11th International Garden Festival: Gardens of Paradise

The International Garden Festival enters its second decade with a program of gardens and special events for the 11th edition. The 2010 Festival will display a record 21 gardens on the Festival site as well as extra-mural gardens in Montreal, Calgary and Toronto. The theme of this year’s Festival is “Paradise” and Berlin is the invited city. The program includes the broadcast of the new documentary film, Twice Upon a Garden, as well as culinary, musical, cultural and artistic events throughout the summer.


The 11th edition of the Festival will present 21 ephemeral gardens created by 65 designers from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, United States and the United Kingdom. The lineup of conceptual gardens includes three new gardens by designers selected by a jury following an international competition and four new gardens created by designers from Berlin invited to take part in the Festival.


Since the beginning of time, humans have imagined paradise on earth as a garden. These places, by evoking our senses, have pulled us out of our everyday world to experience the sublime. What does paradise look like today?


Building on emerging practices in landscape architecture, participating designers have been invited to imagine their garden of paradise; inspired by the history of gardening and exploring philosophy, religion and history and incorporating aspects of contemporary society and their own personal history to bring to life new forms, tastes, fragrances and paradisiacal landscapes.


The three designs selected by the jury are daring, imaginative and provocative and present paradise in radically different ways. The projects are:


* Veil Garden by Studio Bryan Hanes (Bryan Hanes, Jose Menendez, Yadiel Rivera Diaz, Brenna Herpmann) landscape architects, and DIGSAU (Jules Dingle, Jeff Goldstein, Mark Sanderson, Jamie Unkefer, Aaron Jezzi) architects, all based in Philadelphia. Veil Garden is a contemporary interpretation of the Mesopotamian Garden of Eden, where the four elements (earth, air, fire and

water) are on display;


* The Grass is Greener by Habitation (David Vago, Simone Marsh and Nick Brown) landscape architects from Sydney, Australia. The Australian designers play with the notion of transgression and original sin and the powerful attraction;


* Tiny Taxonomy by Rosetta Sarah Elkin, a Canadian landscape architect based in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Tiny Taxonomy explores with a sense of humour and a critical eye, the role of the minute universe of plants that we routinely ignore when traversing the forest floor. These micro ecosystems become magical miniature gardens when brought to visitors’ attention.


The International Garden Festival has offered designers from around the world occasions to present their work in Métis as well as opportunities for Canadian designers to create projects abroad. The Festival has presented three editions with invited countries: France in 2001, the UK in 2002 and the Mediterranean (Italy, Spain and Morocco) in 2003. This year the artistic director of the Festival launched the international program not with a country, but a city ­ in recognition of the fact that cities have become cultural capitals and creative centres that flourish in spite of geographic frontiers and political structures. 


The designers from Berlin invited to take part in the Festival are:


* Violence of the Garden (Land use observatory) byTOPOTEK 1 (Martin Rein-Cano and Lorenz Dexler)


* Jardin de la Connaissance by Thilo Folkerts from 100landschaftsarchitektur and Berlin-based Canadian artist Rodney Latourelle


* Tree Stands by Gero Heck and Marianne Mommsen from relais Landschaftsarchitekten


* I’m So Proud of My Paradise These Days by artist Kai Schiemenz and Atelier le balto (Véronique Faucheur, Marc Pouzol and Marc Vatinel)


The International Garden Festival is the leading contemporary garden festival in North America. The Festival takes place on a site adjacent to the historic gardens created by Elsie Reford. A major artistic event and tourism attraction, the Festival is an opportunity to discover exceptional gardens made by some of the best landscape designers from around the world.


Presented since 2000, the Festival has exhibited more than 115 gardens by 200 designers from 15 countries as well as extra-mural gardens in Montreal, Toronto, France, Italy and the United Kingdom. The only event of its kind in Canada, the
Festival is a showcase and a springboard for emerging designers in all disciplines. The Festival has attracted over 850,000 visitors since its inception.


The Festival is also known for introducing contemporary design to new audiences in Quebec and Canada. It is one of the most visited exhibitions of contemporary art in Canada and thus opens new horizons for the general public, offering new forms of contemporary design, demonstrating new materials and presenting gardens inspired by the pressing environmental issues of the day.


Since its first edition, the Festival has been honoured with various prizes such as the Design Exchange Awards, the Grand Prix du tourisme québécois, le Prix d’excellence of the Société des musées québécois and le prix Hector-Fabre of Quebec’s Ministry of International Relations for the exceptional contribution of the Festival to the reputation of the region internationally. Designers have been recognized for their gardens from the Ordre des architectes du Québec, Institut de Design Montréal, Canadian Society of Landscape Architects, Canada Blooms and the Design Exchange. Alexander Reford was awarded the Frederick Todd from the Quebec Society of Landscape Architectures for his contribution to landscape architecture in Quebec.


Les Jardins de Métis / Reford Gardens are located in Grand-Métis. They are open from June 5 to October 3, 2010. For more information on the gardens and the 2010 program of events and activities, please visit www.refordgardens.com.