In Amiens, northern France, a series of extraordinary gardens are taken over by artistic creations. The International Garden Festival—Hortillonnages Amiens represents a new look at the art of gardening, through 140 works created over the past 10 years by landscape designers, architects, and visual artists. Check out the festival for yourself from July 14 to October 18, on foot or by boat.
Three hundred hectares (740 acres) of ponds, punctuated by hundreds of floating gardens, bathe the city of Amiens in leaves and petals. Shaded by willows and alders, channels—called rieux—connect these islets once dedicated to market gardening.
For 10 years, selected by the Maison de la Culture and now by the association Art & Jardins Hauts de France, landscapers and visual artists have invested some 50 plots with their work. From August to October, their art adorns the banks, clearings and undergrowth of this aquatic labyrinth of gardens in northern France.
Landscape creations to discover along the water
Over the 10 years of the festival, 150 works have been produced by 245 landscapers, visual artists and architects, and admired by 400,000 visitors.
These creations can be found in two locations: Île aux Fagots, a 10-minute walk from the train station by the tow road along the Somme, and Clermont Pond, accessible from the port of Camon by electric boats available for rent. Sail and dock wherever you like, taking a picnic along the banks of this picturesque part of northern France.
The 2020 festival
Subject to no changes in health restrictions, the 11th festival will be held from July 14 to October 18, 2020. Continue to check the organisations's official site for updates: Art & gardens Hauts de France .
The 2020 edition shines the spotlight on climate change and healthy eating. It will have 29 gardens, 23 installations and one floating architectural piece.
Five new landscaped works and six new visual works are installed on the site, inclng the 'Cornélien Banquet', which illustrates the dilemma between the use of fossil fuels and climate change, and '+2°C=43 cm', which questions the concept of 'limits' and explores ecological transition.
The site also houses a new floating welcome dock for visitors on the Port à Fumier site in Camon, inspired by the Japanese tradition of origami.
Installed for the garden festival
On Clermont Pond as well as on the Île aux Fagots, visual artist Raphaëlle Duquesnoy has created giant ceramic amplifiers ('hortillophones') to amplify the sound of these extraordinary gardens of northern France. When you put your ear against them you can hear the wind in the birches, the lap of the water and the chuckle of the water hens: the sweet song of the hortillons!