The ‘Playsages’
at the Jardins de Métis

The 18th Edition of the International Garden Festival at Grand-Métis

Via v2com

For its 18th edition, the International Garden Festival decided to put fun front and centre. Fun for the designers – but mostly to offer fun for visitors. Whether you are a child or an adult with a sense of play, the Playsages offered by this year’s Festival are bright, lively, colourful – and invite visitors to play. ‘Playsages’ is a play on words (play + paysages), ‘paysage’ is the word for landscape in French.

The Festival also wanted designers to respond to our growing distance and alienation from the natural world. We spend less time outdoors… and when outdoors, we often observe the landscape with an electronic tool in our hands or mask the sounds of the natural world with ear buds. The six projects selected from among the 162 proposals received from designers from 30 countries responded to the invitation to re-think play and take part in the global discussion over nature-deficit disorder.

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The new installations on exhibit for the 2017 edition are:

L’Escale by Collectif Escargo (Pierre-Yves Diehl, designer, Karyna St-Pierre, landscape architect and Julie Parenteau, art teacher), Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Small plots of land on wheels, wagons for children, are made available to be chosen, adopted and brought along for our visit of the Festival site.

The Woodstock by Atelier YokYok (Steven Fuhrman, Samson Lacoste and Luc Pinsard, architects, Laure K, teacher & Pauline Lazareff, architect engineer), Paris, France.
An unusual playground grows in the shade of trees and forms a play space where the children become giants, perched at the top of the wooden causeway.

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La Chrysalide by landscape architects Gabriel Lacombe and Virginie Roy-Mazoyer, Vancouver, British Columbia and Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
An invitation to take a break in time, between childhood and adulthood, to climb into the tree, make a nest and lay there to dream.

Paysage euphonique by MANI (Claudia Campeau, architect and Maud Benech, designer m. arch.), Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
A set of giant play facilities creates a tension in our rapport with the landscape and forces us to see and hear nature differently.

Soundcloud by Johanna Ballhaus, landscape architect & Helen Wyss, architect, Montreal, Quebec, Canada and Fribourg, Switzerland.
Bells attached to the ends of metal rods create the illusion of mist and clouds where a dialogue with nature begins and where stories can be told.


HAIKU by architects Francisco A. Garcia Pérez and Alessandra Vignotto, Granada, Spain.
A lonely swing in the forest, a flooded path, a motionless stone. Everything is in place to appreciate the cycle of the forest life.

The new installations form part of the Festival’s 18th edition that includes returning work by some of the best and most talented landscape architects, architects and artists from Canada and around the world. Their installations float, tilt and hang. They slide and move around. You can see yourself in a reflection or hear your own voice amplified. You can climb a tower, slosh about in a pond, amble up the smooth sides of a giant boulder and rise to the challenge of negotiating a forest of tree trunks. Experience the joy of moving mature trees along a hidden rail, don a pair of colourful rubber boots to muck it up among the floating aquatic plants or relax beneath the colourful bands blowing. Visitors can play in the white ribbons in Le bon arbre au bon endroit, a forest of Hydro-Québec poles that also serve as a reminder about planting the right tree in the right place.

The new installations form part of the Festival’s 18th edition that includes returning work by some of the best and most talented landscape architects, architects and artists from Canada and around the world.

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The jury

The jury for the 2017 edition was composed of: Amélie Germain, landscape architect with the Ville de Québec (co-designer of Nettoyage à sec for the 2005 and 2006 edition of the Festival); Erick Rivard, architect and urban designer, Groupe A / Annexe U from Quebec City (co-designer of Se mouiller – la belle échappée for the 2015, 2016 and 2017 edition of the Festival); Vadim Siegel, architect, ABCP architecture from Quebec City; François Leblanc, technical director of the Festival; and Alexander Reford, director of the International Garden Festival and Les Jardins de Métis.

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Grand-Métis Station

The fun started at the Festival in mid-June with the unveiling of the Grand-Métis Station by Le Bocal par ABCP Architecture from Quebec City. The Grand-Métis Station is a retired Montreal Métro MR-63 wagon that has been transformed into a colourful entranceway and celebration of the 375th anniversary of Montreal.


The 2017 edition of Métis-sur-Montréal, presented at Place De La Dauversière, located between Château Ramezay and Place Jacques-Cartier, in front of Montréal City Hall, is an installation by the artist William Vazan, Traces – First Waterways, inspired by garden mazes, channels the multiple streams that wound through the island of Montréal before the arrival of Europeans. These rivulets, long since erased from the landscape by urbanization, infrastructure, and drought, are etched into the grass of Place De La Dauversière.

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The artist hopes to inspire those who experience the piece to ponder, “what the pre-colonial territory looked like when the Amerindians crossed the island of Montréal by river on a web of waterways.” William Vazan is a Canadian artist who has lived and worked in Montréal since 1957. He is internationally renowned for his land art practice, and distinguishes himself by working directly onsite, in nature, parks, and public spaces. Vazan is a canonical figure in Quebec’s conceptual art scene; his large-scale projects focus on expressing memories of places and the marks humans have left behind. Métis-sur-Montréal 2017 is presented in collaboration with Château Ramezay – Historic Site and Museum of Montréal.

About the International Garden Festival

The International Garden Festival is the leading contemporary garden festival in North America. Since its inception in 2000, more than 175 gardens have been exhibited at Grand-Métis and as extra-mural projects in Canada and around the world.

Presented at Les Jardins de Métis, at the gateway to the Gaspé Peninsula, the Festival is held on a site adjacent to the historic gardens created by Elsie Reford between 1926 and 1958, thereby establishing a bridge between history and modernity, and a dialogue between conservation, tradition and innovation. Each year the Festival exhibits about twenty conceptual gardens created by more than seventy architects, landscape architects and designers from various disciplines in a pristine environment on the banks of the St. Lawrence River.

The International Garden Festival is presented with the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts, Canadian Heritage, Canada Summer Jobs and the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec.

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About the Reford Gardens / Jardins de Métis

A National Historic Site and Québec heritage site, the Reford Gardens / Jardins de Métis are an obligatory stop for all those visiting eastern Québec. Cultural attraction and tourist destination for 55 years, the Reford Gardens is one of the most popular attractions in the Gaspésie region, providing visitors with experiences for every sense. Located on the banks of the St. Lawrence and Mitis rivers, they are considered one of the great gardens of North America. Hydro-Québec has been the lead sponsor of the Reford Gardens since 1999.

The Reford Gardens will be open every day up to October 8, 2017.
Children 13 and under are admitted free of charge.

Images: Martin Bond 

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