about how I might contrast its solidity and longevity with the ephemeral nature of the life around it. Images filled my head: a floating carpet of flowers, a network of thin lines linking the rock and surrounding trees, a net holding rocks suspended in mid-air. Its name, Rock of Ages, made me think of time and the ways in which we conceptualize, measure, and represent it: time like a circle on the face of a clock, time repeated in the seasons of a year, time as a line moving on a graph, up and down. Ideas about astronomical time began to fill my head: the realization that the light we observe from a distant star was emitted centuries and centuries before and that our perceptions are out of date as soon as they are registered. How did this gap in time relate to our perceptions of a present reality? In 2017, almost twenty years after I had first started to work on the landscape at Glen Villa, I began to focus on the trail. I had plotted the path, determined where installations needed to go, and was clear in my mind what some of them would be. For months I sought a name for the trail, believing that the right name would encapsulate what it revealed about the land and the experience of being on it. The name would roll lightly off the tongue without sounding pretentious; it would offer guidance to people walking the trail, helping them understand how the installations along the way related to each other, and also helping me understand. I knew that in some way I could not put my finger on, the installations I was building were connected. But what was the link? I spent hours compiling lists of words and considering possible names: the Byword Trail, Transformations, Quester’s Way. For a while I considered calling it the Glen Villa Way, but I discarded that eventually in favour of a name that had been in my head from the start. What convinced me was talking to my granddaughter Elinor. I tried out various names on her, and after a brief moment of reflection, she picked Timelines, or Au Fil du Temps in French. I was pleased with her choice. In English the title was short and direct, yet it suggested something beyond the literal. In French it presented a mental image, a thread or filament that wove into a single fabric events and ideas separated in time. Timelines would lead from one point to another as a line does. It would connect disparate elements and suggest the ways in which events at different points in time were interrelated even if they were not presented chronologically – or perhaps because they were not presented chronologically. Each section of the trail would have its own name to express its own character. Together the sections would link sculptures and art installations, garden history and concepts of time. They would offer opportunities to consider the different ways we experience time: momentary experiences, like the flash of sunlight on water or the way the wind moves grasses in a field; repeated experiences like walking the same route again and again and seeing the signs left by that repetition, footprints,

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A twisted girder, part of Bridge Ascending, forms an S against a blue sky. Buttercups form a sunny yellow carpet.

tire tracks, and furrows in a field; experiences that happen only once but which leave lasting impressions. In a practical way the trail needed to lead past installations I had already built – Abenaki Walking, In Transit / En route, and the Magritte/Metaphoric Bridge. Abenaki Walking and In Transit / En route were on one side of the road that bisects our property; the Metaphoric Bridge was on the opposite side, making the road a natural dividing line. So it, too, became part of the narrative, separating the trail into two sections. The first section would focus on what had happened on the land; the second would look at the past abstractly. And so Timelines began. ]^ The first thing walkers encounter when they set out on Timelines is Bridge Ascending, the sculpture created by Louise Doucet and Satoshi Saito from the remnants of the covered bridge that was part of Norman’s boyhood. This artwork sets the tone for what is to come; it shows how something from the past can be resurrected to become something new and in the process can acquire new meaning. Some people setting out on the trail will pass the sculpture without a thought; others will admire the twisted girders outlined against the sky. One or two may read the plaque that explains the origins of the bridge and read the names of those who built it: Jacques Gosselin, Ken Kelso, Jamie Watson. Then perhaps they will look again or read the entry in the brochure I have created about the trail, confirming the names of the sculptors, the date it was built, and the history of the covered bridge from which the pieces came.

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When they continue, the walkers will cross a field where yellow buttercups bloom in early summer and red-winged blackbirds sing their distinctive song. Off to the side they may notice a painted post rising up from the back of a turtle and pause to examine it more intently. They will pass close by the inverted tree branches that allude to the Abenaki, the first to walk across the land, and consult the brochure again to see if they have read it right. They will skirt the Skating Pond, possibly taking a seat on the bench above it to enjoy the scent of the bedstraw growing all around or to feel the wind on their faces or to see the wind move through the grass, perhaps even to hear the two short sharp notes of a Baltimore oriole. If someone is alone, he or she may pause for a moment or two before continuing up the hill, trying to remember the name of that bird; if there are two or three walkers, they may not even hear its notes but instead continue to chat about whatever is topmost in their minds. But eventually they will continue walking up the hill towards a red sign that sways in the breeze. When I first walked the trail with my sister Nancie, she stepped close to the sign to peer through the clear glass centre. “I don’t see anything. Am I supposed to?” “You’re seeing the woods.” “But is there something special?” “That depends what you’re looking for.” A movement in the trees caught my eye – a squirrel jumping from one branch to another. “Do you see the words?” She took a step back and squinted at the letters, scrolling black printed on red. “I can’t read them. You need to make them larger.” The squirrel was staring down at us, as if wondering why we were standing so still. “Where are you – is that what it says? Then something in French.” “Où êtes vous? It’s the same thing.” She muttered under her breath and turned away, irritated perhaps by my assumption that I needed to translate the phrase. Continuing up the hill, she came to a driveway where she glanced left, then turned right towards another touch of red. Approaching closely, again she narrowed her eyes to read the run-on words. “Areyouhere?êtes-vousici?” she repeated. When we reached the third sign, she read it more easily: “areyouherenow?êtes-vousicimaintenant?” At the clearing we sat on the pine-board bench side by side. She shivered. “It’s cold, I wish I had a sweater.” A dead pine, bleached skeletal white, towered above the green-leafed trees that moved in the rising wind. There were no wood chips at the base of the pine tree then, but its shadow still rounded the clearing to strike the posts painted to mark the hour. The Abenaki figures that follow The Sundial were not in the woods beyond the clearing then, so after sitting for a while, Nancie and I returned to the house.

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A gravestone and a split-rail fence at The Clearing of the Land.

If we were able to walk the trail together now, we would pass a single painted tree trunk and several inverted and painted branches, similar to the Abenaki Walkers in the field below. Surrounded by ferns and ailing birch trees, these figures introduce the next section of Timelines, The Clearing of the Land. At the entry a small granite marker shaped like a tombstone is carved with the name. Underneath is a date, 1803, the year that Ebenezer Hovey and Henry Cull received the land grant that allowed them to begin settling the area called the Eastern Townships. There is no final date, only a dash to show that the process continues; the land is still being cleared. My friend John Hay gave the clearing its name. I had been searching, not for a name but for an idea to help me understand what this part of the land was all about. The area was flat and scrubby, with nothing to draw the eye except a narrow, frequently waterless, stream that ran through it. It was mid-summer when he and I stopped at the entrance, and I began to explain the various ideas I was considering: ideas about Heraclitus and our inability to step into the same river twice; ideas about cone-shaped mounds that would link the area to Hera, the earth goddess; notions derived from books and from the philosophy I had studied as an undergraduate so many years before. As John sat silent, my words tailed off. “You’re clearing the land,” he said. “That’s what it’s about.” Immediately I knew he was right. Immediately I saw how the space could show what had actually happened, how colonists had arrived and begun to cut the trees, had piled the rocks, had built the cabins, had displaced the ones who

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A collapsing palisade. Abenaki Walkers move into the woods and away from the cleared land. A harrow is a reminder of the years when the land was farmed. Autumn colours at The Clearing of the Land.

were there before. Once the area had been properly named, ideas came pouring in. Stumps, uprooted trees, stacked wood, rock piles – all would show the work that took place before planting began. We cleared more land, and as we did, Jacques discovered an actual rock pile that no one had known was there, a river of rocks that tumbled down a hillside and disappeared into the woods. We discovered apple trees, remnants of an orchard, overgrown but still producing more apples than we could possibly eat. From the barn where they had been waiting, I added a dozen or more of the Abenaki Walkers. At first I placed them in an uneven line alongside the path that now crossed the trickle of water and headed towards the uncleared woods and a stream-carved gorge. Here I could build the settlers’ cabin, I thought, or at least erect the outline of one, for surely this is where a settler would want to live. I imagined a child’s drawing with lines to show walls and a roof partly built. But ideas change. Instead of a cabin, I asked Jacques and Ken to build a palisade made of tall tree trunks. It took them only a short time to create exactly what I had in mind. At first view the palisade appears tall and formidable, but as it turns a sharp corner, it begins to fall, each tree trunk becoming shorter and shorter until the line dies out into the ground. I gathered the Abenaki figures that had been scattered beside the path into a single band of Walkers and placed them with their backs to the palisade wall, moving towards the gorge and into the woods. Instead of a cabin, John suggested I add a split-rail fence. Now the fence and a section of well-stacked wood define the area of cleared land, and in a sunny spot I planted apple trees to confirm what the sign at the entry suggested, that

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the process of modifying the land continues. To acknowledge the past, I placed a rusted harrow at the edge of the cleared land, a piece of equipment left from the days when Glen Villa was a working farm. Its sharp prongs pointing into the air make it look dangerous, but in truth the prongs rarely stay erect; the harrow is too rusty to do its job, simply a reminder of what used to be. But the pain and injury that is at the heart of this installation is not over. Walkers turning their back on the palisade seemed too easy a depiction of history, telling a story that ignored the lasting harm. My daughter Gillian suggested that I show this harm by gouging and burning some of the Walkers, which I did. I also moved other Walkers from the Upper Field to the rock pile that Jacques had discovered. Two tall figures and one short one now stand there, entangled in barbed wire, caught literally and metaphorically by the fences of those who displaced them. Nails arranged in a grid, like the settlers’ division of land into individually owned parcels, cover the child-sized figure, while nearby a fourth Walker stands apart, an Elder unable to intervene or free subsequent generations from the facts of the past. The single trunk, painted with an enlargement of the smallpox bacillus, that used to be in the Upper Field now stands just beyond the collapsing palisade. Paint that was fresh and bright when the post was new has faded, and the tree trunk itself is rotting slowly. This presents a quandary. Allowing the decay to continue suggests that the harm caused by the introduction of the pernicious disease will disappear gradually; replacing the post with a new one suggests that the damage is recent; and eliminating the reference entirely ignores a significant fact. That post conveyed a different message to my friend John, who thought the

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Burns and gouges show the pain that continues. A rock pile, a split-rail fence, and barbed-wire-entangled Abenaki Walkers. The sign Two Roads refers to a poem by Robert Frost. A walker with a sense of humour added apples to the wrought-iron sign.

design was meant to suggest flowers on a woman’s dress. So perhaps by next year four figures will stand in the clearing, a settler family cut from a single oak tree that I will paint in gendered colours, faded tones of blue and red with a pattern of plaid to unify the group. In contrast with the Abenaki figures that precede them, whose forked branches evoke movement, these trunks will be static, motionless, immovably established in a new land. To keep the land clear, twice a year, in spring and fall, Jacques and Ken cut the brush and remove as much of the new growth as possible from the rock pile. They tend the new apple trees and trim around the old ones that they had pruned to remove decades of dead wood. They cut the rough brush underneath, working to achieve what I anticipate, that the ground there will become tamed as the cutting continues, year after year. Keeping the forest from encroaching requires regular effort. But there is another way – or there could be. Beyond The Clearing of the Land a sign attached to the truncated branches of a tall tree painted yellow announces that there are two roads. The path splits here, each path looking much like the other, as they do in Frost’s poem, but instead of two paths, there are three. All are grassy and show the same amount of wear. Or they did before people walking the trail wore the ground on one path almost bare. That bare ground tells someone the way to turn. I hope that one day Timelines will offer a walker a choice: to follow the bare path or to head out on either of the grassy ones. Those paths could lead to new destinations dictated by the land. One might lead to a past where the fields were not cleared and the land remained owned by no one. Another might lead to a past or a future I cannot define.

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For now, those alternatives remain a dream. The worn path leads to the right, past the old orchard where three slices of an enormous pine tree offer a place to sit. Carved into the top of each wooden slice is a single word: Liberté. Fraternité. Inégalité. Together they are an obvious allusion to a revolutionary history and a pointer to where those ideals led in Europe and North America alike. A short distance away a wrought-iron sign, made by local artist and blacksmith Justine Southam, spells out the words “La Seigneurie,” announcing the entry to the next section of Timelines and Quebec’s long-lived connection to France. In colonial New France, the area in North America settled by French habitants, agricultural lands were arranged in long, narrow strips that ran down to the St Lawrence River. These strips gave each land owner access to the river, allowing easy transport of goods by water. The parcels of land owned by a seigneur, or lord of the manor, were called seigneuries. A friend pointed out that the seigneurial system was never used in the Eastern Townships of Quebec where Glen Villa is located. She was right. Nonetheless, the connection to France exists, and the reference to the French Revolution, the wroughtiron sign, and the low decorative gates at the entry to the farm field make Quebec’s historic roots explicit. In 2019 we planted the field in long strips using three different kinds of seed: flax, canola, and barley. I imagined the contrasting colours – blue, yellow, and tan – standing out clearly as the strips met the public road, which I thought of as today’s equivalent of the St Lawrence River. While it was possible for someone driving or cycling along the road to differentiate the strips because of the different textures of the three crops, the colours were not as pronounced as I had imagined. Nor did the flax and the canola bloom at the same time.

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In 2020 I tried again, using red clover and oats. The oats had little impact, and the clover did not germinate. Instead, canola from the previous year carpeted the field in a solid yellow, as bright as if the sun had come down to earth. In 2021 I did nothing, letting the soil determine what would grow and what would not. The result was a green field dotted with yellow and a hint of blue-toned grass, a result that said nothing about the seigneurial system. Will I try again in the years ahead? If the concept is to remain, I may need to find another way to show it. Or perhaps my friend was right; perhaps the seigneurial system simply does not belong where I want it to be. ]^ Across the road from La Seigneurie, the second half of Timelines begins. Much of it is related not directly to the history of the land but to more general ideas based on the distant past and my study of Greek philosophy. It does start, however, with another nod towards Quebec’s past and the continuing importance of the province’s French roots. La Grande Allée, a straight path that leads across an old farm field, announces that connection clearly: its name is the name of the boulevard that leads to the old, historic section of Quebec City. The words appear atop an old rusty column on what appears to be an antique street sign but which is actually a piece of tin cut to size and painted by John Hay. Together the column and the street sign suggest the historic shift from rural to urban life. For me, though, there is more to it. I see La Grande Allée as a nod to a more distant past, to a Versailles ruled by the Sun King and to the straight lines used so frequently and to such effect by Le Nôtre, Louis XIV’s favourite landscape designer. In his design a single avenue radiated from a central point of view, an egocentric perspective that put the eye of the king at the centre of the universe. More literally, La Grande Allée is a horticultural extravaganza. Crabapple trees line both sides of a path that leads north–south in an arrow-straight line across the field, transforming it into a spectacular spring display and an equally impressive avenue in the other three seasons. Building this grand allée involved far more work than I anticipated. When I first thought of planting the trees, I only wanted to add beauty to a field that had nothing of visual interest. Bordered on one side by the road that bisects Glen Villa’s land and bordered on another by a second road that runs at right angles, the field is a prominent part of the view from two directions. It was not an ugly piece of land, only one with nothing to distinguish it. It was also very big. When I measured, I was taken aback. It would take fifty trees to plant a single line across the field, one hundred to plant

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This sign, painted by John Hay, marks the beginning of La Grande Allée.

the double line I envisioned. Was it worth it? The mental picture of crabapple trees in full bloom took my breath away, and I decided it was. I was not sure if I wanted pink or white blossoms or if I wanted both. I was not sure how I would arrange the trees, whether I would alternate colours, mix them at random, or arrange them in some other way. Although I was doing this less and less often, I called Myke Hodgins for advice. He listened carefully, as he always does, then asked a key question: “Do you want the trees to look natural or decorative?” “Natural,” I answered. “Then white blossoms,” he said, “a long line of them. You could add a square of pink blossoms at each end if you wanted some colour. And do not stop when you reach the driveway. Continue the trees across to the other side. When they’re big, it’ll feel like you’re driving through a pink tunnel.” As he spoke, I thought of Anne Shirley driving through the tunnel of apple trees as she approached Green Gables for the first time. I remembered the pink cherry tree that had bloomed outside my bedroom window when I was a teenager. Those memories clinched it. I ordered twenty-four Malus × moerlandsii ‘Profusion’, a crabapple with violet-red blossoms, bronze-green foliage, and bright red fruit, and one hundred Malus ‘Dolgo’, a crabapple tree with pure white blossoms and bright red fruit that was reliable in my climate. We began to prepare the site for planting in mid-August of 2017, widening the path and adding ditches on either side. The result was impossible to miss. “Are you building a landing strip?” a neighbour inquired. “A new road?” “Just wait,”

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Crabapple trees line La Grande Allée. The blossom of a Dolgo crabapple tree. The two signs make the message clear.

I replied. “You’ll see.” The trees arrived a short time before the first snowfall. The snow deepened and thawed and fell again. I kept my fingers crossed. How would the trees survive the freeze and thaw of a difficult winter? The crabapples bloomed in late May 2018 for the first time, and they were magnificent. In 2019 they were better still, and they are becoming larger and more beautiful every year. Walking along La Grande Allée is a sensory-rich experience, whether or not the trees are in bloom. Self-seeded daisies line the ditches in summer. Red-winged blackbirds fly in and out, their musical trills changing to a scolding chak, chak, chak as walkers pass by. In early fall shiny red crabapples hang from the branches in abundance, attracting earfuls of sociable cedar waxwings who descend on the berry-laden trees, fluttering and lisping out their thin high-pitched cries. In winter the tangles of bare branches become shadows on the snow, complex forms at odds with the straight line of the upright trunks. Next summer I hope to stroll down La Grande Allée with my English friend Gill Sayer who may visit Glen Villa for the first time in many years. We will explore the garden, enjoy the peace of Upper Room as we each remember our parents, watch noisy grandchildren catch frogs in the Skating Pond, and sip a glass of wine happily at the end of the day. Like mine, her eyes are aging; even so, I think she will notice something white in the distance. I picture us walking along the path, careful of where we place our feet, until she looks up and points ahead. “What’s that white thing? Is it a chair?” “It’s a focal point,” I will respond. “What every allée needs.” We will continue along the path, chatting about former days when she was an exchange student and lived with my parents, my sister

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Nancie, and me in Virginia, and later when she and I shared a flat in London. We will remember who we were then and talk about how we have changed yet somehow remained the same, until finally we come close to the end. “It is a chair. I thought so,” Gill will say. “But it’s tiny. I couldn’t tell before.” The chair will be as it is now, raised up above the field on a rod to make it visible from a distance. Nearby will be the two signs she sees for the first time. I will watch her face as she reads the word and follows the letters that shrink as they spell it out before growing larger again on a second sign, the letters reversed there, as in a mirror view. Then she will smile. “Perspective. I get it.” She will gesture towards a second chair in the distance. “That one’s bigger, isn’t it?” For a moment I will consider asking her if she did what I did as a young girl: drawing telephone poles beside a road, making each pole shorter and closer together than the one before, to make it seem as if the road were getting farther away – trying to create depth on a flat piece of paper. Did someone teach me how to do this, or did I figure it out for myself? I thought of the trip she and I had taken with my parents when we were barely out of our teens. As a dare, we had run down a mountainside in the Lake District so fast that we tumbled head over heels. “Are you hurt?” my mother called out. “We’re fine,” Gill said, glancing my way to make sure. We brushed ourselves off, examined the scrapes, and shrugged them off as nothing to worry about. Mother began to scold, reminding us that she had warned against going too fast, that we were lucky not to have hit our heads on the rocks, that we needed to act like the grown-ups we thought we were. Was it then that I noticed that mountains, like memories, become a paler and paler blue as they retreat into the distance?

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Columns line the path through an old farm field. This “Doric” column is the first on the processional path. A grandchild is dwarfed by the Big Chair.

“It’s just a trick,” I will answer. “What you see depends on your point of view. And that depends on where you’re standing.” And it is true. The two chairs, a small one up close and a large one far away, play with our perceptions. The sign spelling out “Perspective” in shrinking letters simply underlines that fact, and the sign reversing that effect points to the contradictions inherent in the way the chairs are situated, the tiny one close at hand and the giant one in the distance. Those vanishing telephone poles I drew as a child made me and my vision the centre of my world, as the central path at Versailles made Louis XIV the centre of his. Mixing things up unsettles this. It overturns our sense that the world revolves around us, that our point of view, actually and morally, is the only one that matters. It allows us to become part of the scene rather than its pivot point. When we are unsure of what we are seeing, we question our eyes. We look a second time or a third. Traditional garden borders put all the tall plants at the back, the middle-sized ones in the middle, and the shortest ones in the front. Gardens designed today play around with size and proportion. Use big plants in a small garden to make the space look bigger, we are told. Plant a gauzy see-through plant near the front of the border to stir things up. Reversing what we expect to see helps us to see what is actually there. But I doubt I will say anything of this, and Gill and I will simply continue along the mown path. It crosses the field through buttercups and ragged robin in June, through yellow bedstraw and off-white yarrow in July, then through buff-coloured grasses in August as the days begin to cool. We will cross a small stream and see on a rise in front of us a column made of corrugated tin that catches the sunlight. On the base are red letters: The Past Looms Large. Just

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beyond is the stump of a dead tree and, a short distance beyond that, a dead pine tree, impressively tall. We will climb the slight rise to stand beside the dead pine and pause to consider the view in front of us. If we are walking in the early morning light, the field will gleam. Perhaps the lupins will be blooming, their blue intensifying the gold of the field. If it is closer to midday when we are walking, the gold will have gone, washed out by a harsher light. And perhaps then it will be hot, and I will imagine how good a swim in the lake would feel, the cold water being refreshing for me but too cold for my friend to risk. Ahead there are more silvery columns made of corrugated tin, five in all, and although it is not immediately apparent, the columns become taller the farther away they are, the two closest ones being ten feet tall, the three farthest away being twelve feet. This second reversal of expectations combines with the difference in height to make the distance between the columns seem shorter than it is. Each column is named on its base. “Doric.” Gill reads the first one. Close by is the second, and she will read that too: “Ionic. OK, I know what’s coming next – Corinthian.” I will shrug, and we will continue walking. But I know she will laugh when she reads the words on the next two columns: Ironic, Iconic. “Iconic. You mean the chair?” she will ask, nodding towards the oversized chair and the tallest column beside it. Approaching it, she looks to read its name, but there is not one. “Climb up,” I will tell her, pulling out my camera to take her picture, as I have taken pictures of so many others. It will not be easy, but she will scramble up into the chair somehow, and once she is sitting squarely, she will look like a little child, dwarfed by the enormous chair she has climbed into.

