Plant hunters

Plant Hunters. The adventures of plants, botanists and explorers who have enriched our gardens.

Of the irremediable nostalgia of the obsession with hunting out plants.

If, to want to look at things from the point of view of prey, to be removed from their habitat, often brutally by the hunters of plants that call this volume, and then end up at the other end of the world, does not necessarily have been a pleasure , on closer inspection, it was not even an unprecedented denunciation. Plants have always moved to multiply the range of their space and the opportunities of life through the most different strategies, using the most different vectors to spread the descendants: the wind, the sea on which they sail from island to island, the coconuts, animals, … man.
Nomadic collector, then horticulturist and finally, as in this case, hunter … dedicated.
The aspiration to recompose a cartography of the routes covered by the predated plants, an atlas of the migrations induced by our irrepressible desire to appropriate them , the curiosity of tracing the geographic-climatic origin in the often crossed chronology of their new introductions – a phytochrology all Eurocentric – are witnessed by the success of the thick masses of books that recount the daring events (in which – firmly in the armchair – it easily happens to identify with, as in a novel of adventures at the Salgari) experienced by the protagonists responsible for these plant transmigrations, all in various ways victims of that particular form of obsession that is the hunting of plants .

And in this sense, of the ever-present curiosity of the recomposition of those stories, of their human and vegetable protagonists, it is worth republishing this text of 0 on Tyler Whittle ‘s plant hunters , a text translated ten years later into Italian in the then anticipatory necklace of books on nature The Platypus headed by Ippolito Pizzetti.

A text now unavailable, important for the intriguing narrative writing that pervades it and for the breadth of the plant. Which, in a long introduction to the heart of the book, moves from the beginnings of the expeditions in search of incense in ancient Egypt by Hatsheput, until it ends with the modern botanical collecting of the early twentieth century of the itinerant explorer Frank Kingdon-Ward and George Forrest, systematic hunter, specialized in rhododendrons, solitary but skilled in organizing the harvest work. To concentrate, as is evident, mostly on the phase that, from the 00s to the 00s, sees the horizons of the botanical investigation expanding well beyond the home garden.

Retracing these junctions on the thread of the story of the plant hunters, the experimental method converge and techniques to record the observations in a scientific way, in the sign of a renewed need to put order in the nature of things, cataloging them. Together, the proposal for the general classification of the world through the binomial nomenclature of Linnaeus; the role of herbaria as scientific instruments also because of the difficulty of bringing plants from remote places back to their destination (at least as long as they sailed and until the Wardian boxes, a sort of miniserre that will keep the long travel conditions useful for survival); the importance of printing for the dissemination of botanical knowledge and that of drawing in the documentation of plants; the circular of travel reports and scientific explorations that become a kind of success and sometimes end up contributing to financing shipments, and where writing betrays the emotion of the change of scene from the object of laboratory analysis to context, landscape that deserves to be considered; the propulsive role played in the collection and documentation of plants by institutes such as the Royal Horticoltural Society which will send its plant hunters in the world with specific attention to the economic consequences of the spread of “new” plants.

The historical and geopolitical context, the social and anthropological dimension and, often neglected, the interweaving of colonial economic and political interests remain on the background of the coming and going of the stories of plant hunters. In the historical dimension of the conflicts between states and their overseas domains, in the principle of expansion in the North America of the Union to the West and in the exploitation of the revolts in the Far East, in the definition of the geography of the unknown lands, in the opening towards the then almost inaccessible to China and Japan; in making and discarding the design of the borders of states and between states where often our collectors are cartographers (it is the case of Australia but also of Canada and Tibet and northern India – sometimes even unknowingly bent for military purposes) ; in the dimension of the discovery of the other with whom at least it is necessary to collaborate in order to have indications on the plants and in that of the discovery of the habitats that host them, which can not be transposed, in the temperate motherland.

The chasing of dates and places of hunters’ stories, of their unique biographies, prevails in Whittle’s text on the overall design, even when the author doubles, often with irony and even self irony – certainly that of his years and his culture – the anthropological distance from the times and from the men of which he tells . And then, as he tells of the search for plants in the country of chrysanthemums, the impenetrable, at least until , Japan where for a long time you will be forced to pursue them by means of street vendors and nurseries and rummage in the gardens of temples, private homes, taverns, Tyler Whittle lets himself go to an ever-present commentary underlining that “another powerful push to open the Japanese borders was that particular Western fixation of wanting to improve the next one at all costs. There was to be breathless in the face of the impudence with which the Old and the New World assumed they could interfere with their pleasure in the affairs of a highly civilized country like Japan. “

Elsewhere, always with a certain annoyed detachment, the reality of the great history is evoked to mean that, proportionally, we did not pay particular attention to the reported major changes in the “way of hunting plants” in the last years of the 00s (when a more scientific approach was being consolidated in the collection that planned to proceed in a systematic way on the territory) «while … the old world threatened to blow up. The decrepit monarchies of Europe were on the verge of exhaling their last breath. And the same was true of the Manchus, the dynasty that sat in China on the Dragon Throne, though perhaps they did not realize it, “referring to the Taiping uprising …

And, again, speaking of one of his favorite hunters, Joseph Hooker, who traveled from the Antarctic (his Flora Anctartica ) to the north of India and Tibet (redrawing its borders), does not fail to recognize how in the report of his journeys collected in the book Himalayan Journals reveal these “in full the attitude of snarky chauvinism and arrogance typical of the Victorian man abroad, whose memory still embarrasses the most sensitive, rages the Democrats, swollen with regret the hearts of the nostalgic , and makes the most cynical grin. The generalizations of Hooker were exquisite little miniatures of the Victorian hauteur . ” To add that, however, that same text confirmed that in India Hooker “was managing to verify, on the basis of constant observations, his theories on the distribution of plants”.

It is not for nothing that Whittle often counts among the peculiar, recurrent qualities of his pets “the normal indifference of plant hunters to external circumstances”. A congenital inattention for what goes beyond the main object of their passion – which the author seems to share at times.
* * *
There are different models and human types of plant hunters that meet in the various phases described in the book. And they go beyond the fundamental distinction, also often blurred, between naturalists interested in local flowers and garden professionals who are guided by their intuition to pursue the plants that would have been better received on the European market. To the botanists following the great exploration journeys, and to the gatherers sent for research purposes by the scientific institutions, the emissaries of the nurseries are supported. Like the Lobb brothers who, on behalf of the Veeter nursery in Exeter, were sent to South America, William, while the younger, Thomas ended up hunting orchids in Java. This, while some independent collectors were able to finance themselves by aggregating the shares of small groups of wealthy buyers to whom they gradually sent the uncovered plants, a specimen for each. And sometimes, the sale of a single plant could cover the cost of an entire shipment

Sociable or grumpy, enthusiastic amateurs or well-equipped professionals, in organized expeditions or as solitary travelers, botanical missionaries sometimes voted rather to “collect plants than souls”, embassy officials and “honorary commissioners”, uniformed hunters, mostly Russians , institutional researchers, scholars of economic plants that worked on behalf of botanical gardens or for government departments.

