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The Gardener

There are a number of ways of laying out a Garden.

The best is by taking on a gardener.

Karel Capek

I always enjoyed working the land. Living since childhood with one of the most fertile lands in the world, the purple land, on weekends and holidays at my parents' farm, I was delighted with the feeling of planting and watching things growing. The desire to make a garden came from an interest in plants. Botanic and architecture completed the movement.

The activity of gardening came before that of landscape architect and these two facets of my work have never dissociated.

The gardener makes the garden possible. Day after day, under the sun, under the rain, the dust and the serene. The weight on the back, the mud, the hand in the bowels of the soil, which is a pleasure, in fact, the scratch of the thorn, the grimy nail, the repetitive work, the wheelbarrow up and down, the monotonous planting of the creeping plants, the physical effort in planting trees. The gardener sows, cares and reaps. And little by little he gets to know the intimacy of all the plants and the coexistence between them. He perceives the nuances of the seasons and their moods.

Yet the gardener is incomprehensibly invisible to most people. However, he is the one who makes the permanence of the gardens possible. It is sad the indifference and sometimes the disdain that exists for people who use their arms at work on the land, and for that very reason, they have them dirty from earth, muddy shoes and wet clothes. It is our tragic inheritance of cruelty and prejudice perpetuated by slave labor, still present, trumpeting the disrespect for the toil in the land, which many with disdain call manual labor. It enlightens us a lot to talk about the origin of words and how history and society change their meaning, and how this often stigmatizes people. So full of meaning is the word “humility” which derives from the Latin humilitas, which originates in humus, a fertile land. A humble person in the etymology of the word, is a person linked to the land and, I add, enriched by all the knowledge and experience that it brings us.

A good garden cannot be made by someone who has not developed the ability to know and love the things that grow, says Russel Page in his book The Education of a Gardener. He says it is not enough to learn the theory of the history of gardens, but it is necessary to learn the true nature of plants and stones, water and the sun, both by the hands and the mind. He says it is rare that the professional adds knowledge as a gardener and landscaper, and this is the complete and desired form of knowledge in this field. I fully agree with this way of looking at our profession. How to work with the forms of nature without knowing them? Yes, through the senses, too.

Welcome will be the day when the protagonists who work hand in hand to create the gardens, the gardeners, are encouraged, respected and admired for their blessed daily work, dignifying nature and bringing us close to it. We would have more and better professionals proud of their work. We would win more and more followers in the preservation of our biosphere.

If the planet functions as a living and dynamic whole,

limited by the confines of the biosphere, then we find ourselves

in the conditions of the garden: an autonomous and fragile place,

where each adjustment interferes in the whole,

and in the whole of each of the beings present.

It remains for us to find the gardener.

Gilles Clément

by Isabel Duprat

photography Fernando Guerra

September, 2020


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