Contemporary Gardens in Metis

lily 2What is a garden? Why do we make them?

The annual International Garden Festival poses the question to designers as well as visitors.  The answers encourage imagination and creative freedom, allow for innovation and experimentation, and provide an experience that awakens the public mind and exposes the artistry of landscape architecture.

Every year, new and temporary gardens are on display at the Les Gardins de Metis / Redford Gardens, on the shores of the St. Lawrence River in Eastern Quebec. The garden designs are submitted by landscape architects, architects, and visual artists from all over the world, chosen by competition and built by the gardens staff.

With names such as Scarecrow Garden, Core Sample Garden and Blue Stick Garden, the gardens undoubtedly challenge traditional expectations and offer visitors a completely different experience of the garden as art.  “Public Gardens are an approachable art, contemporary gardens encourage more hesitant visitors to embark on unfamiliar experiences and engage with ideas they might have otherwise have ignored or even avoided.”

The gardens cover themes from recycling and forest management to mankind’s current relationship with nature. Each year the garden competition has a theme for the entries, this year it is “paradise”.  It has already gotten me thinking, both philosophically and literally, about what paradise means today and how it could be experienced as an outdoor space.

The photos here are from some of my favorite gardens in the festival.  I am intrigued by their visual experimentation that undoubtedly has something very provocative or innovative to say, and renews the art of the garden!

The photos (below) and quotes (in this post) are from the book “Hybrids: Reshaping the Contemporary Garden in Metis” which provides photos, text and interviews from the past ten years of the festival.

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