Looking Forward à la Française: Gardens of Thought


The upcoming 2018 International Garden Festival of Chaumont-sur-Loire in France is again bringing about fresh, imaginative realizations of gardens in its 27th Edition: “Jardins de la Pensée” or “Gardens of Thought.”

1_CHAUMONT_JARDINFESTIVAL_2018-370 From referencing the worlds of such famous writers as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Octave Mirbeau, Marcel Proust or George Luis Borges, American Indian legends, or the Sufi tale of the Conference of the Birds, to physically evoking the paths travelled by our thoughts — the festival’s gardens unveil a bounty of treasures.

The diverse, talented teams behind this year’s creations — from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, South Korea and United States — span many disciplines. Landscapers, gardeners, architects and urban planners have worked alongside set designers, directors, graphic designers, an anthropologist, a geographer, a cabinetmaker and even a plumassier, notes Chantal Colleu-Dumond, Director of the Domain and International Garden Festival. Opening to the public on April 24th, visitors will be able to discover innovative conceptions, including green architectures, a radically contemporary International Klein Blue Japanese meditation garden, a spectacular red anamorphosis, a sculptural book of sand, a unique spiral architecture, a contemporary cloister decked out with sublime “feather flowers” and a delicate kokedama representing neurons. By the mathematicians and poets of OULIPO (which stands for Workshop of Potential Literature), a nod to surrealism in their “Jardin des voyelles” or “Garden of vowels.” With botanical flair, Pascal Garbe and Didier Willery celebrate the pansy (Viola) in all its states – a play on the French word “pensée”, which means both “thought” and “pansy”.

“ . . . a spellbinding combination of ideas, inventions and plant-inspired poetry,” 


llustration of one of twenty three gardens selected for this year’s festival from nearly 300 submissions, inspired by The Book of Sand. by Jorge Luis Borges.  “The Book of Sand leads us in a labyrinthine ambulant, without true beginning nor end. The sand draws and redraws indefinitely the proposed landscape.”  — Le Collectif MoonwalkLocal & L’association Paysagistes sans Frontières

3_ChaumontFestivalGroundsChaumont-sur-Loire’s annual fete has become internationally renowned — a veritable beacon of fresh, artful, forward looking, environmentally enlightened possibilities for our natural and cultivated environs.

Generously set en plein air within Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire’s beautiful historic grounds, the Festival’s landscape installations are designed to evolve throughout their exhibition to reach their peak in autumn, through to the last day of the competition (November 4th in 2018.)

Many of the concepts and ideas “planted” in the Festival’s gardens continue to grow and propagate. You can see one such fanciful, functional and sustainable example in the video below, from the Festival’s 20th edition, “Gardens of the Future or The Art of Happy Biodiversity.”

Click on the image of Festival posters (below) to survey up to ten years of the Festival’s highly evocative editions.


Click here to learn more about “Gardens of Thought” and Domaine de Chaumont-Sur-Loire’s 27th edition: Festival International Des Jardins.

Click here to learn more about Domaine de Chaumont-Sur-Loire’s beautiful Chateau, Historic Grounds, and its highly acclaimed Art & Nature Centre.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here