Until the adventurers attracted by important gains, which sometimes ended up employed by nurseries specializing in plants from the Far East (in particular, orchids): “ruthless and cruel like the slave traders and the pearl hunters”. Not unlike the precursor, in that case pirate, William Dampier, the living prototype of many ‘villains’ of novels, collector of plants in the second measure and considered an authority on tropical and exotic flora, as well as the author of the famous A New account Voyage Round the World .

They are all men: we do not talk about women except for the case of Philibert de Commerson’s assistant during the cirmumnavigation trip with Louis Antoine de Bougainville, when it turned out to have been disguised as men’s clothes; while it is not considered Marianne North, aristocratic hunter of plants, painter with a sensitivity from ecologa ante litteram, which is the valuable documentation collected during his travels: paintings that illustrate more than 00 types of plants and flowers portrayed in their context natural, preserved in a pavilion in the Kew Gardens of London .

They are all men who, even among them so different for social extraction and cultural baggage, are united by long years of difficult travels and explorations. It includes the enumeration of means of transport (from rafts to stagecoaches, from horse-drawn canal boats and paddle-wheel steamers to wheelbarrows “which were the main form of transport” during Farrer’s expedition to Kansu) and of the dangers continually courses (animals, brigands, avalanches, fragile bridges of ropes suspended on precipices, …).

But moved by a natural predisposition and a huge passion that frequently overcomes the obsessive obsession, conditioning lives and affections.

A good number of them are of humble origins, self-taught, who over the years become great experts. Some, among the major experts of the respective branches and, as the author points out on David Douglas, “we have already noted how the change of fate of botanists – from humble and uncomfortable situations to the conquest of fame and success – looks like often to a fairy tale ».

Certainly also wealthy figures meet, such as the unbridled collector Philibert de Commerson, a sort of irreducible magpie, even if unanimously elected a member of the Academy of France, even if absent from the assembly (special circumstance never before occurred, and d another in his case impossible since he died eight days earlier, but in Madagascar, without the news of his death being already known). Enthusiast rich and powerful: great voters of the newborn scientific societies like Joseph Banks, which is due, among other things, the introduction of Australian flora or scholars like that Joseph Hooker president of the Royal Society and so great expert to be considered by Darwin “as the first authority in this subject, which I consider almost the keystone of the laws of Creation: the geographical distribution of all that lives “.

* * *

Favored by the revolution in the transport system of plants and by the diffusion of specialized nurseries in exotic species that in the face of collectors demand are structured in real companies, the large availability of new plants coming from the four sides of the world – from magnolias to oaks introduced with the first conquest of the eastern colonies of North America , to the specimens that were sent to Europe as they were reached those boundaries of the world of which they knew the existence and little more, from Mexico to Patagonia, to India , to Australia , then, with their progressive opening from China and Japan – contributes to determine a new horticultural awareness, also due to the fact that there is a systematic progress in the collection of plants.

The classificatory attitude and the scientific structuring of knowledge and techniques, of the practical aspects of gardening, add up to commercial needs. Where the attention for the characteristics of the habitat of origin is functional to the attempt to acclimatize with some hope of success the plants in different conditions, and … to be able to sell them.

A new focus therefore for new plant subjects, new varieties, for those exotic greenhouses, but also, to invest the large scale of the landscape, for conifers and deciduous trees from North America with their unusual autumn colors, berry shrubs or early flowering; an attention that reserves a new look also for the individual plants, in itself, for their “natural” shape and their particularities: tree bearing and structure, bark textures, foliage colors …, where these shapes and motifs of the green will inspire to recreate the garden just starting from the same characteristics of the natural elements.

An awareness and a look that will go into the aesthetic process that, breaking the formal schemes, should favor the idea of ​​a garden of English style and the tendency to respect a naturalness of the places, even if often romantic and idealized .

Well beyond the “exoticism” that the encounter with the other also determines in many other spheres of taste (from furnishings to architecture and even in the gardens: for example in the pagodas and pavilions of oriental style, like those of the the botanical gardens of London, the famous Kew Gardens), undoubtedly the merit (the co-responsibility) of our hunters in changing the landscape and the ways and the taste of considering it.

The acceleration of the migratory process of “predate” plants leads to new ornamental fashions in gardens and parks in Europe, modifying landscapes, but also creating new opportunities for exploitation in the timber industry or the pharmacopoeia 0 , not to mention the smuggling of seeds and knowledge for tea processing from China .

* * *

The new aesthetics is being clarified with the emergence of new audiences. Whittle fixes clear chapters since the ordinance in volume chapters. From the period of the orangery collectors to the most widespread botanical and gardener interest in the rich Victorian society. Witnessed by the love for exotic plants, soon so fashionable that it became the object of distinction of taste and the status of those who could afford it, in particular orchids and carnivores, and the spread of the passion for greenhouses in large houses and bourgeois villas – a passion that travels on the wave of the Decimus Burton’s Palm Trees in Kew and the huge glass pavilion, the Crystal Palace for the Universal Exposition, favored, among other things, by the abolition of the tax on the glass in .

And this at least as long as, for reasons of taste, but also for the increasing cost of glass, heating and labor, it will be determined in the late Victorian age A revolution in Western gardening (as with a certain irony a chapter title): for a new public whose finances allowed only the cultivation of rustic and semi-rustic plants, and «whose prophet was an irascible Irishman named William Robinson, destined with the help of Gertrude Jekyll to revolutionize the style of Western gardening and that – as Whittle points out – would have since then tyrannized the gardeners of two continents and given great popularity to that kind of rustic and semi-rustic trees, shrubs and perennial plants that had to be in great abundance and variety in the the jagged valleys and gorges of western China, beneath the white peaks of its great mountains. “

* * *

There, or wherever analogous, ambiguous preys were found by our indefatigable hunters who, save in the cases of the most cynical merchants, always enthusiastically betray the nature of their passion in their travel reports.

That it is, as in the case of Fortune, for the chrysanthemums depicted “with petals that look long and thick hair, red with yellow tips at the ends” or, in the story of how the Buddleia alternifolia sways “on the hills of Löss as a graceful weeping willow with small leaves when it is not in bloom, and as a purest purple cascade at the time of flowering », for Farrel’s pen that tells us how only the reading of the plant in its natural habitat can fully restore the completeness of vision .

An awareness of irreparable nostalgia, so much so that when John Gibson, one of the most experienced travelers in the East, using those cycas, palms, tree ferns, bananas and arias that he had sent to London, he planned Battersea Park with his goal to reconstruct, for the curiosity of his countrymen, what he had admired in the Eastern Tropics, he soon realized that, although it aroused astonished wonder, the result was not in his eyes that “a pale imitation: a phantom, and nothing more, of the dripping and intricate jade forests, enamelled with colors, which he had been able to admire for the first time in Bengal and Assam “.

Irremediable nostalgia, the one that still urges us to reread, to stay with them, the adventures of plants and hunters, irremediable nostalgia for that evoked elsewhere, of that other universe of vegetable presences of unprecedented dimensions, shapes, proportions, colors, fragrances, which for centuries we insist on wanting to possess and replicate with us, to reassemble in a permanent globalization ante litteram, a hybrid that however for some time, often unconsciously, lives in our gardens and in the landscape, not only vegetal, and it seems so familiar to us.

