Wired for growth

By Dupont Piere / June 14, 2016
Wired for growth gardening

When Paul Meadows of Halifax needed to know how tall his 100 cherry tomato plants would grow, he didn’t turn to a plant encyclopedia or seed catalogue for the answer. Neither did Wilfrid Somers of Nepean, Ont., when he wanted to identify an impatiens he h ad seen on a trip, nor Rick Tallman of Dorchester, Ont., when he had a question about how to winter his calla lilies. Instead, they all sent electronic notes via the Internet to Peter Henry and Laura Jantek at the Gardens+Gardening Web site on the Chebuct o Community Net in Nova Scotia. “Two years ago, I don’t think I had ever heard of the Internet,” says Henry, an architect. Today, he and Jantek spend several hours a week answering questions electronically from virtual gardeners around the world. Many use rs have specific gardening questions. Others drop by to learn about local gardens and plant clubs, to read a monthly column written by Jantek and Henry, or to check out the calendar of gardening events in Halifax. “It’s like a reference library,” says Hen ry. Continue reading

Green Dreams

garden is behind the house

The house in Brentwood is behind a high wall, and the garden is behind the house, invisible from the street, tumbling down a hillside lushly planted with laurel and sweet gum. Sprays of pink blossoms tumble over low stone walls. A stepped walk, lined with hedges, leads you down past a serene blue pool; on another level, a gap in the hedges opens onto a circular jumble of stones that turns out to be a precious piece of environmental sculpture by Richard Long. At the very foot, sunlight splashes on a patch of lawn. Here, in the backyard of a Hollywood executive, you are reminded that humanity’s first and most desirable abode was a garden–and that was before you could play badminton in them. Continue reading

Canadians are spurning exotic plants for hardier indigenous species

For some , inviting wildlife onto their patch of paradise is anathema. Why do all that work just to provide a banquet for squirrels and deer and bugs? Abbotsford, B.C., gardener Sylvia Pincott, however, is overjoyed by the abundance of four-, six- and eight-legged visitors to her yard — she actively encourages them. On the back part of her 1.6-acre property 80 km east of Vancouver, Pincott has left an original woodlot to flourish, while in beds close to the house she includes plants native to the Fraser Valley. And when she plants cultivated species, they, too, are chosen for their role in the ecosystem — a red elderberry bush, she notes, attracts tiny pollinating insects that, in turn, become dinner for flitting hummingbirds. But the overall effect is far from wild and unkempt; instead, Pincott’s garden is the sort of eye-catcher that attracts gardening fans of the two-legged variety, literally by the busload. “We’ve had hundreds of visitors,” she says. “It is a show garden.” Continue reading

French leaders are using control of public building plans

By Dupont Piere / April 25, 2016

FOR CENTURIES, FRANCE’S rulers have sought to leave their mark on Paris, France’s political and architectural showcase. During the past twentyfive years, the administrations of De Gaulle, Pompidou, and Giscard d’Estaing have changed the city more than all the governments since the mid-nineteenth century, when Napoleon III and his prefect, Baron Haussmann, drove their boulevards through the medieval fabric of Paris and fashioned a monumental city. Now it is President Francois Mitterrend’s turn, and he is planning to make his imprint on Paris, in the timehonored tradition of la grandeur. Continue reading