By Katharine Fletcher
When Michel Tardif and Mireille Albert retired, they turned a weekend project into a full-time endeavour — their dream garden. To do so, the couple transformed five of their 80 acres of flat pastureland property into a world of winding pathways through colourful perennial beds of hemerocallis (day lilies), echinacea, phlox, hostas, and heucheras.
Tardif, who retired first, launched the venture in 2008 — landscaping, creating pathways and beds, and ordering specimens the couple had researched and wanted. On weekends, Albert planted. Three years later, in 2011, the Jardins d’Emmarocalles boasted a collection of 1,500 day lilies, including 17 foundation specimens. Among the easiest perennials to grow, day lilies come in many shapes and glorious colours, with some possessing an exquisite fragrance, as well. In addition, day lilies are edible, meaning they can be incorporated into some deliciously surprising summer salads.
And echinacea? The Jardins d’Emmarocalles has flowers that range in size from dwarf to metre-high and in hues of red, orange, yellow, purple, and white. The beauty of these, and all the perennials, is complemented by art installations and antiques that are integrated throughout the beds. Occasionally an antique chair beckons. Placed just so, it invites you to sit and contemplate the surrounding beauty.
Plan to linger overnight, for the couple’s heritage farmhouse doubles as a B & B. An overnight stay allows the garden lover to stroll the gardens throughout the day, as well as to appreciate the blossoms, flowery perfumes, shrubs, and art by moonlight. Come morning, a breakfast featuring local artisanal foods inspires further exploration of nearby Ripon. Don’t miss sampling the refreshing strawberry wine from Domaine Mont-Vézeau, then visit proprietor and potter Linda Boulianne, who also sells handmade floral tiles. And before you leave, don’t forget to ask why the couple named their dream garden d’Emmarocalles.
Hours: Open daily from May 5 to Sept. 3 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Open Friday through Sunday from Sept. 7 to Sept. 30.
Admission: Adults $7, children (12 and under) free. Season pass $152.
Getting There: Ripon is 80 kilometres northeast of Ottawa, accessed by Highway 317. 1068, rte. 317, Ripon, 819-983-6476, www.jardinsdemmarocalles.com.
Katharine Fletcher writes eco-tourism, environment, and gardening stories from Spiritwood, where she enjoys her organic gardens of vegetables and perennials.