Autochthonous would seem, by now, if you could say – with the comfort of our mad hunters – … since ?

See, for example, John Grimshaw, The Gardener’s Atlas. The origins, discovery, and cultivation of the world’s most popular garden plants , Firefly Books, London 00.

For Italy, Federico Maniero, Chronology of Italian exotic flora , Leo S. Olschki, Florence 0.

On the topic among others, Alice M. Coats , The Plant Hunters: Being a History of the Horticultural Pioneers, Their Quests and Their Discoveries from the Renaissance to the Twentieth Century , McGraw-Hill Book, New York 0; Toby Musgrave, Chris Gardner, Will Musgrave, The Plant Hunters, Orion Publishing Group, London ; Carolyn Fry, The Plant Hunters , Carlton Publishing Group, London 00; John and Mary Gribbin, Flowers Hunter , Oxford University Press, London 00, between. en. Plant hunters , Raffaello Cortina, Milan 00; Andrea Wulf, The Brother Gardeners: Botany, Empire and the Birth of an Obsession , Heinemann, London 00, trans. en. The brotherhood of the gardeners , Ponte alle Grazie Salani, Milan 0.

For today’s hunters, see Bobby J. Ward, The Plant Hunter’s Garden. The New Explorers and Their Discoveries , Timberpress, Portland 00 and in a local variant, Lucilla Zanazzi, Men and Plants. The passions of the collectors of the green , Deriveapprodi, Rome 0. For a truly sectorial survey on the health hardly put to the test of our hunters, cf. AM Martin, The Perils of Plant Collecting

On the other hand, from the first pages of his work, and then everywhere with his delicate and pungent style, Whittle stigmatizes the intervention of so many victorious Victorian “curators” of the plant hunters’ diaries.

They treat it extensively in the chapter you devoted the Gribbin in their Plant Hunters , cit.

By Baltram and then Douglas.

By Banks with Cook and then George Caley.

For a general overview you can usefully see Franco Panzini, Designing Nature. Architectures of landscape and gardens from their origins to contemporary times , Zanichelli, Milan 00.

Precious and fast growing conifers in North America.

0 The quinine from the bark of Cinchoa of Ecuador.

And the unhappy idea of ​​Joseph Banks to introduce the bread tree in the West Indies to make cheap food for the slaves, with the relative mutiny of the Bounty.

The nod to the debate between the naturalist theoretician, William Robinson, and the formal one advocated by Reginald Blomfield with his The Formal Garden in England () is but a chapter of the pervasive spread in England of a national passion for gardening a little bit in all social strata.

And once again our Whittle does not escape the game to try his hunters, for example in his description (which can be read here on the back cover) of the wonder that gives rise in Gibson to the crossing of East Bengal and Brahmaputra valley: “Where nature was more luxuriant, Gibson faced an extraordinary density: compact masses of ferns and mosses, lichens and mushrooms, gigantic bamboo, thirty feet tall and even more soaring as church bell towers; trees that looked like ships, with sails and ravines of climbing plants, and great epiphytes blazing here and there with trunks and branches; a nature so tumid and throbbing that in the rare moments of silence, where for a moment the squeaks, the lamentations, the screams, in short, the thousand voices of the forest, seemed almost to feel, imperceptibly, grow the plants, mature and swell the cells of that rich vegetation “.

For a quite different perspective, the one proposed by an anthropological reading that moves in relation to a culturally cultivated nature, see the wide-ranging investigation initiated by Jack Goody, The culture of flowers. The traditions, languages, meanings from the Far East to the Western world , Cambridge University Press, Einadi Torino , and the works of Philippe Descola, in particular, Par-delà nature et culture , Gallimard, Paris 00 and which is now translated in Italian The ecology of others. Anthropology and the question of nature , Linaria, Rome 0; more specifically on the themes of exoticism, Jean-Michel Groult, Pour un nouvel exotisme au jardin , ActeSud, Paris 0.

The harsh taste of the landscape

It is still difficult to assert in the common sense the evidence that the complex multiplicity of relationships that we call landscape (natural variables, material cultures, mental projections) is not only a legacy of the work and wisdom of previous generations, but rather the outcome in progress of our ability to creatively reinterpret it.

Adding the contradictory protagonism of our many current events every day. Yet, this awareness sometimes begins to be shared, until the communities of places get their word and responsibility. And this goes together with the progressive spread of a culture of the “living landscape” made up of continuous education of the gaze and the senses, of emotions and knowledge, but also of training and dissemination, of the convergence of ultra-disciplinary knowledge, centered on a strategic vision and an articulated design methodology.

The connective figure of the landscape architect has long played an important role in building and promoting this culture. Prospecting also in Italy, albeit with some delay, the importance of skills that, in the framework of an interdisciplinary approach, intervene in the conception and design of what are now called “green infrastructures”: to give an account of the value of the system that this coordinated multiplicity of interventions takes on innervating the social, housing, productive framework of the most diverse scale, conforming its aspirations and imaginary.

Organized by the landscape architects of the Italian Association of Landscape Architecture, the 53rd World Congress of the International Federation of Landscape Architects will be held this year in Italy, from April 20 to 22 at the Lingotto in Turin. National associations of landscape architecture structured in the world in 4 macro regions.

The comparison on the theme titled the three days, Tasting the Landscape , is a heartfelt invitation to consider also the emotional and perceptive component of the landscapes, here appropriately privileged in the rampant liminal dimension constituted by peri-urban landscapes, between city and countryside. A series of achievements from the most diverse contexts will be proposed with the possibility of being valid as good practices. A final document of synthesis and direction will be shared and brought to the attention of citizens and politicians, calling us to the common responsibility that sees us all still operate on the landscape, perhaps in negative, abstaining and paying the costs of “not doing”, or proceeding ex post, for emergencies. Or instead savoring the taste of a consciously hypothesized landscape, unbalancing in the sign of experimentation, enunciating indications to proceed in tight dialectics with other opinions, ideas, participatory processes. In the belief that a renewed awareness of the value of the landscape is the premise of a shared, civil assumption of responsibility.

Interview with Anna Letizia Monti , president of the Italian Association of Landscape Architecture on the occasion of the 53rd World Congress of the International Federation of Landscape Architects to be held this year in Turin, at Lingotto, from April 20th to 22nd

Torsten Wirke:
The Peace Monument, or: God with us, sketch for the design realized through the cutting of the grass at the Monument of the Battle of the Nations in Leipzig 2013. A minimal and disruptive approach to perceive with new eyes the usual landscapes in the intervention of a landscape artist and an artist, Torsten Wilke and Ralf Witthaus

In the programmatic declaration of the 53rd World Congress of the International Federation of Landscape Architects to be held this year in Turin, at Lingotto, from April 20 to 22 organized by the Italian Association of Landscape Architecture, the president, Anna Letizia Monti , he says that “even at national level politicians, administrators and public opinion are finally recognizing that the landscape is an important element for the quality of life of the population”. We ask you if the great organizational effort that will bring to Turin over 1000 landscape specialists should not discount, especially in Italy, the defensive conviction, which also does not lack good reasons, which sees the landscape still too often considered only as something to admire and protect, keeping it equal to itself. While the message of your meeting focuses on a landscape project that is operating at the center of the country’s growth and development activities. How can these points of view be reconciled?

