With our long winters, there are few things Canadians appreciate more than a lovely, verdant garden. Reford Gardens (known as the Jardins de Métis in French) is one of Canada’s most lauded green spaces and is also a National Historic Site. Designed by horticulturist Elsie Reford from 1926 to 1958, the property is one of North America’s most breathtaking botanical jewels and is a must-see stop for anyone visiting the Gaspé and Lower St. Lawrence region of Quebec.
Each year Reford Gardens hosts the International Garden Festival, the largest contemporary garden festival in North America. The festival features approximately twenty creations by some seventy architects, landscape architects and designers from various disciplines. This year the event will run from June 25 to October 2, 2022. The theme of the festival is ADAPTATION and visitors will have the opportunity to promenade through new installations that will help them re-connect with nature.
Five design teams were chosen by the jury from among the 87 projects submitted following an international call for proposals. Here’s just a taste of what the five new garden installations have in store.
Lichen is a perceptive, malleable and mutable organism. It metamorphoses in contact with the topography, humidity and ambient temperature. Like its namesake, it is sensitive to disturbances in its environment and is therefore a valuable indicator of environmental change. Composed of small, delicate elements, it is nonetheless a cohesive and resistant structure that serves to prepare the ground for other plant species. Inspired by terracotta pots, this installation is made of small handmade earthenware rings.
Our forests can’t defend themselves. Forteresses is an intervention within the forest, symbolizing an aggressive way to protect our flora from its greatest predator: ourselves. These defensive systems will be assembled using wood from trees that have succumbed to their inability to adapt. Forteresses is meant to make visitors question the impact they have on their environment and remind them that forests are unable to protect themselves.
Plants are extraordinarily adaptive. They have the ability to thrive in some of the harshest environments on earth by responding to a myriad of stimuli – sun, water, temperature, soil, and gravity – to sustain life. Plants are also essential to human existence, providing sustenance, ecosystem services, and carbon sequestration. While they play a key role in mitigating the effects of climate change that threaten our existence as a species, they too are also vulnerable and must adapt quickly to a rapidly changing climate. Gravity Field demonstrates the robust adaptation of plants in even extremely strenuous conditions. A floating cloud of sunflowers will transform during the course of the installation. The sunflowers are initially grown upside-down, but will bend up as they grow towards the sun, defying gravity. Gravity Field is an immersive, delightful experience and real time experiment that spotlights the powerful resilience of nature. While the future is uncertain, Gravity Field sees optimism in the ability of plants, and all organisms, to adapt and thrive.
Les huit collines
Conceived as evolving structures, those eight hills offer various experiences to humans and non-humans (birds in particular). Serving as a seating area, a micro-garden, a contemplative space and an ecological reservoir, this project will reveal the richness of a whole environment. Les huit collines showcases a landscape charged with meaning that never ceases to evolve both by its composition and by the cycles of life that it shelters.
Forêt finie, espace infini?
From a distance forêt finie, espace infini? takes on the appearance of a pile of wood that a carpenter might have left in place. Rooted in the middle of a path crossing the boreal forest, the installation obstructs passage. Surrounded by mirrors, the space with its elusive limits offers a thousand reflections. Looking up at the skies, a brief glance at the tall conifers suggests a final thought: if the space we build emanates from a world of finite resources and therefore cannot be infinite, what is the future of this skillfully sculpted forest?