Lee Valley Tools    Gardening Newsletter
   Vol. 7, Issue 8
   November 2012
   Les Quatre Vents: Secret Garden

Les Quatre Vents
The beautiful landscapes of Les Quatre Vents are certainly worth viewing.

Last 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.
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