Quebec City is a Garden

Among the many delights of Quebec City are those of a horticultural nature.
I was there with my Garden Writer’s association and we were treated to tours of several city gardens. Just wandering around on our own also revealed just how dedicated its park’s department is to making the whole city one gorgeous garden. History, restaurants and architecture are this city’s calling cards but the gardens and street plantings add tremendously to its summer time enjoyment.

Big Red Pots The intersection of two main streets just beside the parliament buildings and adjacent to the walls of the old town provide a great view of much of the city and in the middle of that view is this delightful container garden. The giant pots filled with mixed annuals such as the bright yellow Cannas surrounded by a cloud of tall blue Verbena created a wonderful focal point through which to see the cityscape beyond. Such interesting and innovative garden features were to be seen throughout the city.

Parliamentary Vegetables As we turned around and approached the parliament buildings the expected, somewhat formal plantings, were there in their colourful abundance. Then you notice the unusual. In a series of fabric containers on the steps and patios in front of the buildings, there is a significant vegetable garden. The containers are Smart Pots, ® which are a story unto themselves and the garden was installed by Urbainculteurs a non profit organization dedicated to the spread of urban agriculture. There on the majestic entry stairs of these beautiful buildings were pots of Corn and Cucumbers; trellises of Beans and Tomatoes and many other vegetable crops. It was a visual delight and nourishment for the gardener’s soul as well as for the hungry of the city.

Roof Feeds The Hungry Deeper into the bowels of Quebec city we ascended a rather rickety set of stairs to explore another of Urbainculteurs projects. On the roof of a downtown homeless shelter they were growing a significant quantity of food to supply the kitchen of that shelter. It was all in those same Smart Pots ® and was a great display of the variety of sizes and shapes that are available. This extensive garden needed a minimum of maintenance due to the irrigation system that wound its way throughout the roof supplying water through emitter rings or drip spikes in each pot. The soil is reused from year to year to reduce costs and the labour required to haul all of that soil up that set of rickety stairs. Since 2009 this garden has grown about 1.5 tons of produce each year from a roof that is about 6000 ft2 (560 M2). The mission and accomplishments of this group makes us all proud to be gardeners and should motivate us to use our knowledge and talents to make urban life even more rewarding.

Joan of Arc Delights Far removed from the gritty rooftop and utility of that vegetable garden was a delightful floral park, La Parc de Jeanne D’arc, that is part of the National Battlefields Commission. It is adjacent to Quebec City's historic Plains of Abraham and features a large sculpture of Joan of Arc at its centre. The garden is a very creative mix of perennials, annuals and tropicals planted on the sloped edges of this sunken garden. It is impressive at first sight because of its colour and scale but becomes even more impressive during an intimate exploration. There are splashes of colour from common annuals used in uncommon ways. There are no straight lines. A brightly coloured insert of dark leaved Ornamental Peppers weaves a serpentine path through some bright orange Cannas and around the grey foliage of earlier blooming Dianthus. This constant interplay of colour and texture along with variations of size and shape make each step around the long rectangle a new garden adventure and delight.

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