Christine Barnes and Gordon Perkinson are volunteers at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge each winter. It is there that we first me them in 2008. Gordon is now a Director on our Board and Christine has become a good friend. Recently Christine shared the following with us and we thought you would enjoy it since it ties into cranes…

One-hundred fifty miles north of our home in central Vermont lies the Quebec city of Montreal. In late September we went there to visit the extraordinary Mosaicultures Internationales Montreal 2013. Created in 2000, the complex art of mosiaculture has reached new heights, and has returned to Montreal, its city of origin after 10 years.

Mosiacultures Internationales is a horticultural artistic competition among nations, constructed within the spacious Jardins Botaniques, or Botanical Gardens, in the city. This year’s theme for the competition is Land of Hope, which “speaks to environmental concerns in addition to its cultural roots,” says Lise Cormier, president of the International Mosiaculture Committee. Land of Hope “promotes the beauty of life in all its forms. Is there anything better than nature itself to represent all of its splendor and fragility?”

Louis Roquet, president of Mosiacultures Internationales Montreal 2013 states, “Borne of boldness, love, patience and harmony, the superb works on display at the Mosaicultures 2013 are not only a visual treat, but also an embodiment of these same values, values we need to cultivate in order to create that world of beauty, peace and prosperity we dream of.”

The competition is held every 3 years, in host cities around the globe. This year in Montreal, the exhibits were open June to October. Twenty nations entered this year’s event. The competition itself was not intrusive to the enjoyment and fascination of the visitors.

Mosiaculture is a form of topiary design. The exhibits in Montreal were considerably larger than life, requiring significant technical support (eg. 60-90 ft. tall aerial ladder trucks; ropes and safety harnesses). At least 130 different kinds of grasses flowers and assorted other plant varieties were used to create color, texture and dimension. Approximately 3 million plants are growing in these ‘sculptures’.

Some of the stories represented were familiar: The Man Who Planted Trees; Hachiko, the Loyal Dog. Other exhibits chose to address issues more directly: frogs in assorted sizes and shapes, depicting the world-wide amphibian decline, and Quebec’s eastern township response – building a tunnel under a busy highway to ensure safe frog migration from one side of the swamp to the other; and from Japan, an exhibit entitled “Dove of Peace”, without which, of course, all living things are at risk.

Both of us were moved and dazzled by the dimension and artistry of the stories told in the exhibitions. Cultural flavor was evident. The cacophony of international languages surrounding us as we walked through the gardens added to the experience we shared with some of the visitors, expected to total over 1 million.

The exhibit which drew us to these gardens, however was entitled “A True Story”. It reads:

The story took place in China in the late 1890’s. Xu Xiu Juan, a girl born in a city of northern China, had loved Red-crowned Cranes since her earliest childhood. After graduating from university, she traveled very far, to Yangcheng Nature Reserve, to care for these cranes. But one day, when she tried to save an injured crane, she slipped into a swamp. The crane was saved, but the girl never came up again to the surface.

The moving story of this girl, told far and wide across the breadth of China, has touched the hearts of thousands of people. To pay tribute to the wonderful spirit of the girl who saved the crane but lost her own life, a song has been composed to tell this story. The song’s title is… A True Story.

The beautiful musical composition played soulfully in the background of this extraordinary exhibit. We looked at the gentle young woman’s face and arms as she cradled the crane. Around her stood other cranes, perhaps paying homage to her courage, gazing at her, others flying from out-lying areas of the marsh toward her, others feeding and courting nearby. It was exquisite. And very moving.

Should you ever have an opportunity to see Mosaicultures Internationales, it is worth the journey.

— Christine Barnes

Botanical Gardens Montreal 017_1

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  1. Patti Hakanson November 11, 2013 7:04 am

    How beautiful this is… Very touching, thank you Heather for sharing this. What a beautiful tribute this statue is…

  2. Carol Berglund November 10, 2013 8:46 pm

    Beautiful! Thank you for sharing this Heather.

  3. Donna November 10, 2013 5:23 pm

    That is amazing and beautiful!