A Good Home, Author Interviews, Author's Homes, Gardening, Hilary Custance Green, Sculptor

At Home with Hilary Custance Green

Hilary Custance Green has many roles. She’s a daughter, wife, mother, author, sculptor, blogger and gardener.

It’s the gardener role that first caught my eye.

More specifically, it was her Japanese maple seedlings that caught my interest.

Blog Photo - Hilary Maple Seedlings in Pots

Hilary had written a blog post about growing Japanese maples from seed. Being a gardener ( and having failed to grow Japanese maples from seed),  I was impressed.

Hilary Custance Green

Hilary loves gardening, of course.  She brings both art and science to the task. (Did I mention she also has a doctorate in brain science?) 

She even had a knot garden, which I know from experience is not an easy thing to create. 

Blog Photo - Hilary Knot Garden 2

“I love all the phases of project work, creation, engineering, labour, completion and peer review. I am never happier than working to exhaustion on a big 3D piece of work, or weeding for hours in the garden.”

“As a teenager I dreamt of becoming Rodin or Michelangelo. It was not to be, but I spent twenty (mostly happy) years making large semi abstract sculptures and also, to earn a penny or two, portrait heads.”

Blog Photo - Hilary Sculpture 2

“In both sculpture and writing, it is the crossfire of unrelated elements that makes the story.

Blog Photo - Hilary Sculpture 1

“So this sculpture developed out of The Song of Hiawatha (Longfellow) and the sad time in my twenties when my boyfriend was drowned.”

Blog Photo - Hilary Sculpture 3 boat

One of the recurring themes in all Hilary’s books is this question: What gives individuals strength in adversity?

By the time I met her through her blog, Hilary had already written three novels — Border Line, A Small Rain, Unseen Unsung — and was working on a special non-fiction book.

Each novel explores the question above, with themes of “love, grief, adventure, disability and both good and bad luck.”

Unseen Unsung by [Custance Green, Hilary]

“I hope to give readers something positive to take away as well as a hefty dash of the music and poetry I love so much.”

Blog Photo - Hilary workroom 2 and piano

Family and home are important parts of Hilary’s life.

“Home is where I have the wondrous fortune to be loved and feel safe,” she says.

“My husband Edwin and I both had parents with jobs that moved around. To give us a good education they sent us to boarding schools far from our homes.

“When we found this house, and had our two girls, we never wanted to move again and our children walked to school in the village.

Blog Photo - HCG Children

“When we outgrew the space, we built an extension (or two or three!).”

Blog Photo - Hilary Home

Hilary’s parents, Barry and Phyllis, went through great adversity during the second world war, and in  2016, she published a book about their experience. 

Surviving the Death Railway: A POW’s Memoirs and Letters from Home  is that book. Both acclaimed and very successful, it may well be her signature work so far.

Blog Photo - Hilary Book Cover Death Railway

“It includes the 68 men captured with Barry and their families back home in Britain, who kept in touch with Phyllis throughout the war. The real story is the amazing support these ordinary men and women gave each other in horrific and testing times.”

~~

Today, Hilary and Edwin’s daughters — Eleanor and Amy — are grown up with partners and lives of their own in other cities.  

Blog Photo - Hilary two daughters

Hilary too has been busy.

She has done many author presentations for her latest book, and is working on yet another. The work-in-progress is about “a brilliant, crazy woman, her concert pianist mother, their young, troubled and disabled biographer and a prickly young jazz pianist.”

Blog Photo - Hilary Workroom 1 with window

She and Edwin are also redesigning the garden.

Blog Photo - Hilary Garden in progress1

Blog Photo - Hilary Garden in progress2

Like everything else Hilary creates, one senses the finished products — book and garden — will be intriguing, powerful and beautiful.

Brava, Hilary!

A Good Home, Canadian Gardens, Gardening, Gardens

The Bloomin’ Garden — Late Summer

My favourite photographer Hamlin Grange took these pictures of our garden, which is still thriving in mid-September.

