|The beautiful landscapes of Les
Quatre Vents are certainly worth viewing.
summer I journeyed to the rolling farmland of Charlevoix County,
Quebec, to visit Les Quatre Vents, considered one of
North America's finest gardens. Located high in the hills overlooking
the mighty waters of the lower St. Lawrence River, it has been
called one of Canada's best kept secrets. The garden is open
for public viewing only a few days each summer, but fortunately
we had obtained tickets many months beforehand. We joined a
morning-long tour of the garden's 28 acres, and it wasn't long
before its size, scope and beauty became clear.
The Making of Les Quatre Vents
During our tour, we learned about the gardener who created Les
Quatre Vents, Francis Cabot. He was an American-born, Harvard-educated
financier whose passion was horticulture. In 1965, the self-taught
gardener and skilled botanist inherited Les Quatre Vents
from his grandmother, who had been given the seigneurie
in 1902. Until his death last year at age 86, he spent summers
there with his family restoring and expanding the grounds by
incorporating ideas from Japanese and English gardens, and even
from the gardens at India's Taj Mahal.
Cabot's goal was to create a garden that rivalled some of the
most famous in the world. Those who knew him said he was a gentle,
thoughtful and detail-oriented man who once, after a bad storm
had taken its toll on the gardens, apologized to visitors that
what they would see was less than perfection. During our tour,
with each garden room neatly manicured and stunningly diverse,
it was, well, just perfect.