The Gardens at the National Assembly of Quebec

Let us now move from southern California to Quebec, at the opposite end of North America. You may recall that Judy and I were in Quebec in late summer, and we spent a couple of days in Quebec City, where we visited the gardens of the National Assembly building.

DSC_0703

As you may recall from an earlier post, I have set myself a goal of visiting all 50 US state legislatures and all 11 Canadian provincial parliaments. This is only the second provincial parliament I’ve seen (the other one was British Columbia), but I prefer to say that on this day I doubled the number of provincial parliaments on my “done” list.

The Quebec Parliament building was completed in 1886. It was built in a style that originated in France in the late 19th century, and to me it did seem reminiscent of French government buildings we saw during our two trips to that country.

When we arrived we noticed a display honoring the 10th anniversary of the Fleurons du Quebec. If I can trust google translate, this is a project to improve municipal gardens throughout the province.

DSC_0597

To one side of the National Assembly, there is a woodland garden featuring native trees and a mix of annuals and perennials.

DSC_0626

There are lots of annuals in the mixed borders directly in front of the building. I always like Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima) spilling over edges.

DSC_0695

Tall Verbena (Verbena bonariensis) seems to grow happily here.

DSC_0616

To one side there is a large kitchen garden, which produces food for the Assembly cafeteria. We saw the chef tending her vegetables and herbs, but didn’t take a picture.

I like the idea of a big vegetable garden in the front yard of such a formal edifice. There’s also a beehive kept on the roof.

DSC_0622

Very nice arbor of live willow stems.

DSC_0660

Fountains splash between two rows of steps leading up to the Assembly building.

DSC_0653

They really like that red Amaranthus.

DSC_0630

The facade of the building has more statues than you can shake a stick at. There are soldiers …

DSC_0631

Missionaries …

DSC_0689

And explorers. Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet (the calmer one to the right) got around the USA’s Upper Midwest as well as Canada, as evidenced by all the place names in their honor.

DSC_0633.JPG

There were also a couple of statues devoted to the First Nations. These, however, are anonymous.

DSC_0670

We had to see the inside of the National Assembly, so we took a tour.

DSC_0677

This is the actual legislative chamber.

DSC_0676

This used to be the chamber of the upper house, but since 1968 Quebec has had a unicameral parliament. These chambers are now used for public hearings and ceremonial occasions.

DSC_0701

After all the heroic poses struck by the statues on the parliament building’s facade, this fellow seemed much more like someone you could sit down and have a beer or cup of coffee with. I believe this is Robert Bourassa, who was provincial premier in the 1970s. He looks friendly, but actually I know nothing about him.

DSC_0608

Outside the National Assembly again, we noticed the rather ornate fountain that stood between the parliament and the entrance to the old city.

DSC_0714

Is there really a species of frog somewhere that spits out prodigious streams of water like this?

DSC_0728

Not sure who this is, no doubt someone from classical mythology.

All in all, I would give high marks to the gardens at the Quebec National Assembly, at least in comparison to landscapes I’ve seen attached to comparable legislative buildings elsewhere. These are often little more than lawns and a few small beds of common annuals here and there, so admittedly it’s a low bar.

I would have been happier with less lawn and more perennials, but I thought the Quebec parliament gardens had an interesting mix of plants even so. The kitchen garden was also a really nice touch. Très bien!

 

40 Comments on “The Gardens at the National Assembly of Quebec

  1. I’ve been thinking about a trip to Quebec this summer (especially given the great exchange rate right now); I’ll have to put this on my list of sights to see.

    • You would enjoy it, and the surrounding old city as well. And while you’re at it, visit the ambitiously named Museum of Civilization, which among other things has excellent displays on Canadian history.

  2. Very good, indeed! I, too, was taken with the kitchen garden. And hooray for doubling the number of provincial parliaments 😉

  3. What impressive gardens, including the vegetable garden and the beehives. Good for the Quebec legislature!

  4. How interesting! It was lovely seeing inside, how very grand. The kitchen garden is a lovely contrast to all the formalality.xxx

  5. Having lived several years in Québec City, I was quite pleased to see this garden. It must be relatively new as there was only lawns around the buildings when I lived there. I will have to make an effort to see it. The first nation sculpture is by a Canadian sculptor who was very well-known, Louis-Philippe Hébert (chevalier of the French Légion d’honneur, Companion of St Michael and St George (Great Britain) etc.)

    • Ah, I meant that the subjects of the first nation sculpture were anonymous, not the sculptor. Glad to hear that they have improved their landscape since you saw it last.

  6. I love riding your coattails to these interesting places. Nice that they didn’t feel compelled to match the plantings to the style of the building.

  7. Great photos, especially of the fountains. Looks like it was/is an interesting place to visit. Bucket list.

  8. I am impressed that they have the kitchen garden right out front! I also love the woodland garden. Yes, this is definitely an upgrade over the landscaping of most parliament and other government buildings.

  9. I love the idea of a vegetable garden amongst the parliamentary buildings….I can’t imagine one here in Australia. I felt as if I was back in Paris looking at the buildings, the statues and the fountains…lovely!

  10. I love the fact that the kitchen garden is out at the front and not tucked away at the back. Very interesting, thank you.

  11. Hello Jason, there’s a lot of effort put into those gardens! I really like the large ornate fountain too. The frogs give it a comical touch. I always joke that where there are large numbers of a single type of plan (like the Amaranthus), there was a fire sale at the local Garden Centre and they were all snapped up. It could be that they’re just suited to the climate and low maintenance, who knows?

  12. IT’S ALL GONE! I was there mid-May 2016 and the whole front was leveled, even half the curved stairway! There is a great big hole there now and a construction fence all around it. What are they building, a basement?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: