Reford Gardens, Part I

After we reluctantly left Cap Chat, we headed back towards Montréal along the north coast of the Gaspé Peninsula. On the way we stopped at the Reford Gardens, also known as Les Jardins de Métis.


Reford Gardens started out as a fishing camp owned by a wealthy Montréal family. In 1926 the owner, Elsie Reford, began transforming part of the land into extensive gardens that would eventually cover more than 20 acres.


We walked through a shaded woodland garden that follows a fast-flowing stream.


The stream banks are lined with ferns, shrubs, and mossy stones.


There is a wide variety of woodland plants. I couldn’t recognize this one, is it Kirengeshoma?


The curving paths and blocked views make this part of the garden a bit mysterious.


Eventually we came to an open glade. Reford Gardens is famous for the Himalayan Blue Poppies (Meconopsis betonicifolia) that bloom here in late spring and early summer. Successfully growing these difficult plants was one of the proudest accomplishments of Elsie Reford. I would dearly love to visit when the Meconopsis are in flower.


Still, there were other colorful flowers to enjoy, like these late-blooming roses.


And there were quite a few Willow Leaf Gentians (Gentiana asclepiadea) to be seen.


Not to mention Japanese Anemones (Anemone hupehensis).




Next we came to the sunny Aleé Royale, also known as the Long Walk, which reminded me of some of the long flowering borders we had seen in the UK.


Lots of Oriental Lilies (this looks like ‘Casa Blanca’), so the air is sweet and I am happy.


Phlox and Ageratum – I like this combination!


At the end of the Long Walk you can see the old lodge, which dates to the 1880s. There are exhibits inside about the Reford family. They came here to hunt, fish for salmon, ride horses, and engage in other vigorous outdoor pursuits. If I had been invited, I would have spent most of my time reading on the wraparound veranda.


From the house there is a path and a wide lawn leading to the Métis River.


Generally I am not a big fan of clipped evergreen shrubs, but I thought the suggestion of “salmon” jumping out of green waves was pretty clever.


Where the path ends there is a sort of terrace with a fine view of the river.


Leadwort (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides) was blooming it’s heart out with truly wonderful blue flowers. UPDATE: Laura points out that this is actually Blue Piimpernel (Anagalis monellii). What a great plant this is, almost makes up for the lack of Blue Poppies.

That’s enough for now, but we are by no means done yet. There’s lots more to show you in the next post, including Reford Gardens’ International Garden Festival.

In the meantime, have you ever seen Himalayan Blue Poppies in bloom?


59 Comments on “Reford Gardens, Part I

  1. A lovely photographic walk through. Peonies in the next one? The same plants that Elsie planted about 1921 as I remember. Went there courtesy of Tourism Quebec.

  2. Yes, we were there at meconopsis time, many years ago, they are truly wonderful and I have been growing them here ever since. My first ones were grown from seed that I bought at the Reford Garden and I have been hooked since then!
    When we were there, there weren’t any salmon leaping out of the clipped evergreen bushes, they must be fairly recent. A wonderful garden to visit, glad you enjoyed it, I would love to go back some day.

  3. much greenery and colour, it reminds me of English gardens we have seen. The old lodge looks like an Australian homestead! I love the Leadwort, I might try to grow some.

  4. Yes, I’ve seen a few types of Meconopsis in bloom, all beautiful blues. I love the look of this garden with its winding paths, long views and that gorgeous lodge. The clipped evergreen mounds with salmon are particularly effective from a distance. Are the ‘salmon’ wood or stone?

  5. We visited the garden a few years ago as part of a Quebec/Gaspe’ trip, and it was one of the highlights of the trip. When we were there, the garden featured interactive art installations integrated into the landscape. Reford Gardens would be top on my list to revisit when we head up that way next. (I didn’t see the blue poppies either, but the delphinium border was pretty splendid.)

    • I would love to see the Delphinium border as well as the Meconopsis, but was too late for both. We need to get up there in early summer.

  6. What a lovely garden…the shot of the Lilies reminds me that I need more of them in my own garden! I think your mystery plant is Diphylleia cymosa.

  7. I love the salmon. When we lived in Alaska we saw lots of Himalayan Blue Poppies. They are very popular there, especially around Homer (Fritz Creek Gardens helped introduce them to Alaskans). I guess I’m in a distinct minority in that I don’t like them very much. The color, to me, looks too much like the blue-dyed daisies that you see in the grocery store.

  8. I love les jardins de Métis and try to visit every other year. Elsie’s garden is enjoyable at every season and spectacular in some, particularly when the blue poppies are blooming. They inspired an art installation by landscape architect Claude Cormier and his Blue Stick Garden has travelled the world. Did you see it? It’s on the lawn near the house. Did you like it? The shiny jumping salmon are a fairly new addition. Like you, I enjoy seeing them leap the green waves. I’m eager to read your next entry on the Garden Festival. The changing exhibitions there are what take me to the garden so regularly.

    • I’m afraid we missed the Blue Stick Garden – sounds intriguing. Something to find when we revisit. I did write my second post on Reford, I suspect you would disagree with it.

  9. I grew Himalayan poppies from seed, they flowered for years the died out, I really must get some more seed, gorgeous they are!
    What a fantastic place, I would just love to wander around there, so much to see. The salmon looked great in the clipped bushes. xxx

  10. I’m with Lisa at Greenbow. I’ve never seen blue poppies in bloom, and the entire garden makes my heart go pitty patter. What a garden! Of all the gardens I have “toured” with you, this is my favorite. At least so far 😉

  11. I never have seen Himalayan blue poppies blooming but since blue is my favorite color I’m sure I’d like them.
    I think this garden is one of the best you’ve visited. I could do without the jumping “salmon” but the rest of it is really beautiful.

  12. My kind of place, Jason, including the wide verandah! The lush greenness, he stream, and the lawn down to the river. It feels so calming.

  13. Beautiful views! However, I believe the flowers in the last photo might be Anagallis monellii (Blue pimpernel) rather than Leadwort.

  14. What a beautiful garden; looks like you found a gem! Last June, I saw the most stunning blue poppies ever at Gresgarth Hall, the home of Arabella Lennox-Boyd.

  15. Very inviting. Looks charming. Maybe just knowing the garden is in Canada makes it seem friendly.

  16. What a lovely place, even without the blue poppies. I think that the Aleé Royale is particularly attractive because the slopes allow better views of some of the shorter plants.

  17. I have only seen Himalayan Blue Poppies in photos. The striking blue is incredible. No chance of them succeeding here, sadly. The Redford Garden is marvelous, though I was perplexed by the “salmon” until you explained them. Then I had to smile!

  18. Jason, This garden has been on my wish list to visit, especially since it is only about a 5-hour drive from my house. Your photos have encouraged me to turn this vague wish into reality.
    I have seen the blue poppies in bloom at the Butchart Gardens near Victoria, B.C.

  19. Lovely photos Jason. I love the garden which I visit every year. The blue poppies are rather elusive for most of us in North-America. They require cool summer. This is why they do well in place like Alaska, Northern Alberta and Newfoundland. Temperatures in Métis are very rarely above 25 C in summer.

  20. Oh, the views along the paths are so delightful. What a great place to visit! Regarding the mystery plant, my first thought was some species of Actaea, but I see Scott has solved the mystery. Cool plant!

  21. Oh how I wish I could have seen that garden!! I’ve seen seeds for the pimpernel but have never grown it. But after being tempted by your incredible pics, I want to grab a pack and sow them to see what happens. I love that intense blue!

  22. A beautiful garden, especially with those views over the water. The Alee Royale is gorgeous with all of the summer phlox. I loved the picture with the ferns and the plants with fairy type-wand flowers too.

  23. A lovely garden. I have grown blue poppies, they are easy enough to grow, but impossible to keep over for another year, in our part of the world. They need far more moisture than we can provide.

  24. Pingback: A New Source for Unusual Seeds – gardeninacity

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