Each summer on Quebec's remote Gaspe peninsula, some of the world's most prestigious designers create a series of bizarre and fantastical gardens for the public to explore. The International Garden Festival will be in its 15th incarnation when the doors open on June 28th this year, featuring six new installations along with many permanent "gardens" from previous years.
These gardens are not about plants, so much as ideas, and they come from the domain of conceptual art as much as design. The idea is to provoke a reaction in the viewer and arrest their attention with a new or invigorating thought. Through the visual language and kinaesthetic experience of the installations, viewers are invited to consider the state of the world and the role of designed environments in shaping the impact of humanity on the planet.
The site is known in French as Jardin Metis—or simply, the Reford Gardens, in English—after their founder Elsie Reford. Half of the site is dedicated to avante garde International Garden Festival, while the remainder of the property is composed of the historic gardens of the Reford Estate, considered one of the premier horticultural sites in the country.
This year 293 proposals were submitted from teams comprising a total of 700 architects, artists, landscape architects, and other designers from 35 different countries. The 6 teams that were selected each received a cash prize and had to prove that their garden idea could be built within a $20,000 budget. The winning designs from this year and year’s past run the gamut from playful and whimsical to morbid and bizarre to breathtakingly beautiful.