Signature Talks

Original topics to help you create a memorable garden

Patterson Webster presents lively talks about gardens, landscape design and art outdoors. Each presentation uses photographs from Patterson’s own acclaimed Glen Villa Art Garden in North Hatley, Quebec, and from gardens around the world that she visited on her own or as the leader of a group tour – something she did for many years.  Each talk contains information and ideas that will inspire you to make your garden the best it can be.

A writer, artist, photographer and passionate gardener, Patterson speaks across Canada and the United States to garden clubs, art lovers, horticultural societies and all those interested in the relationship between history, landscape and culture. She is happy to develop or customize a program to meet your organization’s particular needs.

Creating a Personal Paradise: The Story of Glen Villa

Signature talks

We all want our gardens to be beautiful. But how can we make them distinctly our own?

In this inspirational program, I share how I transformed an attractive but conventional garden into one that uses history, art and horticulture to tell its own unique story. Packed with ideas that you can use, Creating a Personal Paradise: The Story of Glen Villa takes you on a tour of Glen Villa, a 750-acre property in the Eastern Townships of Quebec.

Through photographs I’ve taken over the last twenty years, you will see gardens and art installations that make Glen Villa Art Garden unique. Witness the creation of the China Terrace, a re-imagining of a 19th-century resort hotel that once stood on the property. Learn how a neglected stream became the Aqueduct, a water feature that frames a lawn now morphing into a natural meadow. See how a fern wood became a celebration of loved ones, how an environmental disaster became a favourite destination, how touches of humour enliven the view. Best of all, gain ideas that help you to tell your own garden’s story, in your own personal way.

In this program, geared for gardeners at all levels of experience and interest, you will discover:

  • new ideas and new approaches to garden design
  • the importance of ‘listening’ to your site
  • how words help a garden to tell its own story, in its own way

Learning to look: The Art of Garden Observation

Signature talks

Seeking ways to take your garden up a notch? Henry David Thoreau offered some good advice. “It is not what you look at that matters,” he wrote, “but what you see.”

In this program we look at how to see more, and to see it more purposefully. We consider three simple steps that help us to get the most out of a garden visit, wherever the garden may be. We explore some essential tools: our cameras, our notebooks and our brains! Then, with fresh eyes, we look at how we can apply these lessons to our own gardens to pinpoint what works and what doesn’t.

In this popular presentation, of particular appeal to those who want to take their gardens to the next level, you will discover:

  • how to see what you look at
  • how to use photographs, garden journals, and notebooks to improve your garden design
  • how listening to your site – and to your plants –enhances the personality of your garden

Design Ideas from British Gardens

Gardens in Britain are often called the best in the world. But why? This popular presentation draws on the experience I gained from years of visiting gardens and leading garden tours to England, Scotland and Wales. Together we identify key elements that make English gardens so successful and analyze why they work. Using my garden and others as illustration, we look at how we can apply key design features, in gardens of any size.

Packed with practical ideas and suggestions, this program is geared to gardeners at all levels of experience.

In this stimulating talk you will discover:

  • what makes a garden an ‘English’ garden
  • easy ways to define areas within your garden
  • ideas to give your garden its own special character

Art in the Garden: What, Where, Why

Does art enhance a garden or detract from it? Does it reveal something about the site and enrich the experience of being there? And if not, why use it?

In this original presentation, we explore amazing gardens from around the world and consider how art in your garden can enrich the experience and reflect the values you hold dear. We explore what ‘art’ in a garden is, or can be. We consider different materials and how we can use them. We look at practical questions — how shape, size and color relate to the choice of location; the impact of different types of material; how our choices influence our emotional response. Whether the art is high and low brow, permanent and ephemeral, we’ll discuss how the choices we make express our personal style and the way we relate to the world around us.

As a visual artist myself, this talk is one of my favorites.

In this talk you will discover:

  • what art in a garden consists of (and it’s not just sculpture!)
  • how to position works of art to their best advantage
  • how to use ordinary materials to create works of art

Italian Gardens: Tradition and Transformation

Much more than a travelogue, this program highlights Italian gardens from the Roman era to the present, to illustrate how their fundamental principles shape garden design today.

We tour spectacular Italian gardens, large and small, historic and contemporary, teasing out the features that make these gardens so special. Shifting to gardens in North American – including my own garden, Glen Villa Art Garden – we examine how adapting those key ideas to suit our individual sites and styles, can improve our own garden designs.

In this engaging talk you will discover:

  • why Italian gardens are the foundation stone of gardens today
  • designs that provide structure and definition for your garden
  • innovative ideas from contemporary Italian gardens

Reading the Land

Some gardens speak to us, others don’t. But what does this common phrase mean? How do gardens speak? What do they say, and how do we learn to listen?

This talk approaches garden design from a novel perspective, exploring how art and language shape our relationship to the land.  Using Glen Villa Art Garden as a jumping-off point, we explore how language is used in gardens internationally, and how we can use words to expand the stories that our gardens tell.

In this cutting-edge talk you will:

  • discover ideas that can shape your garden and enrich its spirit
  • learn how using personal memories can enliven the design of your garden
  • develop a new appreciation of what a garden is, or can be