Chateau gardens illustrate the theme of acclimatization

September 18, 1994|By New York Times News Service

Until Oct. 16, the 7 1/2 -acre park of the chateau of Chaumont-sur-Loire is open for the third International Garden Festival. Twenty-seven individual gardens have been designed by artists and landscape designers invited from France, Japan, Argentina, Sweden, Spain and Germany, among other countries.

Three Americans have taken part: Lynden B. Miller and Gail Wittwer, designers, and Bob Wilson, a theater director. Each participant was given a 2,600-square-foot plot on which to unleash his or her fancy on the theme of acclimatization.

On the hilltop site overlooking the Loire Valley, visitors walk through the gardens, which range from the radically innovative to the more traditionally decorative. Among them are a Canary Islands garden (ships over the centuries have left an astonishing collection of plants there), a garden of 150 fiberglass rods covered with climbing plants and a water garden. Some gardens make the point that it is not the vegetation that has to adapt to the environment but people who should adapt to the plants. For instance, the "Hostile Garden," by Frederique Garnier, features plants that scratch and burn.

Two audiovisual exhibitions in the Renaissance chateau's splendid 19th-century farm buildings complement the displays. The event is run by the Conservatoire International des Parcs et Jardins et du Paysage at Chaumont. Guides lead free tours in French, English and German.

The Garden Festival is open every day from 9 a.m. until sunset; admission $7.55 (calculated at 5.3 francs to the dollar). Chaumont-sur-Loire is 10 1/2 miles from Blois and 115 miles from Paris. Three single-day conferences, free for professionals and the public, on issues related to landscape design will be held at the Pompidou Center in Paris between December and February, in French and English. For further information, call the Conservatoire, (33) 54.20.99.22.

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