R It is no longer the time to think of the landscape as an iconic and celebrative element. The landscape is a dynamic reality that evolves, changes and changes. It is an integral part of the daily life of countries and populations and participates with them in changing needs and new uses.

The landscape is used in many ways and functions and can be defined as urban and periurban spaces to foster relationships and relationships; as urban and rural areas with arboreal plants for recreational activities and improvement of air quality; as dense sites of stratifications and past destinations that are renewed for food production of contiguity or for participatory poetics.

Our country is late on many of these issues, but the time has come to (re) act.

The Congress also has this objective: highlighting the needs, awakening the mind, suggesting solutions to be able to consciously and systematically launch projects and landscape projects that are an integral part of the policies of this country that – unfortunately – is decades behind the realization of normal projects of landscape, real and possible.

D In this type of forum there is often the risk of talking to oneself instead of taking the risk of dictating, almost imposing some strong themes on the debate. Could you introduce us to the reasons for choosing a title like Tasting the Landscape and its articulation in the 4 areas of study?

R We have chosen to investigate the areas of the landscape project in the round: the sensitive resignification of places, the critical areas of marginal areas, the proximity cultivations, the stratified landscapes, the poetics of everyday life.

In Turin we investigate the shared landscapes : the areas between city and countryside, residence and agricultural cultivation, industrial production and abandonment. These are landscapes that can and must create links, sharing and give value to places, people, ideas and productions; they are the areas for urban agriculture, the periurbans no longer waiting to be urbanized but resurrecting new life.

We compare the connected landscapes : those green and blue infrastructures, which are used to create connections, unions, continuity between territories and contiguous people. Places in which productions and sporting activities coexist, resilience and tourism.

Then the theme of stratified landscapes is discussed, in which the stories and the mutations of the places coexist and dialogue. Sites in which past and present have precarious relationship codes and for which the landscape artist must identify semantics for complementarity and cohesion.

Lastly, inspirational landscapes are studied: places where a re-signification of the existing takes shape or new poetics for living are declined.

 D’incà Lewis
Intervention by Gianluca D’Incà Levis in the context of the Dolomiti Contemporanee project for the re-appropriation of spaces and the reuse of buildings that render landscapes and populations alive and active.

D Given the plurality of the interventions and projects that will be presented, could you anticipate some concrete cases from which you await suggestions and solutions that, although linked to the different contexts of origin, could take on an exemplary value and offer glimpses of future trends and developments?

R The works will see the intervention of leading figures in the international debate such as Raffaele Milani, professor of aesthetics and landscape philosophy; Henri Bava, French landscape designer who has undergone numerous projects for the redevelopment of degraded landscapes; Saskia Sassen, a sociologist and US economist who has been investigating the theme of the global city for years.

The novelty, if we want to consider it, is that it is not only the European countries and the United States that have the implementation policies and habits for the landscape project, but also most of the other countries. In Turin will be presented a project of 1,000 hectares of urban agriculture in Beijing, contributions of the University of Tehran, projects for the enhancement of Turkish landscapes in the hinterland of Mersin, rather than the southwest of Nigeria: it is clear the sensitivity and determination of many countries to implement cogent landscape policies, with strictly economic and / or tourism purposes or to make their own suggestions and stimuli coming from citizens.

Q And in Italy? Are there any virtuous examples to be taken as precedents or good practices? I am reminded of last year’s landscape project at Expo by Franco Zagari and Benedetto Selleri, also for the future implications, risks and opportunities to imagine today a green infrastructure system in the North, in the context of the metropolitan city.

In short, what is the state of the art in Italy and the implementation purpose of the landscape project? What is the attention of institutions and representatives of political power?

R Virtuous examples exist throughout the country. But they do not make a system.

There are no stringent policies and simple procedural procedures to propose and implement landscape projects.

We talk a lot, but in a generic way. We do not realize elementary things, such as tax deductibility for green works: a system adopted for boilers, fixtures, purchase of furniture and that failed to fit into the stability law this year, despite the cohesive mobilization of the whole industry chain: nurserymen, designers, companies of green works.

The politicians of each deployment speak of landscape, ecology, sustainability, tourism promotion of the landscape heritage, but the actions are limited to planning and telling projects, without going to their realization.

Landscape projects involve low money investments, sometimes even minimal compared to most public works. It takes little to do much: you invest in ideas, trees, shrubs, seeds and land and you get oxygen, wellness, tourism and garrison of the territory. It is at least paradoxical that it is not possible to create works that have these characteristics but perhaps it is precisely because of the long time that nature requires (which are longer than an electoral mandate) and the economic minimality of these works that nobody is interested in developing and to promote this sector which – evidently – has too small budgets to be interesting , especially for those who are interested in turning a lot of money. It is a serious statement mine, but AIAPP is not afraid to cry out that, in our country, for too many years the king is naked.

Q We are talking about a conclusive document of synthesis that goes in the direction of an overall greater accountability of all the protagonists? Could you anticipate the terms?

R The manifesto focuses in a few points on the salient issues: landscape quality and design quality, the need for mandatory landscape governance policies, adequate training at all levels: from the university, to professional updating at all scales, from the technicians of the public administrations to freelancers, from the operator to the manager.


The city of gardens calls for politics

The feeling of temporary relief, of respite from the pincer of heat and smog that is immediately felt walking along a tree or entering the garden of a villa.

Especially in our cities where more and more people are concentrating the majority of the population, makes immediately evident also to our senses that series of statistical data that for a long time repeat to our reason the costs that every day we pay for the lack of investments in gardens and green spaces. Costs, due to lack of intervention, which weigh on us in social, environmental and economic terms, overheating and pollution, costs that affect health and well-being.

It is valid for public spaces, precious legacies often badly endured and only rarely implemented in a logic of relaunching, even between generations, of a creative project that includes aesthetic dimension and quality of life. Applies to the green of private spaces. From the gardens of historic villas to the myriad of even minutes connected to houses, gardens, terraces, balconies. Up to the vertical walls and green roofs of which today we speak a lot.

Now, as many as three bills designed to introduce tax measures for private greenfield risk, after a long work, to end up in finance. Formulating in this way a small corollary the idea for some time in the air that, as regards the green, it is better to think things in terms of opportunities for development and investment. In this case micro molecular occasions.

Nonetheless, the relapses, even starting from their direct interest, as well as in a small form of adoption, taking responsibility, are reverberating both in terms of the environment and public health – from environmental environmental requalification to temperature mitigation and improvement of the air quality – that on the economic and employment, with the induced of the chain of green jobs, up to the garden tourism sector (between 5 and 8.000.000 visitors per year, in strong growth), a sustainable tourism that is distributed, like our historic gardens, throughout the territory.

