Deborah Nagan’s installation at Canada Blooms, the country’s largest flower expo, challenges how we perceive our gardens and their impact on the environment.
The London-based landscape architect was invited by the Jardins de Métis/Redford Gardens, which presents her thought-provoking garden to the annual event’s 100,000 visitors.
Entitled “How green is the garden?”, it features five colourful sheds each displayed on its own parterre of materials, as minimal individual plots. This set-up is intended to make gardeners think of the environmental impact of their own garden. While we’re busy tending, primping and preening, our own sheds often contain pesticides, chemicals, broken tools, accumulated junk and unfinished projects. The exhibition provokes such questions as: Are gardens and our landscaping efforts as green as they seem? Is it time to stop exploiting our natural resources, or is it time to harvest and use them with more care?
The presentation is a variant of “Every Garden Needs a Shed and a Lawn!”, an ironic exploration of the idea of the traditional domestic garden that Nagan showed at the International Garden Festival in 2009. Her conceptual exhibit dissected the garden, revealing the very elements, such as pollination, seeds, and carbon, that can transform it from ordinary to perfect. The crowd favourite returns this summer to the festival, which was established by the Jardins de Métis/Redford Gardens in 2000 and continues to be North America’s leading contemporary garden exhibition. It’s also a unique forum for innovation and experimentation bringing together the visual arts, architecture, design, landscape and nature.
A partner at NaganJohnson in London, Nagan has worked at the extremes of scale, creating small gardens in England, Luxembourg and Canada, and large landscapes in Qatar, Barbados, Bahrain, Italy, the United Arab Emirates and the UK. While strong concepts are at the core of her designs, she is also a very practical gardener, growing fruit and vegetables from her front garden in central London.
The garden is sponsored by Le Groupe Germain and presented with the assistance of Landscape Ontario.
The Canada Blooms festival continues until March 20 at the Direct Energy Centre in Toronto. The International Garden Festival is held at Les Jardins de Métis / Redford Gardens in Grand- Métis, Québec from June 25 to October 2.
(Cross-posted from Azure, a Toronto-based magazine of architecture and design)