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

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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 blogs (5)


Meet a New Garden Blogger & Awesome Photographer 

A view of Pat Webster's garden.Please welcome Pat Webster. Her garden blog is titled Glen Villa: Sight and Insight .

Pat is a creative garden designer, erudite landscape lecturer, garden tour guide, amateur historian, artist, talented photographer and innovative sculptor.

She inspires her audiences to look at their own landscapes with fresh eyes and demonstrates how local history, art, and personal stories may be incorporated into landscape design.

Glen Villa Gardens  is the name given to the grounds surrounding her home in North Hatley, Quebec. This bilingual region of Canada, located east of Montreal and west of Quebec City, is known as The Eastern Townships, in English and Les Cantons de L’est, in French.

Thanks to the US Interstate highway grid, this charming corner of North America is easily accessible from the northern American states of New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York.

Plans are underway to open Glen Villa Gardens to the public for one day in July of this year as a fundraiser for the local conservation organization, Massawippi Conservation Trust.

Pat uses the gardens as inspiration for her posts as well as a setting to display her outdoor sculptures. However, readers of her blog and visitors to her professional website will also be impressed by the quality of her photographs and the delightful and informative style of her writing.

A recent post dated April 10, 2013, titled Mud and Maple Syrup, is a visual essay on how this delicious syrup is produced. As a photo documentary, it is classroom-ready.

The lead picture in this photo shoot demonstrates how Pat combines the linear perspective of the trees with the monochromatic late winter landscape to create a haunting work of art. Its vertical composition is reminiscent of the paintings of the geometric abstractionist, Piet Mondrian.

Pat Webster's talented eye is also evident in the beautifully set-up shots of her travels; each one adds to the engaging story-telling of the experiences she shares with her readers.

It has been a delightful journey to visit both Pat's garden blog and her website. Make the same click- trip as I did; you won't be disappointed.


A Guest Post for "An Obsessive Neurotic Gardener"

I have been a fan of John Markowski’s blog, An Obsessive Neurotic Gardener, ever since he first started posting. Recently, when John contacted me and asked if I would write a guest blog for his site, I was deeply touched. It took a while for me to decide upon a topic because I wanted it to be appropriate. A polite and perfunctory piece just wouldn’t do. John deserved more; and when you read the guest post that I wrote you will understand why. The piece is titled "Express Yourself". Click here to link to my article at John's blog.


Expanding Horizons; Garden Bloggers I Read

This is an example of the beautiful garden scenes that are found at Garden Canadensis.Although I regularly read over 50 gardening blogs and websites, only a handful of them are featured in the Sites I Visit section, in the middle right column on this page. Out of respect for my readers, I list only those titles that contribute substantively to the theme of my own blog - designing beautiful perennial flower gardens. I do not intend to infer that unmentioned blogs are less worthy. On the contrary, I take time, every day, to read so many of them because there is always so much to learn. However, posting all of them just doesn't seem like the right thing to do.   Here are five additions to my list:

Eileen of Gatsby's Gardens writes an erudite blog. She shares my passion for beautiful flowering plants, and the photos of her garden indicate that we both aim for the same high standards of garden design. Eileen is quite modest about her superb photographic skills yet that is one of two reasons why I am drawn to her blog. The other reason is the quality of her writing. Eileen is a great communicator and an absolute pleasure to read.

Do not be put off by the long title of Conrad Art Glass and Gardens. Leslie is a very talented person, who creates custom order Tiffany-style glass products; but that is not why you should visit. He is an artist whose canvas is a vast flowering garden that he designed, tends to, and captures on camera in spectacular images. No other blogger is able to match his skill at digitally invoking that essence of a garden that induces ecstasy.

Helen writes at Toronto Gardens. Her archives are rich with photographs of beautiful, private gardens that she has visited and I admire her generosity for highlighting them in her blog. Helen is a talented communicator who distills topics into concise phrases, making her informative postings easy and quick to read. Most of all, I am impressed by her candor and determination. The fact that she probably knows more about gardening than most other people has not deterred her from expanding her horizons by taking classes in garden design. Sometimes she will share part of that experience with us.

Deborah, of Green Theatre, designs and works on the gardens surrounding her weekend home. In spite of her impressive, formal training, she is comfortable inviting readers to post their opinions about her gardening work-in-progress, and in soliciting readers’ advice about her projects. That is the sign of a truly wise gardener - one who is always eager to learn from others. It is also an effective way of drawing us in to her hospitable world. Like all of my other favorite garden writers, Deborah is a gifted communicator whose blogs are enjoyable to read.

Garden Canadensis is not a blog but a photographic essay about the owner’s garden. It is a labor of love for both the author and the reader. Plan to linger a while because this site, while difficult to navigate, may be compared to a spiritual journey into beauty.


