Returning for its 24th edition, the annual International Garden Festival is now open to the public for the 2023 season. Hosted at Reford Gardens in Grand-Métis Quebec, this year’s festival runs until October 1 — and introduces new follies to the evolving landscape, which draws over 60,000 visitors per year. Organized around the theme of “Roots,” the design competition invited landscape practitioners to “imagine a present and a future that is ecologically, economically, and culturally responsible by drawing on the teachings of past generations.” The five winning designs address the prompt with a variety of thoughtful expressions.

Quebec’s International Garden Festival Returns to its “Roots”
S’Y RETROUVER


It translates to “find it.” Conceived by Berlin-based architect Ki Jun Kim in collaboration with Montreal-based researcher-botanist Frédéric Pitre and Canadian visual artist Jinny Yu, S’y Retrouver takes the form of a thought-provoking waist-height labyrinth. Elegantly representing the fungal mycelium networks that link together root structures of trees on a human scale, the maze of earth and white clover invites an appreciation of the hidden complexities of nature — while also hinting at the consequences of colonialism.

Quebec’s International Garden Festival Returns to its “Roots”

Like Canada’s early settlers, the clover is European in origin, and covers much of the native landscape. According to the design team, the result is an installation that “invites visitors to slow down and reflect both on the root system and post-colonialism.”

Quebec’s International Garden Festival Returns to its “Roots”
Racines de mer

On the Danish island of Læsø, the roofs are thatched with eelgrass. Harvested from the island’s beaches — and mostly crafted by women — these vernacular structures have proven a remarkable resilient and sustainable innovation. In fact, some have lasted for over 300 years.

Quebec’s International Garden Festival Returns to its “Roots”

For the Quebec duo of Gabriel Demeule and Cassandra Ducharme-Martin, the water- and fire-proof typology is a low-carbon innovation worth spreading — especially to a northern climate like Quebec, which bears climactic similarities with the island of Læsø. The installation — which evokes part of a pitched roof — draws on a tradition that’s centuries old, and offers a new way of thinking about the ecology of the built environment.

Quebec’s International Garden Festival Returns to its “Roots”

Le Jardin des quatre colonnes

Like S’y Retrouver, Le Jardin des quatre colonnes makes the subterranean visible. The Sweden-based duo of architects Vincent Dumay and Baptiste Wullschleger introduces a cluster of four adobe columns to the verdant landscape. Drawn from the earth, the water-compacted mixture of clay, sand, and silt, has been a building technique for millennia, and remains widely used across much of the world — though not across the global north.

Quebec’s International Garden Festival Returns to its “Roots”

Yet, it is a sustainable, low-carbon building method, and one that develops an evolving patina as it ages. Here, the adobe installations take the form of Doric columns, creating an aesthetic link with millennia of history. They are timeless forms — and vessels of the passage of time.

Quebec’s International Garden Festival Returns to its “Roots”
Matière-Matière

The walls bend and curve, coming together and turning apart. A collaboration between Rose-Marie Guévin and Vincent Ouellet with Quebec’s Studio Haricot, the sculptural hempcrete installation rises from a pocket of mulch in a field of wheat. The textured, elegantly striated monochromatic walls invite both exploration and interaction, offering a tactile look at the possibilities of organic design.

Quebec’s International Garden Festival Returns to its “Roots”

Like Le Jardin des quatre colonnes and Racines de mer, it posits that the earth can be provide the building blocks of the 21st-century built environment. And besides, it’s prettier than concrete.

Quebec’s International Garden Festival Returns to its “Roots”
Maillage

It embraces the earth, yet it’s suspended above the ground. Designed by Montreal-based Friche Atelier, the installation introduces a canopy of cylindrical textile strips that hangs from a grid above the lush garden landscape. A commentary on the relationship between plants and fabric, the design creates a visual link between the plantings below the fibres — which provide many of the dyes used to colour clothing and textiles — and the fabric above.

Quebec’s International Garden Festival Returns to its “Roots”

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