Regardless of the size of their land, the arrival of spring brings back the same excitement among gardening enthusiasts. The appearance of the first buds arouses the same renewed pleasure, all over Quebec. Here is a glimpse of the excitement behind the scenes of three oases that will welcome visitors during the summer.
It is with pleasure that Huguette Larocque and Clément Bessette witness the awakening of nature in their property of nearly 100,000 sq. Ft.2, located at the foot of Mont Saint-Bruno. Their first gesture, in April, was to remove the huge black canvases that covered the 25 sculptures and furniture scattered throughout. The positive effect on their morale was immediate. They then turned their attention to the flower beds, made up mostly of perennials, to clean them up and see the damage.
“In the spring, we also take three steps back to assess what we are going to do,” says Bessette. We always have plans to make the garden more interesting. We develop a plan of attack and we go step by step. ”
The fruit of their shared passion, the Harmonia garden has evolved over the past 40 years. It now encompasses six, of English, Balinese, Japanese and French inspirations, romantic in style and Land Art style. The Lost City was added in 2016. In this extraordinary environment, where Western and Eastern cultures meet, Huguette Larocque gives free rein to her imagination. She also sculpts shrubs and gives them an unusual transparency. Her husband takes care of the general maintenance, which keeps him particularly busy these days.
During the summer, they will open their garden for five weekends, collecting donations for three causes close to their hearts: the volunteer auxiliaries of Charles-Le Moyne Hospital, Maison Répit Vacances and L’Arche Montérégie. Workshops and outdoor concerts will also be offered. “The testimonials from visitors stimulate us a lot,” says Bessette. Our garden has a very particular style. We see that it does good. This encourages owners to continually seek to improve it.
Falling under the spell of tea rose bushes some twenty years ago, François Marcil has given them a growing place in his vast property in Saint-Sauveur. He took the opportunity to bring out the natural beauty of the place, which he continues to enhance.
All winter, he hatched new plans, which he has been carrying out since his return from Florida. He left it to two gardeners to clean the flowerbeds and the land, while he toiled to set up two belvederes. These will be added to the two others which allow you to better admire the Simon River. He is also busy building a suspension bridge, made of cedar wood collected from the property. This is the second footbridge he likes to build, after the “love bridge”, which is in a neighboring section and spans a dry stream.
By adding two miniature horses to the chickens and rabbits who live quietly at home, he thought of his grandchildren, but also of the many visitors, young and old, that he and volunteers welcome on Wednesday and Saturday mornings, during the summer. “It’s an attraction, just like the tree house,” explains the businessman, more focused on perennials, which dictate the look of the garden over the weeks.
Witness to the emotions aroused throughout the journey, Mr. Marcil takes as much pride in knowing how many funds are raised for the benefit of the Société Alzheimer Laurentides. Reservations are made on the site of the community organization, which directly receives donations of $ 25 per person. “I have always liked to make people happy. I have been very lucky in my life. It’s my way of giving back. ”
The Reford Gardens
Since mid-February, Patricia Gallant, head horticulturalist at Les Jardins de Métis, has been active in two greenhouses and in the field, in anticipation of the next season. The magnificent historic gardens created by Elsie Reford almost 100 years ago, which cover seven hectares, are under her responsibility. The scale of the task is mind-boggling.
“There are 3,500 varieties of perennials,” reveals Mme Gallant. Annuals represent 15-20% of cultivars. We plant 25,000 a year. It sounds like a lot, but there are 50 or 100 plants of one kind, 1000 of another, of 400 different varieties. »Annuals are grown inside two 3,200-square-foot greenhouses2 (297 m2) and 1800 ft2 (167 m2). “There isn’t that much space,” says M.me Gallant. It’s a big gymnastics. ”
April was an intense month. “We have to make sure we have what it takes to fill in the gaps,” she explains. I’m not like everyone else: I like a spring that stretches a little. We follow the temperature closely. The snow is there longer in Grand-Métis, in the Gaspé, than in many other regions of Quebec. This has an advantage, she points out. At the end of May and the beginning of June, thanks to the microclimate that prevails there, visitors have the chance to relive a second spring, with crabapples and lilacs in bloom. “Our season being very short, a lot of things bloom at the same time”, underlines the horticulturalist, who is in her 33e year in the Jardins de Métis and who never tires of walking there.
Writer Alexander Reford, great-grandson of Elsie Reford, director of the Reford Gardens and founder of the International Garden Festival, has his head full of projects. “We want to offer programming that meets expectations,” he says. Beauty will be here no matter the sanitary conditions. ”