The trees I drew incessantly as a child have become a profession. And every time, every story is different. In contemporary city courtyards, the garden is determined by the architectural rigour imposed by that exact space. In alpine gardens, the altitude is in charge: a meter of snow in the winter, with temperatures dropping as low as -20°C at night.
The nature of the terrain is incisive on Mediterranean islands, an expansive crust made of stone whipped by the four winds. In the heart of the city, references to the plant world are far afield, and creativity of a different nature comes into play.
Recognising the places of origin of plants and how they have adapted helps me when carrying out site surveys. The visit to the plot of land to be planned is an important step, where the priority is to really understand the nature of the place.
Observing all the components of a landscape is the starting point in outlining new ideas.
It’s like starting from the ground up each time, because experience does not guarantee certainty. It’s better to start again with humility, as you must be respectful with nature; you can’t win by being clever.
Pre-existing trees are extremely significant, both within the site and its periphery, and even in more distant areas. They are the starting point when determining the future botanical choices that will create continuity and harmony with the landscape.
Even the mineral elements of the place are an important reference, ensuring synchronicity with the characteristics of a garden: the rocks used to make dry-stone walls, those intended for walkways or to become steps, or to crush into gravel.
Once the survey is complete, after having left the site, my ideas about the project begin to come into focus. It often happens in the car, in the dark of night, or when I can’t sleep, with my eyes closed. Even when riding my bicycle around the city. Walking, for me, is perhaps one of the best times for ideas to flow, free from everyday worries; as I walk, they begin to crystallise.
Once the right photographs have been taken, the images take shape in the studio, at the drawing table. During this phase, I am able to keep a direct thread between my mind and hand, and to magically imprint what I feel on paper, getting a taste of the extraordinary emotions that arise when ideas are freed as gestures on the land.
Drawing in the studio is a moment filled with creative energy; it’s an act of liberation, abandon, pleasure of great wellbeing.
It’s a special kind of happiness when your hand, without knowing why, ventures out onto drawing paper.
The text above is taken from a book I wrote, published by Mondadori in 2018: Disegnare con gli Alberi. Storie di Giardini