Future Green Studio

Chaumont sur Loire Garden Festival 2014

Chaumont sur Loire, France

CONCEPT A garden for the voyeuristic, here you can witness the sordid and sensational. The Purgatorium, a place of purification based on the second part of Dante’s Divine Comedy, Purgatorio, is a garden that leads visitors on a meandering journey of indulgence, temptation and confession. The closer the soul is to the bottom of the mountain of purgatory, the harder it is to motivate the self to climb upwards. An interplay between darkness and light, field and vision, prevents the visitor from determining their end point until well into the garden. At first approach, a dense field of blackened poles meets the viewer’s gaze as an impenetrable wall, but as they meander through, the accessibility of the garden becomes clear and the route more apparent. An intermediate place between death and judgment, the journey up the terraced mountain of the seven deadly sins is an opportunity for the visitor to indulge in the sensational and the sordid.

STRUCTURE + PLANTING Seven circular bands of wooden poles radiate out from the central circle of the garden of lightness. The vertical timber poles rise up out of the mounds and gradually get taller in height on approaching the inner garden, emulating the rise of a mountain. On walking through the garden, the visitor catches glimpses of their own reflection from the circular mirrors that sit atop the timber rounds. The path weaves in between the naturalistic mounds in a slow meandering way in order to prolong the journey to the center and immerse the visitor in the garden as the planting is brought to eye level. The use of texture, form and color creates two distinct gardens; one forms the journey as the accessible rough and rugged wasteland, and the other, the garden of lightness that can only be viewed on close inspection where visitors make their confession. The color in the garden plays on the pairing of darkness and light; black painted timber rounds, dark grey gravel, and a wild planting palette with soft yellow flowering plants intermingled between highly textured grasses are evocative of a dystopian wasteland. In contrast, the ornamental purple flowering plants of the garden of lightness complement the reflective mirror with an uninterrupted view of the sky.

CONFESSION At the center of the garden, visitors are invited to write a confession. Strips of white fabric hang below seven podiums that are dispersed around the garden of lightness. As visitors exit the garden, they tie the fabric to one of the many poles along their journey so that others may be tempted by their secrets. Over the course of the year, the oppressive black poles will appear lighter with the adornment of white fabric.

  • February 2014

  • 2000 square feet


  • Domaine de Chaumont sur Loire