Skip navigation

'Every Garden Needs a Shed@ Metis Festival 2009, 2010, 2011

The Metis Festival is in London next week, and the Director of the Reford Garden and founder of the International Festival, Alexander Reford  is showing  Phillippe Baylucq’s beautiful film for the Society of Garden Designers.  Gardens at the Festival this year include  plenty of peculiarities including barbed wire and trenches, algal drapes and  chain link veils – against which 10 sheds  might seem tame to some.  Nevertheless, the sheds, originally designed as a 10th anniversary ‘present’ for the Festival,  have proved to be the most popular garden voted by the visitors,  hence their return for the 3rd year.
After the film there will be a discussion chaired by Tim Richardson.
Tickets are still available form the SGD for:
”Twice Upon a Garden – Tuesday 7th June – 11am-3pm
An exclusive London screening of the award-winning documentary film Twice Upon A Garden, charting the making of the gardens at the Métis International Garden Festival is taking place on Tuesday 7th June at the Curzon Cinema in Soho, London from 11am-3pm
The screening will be followed by a lively debate on show gardens chaired by author and journalist Tim Richardson with Chris Young, (Editor, The Garden) and landscape architects Deborah Nagan and Heather Ring and other designers.”

For some weeks now I have been watching my e-mails withtrepidation, waiting for queries and pictures. Its strange to think that far from London, Francois and his team  have been building and painting sheds, and filling them with peculiar objects and transporting them from the rural snows of Metis to the metropolis of Toronto.  Five new Sheds appeared last week at the prestigious flower show, Canada Blooms in a conceptual garden entitled ‘How Green is Your Garden?  This is a hybrid of my garden for the Metis International Festival held in Quebec in the summer  each year and questions the so-called sustainability of domestic gardens.  The only plants are white tulips wrapped in paper with messages left by visitors to the garden in Metis – otherwist, visitors will have to make sense of charcoal, salt, blue tape, glass. 

The first few pictures show the garden to have been beautifully constructed and full of the stark simplicity I had hoped for.   We won an award for ‘Outstanding Creativity’ so this post goes with great thanks to all those who commissioned, promoted, built, photographed and assisted with the realisation of the garden in Toronto. 

Thanks also to Stephanie Calvet at Azure for her posting:

Seemingly dead, but pretending

Forty huge deep maroon dahlias are drooping but magnificent; flaming tops of Mina lobata and Hamamelis in full autumn song; self sown Nicotiana ‘Tinkerbelle’ a clear and beautiful lime green- on this grey and autumnal day the garden is alive with colour and determined to continue.

For me, more than any activity, gardening highlights the speed at which time disappears.  Having forgotten to write my gardening diary, I am reliant on the dates on last year’s seed packets to remind me of the planting day and possible weather conditions, but there is no accurate record of whether I chose a particularly sunny day, or simply had nothing better to do.  So I resolve to be better with my personal gardening record (and have a shiny red book in which to write) and I also resolve to be better with the blog, and post more peculiarities, especially since Metis looms and I barely entered a post on our particularly peculiar garden there last year.

Perhaps I should also be  more aware of the creeping familiarity of time and the pace at which peculiar features of my garden become commonplace – until someone points out just how odd they are:  The rusty, twisty  metal plant, the black steps, the bright red bean frames, the strange, modern design…

We feel incredibly lucky to have been invited to return for the 11th Festival at Metis, and will be finishing, pimping and preening, and hopefully blogging about the garden ready for the opening on the 26th of June.

21.07.09 Front Garden with bus

Despite running off to Canada and Cornwall and leaving the garden to its own devices, we are gearing up for opening the garden for the Yellow Book on Saturday August 8th, 2pm to 8pm.  Maybe some of the daily commuters who have chanced to smile at the beanpoles that match their bus, will stop and visit.   The reality is that I am talking to , urging and cajoling the pants into luxuriant growth – and squishing snails.  Some are determined to show off now, well ahead of time.  Perhaps they know that on the day it will rain…21.07.09 Tigridia 2

Joni Mitchell fans should listen to Coyote whilst reading this as we are mid way across the bay and heading for Digby, Nova Scotia.  Rain and fog are obsuring the whales and there is currently no land in sight.  We could be riding the high tide as the bay has the largest tidal range in the world, a phenomenon which results in the peculiar sight of rivers reversing and flowing upstream as the 16m tide comes in.  The otherwise undistinguished (and disgustingly smelly thanks to the Irving Refinery) town of Saint John, New Brunswick is notable only for its ‘Reversing Waterfall’.  But we are heading away from New Brunswick and towards Digby Neck.

Metis sur Mer

For a week we have been painting, hauling logs and rocks, arranging contents and racing around the festival site at Metis in a push to have our garden ready for the opening ceremony, so it has been the greatest pleaseure to return to our oceanfront log cabin, looking out onto the St Lawrence estuary each morning and evening.  Again dominated by tides we have been scrambling in the rock pools on bright clear evenings and collecting shells for the ‘clouds’ shed in the garden.  Its also been a trip of lighthouses and the triple blink of the Metis lighthouse has been illuminating out bedroom each night.  Merci Sylvain, for such a delightful place to stay.

The Blue Stick Garden in progress

The Blue Stick Garden in progress

We have been fortunate to be keeping the most illustrious company      – more from the gardens and the other designers anon…the port of Digby has apperared out of the mist.

Lucky birds in Trout Brook, Gros Morne

Lucky birds in Trout Brook, Gros Morne

It seems to be true that if  you have an idea then it just seems like everyone has had it already:  I am therefore seeing ‘sheds’ everywhere – more of which in a few days.  These are in Newfoundland, land of timber houses, in fact, timber everything.  In this wild landscape it is a wonder that such seemingly frail structures, many built on stilts over the water, persist at all.  But they do and they show their stoic side in the beauty of their weatherbeaten, sunfaded and windwashed timbers.

Cape Anguille Lighthouse Buildings

Cape Anguille Lighthouse Buildings

Rocky Harbour

So to the first peculiarity:  as a I am now forced to admit to the aesthetic possibility of the dandelion.  This vile and hated weed in Brixton blooms across the island in profusion and turnd out to be a glorius, happy sight, even in this graveyard.  22.06.09 digital Camera Canada 395 Fleeting things though, dandelions and I wonder what the graveyard will look like when, for an instant before the wind blows, all the flowerheads are clocks, like this bank in front of the harbour at Rose Blanche.

22.06.09 digital Camera Canada 411 Safely out of Nova Scotia and on my way to Metis, my mind turns to thoughts  of ‘conceptual’ landscapes in their many guises.  In Cape Breton, Joe has taken the idea of a scarecrow presiding over a garden and expanded to produce a village of well over 100 figures (and counting for Joe is hard at work here).  This transcends the more normal (peculiar?) practice of  ‘yard art’ found elsewhere, which is normally reserved to moose silhouettes grazong on the lawn.  Here in Whycocomagh, the Simpsons are surely the most peculiar inhabitants of the landscape found on the trip so far.

22.06.09 digital Camera Canada 415

Deborah and Omar are heading for Canada and are planning an epic journey (for a 2year old) from Halifax NS and through Newfoundland on route to the International Garden Festival at Metis, Quebec. Watch this space to see how our adventures progress!