Garden of Ginette and Philippe Pichette, Levis, Quebec
Story and photos by Shauna Dobbie
For Ginette Pichette, her garden is an oasis of peace. She’s owned her house in Levis, just across the St. Lawrence River from Quebec City, since 1976. She bought it with her first husband, and settled into the home with now-husband Philippe in 2002. He retired that year and she followed two years later, able to devote her summers to the garden. Together, they love to watch it blossom and grow, from the first shoots of daffodils, tulips and irises, through the peonies and climbing roses, to the fading of the hostas and, finally, ascendancy of the evergreens to the focal point in winter. “Philippe appreciates it so much that it motivates me to do it, always with great pleasure,” Ginette confesses.
Although Ginette does the lion’s share of the maintenance, Philippe is no slouch and takes on the lawn care, which he does with zest, trimming so carefully around Ginette’s rounded stone borders. Occasionally he will come to her apologetically with a few flowers or hostas that have lost their lives to his trimmer, but she loves him too much to be angry.
The mature garden is beautifully kept up and studded with repeated hostas, daylilies, irises and astilbes. Ginette has divided and replanted them over the years, offering some divisions to her daughters, her family and her friends – who have, in turn, given pieces of their plants to friends. “I laugh when I look at my book of flowers of Quebec where I noted all the kinds that I tried and that do not exist anymore!” she smiles. Climate zones are a good starting point for saying what plants will grow in a certain place, but they don’t help so much in the Quebec City area.
Using the same plants throughout the garden makes it comfortable and relaxing, like a well-designed living room. “I think that a garden, no matter how large, is an essential element of life, happiness, calm for a house and all those who inhabit it. For me, a garden is a story of heart, of sharing, of contemplation for all the beauties that the nature offers us,” she says. The Pichettes use their garden with guests in the summer, and last winter, Ginette transformed it into an outdoor reception room for Philippe’s birthday during the pandemic.
After years of working on it, the garden has reached its comfort point and really only requires maintenance. But Ginette still gets spring fever and cannot resist hitting the greenhouses in the spring. After a long winter, she loves to smell the earth and plants while strolling through the aisles. Every year she picks up a few annuals for containers, which add new colours through the growing season.