poetry and prose about place

garden escapes: land use changes

with 2 comments

Last weekend, we explored the area north-west of Woodstock, New Brunswick. The area is very agricultural and rural, well populated and prosperous.


There were many gaps in the landscape where small farms may have been located decades ago. Today, the area is populated by large farms. Huge fields of potatoes, soybeans, corn and Christmas trees continue all the way to horizon in some communities.


59 Williamstown




What tells me a small farming family may have lived in a particular location if there are no ruins of habitation?

1. older trees planted in a regular pattern

2. presence of trees and shrubs not found in adjacent woodland, for example scarlet maple, willow, elm, mountain ash

3. presence of garden flowers on the property or in nearby ditches; for example, musk mallow, yellow loosestrife, creeping bellflower, lupines

4. presence of hawthorns along a roadway; John Erskine (‘The French Period in Nova Scotia A.D. 1500 to 1758 and Present Remains.’ Wolfville, 1975) interpreted the presence of hawthorn to settlers who used the thorny shrubs as a means of fencing

5. presence of apple trees, raspberries or grapevines (sometimes spread by cattle or other natural means)

6. local care of a property, indicating a continuing family interest in a property where an ancestor may have lived.


7 rte 540 Bellflower cropped

creeping bellflower


hawthorne cropped



We found all of these types of evidence. All may be subject to debate, and local knowledge would fill in many gaps.




sugar maple—

nine trees, in three rows

a block of lupin, flowering past


wind sorts

through leaves, launches seed

and a fox presses through


sweet clover

heady perfume, landscape changes

even as we watch


4 Lindsay abandoned lot

a regular planting of maple trees, perhaps evidence of a former homestead


This work was made possible by a Creations Grant from artsnb!


All my best,


Written by jane tims

July 24, 2020 at 7:00 am

2 Responses

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  1. You’re like a sleuth finding clues, Jane. It makes me wonder about who lived there, why they planted certain trees or flowers, who tended them, why the people left. It makes me feel wistful. A lovely poem, too. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    D. Wallace Peach

    July 24, 2020 at 5:58 pm

    • Thanks. I love a mystery. My poetry collection will address some of those questions. Of course, we will never know the answers for certain.

      Liked by 2 people

      jane tims

      July 24, 2020 at 9:49 pm

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