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.