The introduction of tax deductions for implementation and redevelopment of private green areas would thus extend the “green space” as already provided for the works for the recovery of the building heritage and energy requalification. To the extent of 36%, the tax exemption also concerns the construction of green roofs and roof gardens aimed at the absorption of fine dust, the mitigation of noise pollution and the reduction of thermal excursions and would involve both the owners and the tenants, admitting also “restoration work and recovery of the green related to private historical gardens”.

Tomorrow, September 27th, to present and support the three bills to depriscalize the private green, will be held from 10.30, at the Chamber of Deputies, Sala Regina, the conference promoted by the National Coordination of the Chain of Floriculture and Landscape entitled : Landscape calls politics: economy, health, development, employment and tourism for a sustainable Italy . Experts and signatories of the proposals will speak and, to indicate the importance and transversality of the issues at stake, the ministers of agricultural policies, environment, cultural heritage and tourism, health, infrastructure and transport have been invited (the fundamental one of the economy is missing) ).

Wishing that politics, as always more widely the sensitivity of citizens, responds.

Gardens of the East

In the east of China and Japan the gardens are among the major plastic evidences of the constitutive relationship that these cultures have with nature.

Understood here, in a respectful, intimate custom, as a harmonious whole of which one is a part. In consonance with a vision of the world as a universal flow of energy.

With their paradoxical aesthetic of “artificial naturalness” and the tension between opposites, in the context of an analogical thought based on the correspondence between macrocosm and microcosm, these gardens express that flow and the internal coherence of the process.
 They are therefore, at the same time, with just as much evidence, testimony of otherness with respect to our Western thought of distinctions, which celebrates the centrality of man, of the primacy of his point of view of an observer interested in fixing the form, alien and separate nature . And this, however long a laborious, often fruitful dialectic between fascination for that otherness and the possibility of understanding it with the analytical tools of our Western thought has been going on. Or at least to inspire them in a dialogue of multiple and simultaneous possibilities of which gardens are an occasion and a vehicle.

Of this contemporaneity – sometimes simplistically reduced to timeless aesthetics – of a garden that is a catalyst for cultures but alive, in its continuous reinterpretation at the intersection of distant glances, they now recount in two different books, starting from different assumptions.
Following the thread of thought and the narratives of ancient and contemporary Chinese and Japanese writers who have attended, illustrated, theorized, when not conceived gardens, the sinologist Yolaine Escande in the agile volumes of Wisdom Gardens in the East. China and Japan traces the function of guiding the wisdom that they, though changed in appearance and nature over the centuries, continue to perform (Deriveapprodi, pp. 90, € 12.00, in the Habitus series where it has recently appeared, in dialogue ideal, the corresponding Gardens of Wisdom in the West by the historian of the Hervé Brunon gardens). With the warning that, in the constant interconnection with literary writing, landscape painting, ceramics, tea ceremony, calligraphy …, “in matters of gardens theory and philosophy of reference seem essentially come from China, while the most innovative achievements, together to the conservation of the various forms of ancient gardens from different periods, they seem to be on Japanese territory “.

 As an art historian, but especially a multi-award-winning young garden designer, Sophie Walker proposes an analysis of her historical evolution in the richly illustrated volume dedicated to The Japanese Garden . Undoubtedly articulated in the field of aesthetics and traditional culture – following the multiple lines of development, types and variations in a review of the aesthetic principles and landscape elements that those principles in the different contexts do – but with an eye to their intertemporality, ranging from the ancient Shinto shrines to the gardens of Buddhist temples, the imperial shrines and, through the waterless gardens, those of tea, or those inside the courtyards and patios invisible from the street , to consider the most recent contemporary urban projects, or the gardens of embassies and art museums (Phaidon-L’Ippocampo, pp. 304, € 39.90).
It is no coincidence that in photographic documentation – printed on gray paper, an effective meditative patina is laid out – together with the cards illustrating one hundred of the main gardens in Japan, occasions and figures of visitors, artists and scholars are emphasized. Westerners whose work was influenced by the Japanese garden. From Frank Lloyd Wright to Walter Gropius from Kyoto’s Ryoanji to Le Corbusier in 1954, from Yves Klein to David Chipperfield, Sam Francis, David Hockney, to John Cage and his Where R = Ryoanji from 1983, to Richard Long of A Line In Japan , up to Isamu Noguchi.
 In contrast, the Walker then calls short essays by guest authors, personalities from the current world of art, architecture, design, from the Tadao Ando of the invisible architectures of Naoshima, which grow together with the landscape, the essay on the gardens of Kyoto by the minimalist Korean painter Lee Ufan, to Anish Kapoor of the considerations on the void as an object in power.

Despite the diversity of the approach, in the two volumes it emerges as a common background as the art of the gardens of this East contemplates, in the mystical dimension founded on the practice of meditation, a strong spiritual component. Resulting, albeit in various ways, beyond the formal technical aspects, a privileged tool for the transformation of oneself according to a specific cognitive procedure.
A process where the designer becomes a choreographer of the physical and spiritual space, implying the visitor who, through his experience, “completes the effects of the garden on his senses”. In gardens to be traveled physically, involving the body in a performative practice where actively taking part makes us aware (for example, by changing floorings) or, mentally, in the face of inaccessible spaces, to be contemplated only through the framed views of square openings (the Illusion window) and round windows (the illumination window). Essential spaces, often so abstract – especially in the dry or karesansui garden – that invite to free the imagination, evoking the invisible, the hidden, or by analogy the implicit and imagined: according to the way of thought of the mite , for which, knowing how to capture something different in the elements of the garden, for example the raked gravel is meant for water. A concept that, through the technique of “borrowed landscape” ( shakkei ), expands to understand the views beyond the border, beyond the physical space of the garden, in the surrounding landscapes, as well as recalling known scenarios or imagined views, but also the light of the elusive moon to admire from special terraces ( tsukimidai ).

An expansion of the knowledge that passes through a live network of elements that the garden invents. Portals, pavilions, bridges, as well as the ubiquitous presence of the stones, the twisted trees to capture energy, the pervasive use of the mosses to account for the infinitely small change of perspective.
Growth of awareness, in solitude as in the relationship with others, where the continuous postponement between interior and exterior, interiority and macrocosm, makes the garden a means of access to wisdom.
As Yolaine Escande argues, a wisdom, that learned in the garden, lived as a shared experience.
In a process of empathy with the flow of the living towards the becoming of a revelation ( satori ).
That is reflected in the conceptual minimalism of the Sixties of the Mono-ha or in the mate proposed in 2002 by Tatsuo Miyajima’s Time Garden in Osaka, as already, transmigrating beyond the latitudes of the gardens of this east, in the essential lines of the recollected postcard that Walter Gropius writes from the Ryoanji rock garden to Le Corbusier: “Dear Corbu, everything we fought for has its parallel in ancient Japanese culture. This rocky garden of the 13th century Zen monks – stones and raked white gravel – may have been designed by Arp or Brancusi, an inebriating corner of peace “.

Floral languages

As Rudolf Borchardt pointed out, “for ninety-nine percent, the figurative expressions that human languages ​​possess are taken from the world of plants; for ninety-nine percent, all ornamental forms derive from the flower “.

Which in its essence is therefore a bearer of meaning at once punctual and polysemic.

