As with so many things in life, often the best ideas are the ones in plain sight. And that's pretty much the approach Sally Webster took when she and her husband, Alan, first bought their nine-acre property just outside the village of Knowlton, Quebec, seven years ago.
What fascinated Sally was the rocky terrain blanketed by moss and the incredible view of Brome Lake backed by Shefford Mountain. The site did not scream out for lawn and perennials, as had her previous cultivated garden, but it did need something to help "turn up the volume." That "something" was André Boisvert, a local gardener with whom Sally had collaborated on past projects. They worked well together and were on the same page when it came to design—though there were never any actual pages involved. "There were no sketches or plans," says Sally. "We both agreed the existing elements of the natural landscape should just carry through the property; I've seen André's results and trusted him completely."
A gardener for close to 50 years, Sally was unfazed by the initial steps needed to begin the project, which entailed clearing the young birch trees and weeds covering the property. An existing man-made pond just to the south of the house was a great feature to work with (there are also two smaller ones connected by a stream that were added later). And work with it they did. With the help of Mario Paris at Canadian Pond Products in Knowlton, the one-acre pond had to be emptied because the construction workers needed to drive through it to build the retired couple's house. They also partially lined the pond with felt and heavy plastic at one end, as they were unsure if it was still structurally sound after the disruptions. "We knew if the integrity of the bank had been compromised—especially because of its elevation-it could have done a lot of damage," says Sally.
SIZE - 9 acres
ORIENTATION - north and south
CONDITIONS - rocky terrain, rich compost added
GROWING SEASON - April to October
GARDEN FOCUS - natural-looking landscaping and native plants; 1-acre pond