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Temple Façade.

I will take half a dozen photographs, maybe more, moving forwards and backwards to get different angles while she stares ahead at the façade of a Greek temple. Its columns are made of the same corrugated tin as the columns in the field, and the corrugations make the columns appear fluted, as Greek columns so often were. On the temple façade, though, the pieces of tin are not round but flat. The strips, each cut from a larger sheet, are attached to metal poles that hold the structure together, and with all the construction details visible, the façade resembles a billboard, a picture of the real thing, selling a product that people may or may not want. “It reminds me of a Potemkin village,” Gill says. “Or a Hollywood movie. An old western, where all the buildings were false fronts.” “I had to support it somehow,” I reply. I turn to look at the construction, remembering that Myke was the one who suggested making it like a billboard. John Hay was the one who found the parts to hold it together; Jacques and Ken were the men who built the thing. But I was the one who understood why it had to be there – or, rather, the

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one who came to understand. At the top the cornice extends upwards towards a peak but breaks off before reaching it. One column breaks off before reaching the pediment. Is the temple under construction or falling apart? If anyone asks, I will respond that it depends on your point of view. Or on how you want to see it, or on how you understand it. It took me time before I understood, and it was a book that helped me. Early in the 1960s the art historian Vincent Scullly wrote The Earth, the Temple and the Gods, a book about Greek architecture. Highly praised for its insights and boldness, it was not something that I had read when I was a university student, and even if I had, I doubt it would have meant much. But years later, when for some reason I felt the need to include the front wall of a Greek temple as a part of Timelines, an architect friend suggested I read it. I found the book online. It was dense and took time to read, but its premise, that Greek temples were physical embodiments of the gods, located in places that were in themselves holy, appealed to me. The idea of a sacred landscape connected strongly with my growing appreciation of the land itself. I knew it was speaking to me even though I did not understand everything it said. Some words were garbled; some were in a language I was still learning. The words I understood made me think of paintings by Caspar David Friedrich and photographs by Ansel Adams, men whose images of nature as a cathedral evoked a comfortable nineteenth-century sentimentalism. They made me think of more practical approaches, of nature as orderly and functional, where land and the trees growing on it are seen as resources to be exploited, purposeful trees planted in patient rows, waiting like livestock to be harvested when fully grown. The contradictory messages mixed in my head, suggesting tensions, both subtle and obvious, between exploitation and appreciation, religion and commerce, reality and illusion. I knew that many people would laugh when they saw the names on the columns that led to the Big Chair. The labels were witty but were they anything more? I tried again and again to find words to attach to the final column that would change wit into substance, but nothing seemed right. “All that is real,” my son David suggested. He repeated the phrase several times, emphasizing how different the meaning could be, depending on how it was said. “Let be be finale of seem.” The line from Wallace Stevens’s poem came to mind, and briefly I considered adding those words to the base of the column. Or the single word “Potemkin.” “So are we the burnt offerings?” Gill raises her hand to shade her face, and I laugh. “If we stay much longer, we will be.” We continue along the path as it leads under the peaked cornice and between the columns that frame a door into

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Turtle Rock. The Forms. Autumn leaves decorate one of the Forms.

a non-existent temple. We follow the path towards the two ancient apple trees and the woods behind them. Perhaps Gill will notice the columns that retreat into the woods, and the strip of corrugated tin that snakes through the trees to connect them. Or perhaps she will notice the seats made of tin and topped by thick slices of wood that offer an easy place to sit and consider the view. We may sit on those tree stumps for a while, silent, or we may keep walking. The long grass that has been moving in the breeze will stop as the wind dies, and we will hear more clearly a birdsong in the woods behind us. It comes again and again, monotonous, its song ending on an upward note like the voice of a teenage girl who knows what she wants to say but is unwilling to state her case directly. Eventually, one way or another, we will move on, following the path across the sunny field until it leads us abruptly into a dark, gloomy forest. Despite the low light, it will be hard to miss the large rock that squats beside the path. The rock is roughly triangular, and its top is peaked in the centre, making it look like an enormous turtle or some nameless prehistoric creature coming slowly out from under the earth. The side of the rock is cracked in segments like a turtle’s shell. One segment shows the imprint of a fern, another what looks like bark. Gill will ask if I put the rock there, and I will shake my head no, telling her that part of the rock was hidden underground and that more was hidden by leaves; all I did was uncover it. If this were a movie, right on cue the sun would come out, shining through the trees to land on the imprinted bark and illuminating the small yellow Plexiglas

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sign nearby. “The Forms,” it says. As we continue along the trail, we see more colours, yellow, orange, deep-blue shapes made of Plexiglas. Cubes, rectangles, and pyramids sit close together in an open area, backed by a tall silver cylinder made of corrugated tin. My friend looks at me with a question in her eye. I answer: “Like the sign says. They’re The Forms. The basic building blocks of the universe.” “I like the colours. And the way you’ve arranged them. Like children’s blocks.” She walks closer. “They’re greenhouses. See?” I am startled to see that she is right. The sun on the Plexiglas has warmed the space inside the shapes and intensified the light, allowing forest grasses that barely survive the cold of winter to grow tall enough to touch the top of the long yellow rectangle. Inside the orange cube the growth is stunted but still there. Why had not I noticed the growth before? I nod my head towards something hanging from a branch off to one side of the path. “What do you make of that?” We leave the path for a closer look. “It’s what’s left of a deer. That white part was its tail, and that long strip was its leg. How it got there, that’s what puzzles me.” We discuss possibilities, that someone walking the trail threw it over the slender branch, that coyotes fighting over the carcass tossed parts into the air where they landed, out of reach. No explanation makes sense, so we continue along the trail, down a hill into ever deeper and darker woods where ancient hemlocks create a forest primeval. There is no sign announcing what for me is the name of this section, The Oracle Woods, but there is a post beside the path with an arrow that points to the left, towards Mythos.

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Slate naturally shaped like an arrowhead marks the beginning of Mythos. Tree roots and burls like heads on stakes suggest the power of Medusa’s gaze.

When I first erected the sign, there was a second sign on the same post, one pointing left to Mythos, the other pointing straight ahead towards Logos. The path that led into the forest was not very clear, and few people followed it; instead they continued straight ahead on the clearer trail. Perhaps they missed the turning or perhaps they were nervous about where that path would take them. But if they passed the sign at the right time of day, they did leave the trail. At that magic moment a shaft of light, like a spotlight coming through the trees, hit the corrugated tin column that reared up beside a low seat. Curious then, they would venture along the short path that led to the seat; sitting there, leaning over slightly, they would see themselves reflected in a mirror set into the ground at their feet. They saw reflections of the trees around them, scraps of the sky above and their own image caught between. What they thought when they saw themselves is an open question. Seeing the mirror so close to the word “Mythos,” one or two may have thought of Narcissus, the boy who found himself so beautiful that he fell in love with his own image. Another, perhaps a woman whose children were now adults, may have examined her image to see if the lines and wrinkles she had noticed that morning had somehow mysteriously disappeared. A more thoughtful woman may have looked beyond the surface, reflecting more deeply on her actions that day and what they said about who she was. No one ever asked me why this detour was there. If they had, I would probably have mentioned visiting the oracle in Delphi on the trip to Greece when I met my

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husband-to-be. Maybe I would make a joke about how prophetic the trip was, or go on to talk about other parts of that trip: how it was the first time I had tasted yoghurt laced with honey; how at Delphi I slept through an earthquake; how awestruck I was, standing inside the beehive tomb at Mycenae, afraid to move, almost too choked to breathe. I doubt I would mention sitting on a similar stool, looking down into the ground in a garden in Italy, remembering the question I had put to the oracle in Delphi, repeating in my head the words she spoke. What I might say, though, is that her words gave me the courage to build Timelines according to my own lights, to make it be whatever I wanted it to be. Now, several years later, Mythos is a real trail, an important part of Timelines and not a detour. I moved the column and mirror to the end of this section of the trail and replaced them with a beautiful piece of blue-green slate shaped like an arrowhead. I found the rock almost by chance on one of the piles that attest to the work done by farmers before they could till the ground. Ken and Jacques moved the slate into place, and now it stands on a flat stone that was already there, partly hidden in the ferns, as if waiting for its purpose to be discovered. This is the latest of many instances of serendipity that Timelines has revealed. The rock pile Jacques discovered near The Clearing of the Land confirmed that farmers had cleared the land as we continued to do several centuries later; the rock near The Forms, half hidden underground, that looked like a turtle, corroborated the Indigenous creation story. Pointing skyward, the slate arrowhead now seems

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A spiderweb and stone men are part of Mythos.

poised for an archer who is lying flat on his back to lash it to the shaft of his arrow. Actaeon, perhaps, the hunter who became the hunted, transformed into a stag and torn apart by his own hounds for a sin that varied according to the writer of the story. Had he seen Artemis in the bath or did he speak although she had forbidden it? Or perhaps the archer is Artemis herself, goddess of the hunt, of the moon, of the wilderness. Or one of the many maidens whose vows of chastity, broken against her will, were punished by one god for another god’s misdoing. One of those maidens was Medusa, the Gorgon with snakes for hair. Facing the slate arrowhead stone, tangled roots of trees suggest her hair; set alongside the roots, large burls from cherry and maple trees erected on stakes in order to underline her power bring decapitated enemies to mind. Farther along the trail, figures seen through a giant spiderweb appear like men turned to stone by her gaze. The web glitters when sunlight hits it, and almost disappears when the sun’s angle shifts, but it remains there, some six feet high and wide, stretched between the trunks of two maple trees. Ken and I made the web in the barn over the winter months, using a frame he had constructed with narrow strips of wood. He drilled screws into the wood at regular intervals, and we stretched wire cable across the frame, side to side, top to bottom, corner to corner. Weaving the cable in and out of these wires, we formed a spiderweb. In the centre of the web the rings of wire are close together, almost touching, but as they move out from the centre, the rings become more and more widely spaced. There is no spider even though I intended to make one. Instead I made what I think of as stone men. These men are oddly shaped figures that range in height from three feet to seven feet. All are broad shouldered with rounded heads; some have broad torsos that flare out towards the ground; others more closely resemble pillars, their heads and shoulders on torsos that taper, like the Herms or boundary markers used in ancient Greece and Rome. I have seen these figures in gardens, no longer the phallic symbols they originally were but versions gentled down for our times, good-luck charms rather than fierce protectors. These figures in the woods do not protect. In fact, they more closely resemble gravestones, as I intended. Limbless, they seem to be rooted in place, frozen by the unseen spiderhaired goddess’s gaze. Or by her sting. Beyond the web the path descends into a swampy area so wet in places that I thought we would need a bridge. I considered adding a rowboat near the path with another odd figure standing beside it, the ferryman who carried dead souls to the underworld, until Jacques suggested a more practical solution. Instead of a bridge, he and Ken put stones in the wettest spots, laid sticks and thick branches across the path, and covered them with wood chips that blended into the surroundings.

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The column on top of Hera’s Hill. A self-portrait, seen in a glass darkly.

Beyond the swamp the path rises to the top of a knoll. A corrugated tin column stands there, with the words “Here Hear Hera” affixed to the base. A log stripped of its bark offers a place to sit and listen for Hera’s voice – the sound of the wind in the trees or the song of a bird, a cuckoo perhaps. Still farther along the Mythos trail the column and mirror that used to be at the start of this section of the trail offer a final chance for self-examination. I have peered at my reflection here, photographed myself looking at myself, and finally have come to accept that very few people who walk this part of Timelines will recognize the references or consider how they work together to retell old stories in a new way. How many will know that Hera was the earth goddess, Mother Earth, before she became the wife of Zeus, or that, as the goddess of marriage, she once was worshipped as a virgin? How many will care if they do? ]^

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The sign that points to Logos leads to the rational, everyday world. Following that path or rejoining that trail after the diversion through the mythical woods, people come to a sign hanging overhead that announces the next section of Timelines. Orin’s Sugarcamp, named after Orin Gardner, is one of the installations that makes the history of the site visible on the land. A short distance beyond the sign that bears his name, walkers come upon the recreation of the sugar camp where he and Norman’s father made maple syrup in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. I have often stopped at Orin’s Sugarcamp with my friend John Hay. Always when we reach the spot, he will stop talking and simply sit quietly for a moment, looking towards the rusted sheets of tin that outline the roof of the building, beyond the moss-encrusted stones that mark where its walls once stood, and into the forest that remains. Oversized maple leaves made of tin that have rusted to the colours of autumn turn gently in mid-air, blown by the slightest breeze. “It’s peaceful here,” he says, always using the same words, if he says anything at all. Almost everyone who walks the trail says the same, and often they tell me afterwards that being on that part of the trail was magical. Even in the slightest wind the tin leaves sway gradually, slowly turning one way, then back the other. Few of those people climb the steps in front of the sugar camp to take a closer look at the boiling pan and the other bits and pieces I discovered on site. To me this is a pity. It means they miss the inscription from Chrysippus carved into the granite slab that marks where the front wall of the sugar camp once stood: “The gods can be known to exist on account of the existence of their altars.” What ideas might that inscription provoke? Several years ago I added three low seats under the tall pine tree that stands in front of the sugar camp. I wanted to give people a place to sit so they could soak in the serenity before they moved on and, perhaps by adding those seats, I reduced the chances that they would climb the steps. Who knows? While I tell myself that it does not matter, I think those who fail to read the words miss some part of the meaning of Orin’s Sugarcamp. The altars we build are not always literal, and they are not built only to the gods. They mark the values that we honour. And those marks last. Most people leave Orin’s Sugarcamp in a reflective mood, but that changes when they approach a stream at the edge of the woods. Above the bridge over the stream a sign in French announces an obvious untruth: “Ce pont n’est pas.” At the far end of the bridge another sign completes the sentence: “Une metaphore.” On the back of the signs the words appear in English: “This bridge is not / A metaphor.” As always, when the words I have used refer to poems or ideas that exist outside the garden, I wonder whether visitors will recognize the allusions

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Blocks like a Rubik’s Cube announce the beginning of Continuum. The lid of a sap bucket embedded in the trunk of a maple tree. Slabs of wood surround the heart of a tree in Tree Square. An Elder screaming in the woods. Drone photograph by Tim Doherty, VisImage.

and whether it matters if they do or do not. Do these words provoke thought or only a snorting laugh? Do they lead people to examine preconceived perceptions about how we see the world, and do they link the words to Magritte and his surrealist paintings? Do they remember The Human Condition, for instance, in which the artist has painted a curtained window and an easel that holds an unframed painting which seems to be an exact copy of the landscape outside the window, the actual grass, trees, and sky duplicated on canvas? I laughed when I saw it at the National Gallery in Washington. How clever, I thought, before I began to wonder whether the canvas was hiding something on the land, something unpleasant or strange. Or was the painting a copy of what was really there? Thinking beyond the obvious, I knew I was being tricked. Neither the painting on the easel nor the landscape beyond was real; both were fabrications. Yet seeing the painting, even reproduced online, I could not help but think that the landscape existed while the unframed canvas merely represented it. There is no possibility of confusion when you are standing on the bridge. Despite the words on the sign, the bridge is real. So is the water running beneath it, and the grass growing in the field beyond. Someone crossing the bridge for the first time may think that Timelines has finished when they enter the open field, but after only a few steps they will see a giant cube on the hill in front of them. As they approach, they will see letters burned into the butt ends of timbers that spell out a single word, “Continuum.” There are nine timbers, each two feet square and arranged three by three, like a Rubik’s cube. Anyone walking the trail will climb to where the cube sits on a high point of land, elevated even farther on a table made by Jacques of square-cut wood.

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If they walk around the cube, examining each side, they will notice that the letters are the same on each face but arranged differently – “con/tin/uum” on one side, “uum/nit/con” on another, and “tin/con/uum” on still a third – and that sometimes the letters C and N are backwards. The word and the various combinations and variations introduce the idea that things continue even while they change, that modifications may only present different versions of something whose essential nature remains the same. A mown path leads across the field and into the woods where it skirts a small, rocky stream bordered by old maple trees. Remnants of syrup making are there to be seen: rusty cans and the lid of a bucket embedded in the trunk of an old maple. Round stumps of old trees and a long tree trunk turned white by the weather provide places to sit by the stream, to listen to the sound of the wind in the tree tops and to hear the water gurgle as it rushes downhill in springtime, over rocks worn smooth by time. Emerging from the woods, the path leads towards the trunk of a hemlock tree whose sides have been cut off squarely. Those slices are now set back from the squared-off heartwood, a six-by-six-inch timber ready to be used to build something new. Native trees, mostly maples, edge the field, and the path rises to enter woods in which more maple trees, twisted and gnarled with age, stand like Elders, willing to give counsel if asked or letting out a silent scream at a future they fear. Their faces are rough with marks like eyes looking out at whoever passes by. Some stand as stubs, the inner wood turned black with age. Near the base of one is a boulder in which I drilled holes that outline maple keys, the seeds called samaras from which new trees grow.

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Rocks drilled with maplekey designs sit beside the Continuum pool. Reflections in the Continuum pool. A double line of tree trunks marks the conclusion of Continuum.

The path leads through this grove of Elders to join an old farm road, now rocky and rough under foot. The road skirts Rock of Ages, the outcropping that inspired Timelines. At its base is a dark pool fed by a ground spring whose level rises and falls seasonally. The pool is new. Searching for a way to make the rock more prominent, I had asked Jacques to dig down around its base to see how much more of its face we could expose. He dug a small hole at the end of a work day and returned the following morning to find the hole full of water. Bit by bit we enlarged the pool, shaping it to reflect as much of the rock face as possible. The water in the pool changes colour, being sometimes a cloudy brown after a rainfall, but more often a clear black that reflects the rock beside it. Looking down into the water, one can easily imagine an underwater world, a dark, cold place in which Persephone must spend the winter months, leaving the world above to grieve until she returns to earth in the spring. The tale of her transition from the underworld to the world we live in offered people in the ancient world an explanation for the cycle of the seasons. In a similar way the boulders that sit beside this newly dug pool illustrate the idea behind Continuum. I drilled two of them with the samara pattern that I had used on the rock near an Elder maple tree; these winged seeds foretell life and growth. On the slope above the pool, laid out on leaf litter, stones arranged in the same design serve as the positive of the drilled negative. The pool is a peaceful spot now, with flat-topped rocks placed strategically to give walkers a place to rest and take in the view, or, if not to rest, to reflect on what they are seeing and what they have seen. Stone seats are hard and cold, so few will sit for long. When they continue, they will follow the path out of

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the woods and enter, once again, the old farm field where Continuum began. They pass a group of maple saplings that surround a bare tree trunk enclosed in Plexiglas. Or so is my plan. Neither the tree trunk nor the Plexiglas case exists yet, but once they do, anyone approaching will see that the straight tree trunk is covered with a collage made of newspapers and images of Canadian paintings: Tom Thomson’s West Wind and The Jack Pine, Frank Johnston’s Moose Pond, and Emily Carr’s forest landscapes with trees twisting almost painfully in the wind. I plan to superimpose these scenes on images of paintings torn from auction catalogues and on pages of the business section torn from the Globe and Mail, which have graphs with rising and falling lines to reflect the changing prices of stocks and bonds. People familiar with Canadian art will recognize some of the paintings and may notice that seven maple trees are grouped around the collaged tree trunk: five saplings and two much older trees. They may chuckle at the indirect allusion to the Group of Seven, those men inspired by the Canadian landscape to paint it as it was in their day, or they may not make the connection at all, thinking instead of how trees that become lumber can also become art. The final section of Continuum is an avenue of tree trunks stripped of their bark. Starting at the top of a slope in the field where Continuum began, the twenty-six trunks, thirteen on each side of the path, become shorter and shorter until they seem to disappear into the ground. This allée harkens back to the crabapple trees that line both sides of La Grande Allée, but, while those trees are alive and growing, these are dead. Their wood is still green, but when it dries, I may burn the trunks, suggesting the fires that consume large and growing swathes of land, as climate changes twist the idea of what continuation is or will be.

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A grandchild stands beside her tree. A drone shot shows seven of eleven grandchildren standing beside their trees.

It has been a few years since I walked the trail with my sister Nancie, and we will not be able to do it again. Even before she died, though, walking the trail was more demanding than either of us liked. But we did walk it. We recrossed the public road that we had crossed several kilometres back, and climbed the small rise to the field where the “grandchildren” trees are growing. Those trees mark a different approach to the idea of time: they look forwards, anticipating a future that remains unknown. Our first grandchild was born in 2001. In the following spring I suggested to my husband that we plant a maple tree to mark her birth. A few years later, when our second and third grandchildren were born only a month apart, we planted trees for them, too. We planted the trees on the slope of the Upper Field, not far from the Skating Pond, where there was plenty of sunshine and soil that was neither too wet nor too dry. We continued, planting a tree whenever a grandchild was born. The first four trees went in a straight line, parallel to the edge of the field; when the fifth grandchild was born, we started a second row, staggering the trees between those in the row behind them. When that second row filled up, we started a third and then a fourth. All of a sudden – or so it seemed – we had ten grandchildren and ten maple trees, planted in a triangle like pins in a bowling alley, each named and dated to mark the grandchild’s birth.