Literature is Hiding Among the Plants; About Bloggers Who Write Well

During the height of the season, I am unable to faithfully follow blogs. Supervising the planting of gardens in the mid day sun parboils the brain and exhausts the body. By nightfall, reading is a challenge. I need to wait until autumn before I can catch up on the blogs of fellow gardeners whose works I admire, but overlooked. So far, I have scrolled over 1000 garden-related websites and am in the midst of reading through nearly 2000 gardening blogs, listed alphabetically. Every garden blog merits attention, the first time round. The goal is to select the ones I wish to continue following and those that I want to add to my reading list. The chosen ones are conveniently sent to my Google reader. In this laborious journey, I have made a discovery: some bloggers are gifted writers. It has been a delightful surprise to discover literature hiding among the plants. Here is a list of those blogs I read both for the writing as well as for the content:

The Stopwatch Gardener is poetry masquerading as garden blog. The author strings words together like pearls on a strand.

Gatsbys Garden turns mundane gardening projects into beautifully executed narratives.

The author of Teza’s Garden creates edgy, stream-of-consciousness prose that reveals a passion for gardening, unmatched anywhere in cyberspace.

Garden Thought is a scholarly blog for the thinking gardener who enjoys thought-provoking essays on horticulture.

A natural storyteller writes beautifully at Jean's Garden. The author turns garden-related projects into interesting narratives, spun in a warm and friendly manner. I admire the thoughtful and measured style that the author brings to this blog.

WynEden: a Gardener's Diary is a well-articulated narrative with an unintended twist. Ostensibly, it is about tending a garden on ten acres of land. It is also the story of a husband tending to a wife undergoing chemo-therapy. The stark contrast between caring for garden and wife is haunting. A sensitive novel is hiding in this blog.

If every sentence in The Deep Middle had its own line, this blog would read like blank verse. Inside each sublimely written paragraph lies a Haiku poem waiting to be born. I frequently return to this site just to re read beautifully written passages.


Snow Days Are Sad Days

Photo courtesy of Copywrite Free Photos. Click on image to visit their site.Over the past few weeks, I have been saddened to read a story that repeats itself in the texts of many garden blogs. In some postings, it has percolated in doses too tiny to notice. In other blogs, it is blatant and upsetting. It is about the frustrations that winter visits upon gardeners whose main passion in life has been temporarily stifled. Lamentations about not gardening, cleverly cloaked as impatience or wistfulness, start to occur just after the holiday season ends.

Dark days and damp weather begin to overshadow us in early November when many are too busy planning festivities to pay attention. It is mostly after the holiday season that winter delivers a severe blow to our spirits. This year, several factors exacerbated that situation: the unusually cold weather that crept south along the North American continent and the unexpected amount of snowfall. It is heartbreaking to read the chronicles of those that are experiencing genuine suffering and to remain unable to offer comfort.

Winter has never been kind to me, either. As soon as the days get shorter, I am compelled to unpack my full - spectrum light box and soak in its sun-mimicking rays for at least 20 minutes a day. For that brief period, I can pretend to be basking in my garden. Not being able to spend time in the garden is difficult to endure. Instead, I immerse myself in researching garden-related subjects that will make me a better gardener. Also, I devote hours to developing topics for blogs. Planning and writing a gardening blog is a pleasurable, creative experience. It is not as satisfying as gardening, but, at this time of year, it is the next best thing.

It is fortunate that I live in a city that spends over 10 million dollars annually to keep its roads snow-free so that citizens can remain mobile. It also helps that Montreal is a vibrant place. With a large cosmopolitan population, there are many distracting remedies for those experiencing winter cabin fever. I feel badly for those that live in isolated, rural areas that are desolate at this time of year, even though such locations are gardening paradises in summer.

Another antidote for the winter blues is the “greenhouse factor”. I learned about the powerful effect that a greenhouse can have on mood and behavior when I studied Introductory Botany at University. An essential segment of that course required students to visit the Faculty greenhouse frequently in order to learn how to identify plants by their Latin names. During the depths of winter, each visit there became an invigorating and energizing experience. The daylight streaming through glass walls, the tropical humidity and the intense colors of the pelargonium in bloom all combined to generate a heightened sense of happiness and well-being.

Yesterday, while visiting a big box hardware store, I suddenly remembered the greenhouse factor and spun the shopping cart in the direction of Indoor Plants. That department is located in a greenhouse setting. The floor-to-ceiling windows that bring lots of daylight combine with the humidity and aroma of plants to create an enjoyable and stimulating environment. When I got to the plant department, I saw a staff member unpacking forced spring-flowering bulbs, some on the verge of blooming, and some already opened. Tulips, Daffodils and Hyacinths were on display in abundance, as were the usual inventory of intensely colored Gerberas, Cyclamen and Kalanchoe. As I stood there absorbing the odors and colors of spring, I kept reminding myself that, in 90 days, I will be outdoors and gardening once again.