By Julie Boudreau
For plant lovers, visiting gardens is a natural part of their hobby and a great one too! Whether you’ve planned your garden visit months ahead as part of your vacation or just added it as an element of a short weekend getaway, a garden visit rarely takes you to an overcrowded destination where you’ll feel lost in a crowd. In a garden, you can really take your time strolling around, letting yourself be amazed and recharging your batteries!
Where I live, in the province of Quebec, you’d think the long, cold, snowy winters would discourage people from investing any effort in gardening. But it’s not the case. In fact, it’s pretty much quite the contrary. There are more than a hundred gardens to visit, from the Abitibi region as far north as you can get by car to the extreme east of the oh-so-beautiful Gaspé Pennisula! Some gardens are public ones, such as the Montreal Botanical Garden, Domaine Joly-De Lotbinière or the Roger Van den Hende Botanical Garden. Others are private gardens open to visitors on certain occasions and finally, a few specialized nurseries also have wonderful demonstration gardens.
But don’t be discouraged if you can’t make it to my province this summer, there is still plenty to see elsewhere. Canada offers many great garden visit opportunities and in the United States, there are tons of public gardens and private gardens to visit literally everywhere!
Three Gardens to Discover
Here three Quebec private gardens that open to the public. And private means that you’ll be going to visit someone’s back yard! The owners of private gardens are passionate gardeners who have devoted a lot of energy to beautifying their terrain. Satisfied with the result, they’ve decided to make their garden accessible to the public. Although some of these gardens have regular opening hours, it’s always wise to contact the owners of the garden to announce you’re plan to visit, just in case. In general, a visit to a private garden takes one to two hours. A little more if you take tons of pictures!
Jardins & Des Lys
Located in the heart of the old village of Verchères, in the Montérégie region in the southwest of the province, Jardins & Des Lys is a historical garden located out back behind an authentic 1890 Victorian residence. Set on a steep slope, the garden leads you from one surprise to the next, in a garden where nothing is left to chance. It’s a perfectly maintained garden strongly tinged with romanticism and it exhibits a wide range of plants, many exceptional and unusual. For photo bugs, it’s a pure delight.
Jardins du Grand-Portage
Let’s now take a trip to the Lanaudière region, to the village of Saint-Didace. Here you’ll discover Jardins du Grand-Portage, a vast ecological garden inspired partly by English influences, partly by oriental ones. Owners Yves Gagnon and Diane Mackay also devote part of the garden to the production of organic seed of vegetables, flowers and medicinal plants. Biodiversity and deep respect for the environment inhabit the entire garden.
Jardin de vos rêves
Let’s now head to Érable (Maple) Regional County Municipality, not far from Plessisville. That’s where, in the small village of Saint-Ferdinand, you’ll discover this hidden treasure. The Jardin de vos rêves (the name translates as the “garden of your dreams”) is a garden of instinct. It’s a union between the Orient and Occident; with green to soothe you, water to cool you off, stones to put your feet on and shrubs sculpted into waves. It is a garden of artists and creative expression, full of beautiful surprises.
These three gardens are very different in their respective approach, but they all have in common a great power of enchantment. Visiting them is a great pretext for “discovering Quebec” … or you could discover gardens in your own province or state. I can assure you that wherever you go, there are great discoveries to make along the way: museums, restaurants, great little shops, parks and villages … plenty that will make you want to relocate!