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But then our eleventh grandchild was born. Where could we put her tree? I wanted to plant it in the same field, not far from the other Grandchildren Trees, but it could not be part of the group; the bowling alley was full. I chose a spot not far away, but within a year or two her cousins began to complain. “We do not want to leave her out,” they said. What could I do but listen? We moved the youngest (the final?) grandchild’s tree onto a slope at the tip of the triangle, on the other side of the path that winds its way through the Upper Field. There her tree either brings up the rear or leads the pack, depending on how you choose to see it. By 2016 the trees were big enough to have an impact, but the long grass in the field hid the triangular shape. Mowing around the trees made the shape clearer but not clear enough. Outlining the triangle with white spray paint helped, but the spray paint did not last long on the grass and I did not relish the idea of spraypainting the line every few weeks. The spray paint suggested another solution, though, and now slender steel bars, spray-painted to look like chrome, mark the corners of the triangle, drawing a sleek line six inches above the ground. When someone asks me about the arrangement of the Grandchildren Trees, I often mention the idea of pins in a bowling alley and say that the eleventh tree is the bowler, about to knock the other trees down. As my sister was a musician, a singer, and a voice teacher, to her I would have said that the ten trees were the instruments in an orchestra and that the eleventh tree was the conductor, setting the tempo and keeping the beat – or perhaps the soloist, putting words to the music. She would have smiled in appreciation. But, in truth, the comparison is less important than the choice of tree. Our eleventh grandchild was a girl, and when she was born, her mother asked that I plant a tree that bore fruit. I liked the idea. For one brief moment I thought of planting a flowering cherry like the one that had grown outside my bedroom window when I was a teenager, but just as quickly I rejected the idea: a flowering cherry would never survive a Quebec winter. I thought of an apple tree but knew the deer would make short work of it. So, instead, I planted a crabapple tree, beautiful in spring when it flowers, fruitful in autumn, and reliably hardy year-round – as I hope my granddaughter will be. Planting the Grandchildren Trees was a way of marking their birth, but it was also a way of seeing the future. As the grandchildren grew, so would their trees. Or perhaps not. Several times now we have had to replace a dead or sickly tree. The first time this happened, I told myself not to be superstitious, but seeing a dead tree with a granddaughter’s name attached to it bothered me enormously. I did not tell her at first, afraid of how she would feel, knowing that her tree had been replaced. But to my surprise, when I told her, she laughed as if it were a

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joke. She knew that the connection was symbolic, not actual. She was not the tree, and its death said nothing about her own. She was still young; her own death was too far away to be real. Not so for me, in the midst of my seventh decade. Now the prospect of death is always there, sometimes close to the front of my mind, sometimes farther away, but always present.

WHY TIMELINES? In the book Walden, Henry David Thoreau writes of planting and tending his bean field. “Removing the weeds, putting fresh soil about the bean stems, and encouraging this weed which I had sown, making the yellow soil express its summer thought in bean leaves and blossoms rather than in wormwood and piper and millet grass, making the earth say beans instead of grass – this was my daily work.” Although I only realized it recently, creating Timelines has been my daily work for the last twenty years. Timelines is more than a trail; it is a way of thinking about our relationship to the land, and that relationship is built step by step. I mean that quite literally. It was only by walking the land that I began to hear its voice. I am not the first to discover what walking can accomplish – far from it. Putting one foot in front of the other is a practical daily performance, but it can be, and often is, much more: a religious pilgrimage, a narrative journey about a coming of age, an aesthetic act. At first I walked for the pleasure of walking. I set out as I had not been allowed to do as a child, no longer drawn by a tree that beckoned on top of a hill but walking simply in order to cover the ground. It was pleasant to be on my own, with no children asking questions or demanding attention. The more I walked, the farther I went, into the woods, up the stream, over fields hidden from the road. I came across old logging roads, a tumbledown shack, traces of yellow paint on tree trunks that once marked a trail from a cottage to the lake. I knew that some of the trails were used for cross-country skiing in the winter – rotting signs showed distances from one place to another or warned of precipitous descents. There were far fewer deer in the woods then, and I thrilled when I saw one, frozen in fear of what I might do. With time the paths became familiar, and I no longer wondered where I would end up by choosing to take the path to the right rather than the one to the left. With the comfort of familiarity I began to notice things that had always

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been there but that I had never seen before. Chanterelles were abundant here; bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) grew there. I often took my camera and I photographed anything that caught my eye: a tree growing on top of a huge boulder, diagonal lines of falling trees, or a broken tree with a finger of wood pointing skyward like the pattern on a tombstone in a graveyard nearby. The writer Anaïs Nin once said that we see things not as they are but as we are. It is true; we carry our history with us. As a college student I studied art history. I learned that the German Renaissance painter Albrecht Dürer signed his works with his initials, stylized and interconnected in a design so memorable that when I saw it lying flat on the ground at Little Sparta, Ian Hamilton Finlay’s contemporary garden in Scotland, I immediately recalled Dürer’s watercolour The Great Piece of Turf. I remembered seeing that signature in my art history textbook, and then seeing it later at the Albertina museum in Vienna. I remembered the occasion when I saw it there, the people I was with, and – just as significantly – the person I was at the time. In the years I spent planning and mapping Timelines, there were many connections that I thought of including. The opening passage to Dante’s Inferno – “Midway on our life’s journey, I found myself in dark woods, the right road lost” – came to mind again and again. It spoke to my own age, to areas in the woods that were dark and mysterious, to the possibility that the life path I had chosen had not taken me where I thought it would. But always I discarded the phrase. Regularly I returned to another phrase that appealed to me – “Et in Arcadia ego” – searching for a place where the words would feel right. But listening to the site and what it said, I discarded both. For Indigenous Peoples the land is everything. Glen Villa stands on the traditional and unceded territory of the Abenaki people and the Wabenaki confederacy, and while I freely acknowledge that fact, I do not relinquish my own stake in the land’s past and in its future. Timelines is my way of seeing the land. I am aware that the land may speak to me in a language that no one else speaks, or wants to, and that the marks I am leaving shape the land to conform to my ideas and desires. I am aware that, in doing this, I am part of a long pattern in history, in which landscapes are viewed through the eyes of the time, and gardens are designed to their owners’ advantage. Nonetheless, I hope that the marks I am making on the land are positive. It is easy to walk across the land and see nothing or to see only a tiny part of what is there. It is easy to miss the spirit of a place. My hope is that the installations that are part of Timelines will make this more difficult. I know that walking the land and being open to its voice have helped me to see the ordinary as special, to

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understand the interplay and reciprocity between people and places. Thinking of the past made me more conscious of the future and the effect of my actions on it. The colour red is a unifying element on the trail. A narrow band of red appears at the top of directional markers made by Ken that we erect whenever a group comes to tour the garden. The glass signs that lead to Sundial Clearing are red, as are the letters of the words on the Greek columns. Red stands out in the landscape in every season, so visibility and attention-getting were important reasons for the choice. The multiple and seemingly contradictory meanings of red also contributed to the choice. Red is the colour of extremes – of anger, danger, and love. It is the colour of fire and blood, the sources of energy and life. It is the colour of action, desire, and passion. And while it is universally popular, appearing on the flags of more than three-quarters of the countries in the world, red carries different meanings to different cultures. To the ancient Greeks the colour symbolized heroism; to Asians today it symbolizes good luck; to Christians it is the colour of Pentecost, symbolizing the Holy Spirit. The meaning of Timelines is equally variable. As the Perspective signs point out, it depends on your point of view.

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7

Looking Ahead I have lived at Glen Villa for more than twenty-five years now, and I spent vacations at the summer cottage next door for the previous thirty years. During all those years I have come to know this part of the world. I know the fields and forests intimately, like I know my own skin. I know the shape of the land and what grows on it. I have watched trees die and rot, and I have smelled the earthy wetness of spring and the dry dust of high summer. I have gloried in discovering wildflowers – and felt an odd mix of pleasure and sadness when I came to know their botanical names. Knowing a botanical name allows me to talk knowledgeably about a particular wildflower and to know that when I mention it to someone else, we are talking about the same thing. Common names can be misleading: one person’s paintbrush might be Castilleja; another person’s might be Hieracium aurantiacum or even Pilosella aurantiaca. Using the Latin rather than the common name means that any person anywhere in the world can read about a particular wildflower in any standard book and discover the same facts that I can. Often we get those facts from the same book, A Field Guide to Wildflowers by Roger Tory Peterson and Margaret McKenny, a book I use so regularly that the corners have become dog-eared and the pages stuck together. One spring I became fascinated by violets. Was the violet growing in the woods Viola rostrata, Viola conspersa, or Viola adunca? Perhaps it was Viola palustris or Viola sororia or one of the seventeen other varieties listed in Peterson’s guide. All were roughly the same colour, and all had heart-shaped leaves and five petals. Being able to differentiate one from

Cardamine pratensis, or cuckoo flower.

another meant paying close attention to details. Was the violet I saw stemmed or stemless? Did it have long spurs or short ones, or did it have spurs at all? In the same year that I became obsessed with identifying violets, I noticed a small white flower growing in the grass near the entrance to Glen Villa. I had never seen it before, or so I thought. But a quick search through my photographs told me otherwise. I had photographed the plant the year before and the year before that. Those photographs proved that the wildflower had been blooming in the same place for at least three years and perhaps for many years before that. Why did not I remember seeing it? Using my Field Guide to Wildflowers I easily identified the plant: Cardamine pratensis. Knowing the botanical name allowed me to discover dozens of facts, that Cardamine came from the Greek name for a plant of the Brassicaceae family and that pratensis meant “of the meadow.” From the website of the Missouri Botanical Gardens I learned that the plant was “an herbaceous perennial that grows in a loose clump to 12–16" tall … [with] a circumpolar distribution … typically found in moist to wet areas … throughout Canada south to Minnesota, Illinois and Virginia.” This told me nothing new about the conditions that the plant needed to thrive: I could see that on the ground. But the entry continued: “Compound-pinnate basal leaves (each to 6” long) have up to 8 pairs of tiny oval rounded leaflets. The much smaller compound-pinnate stem leaves have narrower almost linear leaflets.” I checked the plants to confirm these details.

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Yes, the leaves at the base were made of pairs of oval rounded leaflets. “Upright, unbranched stems rise from the basal rosette to 12–16” tall in spring. Each stem is topped by a terminal cluster (short open raceme) of small 4-petalled pale pink to white flowers.” Yes, again, the plants conformed to the description in the book. Back at home I went on line. Wikipedia told me that the orange tip butterfly (Anthocharis) fed on my plant and that humans once used it as a substitute for watercress, although it tasted slightly bitter even when young. Under the heading “Folklore” I learned that Cardamine pratensis was thought to be sacred to the fairies and so was not brought indoors or included in May Day garlands. I like to be well informed but I am not good with details. I marvel at the binomial system developed by Karl Linnaeus in the 1700s, how so many plants were examined closely, categorized and classified into families and sub-families or genera, and then further divided into species, with a second name called an epithet added to identify a particular characteristic: where the plant might be found growing, where it may have originated, the shape or length of its leaves, or the colour of its flowers. Cardamine pratensis is very different from Salvia pratensis or Trapopogon pratensis or any of the many other plants that grow in meadows around the world. Knowing the wildflower’s botanical name allowed me to discover facts I might never have known. Yet at the same time I wondered whether what I was gaining outweighed what I lost. Certainly I lost the romance associated with the common names that Cardamine pratensis goes by: cuckoo flower, lady’s smock, bittercress, mayflower, and milkmaids. I lost the stories associated with those names: in some parts of the world the flower blooms when cuckoos appear in spring; the cupped flowers resemble the shape of an outer garment that ladies wore in medieval times to protect their clothes while working; and at some point in time the word smock was a suggestive term for a woman, rather like a bit of skirt. The link with maids and milkmaids spoke of romance, licit or illicit, and of class distinctions; and the many feminine connotations led to an association with the Virgin Mary. More significantly, though, like the act of pinning butterflies to a board and writing their names below their outspread wings, knowing the name of the little white wildflower that blossomed near the entry to Glen Villa transformed it from something that lived and grew into a subject to be analyzed, categorized, and quantified. Named, it became part of a collection of scientific objects pinned down for my examination. It was no longer a wildflower I could see and smell and touch with pleasure – even with joy. It now had to be regarded purposefully and industriously in order to acquire knowledge. In his book Trees, John Fowles writes of treating nature as an intellectual puzzle or game, “in which being able to name names and explain behaviourism

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Ragged robin and buttercups bloom beneath birch trees. Autumn colours. Snow coats blades of grass.

– to identify and to understand machinery – constituted all the pleasures and the prizes.” In important ways he discovered that treating nature in this way “distracted from the total experience and the total meaning.” After seeing his first Soldier Orchid he wrote: “I was excited, very happy, one always remembers one’s ‘firsts’ of the rarer species. Yet five minutes after … I suffered a strange feeling. I realized I had not actually seen the three plants in the little colony we had found. Despite all the identifying, measuring, photographing, I had managed to set the experience in a kind of present past, a having-looked, even as I was temporally and physically still looking.” I understand Fowles’s viewpoint and the conclusion he reached: “It is not necessarily too little knowledge that causes ignorance; possessing too much, or wanting to gain too much, can produce the same result.” My greatest pleasure now comes from living with the land and not from naming its parts or attempting to control what happens on it. When I look at the wildflowers blooming in the fields and woods at Glen Villa, I sometimes wonder why I plant a garden at all. How can I hope to compete with what lies in front of me? Buttercups, not Ranunculus acris, cover the fields in early summer, splendidly cheerful en masse, and so yellow and shiny that they brighten the dullest day and lift the heaviest spirits. Trees in shades that range from pale yellow to spun gold, from apricot and peach to Sunkist orange, from scarlet to russet to deepest maroon, mix with dark green spruce to clothe the hillsides in autumn. And even in winter, when snow piled knee deep makes walking a chore, bare branches iced on frosty mornings glitter in the sun, and clumps of grass bend as gracefully as any drawn by a Chinese artist. The way we relate to gardens and the natural environment says a lot about who we are and what we value. I know that my own approach to the land around me has shifted significantly over the years. I started like many others, following the dictates of noted garden designers like the Englishwoman Gertrude Jekyll. I thought about gradations and combinations of colours, about contrasts in textures and leaf sizes, all with an aim to create the kind of pretty garden advocated by Jekyll. Yet in the process of following her lead, I discovered that aesthetics were not enough, at least not for me. I moved from wanting to live in an attractive environment to desiring to bring the past into the present and, in doing that, to reflect what had happened on the land and to the people who had lived on it. Now, increasingly I feel that trying to shape the landscape is almost a sacrilege. What I want for the land seems less important than what the land wants for itself. But giving the land time and space to share its message is hard. It means stepping back, waiting, watching, and intervening with only the lightest touch.

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FROM THE BIG LAWN TO THE BIG MEADOW Transforming a lawn into a meadow entails a change in attitude as well as a change in appearance and practice. In 2016 we decided to stop mowing the grass on the lawn that stretches from the house to the linden tree. We made the change not as a result of some environmentally sane decision but because of an invasion of Canada geese. The geese were attractive to look at, but what they left behind was not. If our lawn was to be usable, the geese had to go. We tried various ways to discourage them: shouting at them from the deck, running at them on the lawn, even driving towards them on the mower. “Give up,” everyone said. “Once they are there, you can’t get rid of them.” And that seemed true. We could scare the geese away for a brief time, but slowly and inevitably they returned to graze on the tender green grass. Norman suggested that letting the grass grow might discourage them. To my surprise, research suggested it might. And what was the harm in trying? Not cutting the lawn was a cheap, practical way to solve a problem. And, potentially, it was an opportunity. Converting lawn into meadow appealed to me, particularly since it could be beneficial ecologically. I had read that creating a meadow was a long and difficult process, involving lots of tilling and raking, seeding and weeding. Simply letting the grass grow and seeing what happened definitely seemed easier and well worth a try. Going through the transition phase without changing our minds was as difficult as letting colour on your hair grow out. While he said nothing at the time, I sensed that Jacques was not happy about the idea. That did not surprise me; for years he had tended the lawn, fertilizing it annually and cutting it weekly, always with the mental image of a perfect weed-free lawn. When the Quebec government banned the use of chemical lawn fertilizers in 2006, Jacques predicted that the lawn would soon be full of crabgrass and undesirable weeds but that regular cutting would keep them in check. As a result, Thursday became sacrosanct as lawn-mowing day – and it took a whole day by the time the cutting and trimming were done and the clippings in the Lower Garden swept up to prevent swimmers with wet feet from tracking grass into the house. Changing routine is hard, and for a time it seemed that weeds would crowd out the grass itself, but despite Jacques’s fears, we stuck with it. To make it look as if the uncut lawn was deliberate and not the result of neglect, Ken began to mow a path from the house to the linden tree, where the geese tended to congregate. I watched them closely, noticing that even in short grass one goose always stood still, head up, watching for danger. The mown path attracted the geese, and I considered letting it grow over, but it looked so good that I asked Ken to extend it in a circle around the yin-yang and over to the driveway by our neighbour’s cottage.

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A mown path leads through the Big Meadow. Waves on an ocean of grass.

The geese continued to come, but the mown path provided contrast to the grass that was becoming not only longer but more beautiful than I had expected. Six or seven different varieties of grass appeared: timothy, a grass commonly grown in rural Quebec for cattle feed; switch-grass, a hardy, deeprooted perennial grass that once covered much of North America; foxtail or bristle grass, named for its small bristly hair-like spikes; reed canary grass, whose light-green spikelets become streaked with purple as the seeds develop; and couch grass, a forage grass for many grazing mammals and whose seeds are loved by buntings and finches; plus crabgrass, of course. By late June the taller blades of grass were light and airy, moving in even the slightest breeze, bringing new life to a static lawn. Wildflowers appeared. There was not a huge mix – some red clover (Trifolium pratense), yellow bird’s-foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), St John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum), and a few spikes of common mullein (Verbascum thapsus) – but each added a touch of colour. There was a patch of red dock or sheep sorrel (Rumex acetosella) and a scattering of yellow bedstraw that I hoped would spread, one patch becoming the many that would scent the air like sweet honey. During the first year, the Big Meadow changed almost daily, altering our view of the mown lawn we were accustomed to, a stretch green that looked much the same whether it was freshly cut or needed to be. As June moved into July and August, the grass turned from spring green to mid-summer tan to tawny gold. Taller grasses began to flatten under their own weight, and rain beat them down. But still the wind created patterns, tangles, curls, and waves on a grassy sea in constant motion.

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Cut grass becomes bundles of hay. Blue, pink, and white lupins with buttercups and ragged robin. Red dock in the Big Meadow.

In late September Jacques cut the meadow grass and baled it like hay into three and a half big bales that he placed on the bank of the lake to stop grandchildren from sliding over the edge in winter. In the following spring he cut the lawn once more, mulching the leaves that had stayed there for the winter. I planted perennials that I had started from seed – easy germinators that would add more colour and diversity. At a local nursery I looked for native plants that resisted the deer, and chose a giant hyssop (Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’) for its height and indigo tones; I planted the cultivars near the mown path where I hoped they would thrive and spread, self-seeding wherever they liked. But mostly I sat back and watched. Doing less to shape and control the landscape, I was giving it time to find its own rhythms. The less I interfered, the more it expressed itself. In the second year the lawn was beginning to resemble a meadow. The patch of red dock grew, and the character of the soil in different areas began to make itself known, grass growing lushly in some spots, sparsely in others. Seeds from nearby maple trees sprouted in the thousands on drier spots, turning the ground an olive drab. In moister areas there were great spreads of ragged robin and forget-me-nots. Patches of sunny-topped dandelions, buttercups, and lupins grew stronger each year, as did the orange hawkweed – or the devil’s paintbrush as some people call it (Pilosella aurantiaca). The years that followed have tried my patience. Some years, in some seasons, the Big Meadow looks wonderful, with an array of colours that shift in the changing light. The red dock is surprisingly beautiful in early summer, like a blush of rouge on the cheekbones of the meadow. Common plants considered

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lawn weeds, like creeping Charlie and chickweed, appear then, and their hazy clouds of bluish-purple and white are a striking contrast to the dock and the yellow dots of dandelions and buttercups. Wild violets and wild strawberries battle for space with blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium) and pigweed, a form of amaranthus that grows widely throughout North America. Lupins add height, their spikes of blue, pink, and white attracting bees and fixing nitrogen in the soil. As the summer wears on, though, less appealing plants begin to dominate – scruffy yellow ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) and the black pods of lupins (Lupinus) – as the flowers go to seed. Goldenrod (Solidago) and common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) spread more each year, and while I tell myself that I should welcome them, particularly the milkweed and the habitat it provides for monarch butterflies, I do not. In the fields above the house the milkweed’s flowers and seed pods are a joy to see. When I tear their leaves and see the milky sap ooze out, I remember doing the same thing at my grandparents’ farm, and I hear again my country cousins laughing at me for being surprised. But close to the house, even as part of a meadow, they look too weedy, too aggressive, pugnacious teens clambering for more than their fair share of turf. I know that Jacques finds them a problem and wants to get rid of them. Even so, he has stopped asking if he can give the meadow a mid-summer haircut. Perhaps he knows what my answer will be, or perhaps he has grown accustomed to the way the meadow looks now, despite the milkweed. More likely, he is happy to scratch one job off his always-growing list. Not long ago I read an excerpt from “Seven Types of Shadow,” a poem by Ursula Fanthorpe.

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After a hot summer, fields grow talkative. Wheat speaks in crop marks, grasses in parch marks. Wheat or grass, what they tell is the truth Of things that lay underneath five thousand years ago. The poet was writing of ghosts and how the landscape – and even our own bodies – are haunted by what has come before. The Big Meadow speaks of its past in its own voice. Different varieties of grass have staked their claim on sections of the former lawn, growing where they feel most comfortable. More wildflowers have begun to appear, though not yet in great numbers; my attempt to seed them has not been successful, and the few plants I added have not seeded themselves. In truth, by August 2021, the Big Meadow was looking decidedly rough and unkempt, not at all like the “meadow” I had hoped for. In the following month I decided to try something new. Jacques tilled an area that was particularly weedy, and we seeded the ground with a mix of wildflowers and grasses that grow well in dry, gravelly soil. There are no annuals in the mix, and the perennials will take a few years before they begin to bloom, so it will be several years before we know if this approach is successful. I am measuring success differently now, no longer looking for the idealized meadow that is pictured in garden books and magazines. Instead I am looking for something more natural, more like the fields that produce their own kind of beauty. It takes time to form new mental pictures, and the Big Meadow is helping me do that. Reducing significantly the amount of grass we cut is a small step towards changing a flat green monoculture into a polyculture rich with life of all kinds. Despite the initial success, the Canada geese continue to come, congregating on the mown strip or swimming with their babies in the pond by the road. They are a reminder that I am no longer in charge, that whatever appears is what will be.

