Thursday, 12 August 2010
Domaine Jolie de Lotbiniere
I stumbled on a reference to this garden as I was researching something else for our trip to Canada. A tour itinerary described it as the finest garden in North America. The house dates from 1851 and the garden has been open to the public only since 1997. We stopped off en route from Quebec to Montreal.
We walked up a long drive from the car park, passed the servants' quarters and entered the gardens at the side of the house - timber-framed with verandas all around on both storeys. We swung right to pass through the Allee Seigneuriale, with symmetrical plantings on either side.
This leads successively to areas of shady planting (mostly some of the 99 species of hosta), an area of lilacs and a small Mediterranean garden. Continuing in a clockwise direction we came to a path leading down to the ruined jetty. This was a bonus - we knew the house overlooked the St Laurence river, but we hadn't expected to be able to see it close up.
It turned out to be a very pleasant tree-lined path ....
... which soon led to a sort of beach on the bank of the incredibly wide river.
We walked along the bank for a while to explore the reed beds which lay in the other direction.
We saw one large ship go by, but the river seemed very quiet, even under-used, for such a massive waterway.
We now returned to main gardens and were delighted by four large beds arranged on either side of two crossing paths. Three had an array of flowers, while the fourth was the pottager. We were thrilled to spot some hummingbirds, but not quick enough to get a photo.
We concluded our visit with a picnic lunch on a shady bench with a view up to the main facade of the house.
Conditions: warm, sunny, but not humid.
Distance: just over two miles.
Rating: four stars. A beautiful, tranquil oasis.
I snapped this little butterfly flitting around among the reeds. It seems to be a member of the Crescent genus, possibly a Vesta Crescent.