Gardens - Featured Gardens

Garden tour: A beautiful backyard paradise in Sainte-Adele, Quebec

By
Wendy Helfenbaum
Photography by
Perry Mastrovito

Two passionate gardeners continue to dream up new and exciting things for their expansive plot of land in Quebec.


According to greek mythology, Icarus dared to fly too close to the sun, burning his wings and ultimately plummeting to his death. Legends say Icarus dreamt big and reached high despite great risk, qualities that inspired Raymonde and Yves Aubry to name their backyard paradise Icarus's Garden.

In 1979, when the couple bought their 1,700-square-metre Sainte-Adèle, Quebec, property – located approximately an hour northwest of Montreal – they faced a daunting task. “Basically, there was an unfinished house, some mounds of earth and big piles of rocks,” recalls Raymonde. The semi-retired couple – Raymonde is a tax specialist, Yves is a chartered professional accountant – had always wanted a large expanse of land upon which to develop an outdoor living space. They loved that the house backed onto a huge wooded area with mature spruce and birch trees, offering a lovely shaded canopy over most of the lot.

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A decorative heron overlooks gold-edged hostas (Hosta fortunei var. aureomarginata), rhododendrons and deep crimson astilbes (Astilbe ×arendsii ‘Fanal’) surrounding the pond, which Raymonde and Yves Aubry expanded in the fall of 2013. In 2008, the couple added a music room to their house; ‘Brownii’ hybrid yew (Taxus ×media ‘Brownii’) and falsecypress (Chamaecyparis cv.) grow below its windows.

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Raymonde found this old door by the side of a country road and decided
to create a garden shed facade, which the couple named The Gardener’s Getaway. In front of the pine wall grows ‘Superba’ astilbe (Astilbe chinensis var. taquetii ‘Superba’), Rodgersia cultivars and ‘Blue Blazes’, ‘Carnival’, ‘Grand Marquee’ and ‘Stiletto’ hostas.

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At the very top of the property, The Birds’ Garden features a small pond with a waterfall. Ostrich ferns (Matteuccia struthiopteris) add texture to the shaded garden.

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Hosta ‘Piedmont Gold’ in the foreground represents just one of the 450 varieties of hosta in Raymonde and Yves’s garden.

Garden stats

Size: 2,800 square metres
Zone: 4
Orientation: Southwest
Age of garden:
35 years old
Conditions: Sandy soil enriched with compost each year
Growing season: May to October
Focus: Different varieties of hosta and a large pond with a waterfall
Maintenance: “If my pet peeve is weeds, my husband’s is slugs. With 450 hostas, we’ve tried everything – the best way to remove slugs is by hand, and we also spray them directly with a solution of half-water, half-ammonia,” says Raymonde Aubry
Tip:
Keep in contact with gardeners and visit a lot of gardens

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Vibrant red ‘Chicago Apache’ daylilies offer unexpected bursts of colour in the predominantly green garden.

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Native ferns and several varieties of hosta, including giant blue hosta (Hosta sieboldiana var. elegans) and ‘Big Mama’, create a lush, textural border in The Squirrels’ Garden.

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in The Birds’ Garden, Raymonde and Yves placed shade-loving plants, such as ostrich ferns, ‘Fan Dance’ hostas and wild sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis), under a collection of birdhouses from their travels.

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Monarda ‘Gardenview Scarlet’ provides a striking display of rich red blooms throughout the month of August and also attracts bees and butterflies.

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Under towering spruce and maple trees, the couple designated this path Frances Williams Alley, planting rows of that variety of hosta (Hosta ‘Frances Williams’ [sieboldiana]), along with H. ‘Francee’ (fortunei). “It was very hard to grow anything else there, so we just embraced what we had,” says Raymonde.

The couple loves walking along the cedar mulch footpaths and hearing the gentle splashing of the waterfall, the songs of birds and the fish swishing in the pond. Two years ago, part of a tree fell into the pond, piercing the membrane. Rather than simply replacing it, the couple opted to expand the pond into one that measures 40 square metres. “As long as our passion for gardening stays strong, we’ll never run out of projects to dream about doing,” says Raymonde.

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