NATIVE PLANTS AND NATURAL GARDENING The Big Meadow is my attempt to garden more naturalistically. No longer mowing the grass can be seen as a lazy way of discovering what the land will produce, but what is wrong with that? I am not alone in letting nature take the lead; the shift I have made is echoed in the trend towards using native plants. The debate about what constitutes a native plant rages furiously in the gardening world, as does the debate about how important it is to use native plants versus those that evolved elsewhere and versus cultivars of indigenous plants. Some in the plant

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world argue in favour of using as many homegrown plants as possible, stressing that the plants that evolved in a specific geographical area are accustomed to its climate and weather conditions; that they may have a symbiotic relationship with particularities of the soil and with the insects, birds, and animals that live there; and that because they are suited to their environment, they may more easily adapt to climate change. The entomologist Doug Tallamy is one of the most prominent advocates for the native-plant movement. He argues that native plants sustain a greater and more diverse insect population than do plants that have been introduced from elsewhere, and that insects prefer and are nourished more effectively by plants that have evolved in the same ecosystem. Milkweed and monarch butterflies illustrate this point: one reason there are fewer monarchs now is that there are fewer native milkweed plants to sustain them. Knowing this makes me feel guilty about wanting to eradicate milkweed from the Big Meadow, but acknowledging the push and pull between what I find attractive and what I know is good for the environment is at least a first step towards more significant change. The decrease in native species of milkweed attests to an overall dwindling diversity in our ecosystems. An analysis published in 2019 in the journal Biological Conservation found that more than 40 per cent of insect species are declining, and a third are endangered, while the total mass of insects is falling by 2.5 per cent a year. This is alarming. If the rate of decline remained steady and extended across all species, the report suggests that insects could disappear entirely within a century. When the number of insects declines, the animal species that eat them soon follow. Research published in September 2019 shows that bird populations in North America have dropped by nearly three billion since 1979, a 29 per cent decline. And so on up the food chain. Experts disagree on whether the use of predominantly or exclusively native plants will change this. The American plantsman Tony Avent, who owns and operates Plant Delights Nursery in Raleigh, North Carolina, questions the very definition. “To call a plant native, you must consider nature as static and then pick a random set of dates that you consider to be ‘ideal.’ Most of the plants currently considered native [to the Raleigh area] actually speciated tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of years ago. The current conditions are nothing like the conditions then.” It is true that many plants we now consider native came from somewhere else. The Yucca filamentosa (my father called them rock lilies) that grew along the driveway at my grandparents’ house in the Blue Ridge Mountains had been growing there for so long that everyone considered them native, and perhaps

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A rose chafer, or scarabée du rosier, on milkweed. Joe-pye weed. A monarch butterfly feeding on the nectar of joe-pye weed.

they were – Wikipedia identifies them as native to the US southeast. Not so for the pretty pink peonies that grew around the house. They originated in China, and although my grandmother may have acquired the plants from a neighbour or from a nursery nearby, more likely they were planted by my grandfather’s grandmother who lived in the same house in the 1800s. The peonies had become “native” simply by being there for so long. And this is true for many plants we now consider native. Online information from the University of Illinois lists plants along with dates of arrival in North America. Yellow toadflax (Linaria vulgaris), native to Eurasia, was introduced in the 1600s. Common mullein, also a Eurasian native, was introduced around the same time and spread so widely that by 1759 Amos Eaton, the American botanist who wrote the first book about flowers of the northern states, thought it was native. The dog rose (Rosa canina), which is native to Europe, Africa, and Asia and now grows wild along roadsides, coastlines, and wet, sandy areas across the northeast, came in the early 1700s. Day lilies, Scots pines, horse chestnut trees, lilacs – all were imports at one time or another. The Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf and his British colleague Noel Kingsbury argue against taking a strictly nativist view. They question whether native plants are superior to introduced plants, hybrids, or cultivars in supporting pollinators, suggesting such claims are politically motivated. They also argue that gardens, particularly public gardens, that use only native plants fail to appeal to people and, by failing to appeal, turn people against wilder, less gardened looks. Still others argue that the desire to use native plants in designed landscapes is linked to a futile attempt to return to an irretrievably lost wildness. Nature in its pristine state no longer exists anywhere on earth, they say. So, instead of using a native plant that does not perform as well as an exotic one, or as a hybrid or a manipulated cultivar of the native, they recommend using what works best in the particular situation. I vacillate on these questions, taking a hard “native only” approach on one day before succumbing to the allure of a new and improved variety the next. What affects me more strongly than any definition or scientific claim is my relationship with the land. This relationship goes beyond thinking about what plant to use but rather stems from learning to understand that the land includes far more than what we can see growing on it. It includes the ground underfoot and the millions of microbes that live there; it includes the quality of the air, the way lichens cling to some surfaces and reject others; it includes the red teeth and claws of nature, the parts that used to make me squeamish. Walking through the garden again and again, day after day, year after year, seeing it change seasonally, observing one plant flourish while another plant dies, seeing

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spiderwebs capturing raindrops and prey alike – all these make me feel as if the garden and I were so closely twinned that separating us would mean death. It is as if the less I garden, the more I understand, and the more I become part of something bigger than myself.

GARDEN TRENDS AND CLIMATE CHANGE I am not alone in taking a hands-off approach to my garden more and more often. Some of this comes with age, of course; I do less now than I used to because physically I am less able. But I am also part of a larger gardening community, where a “do less” approach is becoming more common. For some, this relaxed approach is based on ecological concerns: doing less is better for the environment, they say. For others, doing less is not by choice; they simply do not have time to do more. For some, though, the laid-back approach may be a question of style. Ideas about garden style and garden design change slowly, in cycles of decades. Gardens we now call “period gardens” were contemporary once and reflected the dominant ideas of the time, as gardens still do. The lines in French gardens that radiated out from a central point reflected the concentration of power in a central place or in a single individual. The English gardens of Capability Brown that opened up to claim for their own the countryside beyond their borders reflected an imperial political stance; this stance, expressed through eighteenth-century writings, claimed that all nature was a garden. With the arrival of the Industrial Revolution, gardens that used to be open to the world around them became increasingly closed, property owners walling off their gardens from the sight of railroad tracks, factory chimneys, and other signs of change. North American gardens followed a similar trajectory, first closing themselves off from the wilderness, then opening themselves up as the country expanded, before closing themselves off again as the wealthy tried to protect themselves from the gaze of the poor. Socio-economic conditions and broad movements of culture continue to shape our gardens. In a fast-moving world today’s gardens can provide a place to slow down, to relax and recuperate. In a crowded world they offer a place where we can differentiate ourselves from the crowd and express our individuality. They provide a place for a family or a group of friends to gather socially and simply “be.” When so many elements of our lives are outside our control, our gardens offer an opportunity to create order out of chaos: someone whose life is figuratively or literally messed up may strive for a weedless lawn or a vegetable

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garden arranged in arrow-straight rows. This retreat from the stresses of daily life and the desire for serenity often result in simpler designs; today’s gardens have fewer fussy details; they display a more restrained colour palette and use a narrower selection of plants. Most contemporary gardens are designed according to how they function. Neighbourhood gardens make room for areas in which to play or to cook and eat outdoors, for vegetable gardens, or for patios shaded with umbrellas. Gardens designed for aesthetic reasons generally follow a standard pattern: an area with grass is edged by borders where flowers and shrubs add colour. Some gardeners focus on particular types of plants or particular colour schemes: succulents or evergreens, gardens riotous with colour, or white à la Vita Sackville West in England. The gardeners may be plant collectors, searching out the latest cultivars, or they may garden only to impress their neighbours. Uniting these impulses among gardeners, however, is a trend reflected in my decision to let the big lawn become the Big Meadow – that is, a growing concern with ecology and an increased sensitivity to the impact of our actions on the environment. Increasingly home gardeners are planting for butterflies and bees, worrying about the decline in the number of pollinators. They are aware that biodiversity is decreasing due to agricultural monocultures and the widespread use of pesticides, and that the worldwide decline in the honeybee population is a genuine threat to food production. Understandably so: a third of all our food depends on their pollination. This concern with ecology is relatively new. In previous centuries gardeners focused their design efforts on the arrangement of plants. From Victorian bedding schemes, to Arts and Crafts colour-themed borders, to the big-shoulderpad gardens of the 1980s when flashy cultivars were all the rage, plants have been the star performers for centuries, pushing concept-driven gardens like the English landscape gardens of the Enlightenment to the wings. There are notable contemporary exceptions. Garden shows like the International Garden Festival in Métis, Quebec, feature artists and designers from around the world who present ideas about gardens that are not necessarily flower based. A limited number of contemporary private or personal gardens are driven, as Glen Villa is, by concepts and ideas: Little Sparta, the Garden of Cosmic Speculation, and Broadwoodside in Scotland; Prospect Cottage, Plaz Metaxu, and Througham Court in England; Veddw in Wales; and Bosco della Ragnaia in Italy – to name those I have visited. There are other gardens in North America that I have only read about, designed by Martha Schwartz, Claude Cormier, Michael Van Valkenburgh, Topher Delaney, and others.

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This caterpillar will become a monarch butterfly. A white admiral butterfly feeding on the nectar of boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum). A bee enjoying the wild lupin.

While the emphasis on plants and plantsmanship remains strong for home gardeners, the focus in planting style is shifting away from the traditional towards a more naturalistic approach. Influential international designers like Piet Oudolf have discarded many of the old principles. Short plants no longer have to be in the front of a border, with tall plants in the back, because planting beds themselves no longer have to be rectangular. Drifts of colours and the form of plants remain important considerations, but a plant’s ability to offer visual interest throughout the year is of equal, if not greater, significance. Academics and garden professionals throughout the world are focusing on larger ecosystems, urging us to consider plants as part of a social network rather than as individual objects. This shift towards naturalism is not surprising. As of 2008, more people lived in cities than in the countryside, and living in cities makes it harder to experience the wonders of nature, to have personal or sustained connections with unpaved spaces. Gardens connect us to the world of living things. Whether as children or as adults, we develop a sense of wonder when we spend time in a natural setting, be it a garden, a farm field, or a municipal park – anywhere outside the homogenized environment that evens out the hills and valleys, bugs and birds, flowers and weeds. The phrase nature-deficit disorder was coined by Richard Louv in his 2005 book Last Child in the Woods. He argues that human beings, especially children, are spending less time outdoors, resulting in a wide range of behavioural problems. He followed up, in 2011, with another book, The Nature Principle, extending the idea of nature-deficit disorder to adults. Research from a number of sources backs up his position. Even brief contacts with nature are beneficial, lowering blood pressure and reducing stress, as effective as antidepressants for mild to moderate depression. Even looking at green spaces leads to better health, less aggression, and lower crime rates. This is understandable. Gardening boosts endorphins, our body’s good-mood chemical. A Canadian psychotherapist named Linda Buzzell compares humans to zoo animals kept in unnatural conditions. She claims that, like them, we decline when we are separated from our natural habitat. Almost any reconnection with nature has a powerful physical and mental healing effect, even in something as simple as weeding a flower bed. Some cultures have long recognized the benefits of this connection. The Japanese tradition of forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku, became part of a national public health program in 1982, but it has links to ancient Shinto and Buddhist practices. The practice, based on solid scientific research, is spreading as more and more people recognize the health benefits of spending time outdoors in

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Persicaria polymorpha, commonly called knotweed or giant fleece flower. Digitalis lutea beside the dam and waterfall.

the company of trees in a living forest. Therapeutic gardens are also becoming standard in new constructions throughout the West. Who among us does not feel better after a day spent outdoors, even though we may be bone tired? I know I do. Whether I walked in the woods, weeded a flower bed, or simply sat quietly while dragonflies flashed through the air, despite my aches and pains in the evening I breathe more easily, I feel more content. The more naturalistic approach to garden design that is gaining favour allows us to think of our gardens as idealized versions of nature, tweaked according to our personal desires and personal tastes. It also allows us to embrace ideas of change and unpredictability, to see these inevitable elements as virtues rather than as obstacles to be overcome. We garden for tomorrow as well as for today, and anticipation is a big part of our pleasure. Digging in the earth or planting bulbs, I direct my thoughts towards the future. How will this tulip look next spring? Will this plant live up to my expectations? A garden is never just now; it makes us remember yesterday and dream of tomorrow, and this oscillating relationship with time is, for me, part of the garden’s appeal. Increasingly I am aware of the effects of climate change. Canada’s temperature is rising more quickly than the global average. According to Environment Canada, over the period 1948–2013 the average annual temperature in Canada warmed by 1.6°C (relative to the 1961–90 average), a higher rate of warming than in most other regions of the world. This warming brings significant changes. Plants that do not naturally grow in southern Quebec will begin to appear. The growing season will become longer. While this may sound positive, it also means that plants that grow here naturally may die out as temperatures rise or as they are overwhelmed by non-native species better adapted to warmer climates. The

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optimal environment for maple trees, for example, has been steadily moving north. According to Alain Bourque, director of climate change impacts and adaptation at Quebec’s climate change research institute Ouranos, by 2050 that optimal environment will be five hundred kilometres north of where it is now. Currently the period during which maple syrup can be made is becoming shorter, albeit with no discernible impact on the quality or quantity of syrup produced. The risk of extreme weather events is increasing, bringing more heat waves, more dry spells, more forest fires, and heavier rainfalls that result in more flooding. These changes are happening too quickly for trees and other flora to go through the natural regeneration process. A superficial look at the effect of these changes on the garden at Glen Villa suggests mixed outcomes. Warmer temperatures mean that a greater variety of plants are able to survive Quebec’s winters. An increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere speeds up plant growth, as greenhouse growers well know, so more carbon dioxide means that my plants grow more quickly. Increased carbon dioxide means that plants will need less water: as the stomata, the tiny holes on the underside of plant leaves through which plants absorb carbon dioxide, become narrower, the plant transpires less, allowing it to use the water available to it more efficiently. This is a benefit in dry environments, but Quebec is getting wetter, not dryer. According to the Climate Atlas of Canada, mean precipitation levels have risen from 1086.6 millimetres in 1960 to 1154.93 millimetres in 2018. Warmer temperatures result in a reduction in snow cover, making plants more vulnerable to the freeze and thaw that result from shifting temperatures. The right plant in the right place is a tenet worth holding to. Thinking more broadly, that means I must plant what will survive, not in some other place but here, in my own. What will that be? In an environment with rising temperatures in the summer and with increasingly variable temperatures in winter, knowing what plant is the right one becomes more and more problematic.

WHAT COMES NEXT: GLEN VILLA IN THE FUTURE Twenty-five years ago I began working on the land at Glen Villa. For the first ten years or so I focused on the land near the house. Jacques Gosselin was my guide, and a good one, too. Since he had been working on the property for many years, he knew the garden well, and at first he continued doing what he had always done, cutting the grass on the same day of every week, weeding the flower beds on another day, pruning the trees and shrubs from time to time, and always planting the same annuals in the same location.

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It took me several years before I was ready to change his routine. Although increasingly I knew what I wanted to change and could picture my desired outcome, I did not know how to make the picture come true. Nor did I want to disclose my own limitations. Jacques knew as much as, or more than, I did about plants and their requirements, but he could not tell me what I liked or why I liked it. Myke Hodgins helped me to learn. He and I visited the Montreal Botanical Garden several times at different seasons so that he could observe the plants that excited me and those that left me indifferent. Following his suggestion, I started to make lists of possibilities; looking back, I see that my lists contained more wildflowers than plants considered garden-worthy. Gradually, though, my appreciation for perennials, shrubs, and ornamental grasses grew stronger. With a clearer idea of what I wanted, Myke suggested plants for the gardens he designed near the entry to the house. When I decided to remove the roses from the Lower Garden, we chose plants together, transforming a tired rock garden into a hillside of quiet beauty. After a few years and with a few projects successfully carried out, Ken Kelso joined Myke, Jacques, and me. Together we created the Skating Pond, making a destination that drew people to what was then the outer limits of the garden. The four of us worked together happily on projects that made history visible – Bridge Ascending, the Asian Meadow, and the yin-yang – always following the same routine: Myke listened while I explained what I wanted to achieve, he drew a plan, and Jacques and Ken carried it out. Eric Fleury from Myke’s office was the principal designer for the Aqueduct, a project that converted a partially hidden stream into an architectural showpiece; Jacques and Ken did as much of the work to build it as they could. Again and again over the years Myke has told me how fortunate I am to work with those two. “Other clients are not as lucky,” he said. “Some employ men who balk at even the slightest change; others employ men so set in their ways that they try to sabotage a project to prove they are right.” My relationship with Myke, Jacques, and Ken has changed over the years. Initially Myke was the expert and I was the client, but gradually our relationship shifted: from teacher to pupil, mentor to collaborator, adviser to supporter, friend to friend. As I began to work independently, expanding into the farther reaches of the property, I kept in mind a lesson that Myke taught me early on: Know what you want to accomplish; keep it simple; make it “readable.” Even though I try, and even though I am better now than I used to be, it still remains difficult to reduce the multitudes of possibilities into one key concept and to focus on the central idea I have identified: ideas come to me willy-nilly, when I read, when I walk, when I dream.

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Elders line an old farm road.

Having too many ideas is not a bad thing, though, as long as I pare them down before work begins. In fact, an abundance of ideas is one of the many ways in which I am fortunate. In Myke I have a friend whom I consult whenever I feel the need. In Jacques and Ken I have two men who enjoy their work and take pride in carrying it out, men who are always willing to find ways to implement the projects I dream up. I have children, grandchildren, family members, and friends who enjoy the results and, until recently, a husband who supported everything I was trying to do. Someone I have come to consider as my aesthetic collaborator is John Hay. He has added his special talents to parts of Timelines, figuring out the best way to construct the Temple Façade, for instance, and tweaking his proposed solutions until the result satisfied him aesthetically; suggesting a source for the granite that we used to construct the shell of the turtle that is part of Abenaki Walking; and encouraging me to follow my instincts rather than the rules. Other friends have made helpful observations: Mary Martha Guy, the artist who designed the screen that is the highlight of Upper Room, suggested I suspend the signs that lead to Sundial Clearing; the architect Jean-Eude Guy suggested I modify the location for the Temple Façade so that it fit more comfortably onto the land. Each one of these people has helped me to understand that respecting the natural beauty of the land means refusing to impose my will on it. Timelines may seem to contradict this, its installations appearing arbitrary to some who

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walk the trail. Yet the number of times I discovered features on the land that supported an idea I was considering tell me it is not arbitrary. Far from being an imposition, Timelines is a way of bringing out the character of the land – not only what happened on it historically but what shaped it geologically, sociologically, and metaphorically. My husband and I moved into Glen Villa at the right point in our lives. Our children had grown, his career was winding down, and I had finished the master’s degree that I had worked hard to complete. I was involved with many volunteer organizations, but I no longer had a full-time job. Slowly the garden and the land became that job. They became my passion. I travelled more, visiting gardens not only to enjoy the experience but also to learn from what I saw. With my sister I toured gardens in the United States and Canada, in England, Scotland, and Wales. We visited gardens we had visited together decades before, and compared our memories of what had impressed us then and what we responded to now. I began to give talks about Glen Villa, first to groups in and around Montreal and then to groups farther and farther afield. I started hosting garden tours to the United Kingdom and Italy, working with Julia Guest, a tour organizer and garden aficionado extraordinaire whose knowledge gained from leading tours to gardens around the world enriched my life. People who came on one tour often came again, some joining Julia and me four or five times. On these tours I could observe how they responded to a particular garden, some loving what others disliked. These disparate reactions to the same place told me that people were looking for – and needed – different things. Some wanted a calm and peaceful garden; some preferred a garden with lots of colour and high energy. The discussions that followed each visit opened my mind to a wider range of possibilities and confirmed that even the finest garden might be right for one person and wrong for another. Gardens reflect the desires of the people who visit them and the personalities of the people who create them. They are a projection of ideas and desires onto a piece of land, and the projections that come from individual personalities rarely survive the death of the garden maker. Realizing this, I am thinking more and more about what will happen to Glen Villa after I die. Where will the garden go from there? Will Jacques retire? He will be old enough to take it easy, but it is difficult to imagine him in a reclining chair, watching a hockey game instead of skating on the ice himself. Ken is younger, and perhaps he will continue to work for the new owners, or perhaps he will find work somewhere else. And who will those new owners be? We anticipate that our daughter Hilary and her family will move into the house and become caretakers of the land, as we

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have been. There are no plans to make the garden public or to establish a trust to maintain it. It will remain a family home, with whatever garden she and her family choose to create. The choice is theirs. This is how it should be. Gardens are not permanent creations. They change daily, seasonally, annually, becoming more and less in tune with the gardener’s desires as the gardener herself changes. This used to bother me; it bothers me no longer. The notion that, once created, a garden will forever remain as it is flies in the face of reason. And who would want such a static creation? That is what I tell myself on those days when I am feeling generous. On other days, when I consider what will happen to the Abenaki Walkers or to the installations of Timelines that so clearly reflect my relationship to the land, I am overwhelmed with sadness. Working on the land, I have become increasingly aware of the realities of life, how it begins and grows and how swiftly the time between the beginning and the end can fly. Several thousand years ago the Greek physician Hippocrates wrote that art was long, life brief. He was referring to the “art” of medicine, saying in effect that it takes a long time to acquire knowledge and to perfect skills, and that each of us has only a short time to accomplish that. The idea applies to gardens as well as to medicine. It takes years to learn all we need to know about plants and how to make them happy, and very few of us have the time we need. But over the years Hippocrates’s words “ars longa, vita brevis” have acquired a different meaning: that art lasts forever, but artists die and are forgotten. On optimistic days I see the garden I have created as a work of art, but whatever my mood, I know that it will not long survive me, or at least not as it is today. It need not die entirely. It may continue for a while, and its gradual loss may be something to regret. But even if I could, I would not want it to endure like an insect trapped in amber. The garden and I are entwined. We are living creations and, as such, cannot remain unchanged. Years ago, while hiking in the woods, I encountered a porcupine walking through the undergrowth. The animal began to raise its quills, but I knelt down and remained as quiet and as still as I could. The quills went down as he or she stared at me. I stared back, into black pupils that resembled a doll’s button eyes. I do not know how long we examined each other; it seemed like forever but almost certainly it took only a minute or two before the porcupine turned away. I had been dismissed as neither a threat nor a subject of interest. I was boring, I had nothing to offer, I was irrelevant. It is tempting to view the natural world as a mirror of ourselves, reflecting our own needs, thoughts, and hopes, but that encounter showed me that the natural world and the creatures who live as part of it do not reflect me at all. The

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Sunset on Lake Massawippi. Autumn leaves are a poignant reminder of the end of the growing season.

land was the porcupine’s home, not a place to decorate or admire but the place that sustained its life. The animal knew what I had to learn, that the land was not scenery to be observed or improved. The land had a mind of its own and spoke in a voice that could be heard. As I walked the fields and forests, I began to hear the land’s stories: how it came to be in terms of its geology, its climate, and its plants. I heard how politics had shaped it, and how changing economic times had allowed my father-in-law to amass the acreage we finally owned. The stories were embedded in the land: the lightning strikes and winds that felled the trees, the beaver dams that blocked moving streams, and the pastures that were left unplowed. Glen Villa began as the territory of the Abenaki. It changed as the people living on it changed. The Abenaki, the early settlers, the summer visitors, my family – each of us has left our imprint, either literally or imaginatively. For me, drawing out those imprints and making them concrete has added richness to the landscape and transformed the garden from an arrangement based on aesthetics to a deeply felt present-day reality. The practicalities remain: choosing plants that thrive, protecting them from deer and other predators, combining them to bring out the best. But this alone is not enough. A garden needs to mean something. It must say something significant about the relationship between the past and the present; otherwise its design is a willful act and nothing more. A sense of place arises from a connection with memory, the place, and the culture. I use history quite deliberately, not to commemorate the past but to activate an awareness of the continuity of life. Being aware adds meaning to the present. I hope that it will continue to do so in the future. It is easy to become tangled up with the minutiae of a garden, to think only about the practical: what a plant needs in terms of sunshine, water, and soil. It is not so easy to think beyond that, to consider what we want our gardens to say. Creating a garden can be like telling a story, and every garden has a story to tell, one that is unique to it and to its maker. So whoever comes after me, I leave them a single piece of advice: find your story and tell it as best you can.

