International Garden Festival of Chaumont-sur-Loire
The Garden of Reciprocity
The ‘ideal garden’ is a place to reflect on the symbiotic relationship between humans and nature. It demonstrates that humankind can only exist with nature, and that nature, in the Anthropocene age, requires human stewardship to restore balance to the cycle of life on earth.
The Garden of Reciprocity utilizes medias of reflection – mirrors and water – to make visitors consider their relationship to nature in different ways. Upon arrival to the garden, visitors pass through a portal composed of prismatic mirrored pillars which reflect the visitors while framing the landscape beyond. Here visitors begin their journey with a sense of being separate from but enchanted by nature.
Leaving their reflections at the portal, the visitors enter the Forest of Symbiosis, an immersive agroforest that models the mutual dependence of humans and nature through a mix of medicinal, edible, and spiritually significant plants. The Forest is punctuated by a field of mirror prisms and reflective biopools which reflect the sky and plantings. As visitors wander through the agroforest, they catch only brief glimpses of their own reflections but quickly lose themselves. Wild, delightful, bountiful nature – cultivated only by a light but deliberate touch – is dominant.
In the center of the garden, visitors arrive at a clearing – the Circle of Reciprocity, where mutual relationships between humans and nature come into focus. In a meditative space that is both intimate and communal, visitors discover that the field of prisms are arranged in concentric arrays to face a central reflecting pool. Surrounded by their own reflections in nature, visitors become aware of the reciprocal relationship between themselves and the natural world. Lines are blurred between humans and nature, and we realize everything is interconnected.
Through the interplay of reflective mirrors, water and planting, the journey through the Garden of Reciprocity is one in which we begin to separate from nature, then lose ourselves in nature, and finally find ourselves in nature.