BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
With over six million flowers artfully sculpted into animals, birds, fish, and people by 100 horticulturists, the garden to visit in 2022 is in Quebec City. “Once Upon a Time—The Earth” created by Mosaicultures Internationales de Montreal is situated in the glorious Parc du Bois de Coulonge right within the city—the former estate of a previous Lieutenant Governor—overlooking the vast St. Lawrence River and not far from the famous Plains of Abraham.
These giant topiaries have been sculpted using thousands of annual bedding plants carpeted over steel armature. Resembling a gigantic living art gallery, they are vastly different from classic topiary art in their design, freedom, and almost lifelike beauty. Whether using succulents for eyes, wild grasses for manes, or herbs like parsley for accents, the variety of plant life is matched only by the ability of the horticulturists to bring the creatures to life in this enchanted garden.
A giant butterfly outside the historic Chateau Frontenac, one of the grand Canadian railroad hotels built in 1893, previews the wonders to be found at the park. It is fitting, then, that butterflies are among the first works you see as you enter, just beyond the pergola that reproduces in part the Lieutenant Governor’s residence, burned many years ago.
The butterflies pull bands of rainbows around a turtle in the middle of lush bedding plants, representing the origin stories of many cultures across the world. Elephants, breaching whales, lions and zebras, and the symbolic Canadian moose await your inspection across the vast ground. A meditative Mother Nature seems to gesture to her world all around.
The circuit through the park takes visitors to a polar and marine world, a display of endangered species from America, Africa and Australia, the world of the Huron-Wendat Nation—an Iroquoian-speaking nation that has lived in the St. Lawrence Valley in Quebec.
One of the most moving of the floral tributes is to Elzéard Bouffier, a shepherd and subject of the allegorical short story The Man Who Planted Trees, written in 1953 by French author Jean Giono. It tells the story of one shepherd’s long and successful single-handed effort to reforest a desolate valley in the foothills of the Alps in Provence.
Nearby a beekeeper tends to his creatures on a carpet of sparkling flowers, emphasizing the importance of bees to Mother Nature’s garden.
The eco-conscious exhibition respects principles of sustainable development, using local markets as suppliers and composting plants at the end of the exhibition. Over 15 million people are expected to visit before it closes October 10.
Considered the international leader in mosaiculture, or horticultural art, Mosaïcultures Internationales de Montréal is a non-profit organization. Since its creation in 1999, it has presented in five international competitions, seven exhibitions, and produced more than 100 works in over 20 countries.
Quebec City, a short airplane flight away from Chicago and a perfect weekend destination, offers some of the best French restaurants this side of Paris, marvelous views from the boardwalk of the Frontenac, an Old City filled with wondrous antique stores, and a complex and fascinating history since its founding by Samuel de Champlain in 1608. Visited this week by Pope Francis on his cross-Canada tour, it is a city alive with sights to behold and now, 2022’s most fanciful garden.
Learn more by visiting mosaiculture.ca/en.