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.
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.
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 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’.
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 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.
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) 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.
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?
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