Sunday, 11 March 2012

Spring Forward!

Did you remember to change your clocks? I know you, like my teenage daughters, might meet this grand day with some moans and groans as you realize you just lost an hour of sleep. But for me, today has all the excitement of Christmas morning, the clocks moving ahead that wonderful hour means that I have the gift a "normal" life again.

For reasons unknown, my body decided four years ago that it simply didn't care what time it was anymore. The time would change, but I would not. I have always been an early riser, and grateful for it... up before the sun, usually between 4 and 5 a.m. With a house full of kids, a very busy husband, two cats, a dog and a japanese fighting fish named Princess, two hours alone every morning with my coffee and my thoughts is a much cherished ritual. In the fall when we turn the clocks back an hour, my body wakes itself up at 3 a.m -  not nearly so desirable and it can be hard to keep busy that early in the morning when there is nothing but snow and darkness about.

But today I am just giddy with anticipation and I hope wherever you are that you can share in my happiness! In addition to the time change, it seems Mother Nature has finally decided to smile upon us and deliver a balmy day of 9 C and with a warming trend the rest of the week. As far I am concerned, today is MY first day of spring, and I am already wandering around in my blundstones waiting for the sun to come up so I can get outside and do something.

And there is so, so much to do!

My list is rather long - I will be out there brandishing the pruners, tackling the shrubs, cutting back the grasses, and picking up all the stuff that was left behind in the fall and tossed around in the wind storm two weeks ago. No doubt I will calling out to my son to pick up dog poop he missed over the winter and for my husband to please help me clean and sharpen the tools. The patio chairs will receive their cushions, the bbq will be cleaned, and perhaps the waterfall will be started up in the pond. We will be looking (praying) for the coi and trying to decide if the frog floating around on its back is just sleeping or has met an untimely demise (whereupon we will distract my five year old so that said frog can be gently removed).

I will walk the gardens seeking signs of life...the sweet cabbage-like buds of sedum, the dainty strands of crocus, buds swelling on the lilac, plum and apple. I have been writing this long enough that the song of robin and whip-poor-will have started up and it is now time to go.

It is going to be a glorious day!

So until next time when I may have some lovely shots of my own garden to share, all spick and span, and bursting with life, I would like to share some photos from other gardeners who have been enjoying spring a little longer than I have.

From the lovely blog Wife, Gardener, Mother we have these gorgeous snowdrops and crocus...

Just love this cheerful little crocus surrounded by sedum acre:

And from Sweetbay are these shots from her garden taken last April and May - she has the most beautiful woodland gardens...

White iris are stunning

A lush planting

And an elegant Alabama Azalea

And from a blog I found just yesterday, Rhone Street Gardens, we have these beautiful photographs from Scott Weber...

vibrant hues of sedum welcome spring

I hope you enjoy this glorious Sunday and all that it has to offer. Happy gardening!

Monday, 5 March 2012

Les Quatre Vents: a beautiful legacy

 “We should be transported from our regular preoccupations. With an open heart and soul we can be receptive to the images, scents, sounds, spaces, and views that surround us, as well as to the touch of the wind and the rain, to the peace everlasting of the “genius of the place.”
 ~ Frank Cabot, "The Greater Perfection" 

I am guilty, dear readers, of overlooking what has been in my own rather large Canadian backyard. In fact I have somehow overlooked what is "considered to be one of horticultural masterpieces of the 20th century". Like many of us, my attention has been trained on the spectacular gardens of England and France and the famous designers that inspire and teach us. Granted, Canada is rather a large backyard, but I find no excuse for not knowing that such a glorious creation existed just one province away.

I first saw a picture of Les Quatre Vents (garden of The Four winds) just two short months ago as I was perched at my desk, researching the web for information on Canadian was sheer joy when the image below from appeared on the screen. I was completely enraptured by the unique border of ornamental rhubarb, the rill leading us to the view beyond. It was rather unusual - and daring - and brilliant. I was smitten and I have been searching for information on Frank Cabot and Les Quatre Vents ever since.

I am not going to write an in-depth piece here (I hope you don't find me lazy), but what I am going to do is provide you with some inspiring photos. I have compiled a list of links at the end of this post that will take you to articles written by authors who have actually visited the gardens and will do much more justice to this place than I could at this moment.

Situated near La Malbaie, Charlevoix County, Quebec Les Quatre Vents is the private garden of Frank Cabot and his wife Anne. A self-taught gardener and designer, Cabot spent 25 years developing, restoring and creating 20 acres of masterful garden 'rooms' that include the whimsical, the formal, the lush and so much more - all infused with Cabot's passionate eye to the "genius of the place".

Sadly, Mr. Cabot passed away in November 2011 at the age of 86. I am committed to visiting the garden this summer, even in the midst of our busiest season, but  I confess I deeply regret that I will not have the opportunity to meet this most inspiring gardener. He leaves us now his gardens as teachers and I hope you will find some inspiration from his work as I have.

Ornamental rhubarb creates a luscious border
Photo via: Riding the Buses

Frank Cabot in the garden at Les Quatre Vents
photo via:

A clever use of mirrors in the garden...
 creating the illusion that you could simply walk forever 

Photo via:

An archway in the pigeoniere beckons us to the gardens beyond
photo via: Doug Green's Blog

The Tea House at Les Quatres Vents
photo via:

The stunning contrast of the formal within a natural setting
photo via: The Cassandra Pages

A touch of whimsy...
This is from a wonderful collection of photos:

Photo via: Riding the Buses

...and also from  Riding the Buses
a stunning vista of glorious spring colour

The Blue Moon Bridge - I am speechless
Photo via:

For more information on Les Quatre Vents follow the links below:




Mr. Cabot has narrated a DVD about the gardens. A sample clip is available on youtube and at the link below. The charm, passion and wit is audibly apparent in the warm tones of the gardener.


You may have a hard time finding this book, I certainly have which is making the yearning that much more intense. Available online at all the usual places like Barnes & Noble, Chapters, and Amazon 'The Great Perfection' has a rather shocking sticker price. 

I have seen used copies available from just under $200.00 to well over $2000.00. At the time of this writing, there does not seem to be any new copies on the market. I am hoping if I am successful in making my garden trek, a copy may be available at the gardens themselves. wish me luck...and send me an email if you have a copy you would like to sell for less than the prices mentioned above :)