Boustrophedon: Alternating right to left and left to right – the pattern of oxen tilling the land, or of an ancient form of writing.
The boustrophedon garden is one of eleven Ephemeral Gardens made for Québec City’s year long 400th anniversary festival. The garden weaves together ideas from Québec’s regional long-lot system and Samuel de Champlain’s early agricultural experimentation and recordings, to create a three-dimensional landscape “cloth” that registers growth and change in its warp and weft. Here, the public is able to scrutinize changing patterns of growth and bloom recorded over the summer.
The garden is conceived as a life-size graph. The site’s length is an axis of time with an embedded wood calendar marking the duration of the garden festival in weekly increments. Rows of different vegetables and herbs run the length of the garden, each with a corresponding set of overhead ropes. Each week, plant height measurements and a photograph of the garden are taken and permanently recorded on the three-dimensional garden calendar. Overhead lines are pulled down and weighted to mark significant life cycle events such as bloom and harvest time, making a three dimensional graph. Much like a gardener’s journal, observations are gathered in anticipation of improving next year’s garden. Increasing in complexity and volume throughout the summer, recorded data and vegetation proceed to engulf the visitor, while creating a dialogue with the plants that continue to change during their growth trajectory. As the plants die back and the fruit and vegetables harvested, the life-size calendar will remain as a garden journal. The gardens were open until the end of September 2008.