Catherine StewartInternational Garden Festival Canada 2015

The 16th International Garden Festival at Reford Gardens in Québec, Canada, is in full swing with another edition of astonishing, challenging, beautiful and interactive gardens. And sometimes that’s all in the one garden.

Jardins M 2013. Design Atelier Pierre Thibault . Photo Sylvain Legris.

Jardins M 2013. Design Atelier Pierre Thibault . Photo Sylvain Legris.

I love that there are garden festivals in the world where landscape architects, designers and artists can build gardens that are removed from the constraints of what is considered appropriate and tasteful. That doesn’t mean that the gardens are ugly, mostly far from it, but they break rules and challenge conventions in a way that no ordinary garden show could, or would, tolerate.

The 27 gardens exhibited at Reford Gardens/Jardins des Métis in 2015 are a combination of older installations that have been kept from previous years and new gardens. In 2015 we see the reappearance of several 2014 gardens, (which I wrote about here) including Méristème, Line Garden, Afterburn, Secret Orange, the serenely beautiful Rotunda, and Edge Effect.

Rotunda 2014 Design Estar Photo Louise Tanguay

Rotunda 2014 Design Estar Photo Louise Tanguay

For me, part of the appeal of Jardins des Métis is the varied settings offered for the different gardens. Some are out in the open, allowing a big sky and strong light with its accompanying shadows to be part of the design effect. Others nestle quietly among birch and aspen trunks, where the leafy forest surroundings enclose and enhance an intimate connection with the garden.

The other thing that makes these gardens different to your usual show garden is that you can walk into and through them, and often interact with the design itself, changing things or moving objects so that you become a part of the installation. Lots more fun!

New gardens for 2015 are:

Around About 2 v2com

‘Around-About’ Photo Martin Bond

Around-About designed by Talmon Biran architecture studio [Roy Talmon & Noa Biran], Tel Aviv, Israel

Each garden visitor is invited to push the roundabout, inscribing concentric circular patterns in the gravel, reminiscent of a Japanese Zen garden. This sort of kinetic engagement with a garden always gets people smiling. As each visitor leaves, their footsteps break up and destroy the pattern, ready for the next visitor to spin the roundabout and restore the garden’s ‘ordered perfection’.

Around-About v2com

‘Around-About’ Photo Martin Bond

'Carré bleu sur fond blanc' Photo Martin Bond

‘Carré bleu sur fond blanc’ Photo Martin Bond

Carré bleu sur fond blanc designed by Kihan Kim & Ophélie Bouvet, Paris, France

Vibrating white cords are stretch across the garden, both hiding and revealing the plants below. The plants are also great bee-attractors, so the buzzing of bees adds to the garden vibrations. The garden will continue to develop and change as the plants grow through the season.

'I Like to Move It' Photo Martin Bond

‘I Like to Move It’ Photo Martin Bond

I like to move it designed by DIXNEUFCENTQUATREVINGTSIX Architecture [Mathilde Gaudemet & Arthur Ozenne], Paris, France

Amid a flowering wild meadow and surrounding green trees, the garden visitor realises that several of the trees are on long, straight tracks, and can be slid along to create different gardens. Nature has been ‘domesticated’ transforming it from landscape into garden.

'I Like to Move It' Photo Martin Bond

‘I Like to Move It’ Photo Martin Bond

Popple v2com

‘Popple’ Photo Martin Bond

Popple designed by Meaghan Hunter & Suzy Melo, Winnipeg (Manitoba) Canada

I really like this garden. Hanging curtains of hundreds of small disks move in any slight breeze, both their colours and their tiny movements echoing the foliage of the trembling aspens. Visitors are also encouraged to move the curtains.

Se mouiller (la belle échappée). Photo Groupe A / Annexe U

Se mouiller (la belle échappée) Photo Groupe A / Annexe U

Se mouiller (la belle échappée) or ‘Wet – the Great Escape’ designed by Groupe A / Annexe U [Jean-François Laroche, Rémi Morency, Érick Rivard & Maxime Rousseau], Québec (Québec) Canada

I often have discussions about weeds, including what is a weed, and how we should treat them. In this garden, an invasive species starts the season contained in a space. The garden visitor is invited to put on some provided gumboots and walk through the pond to enter the mysterious orange space…and the plants then escape over the course of the summer season.

Se mouiller (la belle échappée). Photo Groupe A / Annexe U

Se mouiller (la belle échappée) Photo Groupe A / Annexe U

Macro : Micro : Myco 2015. Design Pete North and his master’s degree students in landscape architecture at the University of Toronto. Photo Martin Bond

Macro : Micro : Myco 2015. Design Pete North and his master’s degree students in landscape architecture at the University of Toronto. Photo Martin Bond

Macro / Micro / Myco – designed by Pete North and his master’s degree students in landscape architecture at the University of Toronto.

These very attractive pyramidal timber installations celebrate the place of fungi in our lives, specifically in fortifying our soils and building healthy gardens. Many species of mushrooms sprout from the intricate honey-comb panels, which echo the look of mycelium spread through the soil. The triangular design both stands erect and folds down onto the forest floor, so we see the macro of fungi in the environment right down to the micro of the myco.

Gardens from 2014 and earlier

It says something about the design and materials in these International Garden Festival gardens at Reford Gardens/Jardins des Métis that they last more than a season. We’re used to seeing show gardens at Chelsea barely making it through an arduous 6 days, while here each garden lasts at least the whole summer season. Some of the most popular live on and on. Here’s a gallery for you to enjoy of gardens from previous years that are still on show in 2015. At the moment, Jardin M is topping the garden visitors’ votes. Which do you like best?

