It was our last day in Cap-à-L’Aigle, a little town just up the road from La Malbaie. Our innkeeper Arleen told us we should visit Les Jardins de Quatre-Vents. It is the most popular garden in the country and would be worth our while if we could get in – you have to book a year in advance. We took a chance and got in.
Les Jardins de Quatre-Vents or The Four Winds in English, is a private garden, open to the public 6 Saturdays each year.
The garden was created by Francis H. Cabot, an American whose family bought land here in 1902. The garden covers about 20 acres and is made up of 24 different gardens many of them separated by walls of pruned cedars.
On the right hand side of the house, there is a pathway leading to the three separate garden rooms.
The first is the salad garden which has lots of herbs.
The second is the baker’s garden. Notice the two trees on either side of the bread oven are trimmed to match the same shape as the oven’s roof.
The third is the guest garden with cedars shaped like furniture and a fountain in the corner with a stone fish with water coming out of its mouth.
As you exit the garden rooms, you follow a cedar pathway. At the end of each path there is either a statue, an animal made out of stone or a framed view.
Along this path, there are two unique openings on either side. To the left, a blue pond overlooking La Malbaie.
This is a view of the house from the main garden. Frank Cabot’s son Colin still resides in the house and has been known to give personal tours of his father’s gardens.
The plants are sculpted into different shapes; this one looks like a heart.
The “green carpet” leads down to Libellules Lake.
On the other side of the pathway is the white garden. Only white flowers were planted here and if another colour pops up, it is removed immediately. A pond sits in the middle with a statue tucked in behind the bushes at the base of the tree.
There are 4 gardeners who maintain the property throughout the summer months and 1 head pruner who trims all the hedges. This is Thuja Allée which is lined with cedar hedges and rhubarb.
In the opposite direction, the cedars continue down towards the lake. Through the opening, you can see the pasture in the distance.
As you get closer to the opening, a 9 foot Menhir stone appears in the field outside of the garden’s perimeters and is framed by this stone structure.
There is a rose garden in full bloom.
Frank Cabot’s favourite flowers were delphiniums and they are visible throughout the gardens.
The garden has a whimsical side. There are frogs playing instruments and the music they play can be Dixieland or Mozart depending on how you move under a certain beam.
Don’t walk too quickly or you will miss something lurking in the bushes.
Around the next turn was the waterway to the lake.
The lake was created by damming a winding stream. It is named Lake Libellules after the dragonflies that fly over it in the summer. It’s defining feature is the red Japanese bridge crossing the water.
A look at the Thuja Allée from the other side of lake Libelulles.
At the far end of a small circular pond is a pale blue Chinese moon bridge that makes a perfect oval when reflected in the water below. Cabot modeled this bridge after one he had seen during a visit to China. Referring to the photographs he had taken during his trip, he recreated every detail of the bridge.
Cabot wanted to integrate some of the elements of the Taj Mahal into this garden. He created a reflection pool leading to the building. It took him 15 years. It is not really the Taj Mahal but instead a pigeonnier—a place where pigeons nest.
A view through the pigeonnier.
Cabot also wanted to have an authentic Japanese structure in his garden. It took him 10 years to complete it. Nails were only used in the roof.
Over the pond in the Japanese garden is a rope bridge connecting the two sides.
This pathway took us up to the potager.
Frank built the potager for his wife Anne.
She grew various vegetables and herbs. Originally Frank agreed that he would not plant any delphiniums in her garden but over the years, they popped up.
After passing through the potager, we had another great view of the main house including the pool which was fed by a creek. The green surrounding the pool is thyme not grass.
A view of La Malbaie.
This is the most spectacular private garden I have ever visited. We were really fortunate to get in. You need to purchase tickets 1 year in advance and the cost is $30.00 per person. All money collected goes towards the Centre Écologique de Port-au-Saumon to help children in need. You also receive a tax donation. To find out more or order your tickets online, please visit: http://cepas.qc.ca/