Of course, he complains — like a diva: “That’s not even my best work!” But I love these pix, so I’m sharing them.  Here goes:

Blog Photo - Pink Phlox and Butterfly

We are grateful to have inherited a host of phlox from previous owners  — 6 different shades in all.

(I wanted to say “a flock of phlox”, but it doesn’t quite work, does it?)

Blog Photo - White Phlox CU.JPG

Blog Photo - Pink and White Phlox

They, and this special shrub (below) from our friend Les, bloom in late summer and attract bees and butterflies.

(Perhaps “flock” would work better here? “A flock of bees and butterflies!”)

Blog Photo - Blue shrub and Bee2

Blog Photo - Shrub with Blue Flowers1

Blog Photo - Blue Shrub Full.JPG

There’s fragrant hosta, rudbeckia and other stuff too.

Blog Photo - White Phlox ECU

Blog Photo - White Hosta Group

Blog Photo - Rudbeckia

Blog Photo - Garden with Phlox

It’s a blessing to have a blooming garden this late in the Canadian summer!  The weather has been mild — call it summer in September — and we are grateful.

~~

All photos are by Hamlin Grange. 

 

 

A Good Home, An Honest House, Cooking, Family Moments, Floral Arrangement, Garden Humour, Gardening, Giant Pumpkins, Humour

I Deserve a Prize, I Do

I was once the proud recipient of the Pumpkin Princess Prize – awarded by Scotland’s pre-eminent herb-blogger, The Hopeful Herbalist.

Was Miss Hopeful smoking her own herbs when she did so?

Don’t know, don’t care. I took the title seriously.

Pumpkin photo of our tiny pumpkin and peach

Actually, what my lovely blogger friend said was: “Award yourself the pumpkin princess crown!”

Which to my deliriously happy state of mind, meant much the same thing.

And now I wonder: if my tiny imperfect pumpkin could win me that regal honour, perhaps the next thing is my cooking? Or baking? Or floral arranging?  

Let’s face it: It takes tremendous effort to be really bad at something.

blog-photo-christmas-arrangement

A lot of trial and error is required. Mostly error, mind you. 

Take my cooking and baking (please — someone has to).

I famously made a two-ingredient dish – cauliflower and cheese – and forgot the cheese.

The harder I tried, the worse my cooking got. I forgot half the ingredients, or doubled them — or burned the dish. Husband added ketchup, salt or spices to everything I cooked. Yegads! Ketchup!

I’d  perfected the art of  truly bad cooking.

But do you hear anyone giving me the title for worst borscht?

Perfectly pathetic pie?

Instead, they flock to stories of delicious dishes and beautiful bouquets. I’ve never understood it.

blog-photo-flowers-with-alium-closer-e1403881941537

 Meanwhile, we lesser folk never give up trying.

And still, our creations are catastrophic.

But consider this:

It takes a lot of work — and maybe even a strange type of talent — to turn out truly awful stuff.

So I think it’s time our efforts were acknowledged. Don’t you?

(Tee hee….)

 

 

Canadian Gardens, Gardening

Pinkie Swear

I swear: it seemed to happen all of a sudden.

Pink.

Everywhere. Pink phlox, pink anemones, pink sweet pea — pink, pink, pink.

Morning glories in a deep pink, almost red, are now more numerous than the blues….

Blog Photo - Pink Morning Glory

A late pink clematis

Blog Photo - Late pink clematis solo

Blog Photo - Late pink clematis

An early spring clematis that sends out a few tiny blooms in late summer…

Blog Photo - Pink Reblooming Clematis

And a pink surprise —  self seeded in the concrete step

Blog Photo - Snapdragon Reborn in Concrete

… an unexpected reminder of last summer’s pink snapdragons…

Blog Photo - Snapdragon reborn CU

… that grew in a container nearby.

Blog Photo - Potted plants - one pot

Whatever your colours, I hope your garden is doing well.