In their multifaceted suggestion, to flowers we attribute close correlations with human feelings in a system of rules that makes aspiration to a language. The genealogy of which now tells Isabel Kranz in his words Le parole dei fiori. An alphabet of the plant language , Bompiani, pp. 176, € 27.00.


Going back to the traces of this cultural history, the author identifies its origin, following the general aspiration to systematize the world, which translates into the binomial classification of Carlo Linnaeus, in the bestseller published in Paris in 1819 under the pseudonym of Madame Charlotte de Latour, entitled The language of flowers (Olschki, 2008). Destined mainly to a female audience to devise messages to be transmitted through flowers, this manual mostly embodies the ideality of a chaste love, in the sign of the bourgeois conception of marriage.

If after Latour the fashion of the books on the language of flowers spreads in Europe and then in the United States with the function of entertainment, already in the mid-800 is metaphor frequent in the relationship of other variants of sexuality with the sphere of vegetable, from the titles, with La signora delle camelie , as with the flowers of evil . While, from the paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe to the photos of Imogen Cunningham or Robert Mapplethorpe, a series of artistic contributions will be exhibiting the eroticism of the flowers.

The game of volume is then to follow and recompose, when not playfully vary, the universality and coexistence of the different floral languages, with their disciplinary variants, the different registers, where the essential descriptive precision of the taxa slips into the idiom of imaginifices. technicalities.

In his alphabetical scan of flowers found in nature as well as sprung from fantasy, from literature to cinema, from romantic comedies to floral novels , botanical descriptions from the undoubted poetic implication, quotations of the floral language, appropriately varied illustrations taken from historical reproductions, The invitation is then to compose, with floristic expertise, the flower of those “open signs” that from the story of the rhododendron chosen in an all-female election as official flower of the Washington State in 1893, foreshadowing, shortly thereafter, the The general right to vote for women, the intrigue of flower girl ‘s tricks at the Blue Gardenia of Fritz Lang’s film, introduce us to the Ice Flowers that Walter Benjamin or other Paper Flowers would like to write. Always from the Poetaceae family.

Isabel Kranz, The words of flowers. An alphabet of the plant language , translation by Francesca Gabelli, Bompiani, pp. 176, € 27.00, reviewed by Andrea Di Salvo on Alias ​​of Sunday VIII, 17, Supplement of Il Manifesto of May 13, 2018

Published in Reviews Tagged Charles Linnaeus , Charlotte de Latour , floral novels , Fritz Lang , Georgia O’Keeffe , The language of flowers , language of flowers , Robert Mapplethorpe , rhododendron , Rudolf Borchardt , cultural history of the garden , Walter Benjamin

Gardens, experiments and tradition at the Chelsea Flower Show

Punctual like every year of these times, a floral euphoria crosses the city of London radiating from the exclusive district of Chelsea.

CHelsea Flower Show_Vìride Garden Criticism_Andrea DI SALVO

Here, in the gardens of the Royal Hospital , it has just been held for five days around the last weekend of May, as always inaugurated by the Queen, the 105 edition of the Chelsea Flower Show , the largest exhibition of plants and gardens of the old continent .

Impeccably organized by one of the oldest and most famous institutions of the sector, the Royal Horticultural Society , the exhibition ends up as a hybrid between the worldly occasion, a costume event and a budget opportunity for the state of the art and the trends of the garden, its cultural implications, as of the market that revolves around it.

This is also due to the convergence of a highly motivated and mostly competent public of 167,000 visitors paying an expensive ticket, preferably booked for a long time (up to 105 pounds for those who are not members of the RHS) and the participation in competition of new and well-known talents , garden and landscape artists competing for the coveted medals in the various categories provided for the purpose-built gardens – incredibly, to see them finished, in the last three weeks alone. Strengthened by the otherwise unimaginable construction potential ensured by the funds allocated by the major sponsors involved (the average cost for the construction of major gardens, the Show garden of 22 meters by 10, is around 300,000 pounds). All with the complicity of tight media coverage, BBC with dedicated on-site broadcast studio, new media, more than 1000 accredited journalists from all over the world.

All the elements that testify, especially in the times of Brexit, and in any case a contraction of the sponsors’ commitment also because of the recent Bribery Act (a sort of anti-corruption legislation), of the international importance of such an “institutional” event that still sees a guiding and guiding role for a typically British horticulture.

Even in this edition, the gardens stand out among the largest, the most spectacular, just the Show garden , 22 meters by 10, and the youngest. In addition to the usual Artisan gardens, where materials and refined traditional work are revisited and updated, from this year the new category of the so-called Space To Grow proposes ideas and solutions for urban contexts.

These real plant stalls are distributed among the stands of over 500 exhibitors of everything that is due to the furniture and green technologies, along the avenues and clearings in the trees around the huge Great central covered pavilion where, over 90 inimitable nursery gardeners exhibit thematically the riot of colors and fragrances of their collections. From the dahlias, this year again in trend, of the National Collection , to the hellebores, chilled and delayed in bloom, of the Ashwood nursery. And where, proposing the result of the new intersections, the specimens presented are presented for the Plant Award of the Year awards.

Consistently, if you want, with these confused and contradictory times of ours, the themes of the garden works of this edition of the Chelsea Flower Show alternate and intersect with technologically ordered leaks forward, taking refuge in traditional solutions. Ending to suggest, differently but in many works, as in the face of increasingly extreme and unpredictable variables, in particular of the general climate (not only meteorological), the artificial plants and the beauty of the gardens can show experimental solutions, and together and molecularly disseminated, to cope with the main challenges of the moment, from environmental concerns to aspirations to healthy, when not saving, recomposing in terms of well being, both on an individual and social level, between us and nature.

If the natural inspiration of philological reconstruction down to the details of the reassuring landscape of the Welcome to Yorkshire Garden by Mark Gregory met the favor of the public who voted for it during the show, the best prize in the main category went to the breath inspired by the shelter , in the graphic shade of a birch nigra in dialectic with the exuberance of the plot of the surrounding plantations, which Chris Beardshaw wanted as a metaphor of a desired reassurance path for minors who have been abused – to whom the work of the charity organization entitled The Morgan Stanley Garden for the NSPCC .

Again, then, gardens that evoke views. From the archetypal window of openings and closures, from the clearing in the Weston Garden by the veteran Tom Stuart-Smith (unique, among the large gardens, not in competition and passable by the public, while the others can only be observed at a distance on two sides) with the its variety of textures and leaves; to that of the South African wine region revisited by the novice Jonathan Snow in The Trailfinders South African Wine Estate , which, on the background of the eighteenth-century facade of a Cape Dutch farm, proposes the progression from climbing roses and garden agapanthus, looking for a row of vines, ends in a red-hot thick scrub vegetation, beyond the protee proteases.

Views together natural and cultural, in the garden to the second, in turn inspired by that of the sculptor Barbara Hepworth and the composer Leo Geyer, designed by Stuart Charles Towner and a group of artists; or in the projection of a Mediterranean ideal with which the author of the London 2012 Olympic Park, Sarah Price, is now experimenting with very different language and sensuality. Lights and shadows scenically marked by walls kneaded in the model and in the pigments of the Mexican gardens of Luis Barragán vibrate on gravel and among plants able to face drought, timi, sedum, euphorbias, but also dark carnations and capers, lentisks and two ancestors pomegranates .

