Discovering Quebec’s Reford Gardens

More than just flowers, the lush green oasis of Reford Gardens has something for everyone.

What do a green glass room in the woods, rollable trees, a summer lodge and an energy efficient house have in common? They are all found at Reford Gardens (Jardins de Métis in French), about a 30-minute drive from Rimouski as one heads eastward into the picturesque Gaspé Peninsula region in Quebec.

Reford Gardens - Rollable TreesPhoto: Courtesy Johanna Cardinal
Johanna getting very “hands on” with a rollable tree.

Rain or shine, natural and man-made creations are impeccably readied to welcome visitors. The first time I visited the gardens was with my colleague, Achsa, on its rainy opening day for the 2019 season; we were attending a teachers’ conference and that was the only time we could go. Then, I returned last year with my nature photography-loving husband, Rob, in July.

Reford Gardens - Green Glass RoomPhoto: Johanna Cardinal
A visitor in the green glass room in the woods.

Whether one’s tastes lean towards traditional gardens and babbling brooks, or the art installations of the contemporary gardens, anytime of the summer seems to offer something of interest there. The green glass room in the woods that people could enter, and the rollable trees that we could push along underground tracks, were part of the International Garden Festival, where various landscape architecture works are added each year, all inviting us to be very hands-on and “explore.” In fact, we were like kids in grown-up form, as we trampolined, climbed, swung in or entered several spaces, all nestled within the woods and the great outdoors.

Reford Gardens - Estevan LodgePhoto: Johanna Cardinal

The legacy of Elsie Reford is alive and well in Reford Gardens. Core to these gardens she envisioned and created in 1926 is her vast vacation home, Estevan Lodge, now housing exhibits about her summers spent there with her husband. In the exhibits, we can learn that with help from locals, Elsie designed the gardens and transformed the extensive property surrounding this salmon-fishing lodge. It took present-day visitors like us hours to see everything. Elsie’s handiwork amazingly spanned three decades.

Reford Gardens - Jardins De Métis art in forestPhoto: Johanna Cardinal

ERE 132, the Eco-home constructed in Reford Gardens in 2015, is not only full of energy efficiency (something my husband can appreciate), but tastefully decorated in a cozy, modern style. It is both educational and quite literally, livable. I learned that you could stay overnight in this home. I don’t know what Elsie Reford would have thought of all this if she were alive, but as somewhat of an innovator in her time, I can only guess she would approve. (Take a look at 10 more unforgettable places to spend the night in Quebec.)

Reford Gardens - Jardins De Métis column capitalsPhoto: Johanna Cardinal

Whether young or old, Reford Gardens invites visitors to engage with nature in one form or another. We certainly created enjoyable memories on this vacation and took 544 photos in the process! The next time you are travelling through the northern part of the Gaspé Peninsula and spot a giant-sized Adirondack chair beside the highway—if you feel like exploring—turn in at Reford Gardens.

If you enjoyed this look at Redford Gardens, don’t miss our countdown of Canada’s most beautiful botanical gardens.

Originally Published in Our Canada