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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

See website, design work and favorite flowering plants at

Consultation and coaching for do-it-yourselfers is provided. Occasional emailed questions are welcome and answered free of charge. Oui, je parle francais.

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Entries in Garden (3)


A Garden in Nazareth

There is a stunning spiritual garden on the grounds of the Church of St Joseph, in Nazareth, that speaks to the talents of landscape architects everywhere. The compact, soothing garden is built on a steep slope, constructed with terraces, stairs, lawn, and trees. It Is part of the church complex that is located half way up a steep hill , on a road so narrow that our touring van was too wide to navigate it. Instead, we climbed upward on foot.

The atmosphere created by the garden encouraged us to stop and rest. Those that felt so inclined used this occasion for reflection, as well. Notice in the posted images how the color and texture of the buildings’ stonework is offset by the greenery of the landscaping. Green is a rare color to find in many parts of the Middle East, especially in the heat of August. Even the smallest gardens such as this one, becomes color relief for the eyes and the soul.

It was in this town that archeologists unearthed the remains of a dwelling they are certain belonged to Joseph, because his name is inscribed on the structure. From an examination of artifacts found there, it has been confirmed that he was indeed a carpenter and that carpenters were wealthy. Lumber-worthy trees cannot grow in the Holy Land so that few men chose carpentry as a trade. Wood was expensive because it was imported from Lebanon and carpenters became wealthy as only the rich could afford their work.

Another interesting fact about Joseph, discovered by the archeologists, is that he practiced polygamy. Historical and religious records confirm that, in biblical times, it was an acceptable and legal way of life. Polygamy was eventually abandoned by those who migrated northward into the pagan Roman Empire, where this practice was illegal.

We were informed by our guide that due to prevailing customs, Mary, a close friend of Joseph, was a candidate for legally sanctioned murder because she was pregnant and unmarried. Her family and the community would have stoned her to death. For safety, it was necessary for her to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem, a strange town where she could survive anonymously. Because it was never safe for any woman to travel alone, Joseph offered to accompany her.

Our guide suggested that Joseph must have cared very deeply for Mary if he abandoned the apparent comforts of his home and the company of his wives to make this journey. If that opinion is correct, then one might conclude that the history of Christianity began with an act of supreme kindness and selflessness.

Family reunion time is about to begin. My children and grandchildren are coming to visit for a week and their presence will fill up my days so joyfully that posting will have to wait until the new year. Happy Holidays.


Gardening with Rain, Webs and Other Stuff

Thanks to for the use of this image.The unusual frequency of rain this past summer brought with it many new gardening issues. My Reiger begonias did not grow as lushly as the year before. The Hardy roses bloomed well, but not spectacularly and the weeds in the flowerbeds grew taller than some perennials. Even the natural drainage systems in the large flower urns were unable to handle the volume of water. Eventually there would flood and overflow and rot the plants they had once gracefully contained.

Another rain-related issue was the invasion of spiders and their webs. They were plentiful, they were huge and they covered wide expanses of my garden. They made my Hardy roses look like veiled brides. I couldn't walk out onto my deck, use my front door or wander anywhere in the garden without getting wrapped in spider silk. Cleaning up the webs was made easy by following  instructions that I found on-line. In the end, I was rewarded with a sense of accomplishment because I had learned something that, at least for the moment, allowed me to prevail over nature.

I am guided by a philosophy that encourages me to discover something new on a regular basis. Each morning I ask myself: “What will you learn today that you didn’t know yesterday?” Using books, magazines and researching the web, I expect to discover tips that will make me a better gardener or homeowner. I am also pleased to learn about perennials that I have ignored or new improved varieties whose original cultivar are beginning to look stale. At this time of year, my favorite activity is searching out the names and photos of new plants that will come to market in the spring.

My only gripe with researching on-line is the layout of the home page of many sites I visit. The amount of information crammed onto the screen at any one time can be overwhelming. Like many other middle-aged people, I do not enjoy being visually inundated with multiple images and “stuff". I prefer clean and uncluttered websites that are easy-to-navigate. Sometimes my eyes have difficulty discerning the content from the ads. My children tell me that I might find it easier to learn on-line if my computer screen was flat and larger; but I am skeptical.


Landscaping on a Rocky Slope

A cliff garden at Windsor Castle

 A rock garden brook at the de Cordova Sculpture Garden as seen from below.

The rock garden brook in the de Cordova Sculpture Garden as seen from above.

Here are photos of rocky slopes that have been integrated into their surrounding gardens in two different ways. The first image is that of a cliff transformed into a tiered garden on the grounds of Windsor Castle in the U.K. The second and third images are that of a slope in the De Cordova Sculpture Garden in Lincoln, Massachusetts. This slope has been converted into an interactive climbing rock garden by virtue of the stairs that gently follow the path of the falling brook. Sculpted stone archways have been strategically placed to add perspective while enhancing the visual flow created by the brook and its waterfall. The rock garden at Windsor Castle integrates well with the style of garden design used on the surrounding grounds. The sloped garden at de Cordova relates to the many outdoor sculptures that  are placed at various elevations of the parkland.