Méristème 2014. Design Châssi. Photo Louise Tanguay

Méristème 2014. Design Châssi. Photo Louise Tanguay

A Ditch with a View 2011 Design Ken Smith Workshop. Photo Louise Tanguay

A Ditch with a View 2011 Design Ken Smith Workshop. Photo Louise Tanguay

Afterburn 2014. Design Civilian Projects. Photo Louise Tanguay

Afterburn 2014. Design Civilian Projects. Photo Louise Tanguay

Bon arbre au bon endroit « Souvenir d'enfance » 2012 Design NIPpaysage. Photo Louise Tanguay

Bon arbre au bon endroit « Souvenir d’enfance » 2012 Design NIPpaysage. Photo Louise Tanguay

Cone Garden Bocksili 2014. Design Livescape. Photo Martin Bond

Cone Garden Bocksili 2014. Design Livescape. Photo Martin Bond

Courtesy of Nature, 2013. Design Johan Selbing & Anouk Vogel. Photo Louise Tanguay

Courtesy of Nature, 2013. Design Johan Selbing & Anouk Vogel. Photo Louise Tanguay

Dead Garden II 2013. Design Carlos M Teixeira. Photo Louise Tanguay

Dead Garden II 2013. Design Carlos M Teixeira. Photo Louise Tanguay

Edge Effect 2013. Design Snøhetta. Photo Louise Tanguay

Edge Effect 2013. Design Snøhetta. Photo Louise Tanguay

Le bois de biais et sa folie 2006. Design atelier le balto. Photo Louise Tanguay.

Le bois de biais et sa folie 2006. Design atelier le balto. Photo Louise Tanguay.

Histoire sans fin ou Le bois dans tous ses états 2012. Design atelier eem. Photo Louise Tanguay.

Histoire sans fin ou Le bois dans tous ses états 2012. Design atelier eem. Photo Louise Tanguay.

Line Garden 2014. Design Julia Jamrozik & Coryn Kempster. Photo Coryn Kempster.

Line Garden 2014. Design Julia Jamrozik & Coryn Kempster. Photo Coryn Kempster.

Making Circles in the water 2011. Design Balmori Associates. Photo Sylvain Legris.

Making Circles in the water 2011. Design Balmori Associates. Photo Sylvain Legris.

Réflexions colorées 2003 Design Hal Ingberg Photo Marjelaine Sylvestre

Réflexions colorées 2003 Design Hal Ingberg Photo Marjelaine Sylvestre

ROTUNDA by Citylaboratory Santiago de Compostela Spain Photo Louise Tanguay via v2com

Rotunda by Citylaboratory Santiago de Compostela Spain Photo Louise Tanguay

Sacré Potager 2013 Atelier barda architecture Photo Sylvain Legris

Sacré Potager 2013 Atelier barda architecture Photo Sylvain Legris

Secret Orange 2014 Design Nomad Studio Photo Sylvain Legris

Secret Orange 2014 Design Nomad Studio Photo Sylvain Legris

This Rocks! Get Lost! 2011 Design MVVA Photo Louise Tanguay

This Rocks! Get Lost! 2011 Design MVVA Photo Louise Tanguay

Tiny Taxonomy 2010 Design Rosetta Sarah Elkin. Photo Louise Tanguay

Tiny Taxonomy 2010 Design Rosetta Sarah Elkin. Photo Louise Tanguay

Bal à la Villa 2014 Design Annie Ypperciel, Robert Desjardins. Photo Martin Bond

Bal à la Villa 2014 Design Annie Ypperciel, Robert Desjardins. Photo Martin Bond

Veil Garden 2010 Studio Bryan Hanes Photo Louise Tanguay

Veil Garden 2010 Studio Bryan Hanes Photo Louise Tanguay

The International Garden Festival at Reford Gardens in Canada is northern America’s premier garden festival. It is open until September 27, 2015. More at Reford Gardens 2015 Festival. Photos via v2com

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Catherine Stewart

About Catherine Stewart

Award-winning garden journalist, blogger and photographer; writer for garden magazines and co-author of 'Waterwise Gardening'; landscape designer turned landscape design judge and critic; compulsive networker and lover of generally putting fingers in lots of pies. Particularly mud pies. Creator, curator and editor of GardenDrum. Sydney, NSW.

6 thoughts on “International Garden Festival Canada 2015

  1. Daniel Doherty on said:

    Wow! What a beautiful festival with brilliantly executed spaces. I love everything about it, the interactive elements, the fact that the gardens last more than one season and the commentary and deconstruction of ideas fundamental to gardening/landscaping. Su-pear cuul!

    The great photos certainly help take me there but I can imagine it is a different experience in the flesh (as with all spaces I suppose). I think I just found another reason to visit Canada.

    • Yes, I think it’s one of the more exciting offerings garden-wise around the world. But strangely not included in most garden tours. I’ve been to the other International Garden Festival at Chateau Chaumont in France and it is also well-worth visiting. You’re right, being there is a very different experience, especially as so many of these conceptual gardens are interactive.

      • I try to visit the International Garden Festival every year or two but even for me, living east of Montreal, it is a 6 hour drive. There is always something special to see, something that inspires creativity at home, so the journey is worth it. Quebec has some amazing gardens and it’s a pity that so few garden tours come here. But it understandable.

  2. I agree about the brilliantly executed spaces. It is wonderful to see plants and design elements creating and responding to space rather than simply sitting in it and filling it up! After a quick scan, I think that I like “popple” the best.

  3. lebalto on said:

    Wonderful reportage! bravo Catherine Stewart!!!
    marc pouzol, atelier le balto / Paysagistes in Berlin

    • Thanks Marc. I love atelier le balto’s work too! It’s been very interesting to watch how your IGF garden ‘Le Bois de Biais et sa folie’ has matured since it was built 9 years ago. Perhaps you would like to write something for GardenDrum about it, or your other work….?

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