The gardener's eye

The Gardener's Eye

Friday, July 29, 2011

Ghosts in the Garden

The Ruin Garden in Teixeira Park

Teixeira Park: The Ruin Garden and Malus 'Prairifire'

Malus 'Prairifire' along the sidewalk at Teixeira Park

Recycled Granite in the Ruin Garden

Boccelli Garden with former foundation stones used as edging

Old Granite Post at Boccelli Garden

The Pavilion at Depot Park is reminiscent of the Old Depot at nearly the same location

Another Antique Granite Post with recycled granite pavers used as an edging

The Wall at the Lower Garden was the foundation of the original barn

The Yew Hedges form a garden room where the barn once stood

Recycled Curbing form steps in the Hall with Balls

Granite Path in the Hall with Balls

Boston Bricks and old granite pavers are used for the front walkway

Old Granite and Brick in the Lower Garden

A volunteer of the native Cornus alternifolia near the shed

The Ghost project in Nova Scotia brought to mind the ways in which we can make our gardens feel like the place they are in, respect the past history of that place but also be in the present day. In the public gardens in Peterborough and me own garden, I have tried to take all these factors into consideration.

We planted a grove of Malus 'Prairifire' along the sidewalk at Teixeira park to evoke the apple orchards of New England and to attract birds. The Ruin Garden uses salvaged granite to create a structure for the butterfly-loving-plants. It feels ancient in some ways but also somehow modern.

The Boccelli Garden uses the foundation stones that were on the site to create the edging of the garden. The "ghost" of the Boccelli's home and the story of the immigration from Italy in the 1920's and their integration into the Peterborough community is waiting to be told.

The design of the pavilion at Depot Park is an open version of the original Rail station that stood in the same location. Our rich history of railroad transportation in a rural town is honored. Both the Boccelli Garden and the Pavilion Garden at Depot Park utilize antique granite posts in their designs which respect our history.

In my own garden, the foundation of a former barn is the perfect backdrop for a garden. I have plated a yew hedge that creates living walls and a garden room where there the "ghost" of the barn once stood. The stone used for the focal-point bench is a slab of granite from the foundation that was left in the yard. Recycled granite is a recurring building material that is used over and over again in both the public parks and my own private garden.

In New Hampshire, known as the granite state, granite is an easy and effective material to use to create a sense of place. What I find more challenging is to make the gardens and public spaces reflect our contemporary lives. I am attempting to use plants that are "the right plant in the right place" and need less resources to maintain but I like the challenge of using unusual plants that satisfies ones desire to see something fresh, new and unexpected. The Ghost project was a wonderful model and inspiration to do that in both the public and private gardens that I work in.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ghost: The Architecture

Foundation at Shobac that predates Champlain's trip to the new world in 1604
Typical Shed Architecture near Shobac

Fishing village at Blue Rocks, Nova Scotia

MacKay-Lyons' Studio at Shobac, part of Ghost 8, at Sunset

The Tower, called Simeon, built in 2004 during Ghost 6

View From Above of Shobac and the Atlantic Ocean; Note the 4 cottages or cabins

Close up of the Cottages Built during Ghost 7 in 2005

The Four Cottages. We stayed in the second from the left cabin

The Barn Built during Ghost 9. The Viewing Structure can be seen in the Distance

Structure Near the Messenger House II Built during Ghost 10

Viewing Structure Also Built During Ghost 10

Inside of the Viewing Structure

Path, built of Local Stone, to the Boat House

Shobac and The LaHave Estuary Beyond From the Viewing Structure

The first drawing of the New World that cartographer Sameul de Champlain drew in 1604 included a few European houses at the mouth of the LaHave River. One of the houses was on the site overlooking the LaHave Estuary where the Ghost workshops took place from 1994 to 2010. The foundation of that house remains to this day at Shobac. It was probably originally the home of a fisherman from Brittany or Normandy who settled there in the sixteenth century.