So, up to the social landscape of the garden in “seed correspondence” with that made by Syrian refugees from the Domiz refugee camp in northern Iraq, the Lemon Tree Trust Garden designed by Tom Massey for the sponsor, sorry if it is not enough, Morgan & Stanley, to highlight the role of gardening in recreating residual living spaces, using waste materials and objects, pipes and cans and a set of edible plants and flowers that evoke memories and beauty.

On the other hand, the garden is asked to make itself through new environmental awareness and responsibility, to be environmentally friendly, designing solutions that, in the face of an ever increasing dependence of our lives on technology, “alleviate a routine increasingly subjected to work” (sic !), this is the futuristic design of the LG Eco-City Garden by Hay Hwang, where the sponsor is LG Electronics – or even, in the case of the collaboration between Ikea and Indoor Garden Design, smaccatamente showing how to “ecologize” the work spaces can “significantly improve productivity”.

More seriously, Tony Woods proposes with Urban Flow a garden aimed at recovering rainwater, in a context of plant choices inspired by biodiversity as well as the aesthetic dimension in favoring leaves resonating with perforated metal structures that articulate the space; or again, celebrating the beauty of the underwater gardens, John Warland highlights the devastating impact of plastic waste in our oceans with his The Pearlfisher Garden where he effectively imagines an underwater scene with echeveries, kalanchoes, sedum to imitate the corals and tillansie to make the effect of algae moving.

Still in the smaller section of the urban gardens where to propose and experiment ideas and solutions to transform all sorts of outdoor spaces, the new category of the so-called Space To Grow , we encounter the pyramidal progression of 200 concrete cubes among which stand out different plants in shape and consistency, to reflect the different conditions of our epidermis, in the conceptual garden of Robert Barker, entitled Skin Deep , where emerges a dialectic exteriority-interiority that is also found in Nic Howard’s impressive garden show , The David Harber and Savills Garden, which in the search for an empathy with the environment, it wants to trigger a process of transformative reflection, from the first floor of the disjointed graminaceous plants to a more controlled section of peonies, geums and lupins, in the rhythm of a series of bronze arches and mirrors until the sculpture, on the background of a wall, where the vertical architectural essentials coexist in a counterpoint minimalist horsetail with the multicolored spontaneity of the erigeron.

In any case, and for now in pursuit of a thread on the difficult day to be traced, and going beyond the telegenic patina and gossip from the worldly event that illustrate it, the function of indicator of taste carried out by Chelsea Flower Show remains undoubted; amplifying over the past decades, stages and trends in the design of the garden, from the rocky, to that “for rooms” 70s, from the neo-naturalist wave of the 90s of the perennial herbaceous and even welcoming some instances of a certain respectful progression planetary.

For the meantime, in a logic of recycling (including plants) and re-dissemination many of the elements present at Chelsea will now be transferred and reused, distributed at schools or communities.While, beyond the borders of Chelsea, the floral euphoria runs through the city ​​and not just spreading in a parallel, but completely autonomous, festival of events in free access: the Chelsea Fringe (we are in the seventh edition), without an imposed theme and open to gardening sessions, art installations, walks, workshops , shows. To celebrate the thousand forms and experiences of meetings and plant relationships, with plants and through the gardens.

The landscapes of the Céide Fields

Rewarding a place means knowing how to grasp the singular, exclusive, speaking physiognomy.

Carlo Scarpa International Award for the Benetton Garden_

But, even before that, the very idea of ​​awarding a prize to a place means recognizing the foundational importance of the specificity of the system and of the fabric of relationships that make it up and animate it. Ecological, historical, social relationships that imply us and that only allow the bodily intelligence of sensible things, awareness and relationship with the other and therefore inhabit the system of political themes that come from every periphery of the world. It means, in the relief that is recognized to each place, that that place in particular can teach us to think and act appropriately, with greater awareness, balance, respect and creative ingenuity.

Since 1990, the International Carlo Scarpa Prize for the Garden promoted by the Benetton Foundation continues with a commitment launched every year with the foresight in identifying specific realities that are interpreters of a map of thematic and problematic joints. And that problematizing evolve, as well is noted to read the sequence of places awarded in the 29 editions of what is certainly not a simple conferment of the seal designed by Carlo Scarpa, from time to time to the “custodian” – single or community – of the investigated place , as the result of real research and analysis campaigns in the field. Which then take the form of photographic and documentary exhibitions, study meetings and the publication of a detailed dossier. From the Sitio, the home of the Brazilian landscape designer Roberto Burle Marx , and then from the garden house of Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicolson, at Sissinghurst , awarded in the first editions, to the horizons of the Stockholm Cemetery of Asplund and Lewerentz , from the stone quarries to the temples of Selinunte to the redesign of the paths that lead to Acropolis in Athens by Dimitris Pikionis, up to the least less gardener and more intent to investigate also liminary experiences of garrison and care of places like that of the garden -geborino created at the beginning of the last century in the inhospitable Icelandic fjord of Skrudur, or that of the recent rebirth of cultivated villages and cohabitations near Srebrenica.

Until the award-winning landscape this year, that of the C é ide Fields of County Mayo, in western Ireland (by Patrizia Boschiero and Luigi Latini with Seamas Caulfield, pp. 196, € 18, Antigua, with a photographic exhibition and documentary in Treviso, at the Foundation, entitled I Céide Fields in Irish landscapes, a place of millennial history along a research trip ). An integrated system of fields destined to pasture over 5,000 years ago after the extinction of the forest here, a Neolithic rural landscape evoked by the plot of dry stone walls then buried and preserved by the peat thick up to 4 meters. And just from the peat cut away for fuel use resurface following the fascinating story of curiosity and affection, attention and care of the places by individuals and the community, partly excavated, partly deliberately not, but detecting the design in a archeological practice with long rods and metal probes that recalls an artistic performance or an ancient ritual. 

As always for the award, from the central episode reverberate different analyzes of the context, from that of the frontier landscape and ruins outcome and witness of colonization, famine, depopulation, to the ecological one on the ecosystem of the humid peat bog, from the survey on the variant the landscape gardens and the tourism of the picturesque – or sublime – in the land of Ireland, the role of cartographic reading and the relief of an archeology renewed in methodologies, and integrated with the biological sciences, in the research on the history of gardens, landscape , of cultivated areas.

The garden for women

She is a proponent in the early twentieth century of the affirmation of the professional presence of women in the garden and particularly in horticulture.

With the foundation of one of the first dedicated schools and with an untiring editorial activity in magazines and volumes.

