Francis Higginson Cabot loved gardens more than anything, and he left behind two of North America’s most acclaimed private gardens — one in Cold Spring, New York, and this one near Port-au-Saumon, Quebec, rolling alongside the St. Lawrence River.
An investment banker by trade, later in life Cabot turned his full attention to gardening and garden preservation, serving for a time as chairman of the New York Botanical Gardens and as an advisor to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens and the Royal Botanical Gardens in Ontario. But private gardens were his true passion, and he established the non-profit Garden Conservancy to help protect and care for gardens that might otherwise lose in a fight against land developers.
Les Jardins de Quatre-Vents, or the Garden of the Four Winds, took shape toward the end of Cabot’s life. He settled into his family estate in Quebec by creating his second major personal garden, this one on the St. Lawrence about 90 miles north of Quebec City. Spread out over 20 lush acres of rolling lawns and intricate boxwood hedges, calling it “a garden” doesn’t begin to describe it. It’s actually about 25 different gardens — including Japanese, rose, white, rock, sculpture, shade, and kitchen gardens. There are exotic and rare Asian plants, reflecting pools and waterfalls, and the St. Lawrence River itself —Les Jardins de Quatre-Vents’ major water feature.
The gardens are open to the public for four days every summer with tours led by the Ecology Center in Port-au-Saumon. And the fees collected go to help support their environmental outreach and education. Dedicated to horticultural outreach and education himself, Frank Cabot would likely approve.