Azaleas are not supposed to grow in Grand-Metis. Native to Asia, azaleas (Rhododendron sp.) are best suited to temperate climates, where they can reach 3 metres (10 feet) in height and 6 metres (20 feet) in diameter. Grand-Metis is well outside their growing zone. Because of the arduous climate, the azaleas rarely exceed 2 metres (6 feet), their compact form protecting them against the weight of heavy snows.
It is likely that Elsie Reford was the first to attempt to grow azaleas in such a northern climate. Seduced by the remarkable and extraordinary range of colours, she imported several plants from some of the great gardens of England. Some of them came from Exbury Gardens, the garden of a famous collector and hybridizer, Lionel de Rothschild.
Along the upper slope, we have added more than fifty rhododendron (Rhododendron schlippenbachii) to create a mass of pale pink bloom in June. We have also planted a lily that intrigued and frustrated Elsie, the Canada Lily (Lilium canadense). It discreetly deploys its orange-yellow flowers at the end of June.