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Appendix A Questions to Ask Yourself When Visiting a Garden

CONTEXT = How does the garden relate to the world around it? = Is the location special in some way? What is its history? = Who built the garden? When? = What was the designer’s objective? What resources were available? = Is the garden part of a larger landscape or separated from it by fences, walls, or hedges? = Does the site dominate the garden, or is the garden imposed on the site? Or are the two in balance? GARDEN OVERVIEW = What challenges does the site offer? (Soil, climate, wind, predators, and other animals) = Is the land well used and well managed? Are opportunities missed? = Is the garden ecologically sensitive? = Is the site flat or hilly? Has the topography been altered? = Is the garden large or small? Is it a single space or divided into “rooms”? = Does the garden have a particular style? (Theatrical, domestic, grand, full of fantasy, or quietly contained? Symmetrical or asymmetrical? Bold gestures or a garden of details?) = Does the garden convey a particular atmosphere? = Is there a theme that holds the garden together? Is the theme obvious or subtle?

= How is the theme conveyed? Are extraneous or irrelevant details eliminated? = Is the garden predictable or full of surprises? Does the balance feel right?

LAYOUT = Are the house and garden close together or separated? Are there outbuildings? = Does the garden direct you in a particular way, or are you free to wander? = Are paths straight or curved? What are they made of? = Is there variation within the garden? Is there enough or too much? Is there movement from light to dark? Is there a single colour palette or multiple colours? Are there both open and closed spaces? Are transitions from one space to another always handled in the same way? Are divisions within the garden always the same size? = Does the garden hold together? Is there a theme? Is it a plant, a colour, a shape, an idea? ELEMENTS WITHIN THE GARDEN = Plants: What kinds of plants are used, and how are they placed within the garden? Are they arranged within a border? Are there variations in colour, texture, height, structure (solid, leafy, spiky, globular)? Are plants massed or arranged as single specimens? = Hardscaping: What types of materials are used, and how? What is the effect of choices? Does hardscaping blend or contrast with the natural landscape? = Water: Is it present? What is the effect of its use? Does it move quickly or slowly? Is there a large surface like a lake or a smaller one like a stream? Does water add sound? Does it reflect surroundings and sky? = Art: Is art used? What kind? How does it relate to other elements within the garden? OVERALL = Can you sum up your overall impression of the garden in a word or a sentence or two? = What kinds of associations does the garden conjure up? = What emotions does the garden evoke in you? What causes that response?

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Appendix B Dos and Don’ts When Visiting a Garden

When you visit a public garden, you often see rules listed on a board near the entry. You know the sort I mean: Do not walk on the grass, do not litter, stay on the path. Apart from common sense and courtesy, what rules apply when you visit a private garden? Or are there rules at all? There is no one answer that fits every case. In some gardens, rules may be posted at the entry if the garden is open to the public on a regular basis, or rules may be spelled out in the garden brochure. Most private gardens do not post rules; they do not even mention them. So how do you behave when the dos and don’ts are not stated? More than that, how do you get the most out of what may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity? Here are some dos and don’ts that may be helpful. = If the gardener is leading you around the garden, let her do the talking. Before you jump in with questions or comments, before you wander off to explore, let her explain what she thinks is important about the garden: its history and how she wants it to function and feel. If the gardener is also the creator or the designer, what she has to say is doubly important. It provides context and helps you understand what you will see. = Pay attention to what the gardener says. That may seem an unnecessary bit of advice, but you would be surprised to discover how many people let their minds wander. If you ask a question about the garden, listen to the answer. If you want to say something about yourself or your own garden, make

your comments relevant to what you are seeing. Do not monopolize the host. Others have questions and may be more reticent about asking. = Pay attention to what the gardener does not say. She will not tell you not to pick flowers, not to litter, or not to peep into the house, and she should not need to. Instead, take these things for granted. Do not do the things that good manners prohibit. = Look at the garden. Really look at it, rather than simply walking through it. Ideally, go around the garden several times, first to get a general sense of the layout, then to observe the different elements more closely. Look in every direction, not only straight ahead. Look backwards, forwards, sideways, up, and down. Walk one way, then turn around and walk the other. When you retrace your steps, you will see things from a different angle. The difference can be informative and can be helpful in planning your own garden. = Use all your senses, not only your eyes. Listen to the sounds the garden makes, the trickle of water on rock, the songs of birds. Smell the wet earth, the lilac in bloom, the freshly cut grass. Touch fuzzy leaves gently, run your hands across a pebbly walk. Taste the air – or the snack the garden owner has prepared. = Use your camera, but before you snap a photograph, think about what you are photographing and why. Take notes, mental or actual. Seeing a garden through the viewfinder of a camera limits your view. It can limit your memory, too, so that the only things you remember are the things you photographed. = Go beyond the familiar. There are fashions in garden design that change over time, and always there are differing opinions about what a garden should or should not look like. You may like or dislike what you see, but that does not mean the garden is good or bad. So, go beyond personal taste. Stretch your boundaries, stretch your mind. = Be present in the moment and fully engaged. By all means, discuss what you see with a companion. Discuss the layout, the choices that have been made. But do not simply chat. If you do, you are not fully there. = Be quiet enough to let the garden speak. Take time to sit, to feel the atmosphere, to enjoy the scents. Open yourself up to the full experience of being there. Finally, one don’t: = Do not get in the way. Beautiful gardens do not happen by magic. Borders need weeding, hedges need trimming, and people doing the work need to be respected. Getting in the way can be dangerous, too, so take care.

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Appendix C Plant Indexes INTRODUCTION All gardeners kill plants, not deliberately, of course, but through error of one kind or another. We forget to water, or we water too much. To twist a familiar phrase, we plant the wrong plant in the wrong place. How can we minimize our mistakes? One way is by following the advice of the South African botanist Sir Peter Smithers: “I consider every plant hardy until I have killed it myself.” A more reliable way is by paying attention to the information given on a plant label or in a garden catalogue. Still another is by asking advice from a knowledgeable friend or a person at a local nursery. Reading carefully and listening attentively to what you hear are important steps in helping plants thrive. Following advice blindly, though, can be a mistake. On a practical level, the growing conditions in your garden may vary significantly from the generic information given in a catalogue or on a plant label, rendering the information useless. On a less practical level, even when the information is appropriate, it may stifle your imagination or frustrate your desire to experiment, to push the boundaries and go beyond the ordinary. When consulting the tables in this appendix, consider me a knowledgeable friend; as such, I advise you to treat the information with a degree of caution. My advice is based on my experience of growing plants in my garden, and my experience will, of necessity, differ from yours. Your garden may be farther south, transforming plants that are only moderately hardy in my garden into surefire survivors. Your climate may be drier or wetter; the growing season may be shorter or longer; your soil may be consistently sandy, loamy, or clay. These essential differences will determine your success in growing the plants I have listed, but even these differences should be taken as guides rather than as hard and fast rules.

Consider hardiness zones, for instance. Different countries use different systems to determine hardiness. Canadian zonal maps combine information about a variety of climatic conditions, including average monthly minimum and maximum temperatures, length of frost-free periods, amount of rainfall, depth of snow, and maximum wind gusts. The zones have changed over time: data from 1961 to 1990 placed Glen Villa in zone 4a, and data from 1981 to 2010 places it in zone 5a, a clear confirmation of the effects of global warming. The American zone map is based on ten-year averages of minimum winter temperatures, and by its standards Glen Villa is located in zone 4. This difference is particularly important for online information or books published in the United States. An American zone 5 plant may very well not survive in Canadian zone 5. The situation becomes even more complicated when considering information from other sources. England’s Royal Horticultural Society defines hardiness into seven zones based on minimum temperatures; according to that system, Glen Villa is in H7, the coldest zone, where winter temperatures drop below –20°C (–4°F). The American Horticultural Society defines heat zones based on the average number of days per year when temperatures rise above 30°C; on that scale, as on the American zone map based on ten-year average minimum temperatures, Glen Villa is in zone 4. Knowing your zone is particularly important for plants being newly introduced into the market. As the Canadian gardener Larry Hodgson points out, thanks to clonal reproduction, new plants are no longer adequately tested for cold hardiness. Labels produced when a plant is first introduced into the market can be, and often are, based on scanty information. As it is expensive to change the labels, inaccurate information about the zone or height and width of a plant remains unchanged, year after year. Microclimates within a garden add yet another layer of difficulty. Some parts of the garden at Glen Villa are more sheltered than others. Some are less apt to attract high winds or more apt to receive a deeper protective cushion of snow in winter. All of this underlines the need to know your own garden conditions and to regard standard information about hardiness, height, and width with skepticism. In the tables that follow, hardiness is listed not by zone but by my assessment of how well the plant performed in my garden: tough as nails, hardy, marginally hardy. For ease of use, I have cross-referenced plants by both their common and their botanical names. I have indicated my experience in terms of predation from deer, but that too can change from year to year depending on how hungry the deer are and whether they have read the garden books you have consulted. Finally, I have noted my experience with each plant and my reaction to it, along with any information about its situation or condition that seems relevant. I hope you will find the information helpful.

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Table 1 Perennials, Ferns, Vines, and Ornamental Grasses Botanical name

Common name

Cultivar name

Zone

Light needs

Moisture needs

Deer proof?

Other qualities

Achillea

Yarrow

Terra Cotta

tough as nails

full sun

dry to medium

yes

The flower is peachy yellow and fades to tan.

Achillea millefolium

Yarrow

Sassy Summer Sunset

tough as nails

full sun

dry to medium

yes

The flowers are more yellow than the name suggests.

Actaea rubra

Red baneberry

Misty Blue

hardy

part shade

moist

yes

A good foliage plant.

Actinidia kolomikta

Kiwi vine

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

Variegated foliage has pink tones in spring. Very attractive.

Adiantum pedatum

Maidenhair fern

tough as nails

shade / part shade

medium

yes

A sure winner in the right conditions. Very graceful.

Agastache

Giant hyssop

Blue Fortune

hardy

sun

medium

yes

Aromatic foliage.

Ajuga reptans

Bugleweed

Mahogany

hardy but finicky

sun or shade

medium

yes

The black-purple leaves are appealing. It prefers the grass to the flower bed.

Alchemilla mollis

Lady’s mantle

tough as nails

sun / part shade

medium

yes

A pain to cut back faded blossoms, but indispensable at Glen Villa.

Allium aflatunense

Allium

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

A reliable allium. It produces off-sets and spreads for some. It did not for me.

Allium sphaerocephalon

Drumstick allium

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

A much smaller blossom and a deeper colour. Looks good with lady’s mantle.

Amaranthus retroflexus

Pigweed

hardy

sun

medium

yes

A weedy plant.

Purple Sensation

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Table 1 continued Botanical name

Common name

Ambrosia artemisiifolia

Cultivar name

Zone

Light needs

Moisture needs

Deer proof?

Other qualities

Common ragweed

hardy

sun

medium

yes

Most common cause of summer hay fever.

Anemone canadensis

Windflower

hardy

shade / part shade

medium to moist

yes

Spreads quickly and can be invasive but easily controlled.

Aralia cordata

Spikenard

Sun King

hardy

sun / part shade

medium to moist

yes

The chartreuse foliage is a big plus in shady locations.

Artemisia schmidtiana

Wormwood

Silver Mound

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

The aromatic foliage needs to be trimmed to keep the mounds from separating.

Aruncus dioicus

Goatsbeard

hardy

shade / part shade

moist

no

It has not done particularly well for me; deer keep cutting it down.

Asclepias syriaca

Common milkweed

hardy

sun

medium

yes

Blossoms have a lovely fragrance.

Astilbe × arendsii

Astilbe

Fanal

hardy

shade / part shade

medium

yes

The deep red blossoms are not as showy as I expected but look good with lady’s mantle.

Astilbe chinensis

Astilbe

Veronica Klose

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

Bright pink blossoms are unusual to see in late summer.

Astilbe straussenfeder

Astilbe

Ostrich Plume

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

I love the pink plumes.

Astilboides tabularis

Shieldleaf Rodgersia

hardy

shade / part shade

medium to moist

yes

Fabulous shade plant! I love the leathery leaves.

Athryium filixfemina var. angustum

Lady fern

Lady in Red

hardy

shade / part shade

medium

yes

A dependable fern that does well in deep shade.

Athryium niponicum

Japanese painted fern

var. pictum

hardy

shade / part shade

moist

yes

The colour variations make this one of my favourite ferns.

Baptisia australis

Blue false indigo

hardy

sun

medium to moist

yes

Does not transplant easily.

Bergenia cordifolia

Pigsqueak

hardy

part shade

medium

yes

Rub the leaves with damp fingers to discover why it is called pigsqueak.

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Table 1 continued Botanical name

Common name

Cultivar name

Zone

Light needs

Moisture needs

Deer proof?

Other qualities

Brunnera macrophylla

Siberian bugloss

Jack Frost

hardy

part shade

moist

yes

This variety is more dependable for me than Looking Glass.

Brunnera macrophylla

Siberian bugloss

Looking Glass

hardy

part shade

moist

moderate

This variety also has silvery heart-shaped leaves.

Calamagrostis × acutiflora

Korean feather grass

Karl Foerster

hardy

sun

medium to moist

yes

A clump-forming grass that does not seed around. I love it in masses.

Calamagrostis brachytricha

Reed grass

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

A strong, upright grass that tolerates light shade.

Callicladium haldanianum

Moss

tough as nails

shade / part shade

moist

yes

One of three mosses I used for the quilt on the China Terrace bed.

Caltha palustris

Marsh marigold

hardy

sun / part shade

moist

yes

A drop of sunshine in the spring.

Cardamine pratensis

Bitter cress / cuckoo flower / mayflower

tough as nails

sun / part shade

moist

yes

A sweet wildflower that thrives in damp soil.

Carex elata aurea

Golden sedge

Bowles Gold

hardy

part shade

moist

moderate

Sedges have edges!

Celosia argentea

Feather celosia

New Look Red

annual

Sun / part shade

medium to moist

yes

An easy annual.

Chionodoxa forbesii

Chionodoxa

Alba

marginally hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

The bulbs flowered in year 1 but did not return.

Chionodoxa forbesii

Chionodoxa

Blue Giant

marginally hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

The bulbs flowered in year 1 but did not return.

Clematis alpina

Clematis

Jacqueline du Pre

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

A very reliable bloomer.

Clematis virginiana

Clematis

Virgin’s Bower

tough as nails

sun / part shade

moist

yes

A native clematis, can be invasive.

Corydalis lutea

Corydalis

marginally hardy

shade / part shade

medium

yes

It did not spread or do well for me.

Crocus chrysanthus

Crocus

Snowbunting

hardy but finicky

sun / part shade

medium

yes

All crocuses flower less well for me after year 1.

Crocus chrysanthus

Crocus

Snowstorm

hardy but finicky

sun / part shade

medium

yes

I prefer Snowbunting to Snow Storm.

Crocus flavus

Crocus

Yellow Mammoth

hardy but finicky

sun / part shade

medium

yes

A particular favourite because of the colour.

Messy Hair

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pl a n t i n de x es

Table 1 continued Botanical name

Common name

Cultivar name

Zone

Light needs

Moisture needs

Deer proof?

Other qualities

Crocus tommasinianus

Crocus

Yalta

hardy but finicky

sun / part shade

medium

yes

Great bi-colour crocus; does not naturalize for me.

Crocus vernus

Dutch Crocus

Striped Beauty

hardy but finicky

sun / part shade

medium

yes

It should naturalize but it does not.

Cypripedium reginae

Lady slippers

hardy but finicky

shade / part shade

medium to moist

yes

Also called moccasin flower.

Darmera peltata

Umbrella plant

hardy

part shade

moist

yes

Broad leaf adds punch.

Dicentra

Bleeding heart

Burning Hearts

marginally hardy

sun / part shade

medium

no

Did not do well for me.

Dicentra

Bleeding heart

King of Hearts

hardy

part shade

medium to moist

moderate

Did not do well for me.

Dicentra cucullaria

Dutchman’s breeches

hardy

part shade

medium to moist

yes

This indigenous plant grows well at Glen Villa.

Dicentra formosa

Bleeding heart

Aurora

hardy

part shade

medium to moist

yes

Lovely white heartshaped flowers with ferny leaves.

Dicentra spectabilis

Bleeding heart

Alba

hardy

part shade

medium to moist

yes

Botanical name is now Lamprocapnos spectabilis.

Dicentra spectabilis

Bleeding heart

Gold Heart

hardy

part shade

medium to moist

yes

Botanical name is now Lamprocapnos spectabilis.

Dicranum scoparium

Moss

tough as nails

shade / part shade

moist

yes

One of three mosses I used for the quilt on the China Terrace bed.

Echinacea purpurea

Coneflower

Magnus

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

A very showy coneflower that is shorter than the species.

Epimedium grandiflorum

Barrenwort / Bishop’s hat

Irene

hardy

part shade

medium to moist

yes

Like all epimediums, Irene grows more slowly in dry soil.

Epimedium grandiflorum

Barrenwort / Bishop’s hat

Lilafee

marginally hardy

part shade

medium to moist

yes

Leaves emerge bronze purple.

Epimedium pubigerum

Barrenwort / Bishop’s hat

Amber Queen

hardy / marginally hardy

part shade

medium to moist

yes

Yellow spurs have orange-red centres. Looks almost orange from a distance.

Epimedium × rubrum

Red barrenwort

hardy

part shade

medium to moist

yes

One of my favourite epimediums. Does well for me.

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Table 1 continued Botanical name

Common name

Cultivar name

Zone

Light needs

Moisture needs

Deer proof?

Other qualities

Epimedium × versicolor

Barrenwort / Bishop’s hat

Sulphureum

hardy

part shade

medium to moist

yes

Another of my favourite epimediums.

Eremurus × Isabellinus

Foxtail lily

Cleopatra

marginally hardy

sun

medium

yes

Stunning in bloom among Nepeta.

Eupatorium perfoliatum

Boneset

tough as nails

Sun / part shade

medium to moist

yes

A native plant that likes water margins.

Eupatorium rugosum

Joe-pye weed

hardy

sun / part shade

medium to moist

yes

A native plant that spreads in the right conditions. A field of it, wow!

Festuca glauca

Blue fescue

hardy

sun

welldrained

yes

A short-lived plant that I find finicky. It looks good when newly planted but peters out.

Galanthus elwesii

Snowdrop

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

I like snowdrops best when planted en masse.

Galium odoratum

Sweet woodruff

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

It spreads aggressively but is easily controlled.

Galium verum

Fragrant bedstraw

tough as nails

Sun / part shade

medium

yes

A native plant that grows well in open fields.

Geranium

Cranesbill

Rozanne

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

Rozanne did not do well for me. I am not sure why.

Geranium × cantabrigiense

Cranesbill

Biokovo

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

A nice but not spectacular geranium.

Geranium phaeum

Mourning widow

Samobor

hardy

part shade

medium to moist

yes

Excellent dark foliage. Can spread aggressively.

Geranium pratense

Geranium

Hocus Pocus

hardy

sun / part shade

yes

This variety did not perform well for me.

Gillenia trifoliata

Bowman’s root

hardy

sun / part shade

yes

The botanical name is now Porteranthus.

Hakonechloa macra

Japanese forest grass

Aureola

hardy

part shade

medium

yes

An excellent shade plant with bright yellow-green foliage.

Helenium

Sneezeweed

Moerheim Beauty

hardy

full sun

medium to moist

yes

Attracts butterflies.

Heuchera

Coral bells

Midnight Rose

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

I love the spotted leaves but it did not do well for me.

Heuchera

Coral bells

Obsidian

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

Dark leaves make this a favourite.

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pl a n t i n de x es

Table 1 continued Botanical name

Common name

Cultivar name

Zone

Light needs

Moisture needs

Deer proof?

Other qualities

Heuchera americana

Coral bells

Dale’s Strain

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

All heucheras at Glen Villa have tended to die out after a few years.

Heuchera micrantha

Coral bells

Palace Purple

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

An old reliable that lasted longer than other heucheras.

Hosta

Hosta

Blue Mouse Ears

hardy

shade / part shade

medium to moist

no

A tiny hosta with thick blue-toned leaves.

Hosta

Hosta

Blue Wedgwood

hardy

shade / part shade

medium

no

Powder-blue foliage makes this hosta a surefire winner.

Hosta

Hosta

Sum and Substance

hardy

shade / part shade

medium

no

If you want huge chartreuse leaves, this hosta is a good choice.

Hosta sieboldiana

Hosta

Elegans

hardy

shade / part shade

medium

no

A reliable hosta, with bold blue-green leaves.

Hypericum perforatum

St. John’s wort

hardy

sun

medium

yes

Considered a noxious weed in some areas.

Imperata cylindrica

Japanese blood grass

Red Baron

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

It did not do well at the Skating Pond, but in better soil it is growing well.

Iris cristata

Crested iris

Powder Blue Giant

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

A small iris, only 6” tall, with big blooms, up to 3” across.

Iris pseudocorus

Yellow flag iris

hardy

sun / part shade

moist

yes

A native iris that naturalizes very well.

Iris sibirica

Siberian iris

Tycoon

hardy

sun / part shade

moist

yes

This Siberian iris has gorgeous royal-purple blooms

Iris sibirica

Siberian iris

White Swirl

hardy

sun / some shade

moist

yes

White Swirl goes well with Tycoon if you want a deep-blue and white combination.

