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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.

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!