Award-winning film The Gardener offers rare glimpse into hidden gem in La Malbaie, Que.

Shortly before his death at 86, the influential gardener and philanthropist Frank Cabot recounted his personal quest for perfection at Les Jardins de Quatre-Vents in this feature documentary by Quebec's Sébastien Chabot.

Philanthropist Frank Cabot opened his Jardins de Quatre-Vents to film crew shortly before his 2011 death

Sébastien Chabot on the making of The Gardener

6 years ago
Duration 8:07
Our Montreal's Sonali Karnick interviews the award-winning director of a documentary about Francis Cabot II and Les Jardins de Quatre-Vents.

"I don't know what a genius really is, but very often geniuses are a little mad as well," remembers Penelope Hobson of her horticulturalist friend, Francis Cabot II. 

 "If he hadn't had a lot of money, you might have said he was [mad]."

The Gardener, airing as part of CBC Montreal's  Absolutely Quebec documentary series, captures four seasons on Frank Cabot's eight-hectare (20-acre) English-style garden and summer estate.

Nestled in the rolling hills of Quebec's Charlevoix region, Les Jardins de Quatre-Vents is one of the world's foremost private gardens.

The work of three generations of Boston Cabots, it is a place of beauty and surprise, a 21st-century horticultural masterpiece that was opened to a film crew for the first time for this project.

Horticulturalist and philathropist Francis Cabot II takes us on a tour of his eight-hectare private gardens in the documentary The Gardener. (Sébastien Chabot/Reflektor Films)

Cabot's spiritual and creative approach to gardening is the focus of the documentary by Quebec director Sébastien Chabot. 

Interviewed a year before his death at the age of 86, Cabot recounts his personal quest for perfection — a balancing act in which man and nature collaborate to attain esthetic harmony and whimsy.

This is the secluded Japanese tea room at Les Jardins de Quatre-Vents, Francis Cabot II's private garden in La Malbaie, Que. (Martin Frigon/Films de L'Oeil)

The Gardener features members of the Cabot family and friends including former governor general Adrienne Clarkson, the British gardener Penelope Hobhouse and Guardian columnist Tim Richardson.

The documentary was awarded the Prix du Public at the 2016 Quebec City Film Festival.

The Lovers' Nest in Frank Cabot's private gardens took 15 years to construct. (Sébastien Chabot/Reflektor Films)