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International Garden Festival

« Gardens of the deadly sins »

25th April – 2nd November 2014


The perfection of the righteous is formed from the right composition of the seven deadly sins – just as white light is from the composition of the seven traditional colours.
Paul Valéry - Tel Quel

What if, entirely naturally, the garden led to unbridled hedonism – temptation born from a lost Eden, a thirst for knowledge and expense? A magical place which, to blossom, relies on the rule that subversion is possible and which, to thrive, knows where its limits lie: in Chaumont-sur-Loire in 2014, the garden will embody the heady expression of the deadly sins – a festival of extravagance and self-restraint and a shining example of the duality of impulses and characters. The gardens will celebrate an alchemy which, while far from flawless – i.e. free from sin – will nonetheless be, as Valéry put it, “the perfection of the righteous”. Indeed, what do gluttony and pride mean when we speak of gardens? Sloth and lust? Wrath and envy? Could not gluttony be a simple partiality for something; wrath, an almighty rage; pride, a sin of youth; the restfulness of sloth, “a secret charm of the soul” for La Rochefoucauld; and lust, “the cause of generation” in Leonardo da Vinci’s words?
Admittedly, greed has unfavourable connotations, but the word “avarice” comes from the Latin avere, which means “desire eagerly”. Is not this merely the ugly sister of extravagance?
The 2014 gardens endeavour to conjure up both the faults and the excesses of our time and the free, airy universe of eternal gardens. Heady fragrances, daring plants, diverse and varied excesses, the upsides and downsides of these past and present venial or major "sins" should be evoked subtly and has sparked the imaginations of the designers of the 2014 gardens which – without losing any of the customary humour of Chaumont-sur-Loire – will arouse within you an enjoyable meditation on the eternal motives: an endless source of inspiration for artists.


Discover the composition of the 2014 jury, under the presidency of William Christie