blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The gardens and the wilds

At the Belvedere, Reford Gardens
Sunday morning, June 28th, we drove to the Reford Gardens, aka Jardins de Métis. Métis is the nearest community to the lodge and its grounds where the Reford family lived. Elsie Reford was quite a girl, beautiful in her youth, bold and creative in her 50s when, inspired by the example of Gertrude Jekyll in England, she started making these gardens. This year, black and white photos from the 1920s can be seen through telescopes dotted around the grounds. I went here on my own once; this time I persuaded Chris to come and look round with me.

Blue poppy at the Reford Gardens, June 2015
We found the famous "glade" where the blue poppies from the Himalayas were blooming; Chris makes fun of people's reverence for these rare plants, calling them the purple turnips. Unlike the poppies we're familiar with, this variety grows in the damp and the shade. I was also delighted by the yellow lady's slipper orchids in the vicinity of the poppies, by the peonies on the verandah of the old house, the lupins in the meadow and the pansies and primulas by the woodland walks. It features rock gardens and garden sculptures––the latest installation being of shiny "fish" (with scales made from sequins) leaping through the topiary. This place is the eastern equivalent of the Butchart Gardens that I saw in March, with a lookout over a salt water inlet that reminded me of the views from Vancouver Island. To my amusement the flowers blooming in the Gaspésie at the end of June were the same ones that I saw blooming in British Columbia in March.

Ladies Slipper orchids at the Reford Gardens

Lupins and buttercups at the Reford Gardens
Azazleas at the Reford Gardens

Pansies, primulas and ferns at the Reford Gardens

Rivière Matane
After the Gardens, we drove along the coast road to Matane for lunch, where we walked round a nicely / recently landscaped playground and park on a river island to stretch our legs. We ate at an old favourite place for the locals, the Café aux Délices. followed the Matane River inland from Matane (by the coast) and parked by an information hut for the sake of a short hike in the forest. We could have driven 40km further into the wilds of the Réserve Faunique and seen some spectacular scenery, but the river with its cliffs was satisfying enough. So we also saw flora in the wild that day: bunchberry flowers under the fir trees. By the narrow trail near the river were heaps and heaps of moose droppings along with moose hoof prints, but we never spotted the actual moose. No other fauna either, except for one very large hare (snowshoe hare?) that hopped in front of our car as we set off back to the main road.

Bunchberries in the wild

Rivière Matane

Moose droppings, with Chris' foot for scale!

For the rest of the afternoon we drove along the country roads of the Gaspésie, fun to drive, like a switchback––Rte 195 to Amqui (where we stopped to see another playground and a covered bridge over the Matapédia River), then Rte. 132, past Lac Matapédia, and along back roads through farmland, back to Ste. Flavie.

Bridge at Amqui

Saint Octave de Métis, St. Laurent estuary in the distance

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