Gardener Elaine Steinberg
Location Hudson, Quebec
Occupation Retired art curator
Family Husband, Marcel Braitstein
Years in House 19
Challenges Boggy area, slopes, porous soil that bakes hard in summer
Lot size 3 acres
Conditions Sandy soil; wet in lower area
Growing season May to November
Garden focus water features, terracing, sculptures, trees and shrubs with lovely fall foliage
Elaine Steinberg’s garden looks exactly like the kind of painterly landscape one would expect a retired art curator to create. At every turn of the three-acre property, Elaine considers spectators, just as she would if she were positioning paintings in a gallery. She wants visitors to take in the garden from all angles, to notice the objects that draw the eye into another vista: trees, sculptures and water features. These are what Elaine calls “spotters.” “Once you spot them,” she explains, “your eye travels over the distance in between.”
Her home is near bucolic Hudson, Quebec, which is off the western tip of Montreal Island, where suburbanites and farmers co-exist. On one side, the house nestles against the property line, which is demarcated by a thick cedar hedge. The garden wraps around the home’s other three sides in a crescent shape.
Although she bought the former farm in 1989 as a weekend getaway, within a year Elaine had moved in permanently. Twelve years ago, she married sculptor Marcel Braitstein. His main contribution to the landscape is an impressive collection of sculptures that he crafts in a studio on the property.
Elaine’s initial focus was on renovating the log house rather than on cultivating the land. After moving the barn closer to the house, it was renovated as a living room and an addition was built connecting the two structures.
The front of the home is surrounded by a small stone patio, which leads into a huge sloped garden. Elaine envisioned a foundation garden that would run the length of the house’s new facade. “I imagined the house being tipped on its face, and wherever the roofline landed was where the foundation garden would end,” she says.