Encounter a White Landscape . . . “Seen” by Pēteris Vasks

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a snow-covered winter scene showing a row of leafless trees growing at the boundary of an agricultural field that stretches all the way to the horizonIn his evocative 1969 meditation on winter titled simply “Confirmation” (Apliecinājums), Latvian writer and translator Māris Čaklais said,

How good it is that once again we believe in the snow,
which is like the dawn of dawn.

As you know, snow comes in only one color: white, and dawn brings only one thing: light (and as that light builds, day). So what is it that’s getting confirmed here? Read more

Use These Strategies and Resources for a Fantastic Garden Year After Year

Books to Read, Things to Do, and LOTS to Look Up and Learn About!

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grey twigs of a magnolia tree covered with snow Our first item is brought to you by the department of obvious department. January makes an ideal time to assess the need for Read more

Build Anticipation With an Allée

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A color photo showing a driveway lined with Callery pear trees loaded with white flowers.
Callery pear makes a statement out of a driveway.

Not everyone owns enough property to have an allée. Other people do but live in hilly places; uneven terrain is simply not suited to creating this kind of effect. But where it can be done, ooh la la, does it ever create a sense of anticipation and arrival!

As we’ll see, an allée does far more than define space by creating an axis aligned with the house. To begin with the obvious, it’s also practical and good for the Earth. Canopied pavement is the best sort because it heats up less in summer. If I could design all parking lots, believe me, they wouldn’t look the way they always do!

Centuries ago, a tree-lined drive became a traditional treatment for the entrance to an estate. In the United States, I think most examples were in the southeast. Most of these are gone, but a few are still around. Shall we have a little look? Read more

Sound of the Season: Claude Debussy’s Enchanting Music for Spring

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painting The River Epte by Claude Monet (1885)
The River Epte (1885)
by Claude Monet

To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.

George Santayana

a portrait of Claude Debussy by Marcel Baschet (1884)
portrait of Claude Debussy by Marcel Baschet (1884)

As a young adult, when the French pianist-composer Claude Debussy was living in Rome as a laureate of the Rome Prize, he was expected to send works back to Paris indicating his artistic progress. One of them was supposed to be a symphony or a piece of similar scope for orchestra. In fact, he hardly completed anything because he was trying to write music “that is supple and concentrated enough to adapt itself to the lyrical movements of the soul and the whims of reverie.” It also helps to acknowledge he was a meticulous craftsman and re-writer who held himself to an exceedingly high standard and an innovator who wasn’t content to write music the way it had been before.

One of the few things he did complete and send was a piano duet called Spring, and he added that the full score for orchestra, piano, and chorus had been lost Read more

Korea’s Breathtaking Garden of the Morning Calm

A splendid public garden in a scenic valley near Cheongpyeong adds to the culture of Korea. In recognition of the Lunar New Year known as Seollal, enjoy this nighttime tour.

a nighttime view of trees lit with colored lights at a public garden in Korea

Over the centuries, the country and the culture of Korea have had many names, including “Rooster Forest”, “Azure Hills”, “The White-Clad People”, “Eastern Plains”, “Land of Scholarly Gentlemen”, “Hibiscus Territory”, and “Land of Splendid Rivers and Mountains.” Outside the country, its most famous sobriquet is certainly “The Land of the Morning Calm.” Although this phrase describes what sounds like a pleasant place to visit, Read more

Under a Blanket of Snow Lies the Unseen Conviction to Endure

the painting After the Sleet Storm ( 1915-6) by Tom Thomson
After the Sleet Storm (1915-16)
Tom Thomson

“In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger–something better, pushing right back.”

Albert Camus
Return to Tipasa (1954)


Death, Winter, and Taxes: How to Avoid the Middle One! (Or at Least Deny It As Long As It Lasts . . . )

a rather grim wintry view of a side and back yard in JanuaryWhen it’s winter, many of us are content to let the garden rest. Even though some people like skiing, hockey, or ice skating, almost everybody spends a lot more time indoors. When it’s less than 20 degrees, often your goal is to get as quickly as possible from the car to the house with NO unnecessary detours and NO gazing at the yard, except once inside, through a window!

It’s certainly true that Read more

Consider the Value of Reading Wind Patterns in Snowfall

an untitled winter landscape painting by Jose Salis Camino
Untitled Winter Landscape (no date)
by José Salís Camino (1863-1927)

If you live where it snows and you’re not a kid, dealing with snow is mostly a chore–one some residents dread so much they resolve to retire in a place where they will never see snow again!

The Japanese have a saying karo tosen, or “Summer heater, winter fan.” The point is that Read more