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Rills and Why I Like Them

Water features are an important element in many gardens. Understandably so. Water can reflect the sky, enlarging the space to infinity; it can reflect surrounding buildings or trees, adding stimulating contrasts. It is an ideal environment for certain decorative plants. It cools the air and its movement over rocks or cascades adds a refreshing note.…

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Borrowing a View

In England, the idea of enlarging the view beyond a garden wall — whether the wall is real or metaphoric — dates back to the 18th century. The furniture and landscape designer William Kent is said to be the first to recognize that land outside a garden’s designed space could appear to be part of…

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Petworth: A ‘Capability’ Brown landscape

I’m in England for the next few weeks, visiting a friend before setting out on a tour of English gardens. On the weekend I spent a glorious afternoon walking through a landscape designed and constructed in the 18th century by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. Brown created an estimated 170 landscapes in England, many of which remain.…

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Garden gnomes and their ilk

This year, the Chelsea Flower Show celebrated its 100th birthday. To mark the event, the organizers broke a long-standing rule and allowed garden gnomes to appear. Celebrities like Elton John decorated and raffled gnomes to raise funds for the Royal Horticultural Society.  It was a publicity stunt that worked. This year’s show attracted even more attention than normal, because…

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Snow: can this be May?

Folk wisdom in Canada says that it is safe to plant tender annuals after May 24. Why that date? Because it’s Queen Victoria’s birthday. (Don’t ask, it makes no sense….) Generally, this is a safe guideline. But day before yesterday, on May 25, it snowed. It was cold — almost freezing, in fact. And we…

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