Iris spuria

Spuria iris

Burnished Brass

hardy

sun / some shade

moist

yes

Spuria irises are very tall, up to 4 ft. for me.

Iris spuria

Spuria iris

Cinnamon Stick

hardy

sun / part shade

moist

yes

Spuria irises naturalize. They like moist but not wet soil.

Iris versicolor

Northern blue flag iris

hardy

sun / part shade

moist

yes

Quebec’s native iris grows wild in our fields.

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Table 1 continued Botanical name

Common name

Jeffersonia diphylla

Cultivar name

Zone

Light needs

Moisture needs

Deer proof?

Other qualities

Twinleaf

marginally hardy

part shade

medium

yes

Warmer winters mean plant is hardier now.

Kirengeshoma peltata, Korean group

Korean waxbells

marginally hardy

shade / part shade

medium

moderate

The bold foliage resembles a maple leaf. A good shade plant.

Lamium maculatum

Dead-nettle

Goldilocks

hardy

part shade

medium to moist

yes

A tough ground cover with bright chartreuse foliage that looks good in the shade.

Lamium maculatum

Dead-nettle

White Nancy

hardy but finicky

sun / part shade

medium to moist

yes

Not as hardy as Goldilocks, but the spotted foliage makes up for it.

Lamprocapnos spectabilis

Bleeding heart

Alba

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

moderate

Formerly known as Dicentra spectabilis.

Lamprocapnos spectabilis

Bleeding heart

Goldheart

hardy

shade / part shade

medium

moderate

Formerly known as Dicentra spectabilis.

Lavendula augustifolia

Lavender

Hidcote Blue

marginally hardy

sun / part shade

dry to medium

yes

Lavender performs only moderately well for me.

Leymus arenarius

Blue lyme grass

hardy

sun / part shade

all types

yes

I wanted it to spread, but the soil was too wet for it.

Ligularia dentata

Elephant ears

Britt Marie Crawford

hardy

sun / part shade

medium to moist

yes

I do not like the colour of the flowers so I remove them.

Ligularia dentata

Elephant ears

Desdemona

hardy

sun / part shade

medium to moist

yes

I do not like the colour of the flowers so I remove them.

Ligularia przewalskii

Ligularia

hardy

sun / part shade

medium to moist

yes

A different shape of bloom and a much nicer colour of flower.

Ligularia stenocephala

Leopard Plant

The Rocket

hardy

sun / part shade

medium to moist

yes

This plant is BIG and can be overwhelming. Give it space, and it is happy.

Lonicera brownii

Honeysuckle

Mandarin

hardy

sun / part shade

medium to moist

yes

Showy clusters of flowers combine orange, tomato, and gold tones.

Lotus corniculatus

Bird’s-foot trefoil

hardy

sun

medium

yes

Can be invasive; attracts bumblebees.

259

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Table 1 continued Botanical name

Common name

Lupinus

Cultivar name

Zone

Light needs

Moisture needs

Deer proof?

Other qualities

Lupin

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

Lupins grow wild in our fields. The black seed pods are not attractive but the flowers are.

Lysimachia clethroides

Gooseneck loosestrife

hardy

sun / part shade

medium to moist

yes

Another aggressive plant that will take whatever space you give it.

Lysimachia nummularia

Creeping Jenny

hardy

sun or shade

moist

yes

A nice ground cover, easily adaptable to many situations.

Lysimachia punctata

Yellow loosestrife

hardy

sun / part shade

medium to moist

yes

An aggressive plant but easily controlled.

Matteuccia struthiopteris

Ostrich fern

hardy

sun / part shade

medium to moist

yes

A large upright fern that grows in our woods. I use it behind bleeding heart.

Miscanthus

Eulalia grass

Purpurascens

hardy

sun

medium to moist

yes

Outstanding fall colour. An upright grass and a winner for me.

Miscanthus sinensis

Eulalia grass

Malepartus

tough as nails

sun

medium to moist

yes

The red plumes are spectacular in late summer and early fall.

Miscanthus sinensis

Eulalia grass

Morning Light

hardy

sun

medium to moist

yes

The white stripe on this miscanthus makes it shimmer in the light.

Monarda didyma

Bee balm

hardy

part shade

medium to moist

yes

Attracts butterflies.

Mukdenia rossi

Mukdenia

Karasuba or Crimson Fans

marginally hardy

part shade

medium to moist

yes

An excellent ground cover for shady areas; deserves to be better known.

Muscari armeniacum

Grape hyacinth

Blue Spike

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes/no

Foliage is deer proof, flowers are not.

Nepeta × faassenii

Catmint

Six Hills Giant

tough as nails

sun / part shade

dry to medium

yes

I prefer Walker’s Low to Six Hills Giant.

Nepeta racemosa

Catmint

Walker’s Low

tough as nails

sun / part shade

dry to medium

yes

Aromatic foliage keeps the deer away.

Osmunda cinnamomea

Cinnamon fern

hardy

part shade

moist

yes

Named for the colour of the fronds, it is stunning when they emerge in spring.

Aurea

260

a ppe n di x c

Table 1 continued Botanical name

Common name

Cultivar name

Zone

Light needs

Moisture needs

Deer proof?

Other qualities

Paeonia lactiflora

Peony

Jules Elie

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

An heirloom peony with deep-pink blossoms. I stake them early in the season.

Paeonia lactiflora

Peony

Sarah Bernhardt

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

Another heirloom peony, also pink but a softer colour than Jules Elie.

Paeonia lactiflora

Peony

Victoire de la Marne

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

An heirloom peony with very large fuchsia-red blooms.

Panicum virgatum

Switchgrass

Heavy Metal

hardy

sun

medium

yes

A terrific panicum if you want one that self-seeds. Nice blue-toned leaves.

Panicum virgatum

Switchgrass

Northwind

hardy

sun

medium

yes

My favourite panicum. It makes good-sized clumps and does not self-seed.

Panicum virgatum

Switchgrass

Shenandoah

hardy

sun

medium

yes

This panicum did not do very well for me. It never clumped up the way I wanted it to.

Perovskia atriplicifolia

Russian sage

Blue Jean Baby

hardy

sun

medium

yes

Compared with Little Spire, it has a slightly different tone of blue and blooms earlier.

Perovskia atriplicifolia

Russian sage

Little Spire

hardy

sun

medium

yes

One of the older varieties of perovskia and readily available.

Persicaria microcephala

Fleece flower

Purple Fantasy

tough as nails

sun / part shade

moist

yes

Spreads aggressively and needs to be trimmed back to prevent flopping.

Persicaria polymorpha

Knotweed or Giant fleece flower

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

An outstanding plant at Glen Villa. Great in sun or part shade. White flowers turn creamy.

Petasites japonicus

Butterbur

hardy

sun / part shade

medium to moist

yes

Both this plain and the variegated petasites are dramatic when massed.

Petasites japonicus

Butterbur

hardy

sun / part shade

medium to moist

yes

The leaves can look tatty towards the end of the season.

Variegata

2 61

pl a n t i n de x es

Table 1 continued Botanical name

Common name

Pilosella aurantiaca

Cultivar name

Zone

Light needs

Moisture needs

Deer proof?

Other qualities

Orange hawkweed / Devil’s paintbrush

hardy

sun / part shade

medium to moist

yes

Bright orange flowers are very attractive.

Polystichum acrostichoides

Christmas fern

tough as nails

shade / part shade

dry to medium

yes

A wonderful native fern that keeps its dark green fronds.

Pontederia cordata

Pickerel weed

hardy

sun / part shade

moist, wet

yes

A native aquatic plant that grows in still, shallow water, it can be very aggressive.

Ptilium cristacastrensis

Moss

Feather moss

tough as nails

shade / part shade

moist

yes

One of three mosses I used for the quilt on the China Terrace bed.

Pulmonaria

Lungwort

Excalibre

hardy

sun / part shade

medium to moist

yes

Excalibre’s leaves are more silvery white than Majeste’s.

Pulmonaria

Lungwort

Majeste

hardy

sun / part shade

medium to moist

yes

Nice foliage with pink flowers. Leaves are not as silvery white as those on Excalibre.

Ranunculus acris

Buttercup

hardy

sun

medium to moist

yes

Abenaki sniffed its crushed flowers and leaves to relieve headaches.

Rodgersia aesculifolia

Fingerleaf Rodgersia

hardy

sun / part shade

medium to moist

yes

An outstanding plant at Glen Villa. Great in part sun or part shade.

Rosa polyanthus

Rose

The Fairy

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

A dwarf shrub rose, almost like a ground cover. Easy to root.

Rosa rugosa

Rose

Blanc de Coubert

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

A hardy shrub rose with double white blooms. Very fragrant.

RosaVLR001

Rose

Chinook Sunrise

hardy

sun

medium

yes

A new variety for me, I am trying it out in the Compass Rose.

Rudbeckia fulgida

Black-eyed Susan

Goldsturm

tough as nails

sun

medium

yes

A workhorse of a plant. Great en masse and easily divided.

Rumex acetosella

Sheep sorrel / Red dock

hardy

sun

dry to medium

yes

Spreads easily.

2 62

a ppe n di x c

Table 1 continued Botanical name

Common name

Cultivar name

Zone

Light needs

Moisture needs

Deer proof?

Other qualities

Sagina subulata

Irish moss

Aurea

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

The bright green looks great against grey-toned stones.

Sagittaria cuneata

Arrowhead

tough as nails

sun / part shade

wet

yes

An indigenous plant that can be aggressive. It appeared in the Cascade, and I like it there.

Salvia nemorosa

Salvia

Bumbleberry

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

A new variety. I used it in a container, then transplanted to the garden. Excellent results!

Salvia nemorosa

Salvia

Cardonna

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

A beautiful and reliable salvia.

Sanguinaria canadensis

Bloodroot

hardy

shade / part shade

medium

yes

A woodland plant that can be naturalized.

Sanguisorba officinalis

Burnet

Red Thunder

hardy

sun / part shade

medium to moist

yes

I love the colour of the blossoms, but the clump needs to be big to have an impact.

Sedum reflexum

Stonecrop

Blue Spruce

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

I use a variety of sedums on top of the Aqueduct’s gabion wall.

Sedum rupestre

Stonecrop

Angelina

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

Together the different colours and shapes look like an oriental carpet.

Sedum spurium

Stonecrop

Red Carpet

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

I add hens and chicks like spots of roses.

Sedum telephium

Stonecrop

Autumn Joy

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

This old reliable has a new name: Hylotelephium telephium ‘Herbsfreude’.

Senecio cineraria

Dusty miller

annual

sun / part shade

medium

yes

An easy annual.

Sisyrinchium angustifolium

Blue-eyed grass

hardy

sun

medium

yes

A lovely little blue flower.

Solidago

Goldenrod

hardy

sun

medium

yes

There are many varieties.

Sporobolus heterolepis

Prairie dropseed

hardy

sun

medium

yes

The foliage colour in summer and fall stands out against rusted steel in the Aqueduct.

2 63

pl a n t i n de x es

Table 1 continued Botanical name

Common name

Cultivar name

Zone

Light needs

Moisture needs

Deer proof?

Other qualities

Thalictrum delavayi

Meadow rue

Hewitt’s Double

marginally hardy

sun / part shade

medium to moist

yes

I have tried several times to get this to grow among Weigela, but it does not survive.

Thalictrum ichangense

Meadow rue

Evening Star

hardy

sun / part shade

medium to moist

yes

Lovely tiny lavender flowers shine in the shade against a dark copper-toned foliage.

Thalictrum rochebrunianum rochebrunianum

Meadow rue

Lavender Mist

hardy

sun / part shade

medium to moist

yes

The flower and the name are a perfect match. It dies out with too much shade.

Thymus praecox

Wooly thyme

hardy

sun

dry to medium

yes

Has a nice scent when crushed.

Tiarella cordifolia

Heart-leafed foamflower

hardy

part shade

medium

yes

A native plant that does well in shade. It forms clumps and will spread.

Trifolium pratense

Red clover

hardy

sun

medium

yes

Fixes nitrogen in the soil.

Uvularia sessilifolia

Merrybells

hardy

shade / part shade

medium to moist

yes

A native plant whose common name describes it well.

Verbascum thapsus

Mullein

hardy

sun / part shade

dry to medium

yes

Biennial.

Vernonia noveboracensis

New York ironweed

hardy

sun / part shade

medium to moist

yes

A tall plant, it is okay in part shade but does better with more sun.

Yucca filamentosa

Adam’s needle / Rock lily

hardy

sun

dry to medium

yes

Grows easily in sandy soil.

2 64

a ppe n di x c

Table 2 Shrubs and Trees Botanical name

Common name

Cultivar name

Zone

Light needs

Moisture needs

Deer resistant

Other qualities

Acer ginnala

Amur maple

hardy

sun / part shade

medium to moist

yes

Amur maple can be called either a small tree or a shrub.

Acer palmatum atropurpureum

Japanese maple

marginally hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

Even protected, this tree did not survive.

Aesculus flava

Yellow buckeye

hardy

sun

medium

yes

This is one of the earliest trees to change colour in autumn.

Aesculus hippocastanum

Horse chestnut

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

Its conkers are beautiful. I have used them to grow new trees.

Amelanchier arborea

Downy serviceberry

hardy

sun / part shade

medium to moist

yes

This small tree or shrub is shorter than A. canadensis.

Amelanchier canadensis

Serviceberry

hardy

sun / part shade

medium to moist

yes

Both amelanchiers have slightly fragrant white flowers in spring.

Aronia melanocarpa

Chokecherry/ Chokeberry

Autumn Magic

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

moderately

It has excellent autumn colour.

Aronia melanocarpa

Chokecherry/ Chokeberry

Low Scape Mound

marginally hardy

sun / part shade

medium

moderately

Not as floriferous as I hoped; more appealing to deer than expected.

Berberis thunbergii

Barberry

Bailone / Ruby Carousel

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

Tiny yellow blossoms in spring stand out against deep-purplish foliage.

Berberis thunbergii

Barberry

Cherry Bomb

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

A compact shrub with burgundy-red leaves; turns scarlet in autumn.

Betula papyrifera

Paper birch

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

A short-lived tree, its white bark is marked with black “eyes.”

Bloodgood

2 65

pl a n t i n de x es

Table 2 continued Botanical name

Common name

Cultivar name

Zone

Light needs

Moisture needs

Deer resistant

Other qualities

Buddleia

Butterfly bush

Black Knight

marginally hardy

sun / part shade

welldrained

moderately

I tried this shrub when I first began the garden. It did not survive.

Buxus

Boxwood

Green Mountain

hardy

sun or shade

medium

yes

Green Mountain is a columnar form.

Buxus

Boxwood

Green Velvet

hardy

sun or shade

medium

yes

Both Green Velvet and Green Mountain do well at Glen Villa.

Catalpa speciosa

Northern catalpa

hardy

sun

medium

yes

I have two of these trees. One blooms, the other does not.

Celtis occidentalis

Hackberry tree

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

A nice shade tree best grown in moist soil.

Cephalanthus occidentalis

Buttonbush

hardy

sun / part shade

medium to wet

no

The species can get very tall and lanky.

Cephalanthus occidentalis

Buttonbush

hardy

sun / part shade

medium to moist

yes

Blossoms on this cultivar fit the name Sputnik.

Cercidiphyllum japonicum

Katsura

hardy

part shade

medium

yes

What I thought would be a shrub has become a tree.

Clethra alnifolia

Summersweet

Sixteen Candles

hardy

sun / part shade

medium to moist

yes

A shorter variety and also very fragrant.

Clethra alnifolia

Summersweet

Vanilla Spice

hardy

sun / part shade

medium to moist

yes

Very fragrant. White blossoms come in mid-August.

Cornus alba

Red twig dogwood

Siberica

hardy

sun / part shade

medium to moist

moderately or not

This indigenous shrub should do well but has not, thanks to deer.

Cornus alternifolia

Pagoda dogwood

hardy / marginally hardy

sun or shade

welldrained

moderately

Deer like the new growth but avoid woody parts.

Cornus canadensis

Bunchberry

tough as nails

part shade

medium

yes

A wonderful ground cover that naturalizes in part shade.

Cornus mas

Cornelian cherry

hardy

sun

medium

yes

A slow grower with tiny yellow blossoms in spring.

Cornus sericea

Dogwood

Kelsey’s Dwarf

marginally hardy

sun / part shade

dry to wet

moderately

This shrub died after a hard winter.

Crataegus crus galli

Hawthorn

Cockspur Hawthorn

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

White blossoms and sharp thorns.

Crataegus phaenopyryum

Hawthorn

Washington Hawthorn

marginally hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

A small flowering tree with white blossoms, marginally hardy for me.

Sputnik

266

a ppe n di x c

Table 2 continued Botanical name

Common name

Cultivar name

Zone

Light needs

Moisture needs

Deer resistant

Other qualities

Diervilla splendens

Bush honeysuckle

Nightglow

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

A new plant for me. So far, so good.

Diervilla lonicera

Shrub of bush honeysuckle

hardy

sun / part shade

dry to medium

yes

Suckers and spreads.

Forsythia × intermedia

Forsythia

Magical Gold

hardy

sun

welldrained

yes

I have not found a lot of difference between the cultivars.

Forsythia × intermedia

Forsythia

Show Off

hardy

sun

welldrained

yes

I like all three that grow at Glen Villa.

Forsythia ovata

Forsythia

Northern Gold

hardy

sun

welldrained

yes

All forsythia need protection against deer when young.

Fothergilla gardenii

Fothergilla

Mt Airy

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

Excellent fall colour.

Fothergilla × intermedia

Fothergilla

Blue Shadow

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

A sport of Mt Airy, its leaves are an intense blue.

Gymnocladus dioicus

Kentucky coffee tree

hardy

sun

medium

yes

Carolinian species now rare in the wild.

Hamamelis virginiana

Witch hazel

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

A great shrub for part shade, with yellow flowers in fall.

Hydrangea paniculata

Hydrangea

Pinky Winky

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

The deer like the new growth.

Hydrangea paniculata

Hydrangea

Tardiva

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

The deer leave woody growth alone.

Juglans cinerea

Butternut

tough as nails

full sun

medium

yes

A native tree that grows well at Glen Villa.

Juglans nigra

Black walnut

hardy

full sun

medium

yes

A tree with special links to my childhood.

Juniperus horizontalis

Juniper

Andorra

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

A reliable low-growing juniper with needles tinged plum in autumn.

Juniperus horizontalis ‘Wiltonii’

Juniper

Blue Rug

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

no

Silver-blue needles are meant to be deer resistant. They were not.

Liriodendron tulipifera

Tulip poplar

no

sun

medium

yes

I tried to grow it but failed.

Maackia amurensis

Maackia

hardy

sun / part shade

medium to moist

yes

A small tree with white pealike blossoms in spring.

Magnolia

Magnolia

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

Its deep-pink, goblet-shaped blooms come later than Leonard Messel’s.

Susan

267

pl a n t i n de x es

Table 2 continued Botanical name

Common name

Cultivar name

Zone

Light needs

Moisture needs

Deer resistant

Other qualities

Magnolia stellata

Magnolia

Leonard Messel

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

Fairly small, with pale-pink blooms, this tree needs regular pruning.

Malus

Crabapple

Dolgo

tough as nails

full sun

medium

yes

Dolgo is my favourite crabapple.

Malus

Crabapple

Makamik

hardy

full sun

medium

yes

Makamik is another favourite. Very hardy.

Malus baccata

Crabapple

Columnaris

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

It is good in narrow spaces but otherwise only so-so.

Malus × moerlandsii

Crabapple

Profusion

hardy

full sun

medium

yes

An excellent choice: cerise blossoms and darkish leaves.

Metasequoia glyptostroboides

Dawn Redwood

marginally hardy

sun

medium to wet

yes

It struggled for a few years before dying.

Microbiota decussata

Siberian cypress

hardy

sun / part shade

medium to moist

yes

An outstanding groundcover type shrub.

Myrica pennsylvanica

Bayberry

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

A useful filler without much else to recommend it.

Nyssa sylvatica

Sourgum

marginally hardy

sun

medium to moist

yes

Late to leaf out, early to turn colour in fall.

Phellodendron amurense

Cork tree

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

An unusual tree that I like very much.

Philadelphis × virginalis

Mock orange

Innocence

hardy

sun

medium

yes

As sweet as its name suggests, and fragrant.

Physocarpus opulifolius

Ninebark

Dart’s Gold

hardy

sun / part shade

medium to moist

moderately

Interesting bark and yellow foliage.

Physocarpus opulifolius

Ninebark

Diablo

hardy

sun / part shade

medium to moist

moderately

One of the early cultivars with dark leaves. I like it.

Physocarpus opulifolius

Ninebark

Gold Nugget

hardy

sun / part shade

medium to moist

no

A good chartreuse-leafed cultivar.

Physocarpus opulifolius

Ninebark

Summer Wine

hardy

sun / part shade

medium to moist

yes

White flowers against winecoloured foliage make this a winner.

Picea pungens

Spruce

Colorado

tough as nails

sun / part shade

medium

yes

A reliable tree that grows well at Glen Villa.

Picea pungens

Spruce

Fat Albert

hardy

sun

medium

yes

Lives up to its name: wide and not too tall.

Pinus banksiana

Jack pine

hardy

sun / part shade

dry to medium

yes

An iconic Canadian tree.

268

a ppe n di x c

Table 2 continued Botanical name

Common name

Cultivar name

Zone

Light needs

Moisture needs

Deer resistant

Other qualities

Pinus mugo

Mugo pine

Pumilio

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

A standby plant with interesting candles.

Platanus occidentalis

Sycamore

hardy / marginally hardy

shade/ part shade

medium

yes

Branches die every year, but the camouflage bark makes it worth it.

Populus nigra

Italian poplar

Italica

hardy

sun

medium

yes

A very upright form, messy; can be chopped back if too tall.

Rhamnus frangula

Buckthorn

Fine Line

tough as nails

sun / part shade

medium

yes

A new plant for me; I am still making up my mind about it.

Rhododendron

Azalea

Northern Lights series

hardy

sun / part shade

medium to moist

yes

Various colours available.

Rhododendron

Rhododendron

Nova Zembla

hardy / marginally hardy

sun / part shade

medium to moist

yes

Not as hardy as advertised but worth protecting.

Rhododendron

Rhododendron

Olga Mezitt

hardy

sun / part shade

medium to moist

yes

Blooms really well every other year.

