I love this stuff. I love the way it challenges what you think a garden should be and also from what it should be made. Plastic tape, red safety cones, charred poles, or thousands of orange flowers assaulting the eyeballs – any of these can make a garden, and often a surprisingly inviting or even beautiful one.
In a way, using these non-gardeny materials takes design idea back to its pure basics of shaping spaces, creating enclosure, and using light and shadow, without the intervention of plants. I’m not saying a garden shouldn’t have plants but too often they distract us from seeing the design or, even worse, their prolific use covers up an exceedingly poor design. (Some of you will already know my opinion of large parts of the much loved and lauded Great Dixter).
The International Garden Festival at Reford Gardens – Les Jardins de Métis in Quebec, Canada, attracts exciting design work from all over the world. The new gardens for 2014 are now open until September 28, 2014.
The Jardins de Métis / Reford Gardens and the International Garden Festival recently won the highest award for a Canadian garden, the Garden of the Year, at the 2014 Canadian Garden Tourism Awards. These awards are presented by the Canadian Council of the Garden to organizations and individuals who have distinguished themselves in the development and promotion of the garden experience as a tourism attraction. This is the first time that a Quebec garden has been awarded the main prize.
You can lean more about visiting Jardins de Métis and its ‘go to / must-see / on my bucket list’ International Garden Festival at Garden Tour Hub.
Garden Notes of the 2014 season, courtesy Reford gardens and v2com
1. AFTERBURN by Civilian Projects [Nicko Elliott, Ksenia Kagner], Brooklyn, NY, United States is a garden that uses charred posts, ash-rich planting soil, river stone, coniferous saplings and pioneer herbaceous species to create an encounter with the aftermath of a fictitious forest fire in the boreal forest. Fires are an intrinsic step in the life cycle of the forest ecosystem, however unless they occur in menacing proximity to urban areas, we rarely have the opportunity to experience these terrains. While seemingly barren, a whole new forest in miniature gains nutrients from the charred remains of its predecessor. Wildflowers, grasses, sedges and saplings provide habitat to small rodents, songbirds and predators.
2. CONE GARDEN BOCKSILI by Livescape [Seungjong Yoo, Byoungjoon Kwon, Hyeryoung Cho, Yongchul Cho, Iltae Jeong , Soojung Yoon], Seoul, South Korea). A pop-up garden made of cones that make sound. In response to the way you touch it, it makes a sound back to you! In the middle of this beautiful forest you will hear the sound of wind and ocean waves. These cones are the objects most often seen on a construction site. They arrive on a job site at the very beginning and stay there until the last moment of a project. It is an iconic object that has come to symbolize our desire to control our environment. Laid out in a smooth mound, here they are at the start of the process of reconciling with mother nature.
3. LINE GARDEN by Julia Jamrozik, Coryn Kempster, Brantford (Ontario) Canada & Basel, Switzerland. Drawing on the formal language of historical garden design, and the contemporary means of mass-produced safety and construction materials, the project is a strong graphic intervention that aims to produce an abstract field. Defining a geometric zone out of tightly spaced parallel lines of stretched commercial barrier tape, the installation introduces ordered man-made elements into the cultivated natural environment. Through this juxtaposition a dialogue between the two spheres is created, based on the shared theme of protection and necessary safe-guarding, while questioning the definition of what is truly natural.
4. MÉRISTÈME by Châssi [Marie-Josée Gagnon, François Leblanc, Caroline Magar], Montréal (Québec) Canada. Méristème is a fragile microcosm that contributes to the conservation of Quebec’s native plant species. In the form of a docked and unfinished ship, Méristème invites visitors to discover Quebec’s plant heritage and calls us to greater awareness of our botanical heritage. Incorporated into its translucent walls, seeds are presented to visitors and together form an organic and organized structure resembling cell division in plants. The digital design of the structure, the result of a simple mathematical calculation, unveils a formal complexity similar to that of plants. Thus prepared, all of these geometric modules form an immersive dome, a giant herbarium, a journey that pays homage to the beauty of our flora.
5. SECRET ORANGE by Nomad Studio [William E. Roberts, Laura Santin], New York, United States. Secret Orange plays with the perception and the way we respond around enclosed areas. It explores the orange dimension of the garden by isolating this visual characteristic from numerous stimuli that complete the perception through our senses. The secret aspect of the garden urges on visitors’ curiosity to unveil the promising views of orange from different perspectives. Light and point of view collaborate with the different shades of orange to unseal infinite experiences tighten up to the exoticism still associated with the color in the collective subconscious.
6. ROTUNDA by CITYLABORATORY [Aurora Armental Ruiz, Stefano Ciurlo Walker], Santiago de Compostela, Spain. The garden is conceived as a device capturing the beauty of nature whose intention is to transform the landscape into the garden itself by capturing what is outside its boundaries. With the intention of defining a central point in the landscape, the garden has an irregular circular form where nature revolves all around, an ancestral shape suggesting unity and completeness. The architectural object is conceived as a frame, a homogenous black painted object, assembled in a direct way, minimizing the expression of assembly joints. Water is used as a raw material, offering reflection both physically and metaphorically, bringing the sky to earth. The garden is to be left to evolve over time, becoming a climate register device. It will be sensible to changing light conditions, fluctuations in temperature and humidity, rainfall and evaporation. The garden will over time accumulate leaves, dust and pollen, be inhabited by birds and insects, leading to the cultivation and growth of new life within the garden.
7. EDGE EFFECT by Snøhetta [Claire Fellman, Nick Koster, Karli Molter, Misako Murata, Maura Rockcastle] & Knippers Helbig [Hauke Junjohann, Guillaume Evain], New York, United States & Oslo, Norway. In the often overlooked narrow threshold between boreal forest and open meadow, a particular set of species thrive between two contrasting environments. By encircling a moment within this ecotone, Edge Effect creates an opportunity to explore and enjoy this condition. The garden is designed to heighten the simultaneous experience of both forest and meadow, where sun and shade mingle. Designed to accommodate plants, animals and people, the steel structure supports a blanket of woven rope that gradually twist from horizontal in the field to vertical in the forest, creating a variety of unique spatial experiences for the user.