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Chaumont, a large hill facing the Loire River, in France, is famous for its Gardens Biennale, an exhibition that every two years allows invited participants to build their image of an ideal garden. This is done on a very small piece of land. When summer ends, these gardens are dismantled and the land becomes available for the next gardens, two years hence. The winds blowing on the hill have pernicious effects on the plants. To avoid the wind-related problems, Emilio Ambasz imagined his garden as a grass-covered amphitheater excavated into the hill. As expected, a new microclimate developed within this earth excavation, and the plants were able to grow robust, covering all the ground available. This happened because the plants were protected from dehydration within the amphitheater’s confines. The visitors, sitting on the steps created within this excavation, could enjoy an unexpectedly warmer climate. They could also choose to remain in the balmy open sky amphitheater, or to enter the small grotto excavated on the steep side of the amphitheater. As the plants were able to extend their roots well within the earth, the vegetation originally planted became an exhuberant “jungle”. This garden became such a popular place that the organizers decided not to dismantle it at the end of its exhibition period, but to transform it into a permanent installation.


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