Garden and Music

There are many analogies between composing and playing music and designing and executing a garden.


The two actions combine harmony and melody and awaken our emotions.


Musical harmony is vertical, while the melody is vertical. Bars measure time, that is geometric and hermetic.


In the garden the balanced nuance of verticality exposes harmony. It is the third dimension, which has the sky as reference. It is the measure of the place’s scale. The melody appears in the design of the land, in the plant composition, in how we juxtapose one plant to another, with what proportion and compass. It is in the inertia of the stone, in the rustling of sand, in the movement of water. All together and we have a symphony. Each plant chosen for a garden has its own time and course throughout the seasons. The harmony of a garden considers the different cycles of the plant groups that are experienced at different times, but simultaneously. It is a complex symphony.


A beautiful musical composition is like an exquisite garden design. Both need life to be given to their writings: the score and the drawing. Both performances need to be carried on with technique, sensitivity, freedom and emotion to become pieces that touch the heart. Deep involvement and commitment to the act of doing is essential. The score and the drawing will not survive with average performances and they can be destroyed by a bad interpretation. The music will have other chances, as it reborns each time it is played. The garden will not, as its execution is unique. The garden cycle begins when execution ends. And there is also the time to take care, which is eternal. There is time to fertilize, to prune, to transplant, to adapt and to wait. Exercises of patience, observation and perception.


There is a big difference between executing the constructive part of a garden project and a house, where the project is accurate and the execution mathematical, as it should be. In the implantation of vegetation, all imponderable aspects of working with living beings and their own desires are present, according to the weather and its commands and the forms of light. In jazz improvisation requires a lot of technique, creativity, sensitivity and even empathy from the audience. Improvisation in the execution of the garden requires these same assumptions, plus the perception of light, the countless shades of darkness and the different colors of the shadow, the shapes of the plants, the meanders, the multifaceted scales of the whole and the understanding of the surroundings. Reconciling intuition and reason. There is no garden execution of quality without emotion, or it will lack soul, it will not be a place. And yes, the synergistic relationship with the customer matters.


In music, the time of the orchestra is hermetic and everyone is attentive to the time of the conductor.


No jardim o maestro é o tempo.


In the garden the conductor is time.




writing Isabel Duprat

art Manoel Leão



February, 2021