Rhus typhina

Sumac

Staghorn

tough as nails

sun

medium

yes

The autumn colour is spectacular.

Robinia pseudoacacia

Black locust

hardy

sun

medium to moist

yes

Pendulous white blossoms.

Rosa

Shrub rose

Chinook Sunrise

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

Wonderful coral shades.

Rosa

Tea rose

Peace

hardy

sun

medium

yes

Tea roses need a lot of attention.

Salix alba

Weeping willow

Tristis

hardy

sun / part shade

medium to moist

yes

Weeping willows are always an excellent choice beside water.

Salix babylonica

Curly willow

Crispa

hardy

sun / part shade

medium to moist

yes

Round leaves make this a special willow.

Sambucus canadensis

Elderberry

hardy

sun / part shade

moist

yes

Birds love the dark berries.

Sambucus nigra

Elderberry

Black Beauty

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

moderately

Said to be deer resistant but was not for me.

Sambucus nigra

Elderberry

Black Lace

hardy

sun

medium

yes

I planted this in the North– South Arrow in 2020; so far, so good.

269

pl a n t i n de x es

Table 2 continued Botanical name

Common name

Cultivar name

Zone

Light needs

Moisture needs

Deer resistant

Other qualities

Sambucus nigra

Elderberry

Laced Up

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

Also planted in the North– South Arrow in 2020; so far, so good.

Sambucus racemosa

Elderberry

Lemony Lace

hardy

shade / part shade

medium to wet

no

I have tried twice to grow this plant, but the deer have defeated me.

Spirea × arguta

Bridalwreath or Garland

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

Cascading form has smaller blooms on longer stems than S. prunifolia.

Spirea media

Spirea

Double Play Big Bang

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

Very showy orange-yellow foliage in spring with pink blossoms.

Spirea media

Spirea

Double Play Blue Kazoo

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

Blue-grey leaves with white blossoms. A new variety I planted in 2020.

Spirea japonica

Spirea

Crispa

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

Leaves are twisted and incised; blossoms are pinkish red.

Spirea japonica

Spirea

Magic Carpet

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

Compact shrub with pink flowers. Foliage emerges red, turns gold.

Spirea prunifolia

Bridalwreath spirea

tough as nails

sun

medium

yes

Rounded blossoms form a cascade effect.

Spirea thunbergii

Spirea

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

White flowers with chartreuse foliage: very effective combo.

Stephanandra incisa

Stephanandra

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

Creamy white blossoms cascade in early summer. A wonderful shrub.

Symphoricarpus albus

Snowberry

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

Suckers and spreads.

Syringa × hyacinthiflora

Lilac

Pocahontas

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

Blooms a little earlier than Preston lilacs.

Syringa meyeri

Korean lilac

Palibin

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

Very fragrant. It blooms about 3–4 weeks after Preston lilacs.

Syringa × prestoniae

Preston lilac

Donald Wyman

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

Purple blossoms with crinkly dark-green foliage.

Syringa × prestoniae

Preston lilac

Isabella

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

Pink lavender foliage with minimal fragrance.

Ogon

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Table 2 continued Botanical name

Common name

Cultivar name

Zone

Light needs

Moisture needs

Deer resistant

Other qualities

Syringa reticulata

Japanese tree lilac

Ivory Silk

hardy

sun

medium to moist

yes

This lilac tree blooms well every other year.

Syringa vulgaris

Common lilac

Katherine Havemeyer

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

Double lavender-pink blossoms, quite fragrant.

Syringa vulgaris

Common lilac

Mme Lemoine

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

Sweetly fragrant, double white blooms.

Taxus × media hicksii

Yew

Hicks

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

no

This variety of yew will tolerate deep shade.

Tilia americana

Basswood / linden

tough as nails

sun / part shade

medium

yes

Yellow flowers are inconspicuous and very fragrant. Attracts bees.

Viburnum opulus

Dwarf highbush cranberry

Compactum

hardy

sun / part shade

medium to moist

yes

Easily grown in a variety of soils.

Viburnum sargentii

Viburnum

Onondaga

hardy

sun / part shade

medium to moist

yes

Nice foliage.

Viburnum trilobum

Highbush cranberry

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

Stunning shrub with lacecap flowers and excellent autumn colour.

Weigela florida

Weigela

French Lace

hardy

sun

medium

yes

Very dependable shrub, with excellent colour contrast of flowers and leaves.

Weigela florida

Weigela

Shining Sensation

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

Very showy cultivar. Not the best choice for a country garden.

Weigela florida

Weigela

Wine and Roses

hardy

sun / part shade

medium

yes

Very showy cultivar with pink, funnel-shaped blossoms.

27 1

pl a n t i n de x es

Table 3 Common to Botanical Names

Common name

Botanical name

Burnet

Sanguisorba officinalis

Allium

Allium aflatunense

Bush honeysuckle

Diervilla lonicera

Amur maple

Acer ginnala

Bush honeysuckle

Diervilla splendens

Arrowhead

Sagittaria cuneata

Butterbur

Petasites japonicus

Astilbe

Astilbe

Butterfly bush

Buddleia

Barberry

Berberis thunbergii

Butternut

Juglans cinerea

Barrenwort / Bishop’s hat

Epimedium

Buttonbush

Cephalanthus occidentalis

Basswood

Tilia americana

Catmint

Nepeta

Bayberry

Myrica pennsylvanica

Chionodoxa

Chionodoxa forbesii

Black-eyed Susan

Rudbeckia fulgida

Chokeberry or chokecherry

Aronia melanocarpa

Black walnut

Juglans nigra

Christmas fern

Polystichum acrostichoides

Bleeding heart

Dicentra

Cinnamon fern

Osmunda cinnamomea

Bleeding heart

Lamprocapnos spectabilis

Clematis

Clematis

Blue fescue

Festuca glauca

Coneflower

Echinacea purpurea

Blue lyme grass

Leymus arenarius

Coral bells

Heuchera

Boneset

Eupatorium perfoliatum

Coral bells

Heuchera micrantha

Bowman’s root

Gillenia trifoliata

Cork tree

Phellodendron amurense

Boxwood

Buxus

Cornelian cherry

Cornus mas

Bridalwreath / Garland spirea

Spirea

Corydalis

Corydalis lutea

Buckthorn

Rhamnus frangula

Crabapple

Malus

Bugleweed

Ajuga reptans

Cranesbill

Geranium

Bunchberry

Cornus canadensis

Creeping Jenny

Lysimachia nummularia

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Table 3 continued Common name

Botanical name

Hosta

Hosta

Crested iris

Iris cristata

Hydrangea

Hydrangea

Crocus

Crocus

Irish moss

Sagina subulata

Cuckoo flower

Cardamine pratensis

Italian poplar

Populus nigra

Curly willow

Salix babylonica

Japanese blood grass

Imperata cylindrica

Dawn redwood

Metasequoia glyptostroboides

Japanese forest grass

Hakonechloa macra

Dead-nettle

Lamium maculatum

Japanese maple

Acer palmatum atropurpureum

Dogwood

Cornus sericea

Japanese painted fern

Athryium niponicum

Downy serviceberry

Amelanchier arborea

Japanese tree lilac

Syringa reticulata

Drumstick allium

Allium sphaerocephalon

Joe-pye weed

Eupatorium rugosum

Dusty miller

Senecio ceneraria

Juniper

Juniperus horizontalis

Dutchman’s breeches

Dicentra cucullaria

Katsura

Cercidiphyllum japonicum

Elderberry

Sambucus

Kentucky coffee tree

Gymnocladus dioicus

Elderberry

Sambucus canadensis

Kiwi vine

Actinidia kolomikta

Elephant ears

Ligularia dentata

Persicaria polymorpha

Eulalia grass

Miscanthus sinensis

Knotweed /Giant fleece flower Korean feather grass

Calamagrostis × acutiflora

Fingerleaf Rodgersia

Rodgersia aesculifolia

Korean lilac

Syringa meyeri

Fleece flower

Persicaria microcephala

Korean waxbells

Kirengeshoma peltata Korean group

Forsythia

Forsythia

Lady fern

Athryium filix-femina

Fothergilla

Fothergilla gardenii

Lady slippers

Cypripedium reginae

Foxtail lily

Eremurus robustus

Lady’s mantle

Alchemilla mollis

Goat’s beard

Aruncus dioicus

Lavender

Lavendula augustifolia

Golden sedge

Carex elata aurea

Leopard Plant

Ligularia stenocephala

Gooseneck loosestrife

Lysimachia clethroides

Ligularia

Ligularia przewalskii

Grape hyacinth

Muscari armeniacum

Lilac

Syringa

Hackberry tree

Celtis occidentalis

Lungwort

Pulmonaria

Hawthorn

Crataegus

Lupin

Lupinus

Heart-leafed foam flower

Tiarella cordifolia

Maackia

Maackia amurensis

Highbush cranberry

Viburnum trilobum or opulus var. americanum

Magnolia

Magnolia

Honeysuckle

Lonicera brownii

Maidenhair fern

Adiantum pedatum

Horse chestnut

Aesculus hippocastanum

Marsh marigold

Caltha palustris

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pl a n t i n de x es

Table 3 continued Common name

Botanical name

Siberian bugloss

Brunnera macrophylla

Meadow rue

Thalictrum

Siberian cypress

Microbiota decussata

Merrybells

Uvularia sessilifolia

Siberian iris

Iris sibirica

Mock orange

Philadelphis × virginalis

Sneezeweed

Helenium

Moss

Callicladium haldanianum

Snowberry

Symphoricarpos albus

Moss

Dicranum scoparium

Snowdrops

Galanthus elwesii

Moss

Ptilium crista-castrensis

Sourgum

Nyssa sylvatica

Mourning widow

Geranium phaeum

Spikenard

Aralia cordata

Mugo pine

Pinus mugo

Spirea

Spirea

Mukdenia

Mukdenia rossi

Spruce

Picea pungens

New York Ironweed

Vernonia noveboracensis

Stephanandra

Stephanandra incisa

Ninebark

Physocarpus opulifolius

Stonecrop

Sedum

Northern blue flag iris

Iris versicolor

Sumac

Rhus typhina

Northern catalpa

Catalpa speciosa

Summersweet

Clethra

Ostrich fern

Matteuccia struthiopteris

Sweet woodruff

Galium odoratum

Pagoda dogwood

Cornus alternifolia

Switch-grass

Panicum virgatum

Paper birch

Betula papyrifera

Sycamore

Platanus occidentalis

Peony

Paeonia

Twin-leaf

Jeffersonia diphylla

Pickerel weed

Pontederia cordata

Umbrella plant

Darmera peltata

Pigsqueak

Bergenia cordifolia

Viburnum

Viburnum

Prairie drop-seed

Sporobolus heterolepis

Weeping willow

Salix babylonica

Red baneberry

Actaea rubra

Weigela

Weigela florida

Red barrenwort

Epimedium × rubrum

Windflower

Anemone canadensis

Red buckeye

Aesculus pavia

Witch hazel

Hamamelis virginiana

Red twig dogwood

Cornus sericea

Witherod

Viburnum nudum

Reed grass

Calamagrostis brachytricha

Wormwood

Artemisia schmidtiana

Rhododendron

Rhododendron

Yarrow

Achillea

Rose

Rosa

Yellow buckeye

Aesculus flava

Russian sage

Perovskia atriplicifolia

Yellow flag iris

Iris pseudocorus

Salvia

Salvia nemorosa

Yellow loosestrife

Lysimachia punctata

Serviceberry

Amelanchier canadensis

Yew

Taxus

Shieldleaf Rodgersia

Astilboides tabularis

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Further Reading BOOKS Helena Attlee, Italian Gardens: A Cultural History (Frances Lincoln, 2012) John Berger, Ways of Seeing (Penguin Books, 1977) Brian Bixley, Minding the Garden: Lilactree Farm (Friesen Press, 2020) Jane Brown, The Pursuit of Paradise: A Social History of Gardens and Gardening (Harper Collins, 2000) A.E. Bye, Art into Landscape, Landscape into Art (pda Publishers, 1983) Francis Cabot, The Greater Perfection: The Story of the Gardens at Les Quatre Vents (Francis H. Cabot, 2001) Ethne Clarke, An Infinity of Graces: Cecil Ross Pinsent, An English Architect in the Italian Landscape (W.W. Norton, 2013) David E. Cooper, A Philosophy of Gardens (Oxford University Press, 2006) Paul Cooper, Living Sculpture (Mitchell Beazley, 2001) Denis Cosgrove, ed., Iconography of Landscape: Essays on the Symbolic Representation, Design and Use of Past Environments (Cambridge Studies in Historical Geography, Series Number 9, 1989) Sheppard Craige, Il Bosco della Ragnaia (Edizioni della Ragnaia, 2007) Sheppard Craige, Words in the Woods (Edizioni della Ragnaia, 2004) Sylvia Crowe, Garden Design (Garden Art Press, 1994) William Cullina, Native Trees, Shrubs and Vines (Echo Point Books & Media, 2019) William Cullina, New England Wildflower Society Guide to Growing and Propagating Wildflowers of the U.S. and Canada (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2000) Rick Darke, with Douglas Tallamy, The Living Landscape:

Designing for Beauty and Biodiversity in the Home Garden (Timber Press, 2014) Ken Druse, The Natural Shade Garden (Clarkson Potter, 1992) Joe Eck, Elements of Garden Design (North Point Press, 2005) Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall, The Garden: An English Love Affair; One Thousand Years of Gardening (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2003) Margery Fish, We Made a Garden (Modern Library Gardening, 2002) Roderick Floud, An Economic History of the English Garden (Penguin, 2020) John Fowles, The Tree (Nature Company, 1994) Henk Gerritsen, Essay on Gardening (Architectura & Natura Press, 2010) John K. Grande, Balance: Art and Nature (Black Rose Books, 2004) John K. Grande, Dialogues in Diversity: Art from Marginal to Mainstream (Pari Publishing, 2007) Robert Pogue Harrison, Forests: The Shadow of Civilization (University of Chicago Press, 1993) Robert Pogue Harrison, Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition (University of Chicago Press, 2009) Wendy Hitchmough, Arts and Crafts Gardens (Pavilion Books, 1997) Larry Hodgson, Perennials for Every Purpose (Rodale, 2000) John Dixon Hunt, ed., A Cultural History of Gardens in the Modern Age (Bloomsbury Academic, 2016) John Dixon Hunt, Garden and Grove: The Italian Renaissance Garden in the English Imagination, 1600– 1750 (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996) John Dixon Hunt, Greater Perfections: The Practice of

Garden Theory (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000) John Dixon Hunt, ed., The Italian Garden: Art, Design and Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2006) John Dixon Hunt, The Making of Place: Modern and Contemporary Gardens (Reaktion Books, 2016) John Dixon Hunt, Nature Over Again: The Garden Art of Ian Hamilton Finlay (Reaktion Books, 2008) John Dixon Hunt, Site, Sight and Insight: Essays on Landscape Architecture (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013) John Brinckerhoff Jackson, Discovering the Vernacular Landscape (Yale University Press, 1984) John Brinckerhoff Jackson, The Necessity for Ruins and Other Topics (University of Massachusetts Press, 1980) Penelope Lively, Life in the Garden (Penguin Books, 2017) Robert Mallet, Envisioning the Garden: Line, Scale, Distance, Form, Color and Meaning (W.W. Norton, 2011) Julie Moir Messervy, The Inward Garden: Creating a Place of Beauty and Meaning (Bunker Hill Publishing, 1995) Mara Miller, The Garden as an Art (State University of New York Press, Albany, 1993) Charles W. Moore, William J. Mitchell, and William Turnbull, Jr, The Poetics of Gardens (mit Press, 1988) Bill Noble, Spirit of Place: The Making of a New England Garden (Timber Press, 2020) Thomas Oles, Go with Me: 50 Steps to Landscape Thinking (Amsterdam Academy of Architecture, 2014) Piet Oudolf and Henk Gerritsen, Planting the Natural Garden (Timber Press, 2003) Piet Oudolf and Noel Kingsbury, Planting: A New Perspective (Timber Press, 2013) Russell Page, The Education of a Gardener (Penguin Books, 1985) Dan Pearson, Natural Selection: A Year in the Garden (Guardian Books, 2017) Roger Tory Peterson and Margaret McKenny, A Field Guide to Wildflowers of Northeastern and North-Central North America (Houghton Mifflin, 1968) Michael Pollan, The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s Eye View of the World (Random House, 2002) Charles Quest-Ritson, The English Garden: A Social History (Penguin, 2003) Thomas Rainer and Claudia West, Planting in a Post Wild World: Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes (Timber Press, 2015) Tim Richardson, Avant Gardeners (Thames & Hudson, 2008)

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Tim Richardson, Sissinghurst (Frances Lincoln, 2020) Tim Richardson and Noël Kingsbury, eds., Vista (Frances Lincoln, 2005) Witold Rybczynski, A Clearing in the Distance: Frederick Law Olmsted and America in the Nineteenth Century (Scribner, 1999) Lauret Savoy, Trace: Memory, History, Race and the American Landscape (Counterpoint Press, 2015) Simon Schama, Landscape and Memory (Vintage Canada, 1996) Vincent Scully, The Earth, the Temple, and the Gods: Greek Sacred Architecture (Trinity University Press, 2014) Sir George Sitwell, On the Making of Gardens (David R. Godine, 2003) Anne Whiston Spirn, The Language of Landscape (Yale University Press, 1998) Rory Stuart, What Are Gardens For? Visiting, Experiencing and Thinking about Gardens (Frances Lincoln, 2013) Douglas W. Tallamy, with Rick Darke, Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants (Timber Press, 2007) Christopher Thacker, The History of Gardens (University of California Press, 1985) Jenny Uglow, A Little History of British Gardening (Pimlico, 2005) Benjamin Vogt, A New Garden Ethic: Cultivating Defiant Compassion for an Uncertain Future (New Society Publishers, 2017) Anne Wareham, The Bad-Tempered Gardener (Frances Lincoln, 2011) Anne Wareham, The Deckchair Gardener: An Improper Garden Manual (Michael O’Mara Books, 2017) Anne Wareham, Outwitting Squirrels: And Other Garden Pests and Nuisances (Blackwell 2015) Emily Waugh, Experimenting Landscapes: Testing the Limits of the Garden (Birkhauser, 2016) Larry Weaner and Thomas Christopher, Garden Revolution: How Our Landscapes Can Be a Source of Environmental Change (Timber Press 2016) Tom Wessels, Reading the Forested Landscape: A Natural History of New England (Countryman Press, 1997) Ron Williams, Landscape Architecture in Canada (McGillQueen’s University Press, 2014) Wayne Winterrowd, ed., with original paintings by Pamela Stagg, Roses: A Celebration (North Point Press, 2003) Peter Wohlleben, The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate (Greystone Books, 2015)

f u rthe r r e a di ng

Christopher Woodward, In Ruins (Vintage Books, 2001) Andrea Wulf, The Brother Gardeners: Botany, Empire and the Birth of an Obsession (Windmill Books, 2009)

Andrea Wulf, The Invention of Nature: Alexander Von Humboldt’s New World (Vintage, 2015)

BLOGS AND WEBSITES American Horticultural Society https://ahsgardening.org Arnold Arboretum https://arboretum.harvard.edu A Way to Garden https://www.awaytogarden.com Chicago Botanic Garden, https://www.chicagobotanic.org Cold Climate Gardening http://www.coldclimategardening.com Dig Delve [email protected] Digging: Cool Gardens in a Hot Climate https://www.penick.net Field https://thefield.asla.org Garden Conservancy www.gardenconservancy.org Garden History Matters http://www.gardenhistorymatters.com Garden in a City https://gardeninacity.com Garden in the Woods https://www.nativeplanttrust.org Garden Professors https://gardenprofessors.com Garden Rant https://gardenrant.com Gardens Trust https://thegardenstrust.blog International Garden Festival www.internationalgardenfestival.com Laidback Gardener https://laidbackgardener Landscape Notes https://landscapenotes.com

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Missouri Botanical Garden https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org Montreal Botanical Garden https://espacepourlavie.ca/jardin-botanique Morgan Arboretum https://mcgills.ca/morganarboretum Morton Arboretum https://mortonarb.org Mt Cuba http://mtcubacenter.org Ned Friedman [email protected] New Perennialist https://www.thenewperennialist.com Noel Kingsbury https://www.noelkingsbury.com/noelsgarden-blog Paintbox Garden https://www.thepaintboxgarden.com Planthunter https://theplanthunter.com.au Reford Gardens https://jardinsdemetis.com Royal Botanical Garden (Hamilton, Ontario) https://www.rbg.ca Royal Botanic Gardens (Kew) https://www.kew.org Royal Horticultural Society https://www.rhs.org.uk Site and Insight www.siteandinsight.com ThinkinGardens http://thinkingardens.com Toronto Garden https://www.torontogardens.com Veddw House Garden http://www.veddw.com

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Index Page numbers in italics refer to illustrations. Abenaki, 60, 63, 65, 207 Abenaki Walking (installation), 7, 8, 13, 59–66, 61, 65, 241 aging, 11, 56, 174, 198; ideas about, 19, 177; people, 37, 50, 73, 103, 121; trees, 16, 69, 70, 97–8, 23, 215 American Horticultural Society, 252, 278 apple trees: at Glen Villa, 192, 194, 194, 204, 217; in art, 152, 158; in stories, 100, 197 Aqueduct (area of garden), 7, 119, 120–2, 127–9, 240 aqueducts, 129 architecture, 8, 19, 99, 185; books about, 129, 203; in garden design, 38, 59, 128, 156, 226, 248, 250; Glen Villa house, 11, 14, 24, 31, 33, 120–1, 128–9, 150, 152, 239–40; Roop farmhouse, 19–20, 21, 24, 33, 106, 231, 233. See also under Greece arrowhead: plant, 30, 30; stone, 19, 60, 62, 83–4, 206, 207–8 art: Aboriginal, 172–3, 177, 184; Chinese, 74, 76, 100, 117, 119, 137, 225 artists, 106, 150, 158, 160, 195, 203, 212, 215, 219 Aruncus dioicus, 35, 51 ash tree, 62–3, 101, 130, 165, 186

