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Extension + Preservation Project


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Public Programs

Special Events


100 Gardens: Quebec's
International Garden Festival

Located on the south bank of the Saint Lawrence River in Quebec, Les Jardins de Métis/Reford Gardens annually hosts the International Garden Festival, one of the leading contemporary garden design events. Festival founder and director Alexander Reford will present 100 Gardens: Conceptual Gardens and New Landscapes on Saturday, January 22 at 1:30 pm at Kotzen Meeting Center, Simmons College.

Alexander Reford has managed Les Jardins de Métis/Reford Gardens since 1995. The main gardens were created by his great-grandmother Elsie Reford over three decades in the early twentieth century. She transformed a wilderness fishing camp on the Saint Lawrence River into gardens, overcoming the difficulties of her remote northern location. A professional historian, Reford decided to purchase the gardens from the government in 1995 and continues to restore and develop them. Beginning in 2000, Reford opened an area in the spruce forest with views of the river, and dedicated it to an annual garden festival.

Garden festivals are a relatively recent phenomenon. Festivals have become one of the ways that contemporary design in the garden is introduced. These festivals have roots in the invitational gardens created for the Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show, the oldest spring show (first held in 1862), where display gardens have become a source of inspiration and controversy for visitors.

Perhaps they can also be traced back to the 1925 International Exposition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in Paris that included several modernist gardens. The prize winning Garden of Water and Light by Gabriel Guevrekian was an exposition on the triangle: a small triangular space with a triangular pool and a mirrored ball turning above it, rising angles of grass meeting walls of triangles. The use of new materials and manufacturing techniques changed the concept of a garden.

Garden festivals like Reford's International Garden Festival, Chaumont in France, and CornerStone Gardens in California are juried competitions that present gardens created by artists, landscape designers, and architects. Andrew C. Theokas, author of Ground for Review: the garden festival in urban planning and design (Liverpool, 2004), describes the role that festivals have played in the creation of new landscapes through the reclamation of abandoned derelict urban spaces. He also describes the connection between festivals and the emerging theory of landscape urbanism, with its emphasis on planning, design, and sustainability for urban environments.


The International Garden Festival presents temporary gardens at the cutting edge of garden design, landscape, architecture, design, and environmental art.  Since the festival’s inception in 2000, it has showcased over 100 gardens by more than 200 designers from 15 countries, attracting more than 800,000 visitors who have discovered inspiring gardens by some of the best designers working in the landscape. The designers for the 2011 festival were selected from a total of 194 proposals for conceptual gardens, submitted by over 500 architects, landscape architects, designers, and artists from 33 countries.

Alexander Reford, founder of the International Garden Festival, will present a selection of the conceptual gardens exhibited since 2000 and reflect on the ways in which they have reinvigorated his traditional gardens, offered new experiences to a new generation of visitors, and contributed to the renewal of garden design and design thinking.

Landscape Visions Lecture
100 Gardens: Conceptual Gardens and New Landscapes
with Alexander Reford, Founder, International Garden Festival, Quebec
Saturday, January 22 at 1:30pm at Kotzen Meeting Center, Simmons College

Tickets: $15 General Public; $12 Seniors; $5 Museum Members; FREE Students
Tickets are available through the Gardner Box Office (617 278 5156 or online).

Will-call tickets will be available for pick-up at the Kotzen Meeting Center. Tickets will be available for purchase on the day of each lecture at the Gardner Museum's front desk (pending availability). Please note that capacity is limited, and advance ticket purchase strongly encouraged.

The Kotzen Meeting Center is located in Lefavour Hall on the Simmons College Campus. From the Gardner Museum's front entrance, cross Palace Road and walk through the Simmons College quad (behind the main building). Lefavour Hall is located on the far side of the quad. For a campus map, click here (Lefavour Hall is the building labeled with a 3). Maps will be available at the Gardner Museum's front entrance and will be mailed with all tickets ordered in advance.

2010-11 Landscape Visions Lectures: CITY.GARDEN.NOW
Chris Reed, founder of Stoss Landscape Urbanism and the landscape architect for the Gardner Museum’s Extension and Preservation Project, draws together designers, curators, and environmental activists at work in today’s cities, gardens, and landscapes to present new thinking about gardens in relation to the city.

Mark your calendar! The next Landscape Visions lecture will take place on Saturday, February 19, at Kotzen Meeting Center, Simmons College, and will feature Amale Andraos (WORKac, New York City).

Images: 2010 International Garden Festival, photo by Photos aériennes; Jardin de la connaissance by Thilo Folkerts-Rodney Latourelle, photo by Robert Baronet

January 2011