“I had been gardening since I was six years old, when my grandparents, who had flower and vegetable gardens, gave me seeds. Every year, I would plant more flowers than vegetables.”
That may have been the genesis of Madeleine's passion for accumulating plants. “I'm a real collector,” she says. “When I choose a plant, I look for rare cultivars, plants that I'm not familiar with. I also look for colour and texture. And one of the key criteria is that the plants I choose have to be hardy enough to survive here in Zone 4.”
Madeleine has used about four of the 12 acres she and Noël own to cultivate an assortment of beds and borders. Fifteen years ago, she began by building a rockery in front of the house, which curls around the walkway leading to the front door. Here she planted several spireas, which soon outgrew the space and had to be moved to the backyard. The rockery has evolved and now plays host to such plants as variegated euonymus, several varieties of lilies and Japanese anemones, yellow meadow rue (Thalictrum flavum) and corydalis.
Directly in front of the rockery is an overflowing border that flanks a low stone wall, which runs along the width of the front lawn to a wooden fence separating the house from the motel. Here, delphiniums and Queen Anne's lace keep company with wild anemones. In another corner of the front yard, Madeleine is fighting a losing battle against Mother Nature.
“This was my rose border,” she laments. “I've lost almost every rose except two [Explorers] in the past couple of winters.”
Superb plant combinations are also on display in front of the house between the driveway and the Delorme River. Divided in two by a lattice fence, this outstanding border boasts a collection of daylilies on one side and a swath of blue, white and pink blooms on the other. A few elders (Sambucus canadensis) anchor the border along with a Rosa glauca, while clematis such as ‘Belle of Woking', ‘Victoria', ‘Prince Philip' and ‘Carnaby' ramp up the lattice. Flowers that bloom at their feet include pink musk mallow (Malva moschata), a collection of speedwell (Veronica spp.) and marguerites, rose campion (Lychnis coronaria) and feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium syn. Chrysanthemum parthenium).