Asian Meadow (area of garden), 7, 116–18, 116, 137 astilbe, 26, 26, 35, 35, 150, 151 Australia, 102, 139, 172–3 Baltimore (Maryland), 43, 44 barbed wire, 30, 65, 66, 102, 193, 194 barberry, 127, 127 barrenwort, 50, 51 basswood, 98–9 Beatles, 4, 76 bedstraw (wildflower), 11, 12, 190, 200, 227 Bible references, 101, 152–3, 158, 174. See also Garden of Eden Big Chair, 110, 110, 114, 114, 203 biodiversity, 231, 235 birch trees, 10–11, 47, 97, 102, 130, 191, 224; birch eyes, 18, 19, 141; as part of installations, 56, 60, 144 birds, 187, 231, 237; calls and songs, 4, 5, 67, 198, 214, 231, 237; types of, 4, 5, 112, 144, 147, 156, 190, 198. See also names of individual birds blackbird, 190, 198 black walnut, 37, 103, 105, 106 bleeding heart, 35, 50, 51, 56, 181 blue fescue, 78, 79 Blue Ridge Mountains, 15, 16, 19, 20, 35, 231 boneset (wildflower), 11, 237 Bosco della Ragnaia (Italy), 160, 235

botanical names, 221–3 boxwood, 33, 40, 83, 84, 123, 124, 173, 178–9, 181 Bradley family, 22, 24–5, 24, 31, 33, 35, 35, 38 Brent, Hally Carrington, 44, 62 Bridge Ascending (sculpture), 7, 84, 87, 88–9, 88, 117, 119, 186, 189, 189, 240 Broadwoodside (Scotland), 97, 152, 155, 160–1, 235 Brown, Capability, 98, 234 buttercups, 11, 14, 109, 189, 190, 200, 224, 225, 228–9 butterflies, 11, 35, 37, 223, 229, 231, 232, 235, 237 butterfly bush, 28, 29 butternut tree, 109, 112 Calamagrostis, 110, 112, 124, 127 Capelton (Quebec), 84, 86, 87 Cardamine pratensis, 222, 222, 223 Cascade (area of garden), 96, 104, 121, 127–9, 129, 130, 130–1 catmint, 33, 53, 123, 124, 127 Cénacle, Le. See Upper Room Cercidiphyllum japonicum, 51, 55 cherry tree: at Glen Villa, 63, 103, 208, 217; in Virginia, 99, 102, 197 China: art, 74, 76, 100, 117, 119, 137, 225; beliefs, 117, 142, 147; Cultural Revolution, 73, 155; garden design,

118, 156; language, 88, 116–17, 137, 146, 155; living in, 7, 73–6, 138, 150, 155, 165–6; Mao Tse-tung, 73, 75; plants from, 110, 117, 233. See also Asian Meadow; Yin-Yang china shards, 46, 47–52, 54, 56–7, 59 China Terrace (installation), 7, 43–59, 48, 50, 55, 116, 138, 165, 167 Chrysippus, 71, 211 Civil War, 19, 44, 50, 167, 168 Clearing of the Land, The (installation), 137, 191, 191, 192, 194, 207 clematis, 51, 55 climate change, 215, 231, 234, 238–9 Compass Rose (area of garden), 7, 84, 85, 165 coneflower, 8, 83 Continuum (installation), 186, 212, 212, 214, 214, 215 Cornus, 28, 29, 31, 56, 178, 181 crabapple tree, 8, 115, 150, 151, 196–8, 198, 215, 217 cuckoo (bird), 210, 223 cuckoo flower, 222, 223 dams, 10, 11, 127, 238, 245 dandelions, 11, 15, 16, 228–9 Darmera peltata, 29, 112 Delphi (Greece), 206–7 Devoir, Le, 166, 171 Dicentra, 56, 181 Diervilla, 56, 83 dogwood: plant, 28–9, 31, 33, 41, 56, 102, 173, 178–81, 183; as symbol, 28, 101, 178–9 Doheny, Lucy, 52, 56 Doucet and Saito, 27, 86, 87, 189 Doyle, Richard J., 171, 172 Dragon’s Tail (area of garden), 8, 107, 150, 150, 151 Dürer, Albrecht, 158, 219 dusty miller, 77, 77 Eastern Townships (Quebec), 3, 117, 137, 185; history of, 44, 62, 73, 191,

280

195–6; language use in, 137, 141; people from, 25, 40, 73, 191; places in, 12, 84, 86, 87 Egg, The (area of garden), 7, 38–42, 41, 42, 43, 178, 179 elder (shrub), 56, 118 Elders, The (installation), 193, 212, 214. See also trees England: gardens in, 33, 97, 129, 159, 235; influence at Glen Villa, 38, 165; living in, 17, 174, 242; symbolic traits, 101, 182 Et in Arcadia Ego, 160, 219 failure, 5, 41–2, 56, 177 Finlay, Ian Hamilton, 72, 155, 160, 219. See also Little Sparta fleeceflower, 29, 30, 112, 238 Fleury, Eric, 121–2, 128, 240 foam flower, 40–1, 41 forget-me-nots (wildflower), 109, 228 Forms, The (installation), 204 foundation walls, 4, 7, 11, 81, 84, 120, 121, 124 Fowles, John, 223, 225 France, 76, 121, 129, 162, 186, 195; garden design, 97, 124, 196, 234; influence in Quebec, 186, 195–6 French language, 74, 84, 135–7, 142, 180, 188, 211; use of at Glen Villa, 137, 141–2, 144, 149, 180, 188, 190, 195–6, 211 Frost, Robert, 138, 194 Garden of Eden, 7, 101, 158 gardens: books about, 17, 89, 118, 159, 221, 223, 225, 233; botanical, 47, 222, 240; design, 8, 19, 129, 151, 185, 234, 238, 250; designers, 37, 59, 88, 98, 110, 151–2, 160, 225, 233–4, 251; in England, 97–8, 129, 159, 160, 235; festivals and shows, 95, 96, 110, 235; in France, 97, 124; in Italy, 97, 160, 207, 235, 242; journals, 47, 140; magazines, 4, 17, 26, 33, 49, 59, 119,

i n de x

156, 166, 177, 187; notebooks, 49, 94; societies, 59, 252, 278; tours, 93, 152, 242; in United States, 59, 231, 234. See also Broadwoodside; heta; Hodgins, Myke; Little Sparta; Oudolf, Piet; Veddw Gardner, Deanna and Murray 22, 73 Gardner, Orin, 67, 73, 130, 211 geranium, 35, 51 Ghost Walk (installation), 60, 63, 65–6 Glen Villa: future of, 239–42; house, 3, 4, 7, 11, 14–16, 21–2, 24, 24, 25–6, 27, 31, 31, 104; history, use of in garden, 5, 8, 17, 18, 50, 52, 60, 96; history of site, 4, 7, 10, 44, 80, 81, 190, 211; name, 3, 13, 21, 24 Glen Villa Inn, 4, 45, 81 Globe and Mail, 73, 76, 166, 171, 215 goat’s beard, 35, 51 goldenrod, 11, 229 Gosselin, Jacques: Abenaki Walking, 60, 63, 65; Aqueduct, 122, 127; Bridge Ascending, 87, 189; China Terrace, 48–9, 53–4, 57; Grass Snake, 157, 157, 158; as guide and teacher, 39, 59, 239, 240; In Transit / En route, 139–40, 140, 147, 148–9; maple syrup, 130–4; North–South Arrow, 80, 82–3; Orin’s Sugarcamp, 69–71, 71, 168; personal, 4, 6, 25, 31, 39, 241, 242; Skating Pond, 107–9, 114; work in garden, 27, 31, 40, 83, 117, 150, 168, 178, 182; work on Timelines, 192–4, 202, 207–8, 212, 214 graffiti, 135, 153 grandchildren, 17, 31, 103, 109, 121, 129, 157, 198, 200, 216–17, 228, 241 Grandchildren Trees (installation), 187, 216–17, 216 Grande Allée, La (installation), 8, 196–8, 215 grandparents: exploring at farm, 19, 20, 31, 100, 102–3; farm, 15–16, 31, 229; house, 20, 73, 106; garden, 33,

35, 37, 100, 124, 231; tulip poplar tree, 20, 20, 100, 102. See also grandchildren grape hyacinth, 12, 150, 150, 151 Grass Snake (installation), 7, 156–8, 157, 158 Greece: architecture, 186, 202, 203, 220; language, 73, 161, 222; philosophers and philosophy, 71, 191, 204, 205, 207, 243; travels in, 22, 23, 206, 208 Greek mythology, 99, 152; characters in, 99, 206, 208, 214; gods and goddesses, 99, 191, 208, 210, 210 Guest, Julia, 242 Guy, Jean-Eudes, 180, 241 Guy, Mary Martha, 179, 180, 183, 241 hawthorn tree, 28, 29 105 Hay, John: advisor, 65, 113, 152, 191, 241; designer, 65, 196, 197, 202; friend, 6, 41, 191, 211 heta, 121, 122, 128 highbush cranberry, 29, 76 Hirtle, Greg, 52, 53, 56, 147 Hoare, Henry, 97, 159 Hodgins, Myke: advice from, 41, 96, 97, 105, 157; heta, 121–2, 128; relationship with, 6, 7, 156, 197, 202, 240–1; role at Aqueduct, 121, 178, 128; role at Asian Meadow, 116, 117; role at Cascade, 26–8; role at Lower Garden, 31–1, 33, 37; role at North–South Arrow, 81–2, 84; role at Skating Pond, 107, 110; role at Upper Room, 178–9, 180. See also Fleury, Eric honeysuckle, 55, 56 hosta, 26, 27 houses: in Oakville (Ontario), 16, 121; in Virginia, 28, 167, 174, 175. See also architecture: Roop farmhouse Indigenous Peoples, 63, 146, 172, 207, 219. See also Abenaki

2 81

indigenous plants, 9, 30, 40, 228, 230–1, 233 International Press Institute, 143, 166 In Transit / En route (installation) 7, 139–49, 186, 189 iris, 11, 12, 35, 35, 109, 110, 117, 127 Italian poplar, 109, 114, 115 Jackson, J.B., 17 Japanese plants, 26, 35, 112, 117, 127 Jeffersonia diphylla, 35, 36, 37 Joe-pye weed, 4, 232 journalists, quotations about, 168, 171 juniper, 33, 124 katsura, 51, 55 Kelso, Ken: Abenaki Walking, 60, 63, 65; Aqueduct, 122, 127; Bridge Ascending, 87, 189; China Terrace, 48–9, 53, 57; Grass Snake, 157, 157, 158; In Transit / En route, 145, 147, 149; maple syrup, 130–4; North–South Arrow, 80, 82–3; Orin’s Sugarcamp, 69–71, 71, 168; personal, 4, 6, 40, 240–2; Skating Pond, 107–8, 114; work in garden, 27, 31, 40, 83, 117, 150, 168, 178, 182, 226; work on Timelines, 192–4, 202, 207, 208, 220 Kennedy, Duncan, 173–5, 174, 177, 183, 184 Kennedy, Nancie, 19, 20, 53, 95, 172–4, 176, 180, 183–4, 190, 199, 216 Kirengeshoma peltata, 41, 117 knapweed (wildflower), 108, 109 lady’s mantle, 33, 35, 35 Lake Massawippi, 10, 12, 12, 24, 60, 62, 81, 244 Lamprocapnos spectabilis, 35, 50, 51, 181 landscape: features in, 80, 96, 112, 118, 220; in garden design, 124, 247, 248; at Glen Villa, 4–5, 10, 42, 122, 128, 165, 185, 188, 245; ideas about, 212, 228, 230; in other countries,

i n de x

160, 235; as sacred, 203, 225; term, 17–18, 135 landscape architects, 17, 37, 59, 110, 148, 196 lavender, 33, 92 LeBaron, G.A., 45, 45, 59, 76, 80, 81 lilac, 33, 35, 83, 111, 112, 233, 250 linden, 82, 96, 98–9, 98, 102, 120, 226 Little Sparta (Scotland), 72, 155, 160, 160, 162, 219, 235 Lower Field (area of garden), 60, 105, 150 Lower Garden (area of garden) 7, 8, 33–8, 34, 35, 36, 38, 127, 150, 165, 226, 240 lupins, 11, 12, 201, 228, 228, 229 magnolia, 33, 35, 165 Magritte, René, 136–7, 189, 212 Malus, 115, 197 maple syrup, 7, 25, 62, 69, 130–4, 131, 132, 186, 211, 239 maple trees: in art, 62, 101, 154, 208, 215; at Glen Villa, 10, 11, 12, 41, 63, 97–8, 102, 228; in installations, 50, 181, 212, 213–15, 214; at Orin’s Sugarcamp, 69–71, 69, 186, 211. See also Grandchildren Trees; Grass Snake; Tree Rings Maryland (state), 20, 43, 44, 179 memory, 4–5, 138, 155, 197, 199, 242; in garden design, 7, 18, 51, 128–9, 138, 152, 245, 250; in Timelines, 8, 139–40, 184; use of at Glen Villa, 7, 51, 84–9, 99, 107, 117–18, 185. See also Aqueduct; Memory Posts; Two Roads; Upper Room Memory Posts, 8, 172, 177, 183, 184 Metaphoric Bridge (installation), 137–8, 189 milkweed (wildflower), 11, 229, 232, 232 miscanthus, 84, 110 mock orange, 83, 111 Montreal Gazette, 166, 171

monuments and memorials, 8, 160, 165–84. See also Memory Posts; Upper Room; Webster’s Column moss, 12, 26, 92; at China Terrace, 47–8, 51, 55–6, 55; on rocks, 39–41, 59, 61, 63, 67, 114, 122, 178, 211 mourning widow (plant), 51, 55 muscari, 150–1 museums, 63, 106, 172, 212, 219 mythology, 99, 101. See also Greek mythology; Indigenous Peoples Mythos (installation), 186, 205–7, 206, 208, 210 nature-deficit disorder, 237–8 neon, 7, 152–3 Nepeta, 33, 124, 127, 127 ninebark, 29, 110–11, 112, 119 North Hatley (Quebec): history of, 43–6, 62, 81, 84, 105; place to live, 3, 36, 16, 24; summer cottages in, 31, 43; US visitors to, 31, 44, 105; Webster summer cottage, 3, 32, 33, 38, 45, 50, 104, 120 North–South Arrow (area of garden), 7, 80, 82, 83–4, 85, 149 oak tree, 99, 101; at Glen Villa, 103, 105, 122, 182, 194 Oakville (Ontario), 16, 24, 33, 100, 174 Orin’s Sugarcamp (installation), 7, 67–73, 71, 72, 130, 186, 211 Oudolf, Piet, 92, 233, 237 Past Looms Large, The (installation), 200–1, 201 peony, 33, 35, 35, 233 Panicum, 84, 124 Persicaria, 29, 112 perspective, 8, 94, 97, 110, 196 Perspective (installation), 199–200, 220, 238 philosophy, 22, 23, 74, 191, 196 philosophers, 71, 99, 191, 211, 243 photography, 9, 50; course, 101–2;

2 82

as design aid, 2, 47, 74, 76, 93–4, 121, 135, 141–2, 150, 171, 187, 250; as memory aid, 93, 98, 104, 110, 140, 145, 173, 202, 210, 219, 222, 225 Physocarpus, 29, 110, 119 Pilosella aurantica, 221, 228 pine trees, 62; at Glen Villa, 69, 116–17, 119, 201, 211; at Sundial Clearing, 139, 140, 141–9, 190. See also Memory Posts poets and poetry, 138, 187, 194, 203, 229, 230 pollinators, 233, 235 prairie drop-seed, 124, 124 Radio Canada, 166, 171 ragged robin (wildflower), 11, 109, 200, 224, 228, 228 reed grass, 110–13, 124, 127 Reford Gardens (Quebec), 95, 96, 110 Richmond (Virginia), 19, 28, 44, 50, 139, 167 Rock of Ages, 187, 188, 214 rodgersia, 123, 127, 127 Roop, Inez, 177, 181 Roop, Ralph, 172–3 rose, 31, 33, 35, 233 Rousham (England), 129, 160 Russian sage, 83, 123, 124, 124 Rybczynski, Witold, 177, 183, 184 S curve, S shape, 77, 78, 106, 107, 114, 150 Saito and Doucet, 27, 86, 87, 189 Sakuteiki (book), 89, 118 Sambucus, 56, 83, 118, 119 Saturday Night Magazine, 166, 171 Sayer, Gill, 27–8, 182, 198–204 scent in the garden, 20, 83, 92–3, 99, 190, 227, 250 Seigneurie, La (installation) 195, 196 Sherbrooke (Quebec), 21, 82, 86 Sherbrooke Record, 166, 171 shrub borders, 111–12, 113, 118–19, 119 Siberian iris, 35, 117

i n de x

Skating Pond (area of garden), 7; building of, 105–9, 105, 106, 108, 240; continuing work on, 109–15, 109, 110, 114; current condition, 115, 144, 186, 190, 198 sound in the garden: of bees, 92, 99; of birds, 4, 5, 145, 190, 198; other, 67, 93, 99, 145; of water, 7, 17, 26, 104, 128, 248; of wind, 67, 93, 160, 210, 213 southerners, US, 44, 84, 167. See also Virginians Spain, 121, 129 spirea, 28–9, 29, 55, 83, 123, 124 spruce, 35, 69, 97, 103, 105, 109, 124, 130 statues, 152, 167 Stourhead (England), 97, 159 sumac, 28, 29 Sundial, The (installation), 142, 143–6, 144, 148, 149, 186, 190, 220, 241 sundials, 143, 148 switch-grass, 84, 124, 127, 227 Temple Façade (installation), 202–4, 202, 241 Thoreau, Henry David, 91, 218 time, 216, 219; effects of, 155–6, 177, 179, 213; experience of, 59, 74, 86, 93–4, 95, 139, 142, 146, 173, 225, 238; measurement of, 10, 12, 91–2, 97, 143, 149, 152, 186, 188; passage of, 19, 54, 57, 69, 72, 102, 140, 143, 186, 239–45 Timelines (installation), 8, 66, 185–220, 241–3 Tree Rings (sculpture), 7, 154, 155–6 trees, 117; as art, 37, 60, 60, 172, 194, 212–13, 215; dead, 11, 201, 213, 214; in garden design, 97–8; at Glen Villa, 96–103, 98, 100, 101; in installations at Glen Villa, 157–8, 178–83; in literature and language, 100, 101; as part of In Transit / En route, 143–5, 147–8, 190; at Upper Room (installation), 179–83, 181, 183. See also Abenaki Walking;

Clearing of the Land, The; Elders, The; Grande Allée, La; Memory Posts; Two Roads; and names of individual trees tree stumps, 31, 48, 195, 204 turtle: animal, 108, 109, 114; Indigenous Peoples on, 63, 65, 65, 190, 207; rock, 186, 204, 204 Two Roads (installation), 138, 194, 194 umbrella plant, 29, 112 Upper Room (installation), 177–84 Veddw (Wales), 160, 161, 235 viburnum, 29, 111 Vienna (Austria), 143, 219 Virginia (state): growing up in, 15, 16, 19, 20, 60, 81, 139, 167–8; influence on garden at Glen Villa, 28, 42, 124, 146, 165, 178; plants, 33, 35–6, 222. See also Richmond (Virginia) Virginians, 28, 35, 44, 167 visiting gardens, 171, 242, 247–8 Walkers (installation), 65, 65, 66, 66, 191–3, 192, 194, 243. See also Abenaki Walking water, 16, 54, 62, 86, 89; in garden design, 93, 95, 129; at Glen Villa, 103–16; movement of, 4, 10, 11, 29–30, 29, 128; sound of, 7, 26.

2 83

See also Aqueduct; Asian Meadow; Cascade; Skating Pond waterfalls, 10, 11, 13, 17, 24, 26–7, 103, 121, 238 Watson, Jamie, 189 Webster, Andrew, 75 Webster, David, 74, 75, 203 Webster, Derek, 171 Webster, Diana, 175–7, 176, 183–4 Webster, Elinor, 188 Webster, Eric, 20, 21, 22, 24, 73, 131 Webster, Gillian, 43, 47, 193 Webster, Hilary, 242 Webster, Ibby, 20, 21–2 Webster, Maggie, 130 Webster, Norman, 13, 16, 17, 87, 121, 135; boyhood, 3, 20, 21–2, 67, 86, 130–4, 189, 211; career, 8, 24, 73, 143, 165–71, 169, 171; changes to garden, 38, 80, 86–7, 108, 117, 121, 226; education, 23, 165–6, 171; as husband, 6, 16, 17, 73, 119; photos of and by, 23, 52, 55, 75, 110; travels, 22–3, 172, 176. See also Webster’s Column Webster, Patterson, photos of, 23, 55 Webster, William, 130 Webster’s Column (installation), 165–72 weeping willow, 13, 40, 41, 107, 109, 112, 114

i n de x

Weigela, 29, 30 wildflowers, 11, 109, 221, 240; in Big Meadow, 227, 230; at Cascade, 30, 30, 96; in fields, 96, 114, 222, 225; identification of, 15, 221–3. See also names of individual wildflowers woodpecker, 5, 144, 147, 156 words, 8, 73, 93, 99, 172, 186, 207; in art, 136, 137, 152–5, 154, 155–6, 211; at China Terrace, 47, 49; in the garden, 136–8, 159–62, 159, 160, 161, 219; graffiti, 135, 153; at In Transit / En route, 139–49, 146, 190; as names for areas of garden, 88, 138, 180–4; as names for parts of Timelines, 188, 195–6, 201, 203, 210, 220; at Orin’s Sugarcamp, 71–3, 211; as shaping ideas, 62, 100, 135, 137, 211–12, 243; at Webster’s Column, 171–2, 171 wormwood, 33, 78, 79, 84, 218 Writing Is on the Wall, The (installation), 7, 152–5 yarrow, 11, 83, 200 yew tree, 181, 182, 183 Yin-Yang (area of garden), 7, 73–7, 77, 78, 79–80, 165, 226, 240

1. Pond, Waterfall, Gorge, and Stream

12. Memory Posts

2. Dragon’s Tail

13. Asian Meadow

3. Hotel Foundation Wall, North–South Arrow, and Compass Rose

14. Bridge Ascending

4. Big Meadow, Grass Snake, Récolte, and Untitled 1983

15. Abenaki Walking

5. Aqueduct

16. In Transit / En Route

6. Cascade

17. Skating Pond

7. House, Entry Garden, and The Writing Is on the Wall

18. Grandchildren Trees

8. Tree Rings

19. Upper and Lower Fields

9. Lower Garden and Au Bord du Printemps

20. Upper Room

10. Woodland Path 11. Webster’s Column

21. China Terrace Sculptures by Doucet and Saito