It’s been far too long since I’ve written a blog but life has been busy.
First, during the summer there were three very successful open garden days, all to benefit the work of the Massawippi Foundation. Thanks to all who came, despite some tricky weather.
Second, there was a visit from a very important person. Hillary Clinton came with a dozen or more friends and a few security guards. Everyone seemed to enjoy the visit. I know I did!
Then, in mid-September, I left for a month in Italy. There is far too much to say about those weeks but I do plan to write about some of the gardens I visited there, including La Mortella. This amazing garden is on the island of Ischia, not far from Naples. It was designed in part by Russell Page and developed over the years by Susana and William Walters. More on that garden and others I visited in Italy in posts to come.
The biggest event, though, was a long-time planned move. After 27 years at Glen Villa, I switched houses with my daughter and her family. Preparing for the move was tons of work: going through decades of accumulated possessions and deciding what to keep and what to dispose of. Coming back from Italy and moving into this new house, strange as it was, has nonetheless opened the door to new adventures.
Here’s the house as it was.
Here’s the house now. As you can see, almost everything in the garden in front of the house has been dug up and heeled in for the winter. Jacques Gosselin and Ken Kelso, my can-do-everything guys, did this while I was in Italy. They also brought in new soil in preparation for planting in the spring.
This past week, we started removing some of the vegetation that was threatening to swallow the house and the view. Jacques and Ken took down two trees in front of the house and started the mammoth job of removing plants that were hiding the beautiful outcroppings of rock between the house and Lake Massawippi. Even on a dismal rainy day, the view is now open to the sky and water.
Opening the view onto the lake is a good thing. Opening the view onto the Upper Room, my installation that honours my mother and my roots in Virginia, is not. So today we are transplanting some spruce trees on the hillside you see below. It will take years for the trees to grow tall enough to block the view onto this area but gardening is as much about patience as it is about planning.
One of the guiding principles I used when designing the gardens at Glen Villa Art Garden was a respect for history. I am continuing that in my new location. We’ve named that house York House in honour of John and Betty York, the couple who built the house in the 1950s and lived in it until they died. Years ago the house and garden were featured in a local newspaper that described the garden as a rock garden. I can easily understand why: the house is surrounded by enormous granite boulders, markers of millenia past when the glaciers retreated. I don’t yet know how I will use these natural features in the new garden, but I am sure they will play a major role.
I’m sure, too, that the view onto the fields that surround both Glen Villa and York House will continue to add beauty all year round.
I’m eager to see how working on a smaller scale will influence my design decisions and plant choices. So do keep posted as this new garden develops!