People say that a first blog post should start with a statement of principle, something that lets people know what the blog will be about. I’m not sure how this blog will evolve. I know I want to write about my garden, Glen Villa, and about how it got to be what it is. I want to write about art and the installations I’m building throughout the property. But more, I want to share my ideas about what a garden is, what it can be, and why it matters – to me, at least. Writing helps me think about what I’m doing. It clarifies my ideas about what works and what doesn’t. It allows me to investigate verbally before investing time and money in concrete projects. And with luck, writing will put me in touch with a larger gardening community.
The community that interests me is not the group that ooh’s and aah’s over individual flowers. The American landscape architect Fletcher Steele once wrote that the chief vice in a garden is to be merely pretty. That’s the way I feel about flowers. They are pretty. Some smell good and most are interesting botanically, but that’s the end of it. I want something more.
|Lupins and wildflowers in front of the China Terrace
To me, the most important thing about a garden is the experience of it. Living in it, walking through it (attentively, not mindlessly), seeing it at different seasons, at different times of day. Engaging the senses is part of the experience: smelling wet earth in spring or crisp air in autumn; hearing wind in the aspens (not for nothing are they called tremblants in French), the crunch of snow or dry leaves: these are part of what matter to me.
|Abenaki Walking: History made visible
But only part. I like a garden that means something. A garden that engages the mind as well as the senses. And it isn’t only the garden, it’s the wider setting. Every landscape is marked by the people who have lived there, and by the way they lived. Recognizing and acknowledging this history is important to me. To ignore it seems disrespectful. So I’m marking the past on the land to honour what came before.
Does this sound pretentious? I hope not.
I hope you’ll join me on regular visits to Glen Villa. Welcome.