If, as early as the mid-nineteenth century, Jane Webb Loudon had identified, with her handbook Gardening for Ladies, the need to speak, with a practical and informative, and with great public success, of techniques and instruments to an audience of non-specialists, especially women, with the turn of the century, from a pastime finally accessible even for women, gardening becomes the means of professional development and opportunities, an opportunity for identifying identity.
From the many readings and journeys made in Europe to gardens, as well as from the experience of her work in those she creates for educational purposes, Frances Garnet Wolseley will cut out for her pupils a wide training curriculum where practical aspects are almost more relevant than those scientific. Strong of belonging to a circle that sees among the mentors of his College for Lady Gardeners , founded in 1902 in Glynde, in East Sussex, eminent figures like Gertrude Jekyll, Ellen Willmott and William Robinson, our governess identifies the need, especially in these times of “frenzy” for the garden, to ensure quality profiles to the landscape art. An art related to architecture and twins agriculture and horticulture. In short, those of an expert design figure who knows, with the exercise of imagination tempered by technical skills, considering the conformation of the terrain and the spirit of the places, inspired by nature and arranging the artifice of the architectural elements with measure and proportion . All this, declined to the feminine. Even without great egalitarian yearnings – hesitating remain its positions on suffrage and as far as it is concerned in a personal search for independence with respect to the destiny reserved by its high social status, it remains the daughter of the British Empire and the severity of judgments inherited from the father, commander in charge of the army. The Wolseley then presides over the specific professional affirmation of women through the skills acquired by studying and practicing the lesson of gardening.

As already his previous volumes , often told and distilled personal teaching experiences, this is also the Giardini. Forms and design of 1919, published now in Italian at Elliot (pp. 309, € 22.00), is born, as evidenced by the illustrations of Mary G. Campion, as a collection of notes for the courses. With precise technical descriptions from the obsolete vocabulary and a certain irony, rendered in Italian sometimes with difficulty.
But it is in this context that the aspects linked to the clarification of a dashed discipline in the practice of its many applications and to its urban declination, of the planning of public spaces, seen as an opportunity for spreading good taste, are brought into focus. The discipline, and soon the profession, of that landscape architecture that in a decade would have seen on the island, with the foundation of the Institute of Landscape Architects , the birth of a specific trade association, with protagonists like Brenda Colvin and Marjory Allen.

The architect who draws with the trees

There is a measure, of participation and distance together, of discreet active protagonism.

Which is rarely encountered in that widespread category of books that aspire to tell in subjective their creative work by those who are dedicated to imagining and creating gardens, with result mostly to slip to inventariar catalogs.

Instead, he manages to convey the sense of a passion that becomes a profession – and paradoxically without resorting to any photographic documentation, evoking only at times the character of his interventions for gardens, without the pretension to describe them – the architect who “draws with trees “, As defined by Marco Bay in his story of experiences, in fact, Draw with trees. Stories of gardens , Mondadori, pp. 174, € 17.00.

Bay puts us aside from the progress of his work by sharing predilections and idiosyncrasies, from the premises of an education of the look in the places of childhood to the encounter with the teachers, ideas and practice (Geoffrey Jellicoe and Nena Balsari Berrone), all ‘ inspiration draws from time to time landscapes and gardens pursued in travel (the revolutionary rigor of the Parc Citroën , the synesthesias of the elsewhere in the Japanese gardens, the neo pop of Christopher Lloyd in Great Dixter ).

With an approach always straddling the natural dimension and practices of artifice, in a tight dialectic between echoes and suggestions of what pre-exists and giving however inspiration to the indispensable need to give shape, to add the sign of the contemporary. Tuning wild, tradition and domestic urban. In an interlocut with several voices with places, stories, symbologies and people (not least the client whose dream is called to fulfill) also witnessed, in the illustration of specific interventions, that often micro-accounts are made, from the prevalence of the lexical vault vaulting – paraphrasing – emphasizing, privileging, adding or subtracting, revisiting and contaminating. While still experimenting, sometimes on tiptoe, mostly in continuity, but also forcing out of estrangement, as in the case of palms and bananas introduced in Piazza Duomo in Milan.

Proceeding from garden to garden, emerges a sort of reconnaissance of the inventive modulating the geography of artifice places, from the exotic prealpine lakes to the silversides of the Ligurian terraces, from Versilia to Chianti, to the green of the city, to the curvilinear forest of 3,500 carpini designed for the Pirelli Foundation at Bicocca around a parterre of grasses lined up for variety.

A story telling where the craft, even in the backstage of the studio, the technique of the project, the nursery and the building site, meets the debate on the themes of the ecology of urban plant networks, public space, the inspiring role of art. Giving account of a practice, knowledge and know-how that better than any other is measured in the viaticum of the concluding thanks to the volume, among others, to many collaborators, artisans and professionals – carpenters, tinsmiths, smiths, bronzesmiths, nurserymen , gardeners – and “to the people who grow the trees I planted”.

Plants, flowers and animals at Palazzo Vecchio

In the rich and complex variety of suggestions that cross it, the iconographic program of that condensation of history, art and power that is Palazzo Vecchio.

natura dipinta aboca 300x300

The heart of the political strategy of self-representation of the Medici authority that in the early sixteenth century Florence is consolidating on a territorial scale, it reveals the plurality of knowledge and the stratigraphies of a cultural background that is transversely deployed across the board far beyond the encomiastic design.
Here the artistic invention and naturalistic curiosity converge and dialogue, components of the historical discourse (also in the allegorical mythological variations) as well as assumptions and foundations of a practical attitude as of an incumbent, specific scientific attention, especially botanical.

From the Sala dei Cinquecento to the Studiolo of Francesco I, from the Green Room to the Hall of the geographical maps, between apartments and representative rooms, celebratory meanings and passion for the world of “natural things” mutually reverberate in the crowds of artists and decorators among the major of the Renaissance.

In a single plot, the heraldic omnipresence of the Florentine red lily (actually an iris) accompanies the animals of the Medici emblems and businesses, as well as the black rooster of the Lega militare del Chianti. The attention to the landscape, detected with campaigns from life, to signify the new political geography, is coupled with the passion for nature investigated and, between science and magic, alchemically manipulated. Thus, the curiosity for detail and the vertigo of the collection are testified by over 150 vegetable presences (and a little less those animals) recorded and depicted on the doors of the study. And again, on frescoes, grotesques and whimsy, from the conversients and the infinite theories of missing fruits, first fruits, citrus fruits, from the mixtures of local, exotic, fantastic, faunas and flowers, and festoons, borders and plant architectures, from the chasing of chimeras , invertebrates, marine creatures, minerals, kernels of the Esperidi and plants of the new world, fruit in endless varieties.

To give an account of the recall of these presences, in their dense appearance from one environment to another of the building, now leads us in an interrelated recognition of the history of art, emblematic, zoology, botany, the volume entitled Nature painted . Plants, flowers and animals in the representations of Palazzo Vecchio in Florence (pp. 144, € 14.00), edited by Maria Adele Signorini and Valentina Zucchi and published for the Aboca editions.

In a catalog already rich in titles – from the recent Ecology of Desire. Taking care of the planet without Antonio Cianciullo’s renunciation to the Journey in the vegetable universe of the neo-biologist Stefano Mancuso -, in a choice that deepens and divulges themes at the center of the work, also of research, of a company like Aboca, especially dedicated to the realization of therapeutic products based on natural molecular complexes.
In short, while not disdaining cultivating books, biologically before anything else cultivated medicinal plants.