Architecture and the garden at Quatre Vents

White and weathered, the Cabots’ home is centuries younger than New France, yet seems to pre-date it

Whether you enjoy 28 acres, as the Cabot family has at Les Quatre Vents, or 0.06 acres, as I do, it’s good to consider how your garden works with your architecture – and how your architecture works with your garden. The gardens at Les Quatre Vents are so engaging, this important detail can be overlooked. Going back over my (almost lost) photos of my visit brought this home to me.

Quatre Vents offers formality, whimsy and variety. There’s a Japanese garden and a Chinese moon bridge, for example. But the glue holding it together is subtle repetition and consistency of materials, form and colour, in both hard and living materials – and in elements added over a period of decades.

Even if ours is only a small city garden, and even if we aren’t like the Cabots, who “speak only to God,” we can do that. We should.

Different materials are aligned by colour treatment. Warm brick is allowed to show through the distressed whitewashing behind the doorbell. It all blends to the bright focus of the red door.
Whitewashed mortar and grey stone are repeated in the kitchen garden
Frank Cabot inverted the proportions of grey to white by adding crunchy shells to the grey gravel at his doorstep
The whimsical bread oven garden distracts you with breadloaf topiary from the consistent roof lines and materials, even in the topiary linden (Tilia cordata) trees.
There’s that roofline again. Set apart in a wooded area, the music room overlooks fields to La Malbaie. The octagonal shape was designed around the French windows in the home’s guest room. Note the white birch trunks and split cedar fencing.
Split cedar fencing snakes up from the entry, where the farmhouse and outbuildings painted white (and pale blue), again with cedar shake roofing, welcome you to Les Quatre Vents.
Even the garden shed at the foot of the vegetable garden mirrors the Quatre Vents aesthetic
Yes, and even its compost piles.
Only on leaving do you realize that the texture of the birch bark lining the long drive to the house is reminiscent of the stone exterior of the home you’re about to see. Such attention to detail.

For my post on Le Pigeonnier, see here. You’ll also find a link there to the very rare ticket purchases to see the garden. And for a post that features the famous water course and other greenery, see here.

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