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American Society of Landscape Architects

 

November 2005 Issue

Métis 2005: Gardens at the Outer Edge

By Bernard St-Denis and Peter Jacobs

Métis 2005: Gardens at the Outer Edge
Linda Rutenberg

Gardens reveal their secrets throughout the span of our association with them. Yet the "ephemeral" gardens that have surfaced in recent years at garden festivals have a relationship with time that owes nothing to the cycle of plant life, the vagaries of climate and atmosphere, the magic of return visits, or the deepened perceptions that come with new observations. What is special about these gardens is that they exist for a season—or perhaps a year at most. Built to be replaced, they are three-dimensional experiments by landscape architects, architects, artists, and visual designers that test new points of view and novel interpretations of the art of garden design. Visitors must be prepared to have their conceptions of gardens challenged. Professionals see these gardens as explorations into the meaning of the art of gardens in our era and the forms that express that meaning. Their designers are expected to display all the effervescence that has enlivened the art of gardens over the past few decades.

The International Garden Festival at Métis in Québec pioneered the genre in North America in 2000 and presented its sixth edition this past summer (see www.jardins metis.com/English/festival). It was clear from the beginning that those involved in exploring the contemporary garden would not hesitate to cross the frontiers between disciplines, modes of expression, and media. Nor would they hesitate to question established wisdom about what constitutes a garden. This year’s selection of 11 gardens was no exception.

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