Thursday, October 10, 2013

Mosaicultures Internationales Montreal 2013

Diane Marchese, Guelph and Wellington County

Chameleon With a Closeup

The largest exhibition of horticultural art in the world, staged every three years in a city selected by an international committee, this year's theme was Land of Hope, which aimed to illustrate the beauty and fragility of life on earth.  This year the Montreal Botanical Garden hosted and what a perfect venue it was!

This is when the word awesome is appropriate to use in discussion.  My friend and I stopped so many times just to slowly take in all the aspects of these sculptures.  Many of them like The Man Who Planted Trees was large, encompassing running horses, a herd of sheep, a huge sheep dog and an enormous man kneeling in the act of planting a tree.  They weren't all of this magnitude, a little scaled down were playful pandas or a lone chameleon on a branch embossed with Echeveria secunda 'Glauca' or 'Vert'.

The 3D structures were designed on paper and then realized using steel.  The sculptor-artist-welders formed superb metalwork, checked by structural engineers to make sure the frames would be strong enough to hold the horticultural materials assembled by a crew specifically assigned to the design.  Then there is the upkeep by maintenance people who work seven days a week shaping and watering each structure.  Teams would work together, manicuring their display and then keeping each other in the know as to what needs to be done the next day.  The bottom line I was told by a one of the gardeners is "to find the areas that require cleaning up and trimming before the visitor sees it."

Many of the plants used were different types of Alternanthera dentata like 'Purple Knight', 'Fine true Yellow', and 'Christmas tree'.  Santolinas, Echeveria rosettes, sedums of all kinds and grasses like 'Black Mundo' to name of few.  Close to three million plants were used and they were chosen for their uniformity, texture, ability to tolerate the unique growing conditions, to be trimmed regularly for a bushier look and, most importantly, disease and pest free.  I have a new respect for ground coverings.

Most importantly the pieces made you stop and receive their messages that were so carefully thought out by the designers – from The Woman Who Loved Cranes, based on a true story from China, to the Tree of Birds, with each branch supporting an endangered bird.  The tree symbolizes all the biodiversity that surrounds us and how fragile it is.  This reminds us that we are not more important than anything else in nature and that we should be modest and mindful of our existence within it.

Here is a link to the mosaiculture site. and a link to a number of photos of Mosaiculture Montreal 2013