During the 17th and 18th centuries the French settlers lived peacefully with the aboriginal Mi'kmaq in villages where they traded, fished, forested and trapped for a living. The Acadian Expulsion in the 18th century was followed by the resettlement of the village by the German and Swiss immigrants. They used the existing foundations to build their homes in the 1750's. Their descendants remained there on the site which is now Shobac until the 1940's when they were abandoned. Every settlement at Shobac is built on the previous site reusing the stones and foundations.

The architect Brian MacKay-Lyons used the ancient foundation as a starting point for his series of Ghost hands-on design-build projects. The settlers of the region were fisherman and farmers and the same craftsman used the naturally available wood to build both the boats and the buildings. "A grasp of the of the vernacular characteristics of the native building culture leads to an understanding of current building styles. Why do the buildings of the Ghost workshop blend so well with the existing landscape? It is because Brian MacKay-Lyons has precisely observed the vocabulary of the surrounding buildings, such as lighthouses, barns, farmhouses and shipyards, as well as the shapes and construction of boats. His thorough analysis of these typologies is taken into account when designing in his practice, always skillfully blending the building into the environment. The result is an architecture that is bound to the landscape in the best sense of the vernacular." (Karl Habermann, Ghost, Building an Architectural Vision, 2008.)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Ghost: The Land and the Sea in Nova Scotia

View of the Atlantic Ocean from Stonehurst East near Blue Rocks, Nova Scotia

View of Hirtles Beach from near Shobac with Drumlin in the Far Distance

Hirtles Beach one of Nova Scotia's finest sandy beaches.

Eroding Drumlin at Hirtles Beach

View of the Atlantic Ocean with a Pond in the Foreground

Another View of Hirtles Beach from Shobac

Ferns and Grasses Mingle in Drifts with Spruces Beyond

A Field and Shrubs

The Rocky Berm at Hirtles Beach
The Beach helped me understand why the Late Derek Jarman's Garden in Dungeness, on the Coast of the English Channel, looked the way it did

This is the first time I have seen Artemesia growing in the Wild

A Field of Grasses and Thistles

This Field Reminded me of the Cover of Henk Gerritsen's book Essay on Gardening

Glaciers advancing about 15,000 years ago, shaped the landscape surrounding Shobac in the South Shore Region of Nova Scotia. As the glaciers advanced, they flattened the land down to the bedrock. Centuries later, the retreating glaciers deposited stones and soil and formed a series parallel hills called drumlins. Over time, the drumlins have been eroded at their bases by the sea and from the cliff tops by bleeding groundwater. Each winter, the soil from the drumlins is carried out to sea and sand is redeposited in the summer. Sandy beaches are produced on ridges formed by stones that have rolled out of retreating drumlins creating in ecologically diverse and beautiful landscape.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Ghost: An Introduction

The driveway to Shobac

Messenger II, a house designed by MacKay-Lyons overlooking Shobac

A temporary tower at Shobac called Simeon built in 2004 during Ghost 6

The Barn at Shaboc built during Ghost 9

I have just returned from a week-long vacation with my wife in Nova Scotia near the town of Lunenburg about an hour from Halifax. We stayed at a cottage at Shobac, a farm on the site of historic ruins overlooking the LaHave Estuary owned by an architect named Brian MacKay-Lyons. Shobac has been location of a dozen two-week-long designing/building internships called Ghost. The mission is to "transfer architectural knowledge through experience" and have resulted in the construction of several temporary and semi-permanent buildings that use innovative and modern design that respects the history of the site. I found that the more I learned about Ghost the more I felt its philosophy could be used in garden making in New Hampshire.

These photographs at Shobac were taken on foggy morning and evoked a ghost-like spirit to me and seemed an appropriate as introduction to my experience. In the next several posts, I hope to describe the history of the site, how the buildings respect the local vernacular and how this experiment has inspired me in to be more thoughtful in making gardens.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Peterborough Parks in Early July

Taking a Book in at Nubanusit Terrace

The Ruin Garden at Teixeira Park

The Pavilion Garden at Depot Park

The Entrance to Putnam Park

Putnam Park

Boccelli Garden


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