Les couleurs du Quebec are not fading

Columnist goes back to his roots in what used to be Nouvelle France

Famous staircase in Quebec City will give a small workout.

Famous staircase in Quebec City will give a small workout.

My family has been a part of this country since 1695, when Jacques  Lascelle arrived in what was then Nouvelle France.

He immigrated to Ville de Quebec, which is currently the oldest fortified city in North America (besides Mexico City).

I recently spent some time there and I wanted to share a few thoughts and images about the gardens and landscape architecture of this beautiful place.

It was quintessentially autumn during my visit, with the drive in bringing me past fiery forests of sugar maple (Acer saccharum) and sumac (Rhus typhina), but it is the old fortified gates that one passes through that really remind you that this city is like no other in Canada.

I began my tour down in the Lower Town or Quartier Petit Champlain, where heritage houses and shops border narrow cobblestone lanes in what was once a portside village.

There are no sidewalks here, so these businesses festoon their storefronts with hanging baskets and window boxes filled with Boston fern (Nephrolepsis), dragonwing begonias and variegated English ivy – all occupying little space. Sprawling scarlet vines of Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) could also be found clinging to the face of centuries-old brick buildings, looking like they too have been there for hundreds of years.

The trip to Upper Town means stairs (lots of them), but even these are decorated with wrought iron arches studded with hanging baskets of greenery. In fact, the urban forest seems alive and well in the old city, with street trees and ancient architecture peacefully co-existing and even complimenting one another.

The city plantings in Upper Town range from elaborate floral urns (many with historical themes) to simple yet elegant mass plantings of purple ‘redbor’ kale sitting in a sea of golden potato vine (Ipomoea). And even when one does stumble across a modern shop, such as a florist I found, they still managed to convey that French love for the dramatic with several espalier angel trumpets (Brugmansia) framing the front entrance with their fragrant apricot-coloured blooms.

The landscape architecture here is equally spectacular with the Fontaine de Tourny by the Quebec parliament buildings being one of the best examples. This fountain was a gift to Quebec City for its 400th anniversary and although it was only installed in 2007, it was originally created for the 1855 Paris World’s Fair and given the context of the surrounding heritage buildings; it now looks completely at home.

Which is why this city has been at the center of French culture in our country for these many centuries and as long as it stays true to its own history, I see no reason for les coleurs du Quebec to fade any time soon.

 

Mike Lascelle is a local nursery manager and gardening author (hebe_acer@hotmail.com).

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

School District 42’s Energy Cup runs from April 6 to 30. (SD 42 photo)
Maple Ridge – Pitt Meadows students take on month-long energy conservation challenge

Sixth annual Energy Cup sees district’s elementary schools compete against one another

A ambulance drives past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
9 Lower Mainland hospitals to postpone non-urgent surgeries as hospitalizations surge

Record number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals across B.C.

Ethan Andrews (left) and his aunt Shihana Wewala were two of the volunteers planting trees with Pitt Meadows parks workers in Bonson Park. (Neil Corbett/The News)
Pitt Meadows families plant trees for Earth Day

Popular city event sees beautification of Bonson Park

Stu Burgess is operations manager for Golden Ears and Rolley Lake Provincial Parks. (The News files)
Golden Ears park camping to be limited to those in local health region

Fraser Health Authority and Vancouver Coastal Health now considered one region

Police respond to a reported stabbbing near Fletcher Park in Maple Ridge on Wednesday afternoon. (Ronan O’Doherty/The News)
UPDATE: Stabbing reported in downtown Maple Ridge

Police and ambulance respond to home invasion near Fletcher Park

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

(Pixabay)
Spend a lot of time up-keeping the yard? You may be unintentionally contributing to climate change

Recent BC Hydro survey finds 60% of homeowners still use gas-powered lawnmowers and yard equipment

A Mercedes SUV is covered at a gas station in the Clayton area following a deadly shooting there on Sept. 28, 2019. Carlos Monteith, the man charged in the Clayton shooting, was sentenced April 22 on charges related to a different shooting in New West in November, 2019. (File photo)
Man charged in Clayton Heights gas station shooting sentenced on two charges for a different shooting that happened in New Westminster

Carlos Nathaniel Monteith sentenced for possessing a prohibited weapon and discharging a firearm with intent

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

So far, 15 gang-related killings have occurred across Metro Vancouver in 2021. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Police report 15 gang-linked killings in Metro Vancouver in 2021 as tensions escalate

The situation has flared up again, as tensions dating back to 2008 between the UN gang and rivals including the Red Scorpions, Independent Soldiers and the Wolf Pack escalate

Nanaimo RCMP say a man was injured while pouring gunpowder on a backyard fire in Harewood on Wednesday, April 21. (File photo)
Nanaimo man hospitalized after pouring gunpowder onto backyard fire

RCMP investigating explosion in Harewood also came across a still for making alcohol on property

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. sees 1,006 COVID-19 cases Thursday, ‘alarming’ 502 in hospital

Vaccine bookings for people aged 60 and older set to start

Most Read