Experimenting Landscapes book

Garden Making

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Experimenting Landscapes book
Experimenting Landscapes book
Experimenting Landscapes: Testing the Limits of the Garden by Emily Waugh focuses on projects at the Métis International Garden Festival in Quebec.

A new book profiles many of the visually arresting garden installations at the Métis International Garden Festival in Québec. Written by Emily Waugh, a lecturer in landscape architecture at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design who lives in Toronto, Experimenting Landscapes: Testing the Limits of the Garden features a selection of 25 projects as well as essays by British landscape critic Tim Richardson, landscape architect Marc Hallé and reflections from festival designers.

The Métis International Garden Festival features contemporary gardens created by landscaping experts, architects, designers and artists from around the world. Since opening in 2000, the festival has attracted more than 1 million visitors to its remote location at Les Jardins de Métis / Reford Gardens on the shores of the St. Lawrence and Mitis rivers in the Gaspé region of Québec. In the conceptual gardens, visitors explore contemporary art and children enjoy fun, interactive installations. In 2017, the festival opens June 24.

“Contemporary garden festivals provide a laboratory for landscape designers to experiment with materials, methods, and design concepts that can potentially be adapted to their larger urban works,” says Alexander Reford, the festival’s director. “This book is essential reading for anyone practising in the field of landscape, installation art or in place-making in urban and rural environments.”

The book is published by Birkhäuser, an international publisher for architecture, landscaping and design based in Basel, Switzerland. Copies can be purchased for $60 from the Reford Gardens online store. It’s also available from Lee Valley as part of its Canada 150 national botanical garden book collection. The book received financial support from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and the Landscape Architecture Canada Foundation.

The setting for the festival, Reford Gardens, was created from 1926 to 1958 by avid gardener and plant collector Elsie Reford, who transformed a fishing camp into a 20-acre garden by transplanting or propagating rare species, such as azaleas and meconopsis, and adapting them to the Quebec climate. Her historical garden is still maintained.

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5 thoughts on “Experimenting Landscapes book”

  1. Jardins de Métis is very nice though I would never compare it to municipal botanical gardens or anything like that. I like the garden but I never liked any of the art exhibitions on the grounds. I recommend buying or borrowing (or possibly winning) the book to see if the art stuff pictured is something you find appealing. Entry costs a bit over $20 per adult, I think. You can visit the many rooms in the house (a museum of sorts) and you can even have lunch there (too expensive for me) but a nice dining room. I think the garden is worth a visit. Another garden of interest, this one on the north side of the St. Lawrence is the Jardins de Quatre-Vents. Only open a couple of weekends a year; you have to buy tickets weeks or months in advance.

    • Thanks for this useful review. Jardins de Métis has been on my list of gardens to visit for a long time. I think I first became aware of it based on a striking display at Canada Blooms several years ago.

  2. This looks like a fabulous book. Hoping to visit this garden one year, perhaps Canada’s 150th birthday is the year to make it a reality. I’ve been close to it but not actually there, it’s a long way from the prairies!


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