I read the wild and prolific garden scene in Zola’s “La Faute de l’Abbé Mouret mile” as a little girl. Ever since, I wanted to design enchanting, mysterious gardens. I had to wait years for this dream to come true. One day, the same time when my son was born, I got the chance to work in a big community garden. It was our garden, hidden among hundred-year-old Art Nouveau buildings. Huge trees grew above the roof, high above the city. An old, bushy fig tree lived in one corner, its branches like human arms and legs spreading around the deep purple irises.
After decades of devastation and abandonment, I took up the task of redesigning, giving a second chance to this garden. Soon, I found myself learning the names of the flowers, listening to their needs, learning what they do and do not like. I had to work with dirt, soil, water. With life and death. This garden thought me a lot about time, rhythm, about my inner world and a lot about my creating power.
Then we moved to Amsterdam, and I had to leave this garden behind.
I was mourning. I had to learn how to let go something, which was so important to me. Nevertheless, the process of letting go forced me to understand what ‘the garden’ means to me. Where is my new garden? What am I looking for now?
In Holland, we live on an artificial island. This land didn´t exist a couple of years ago. There were no houses, no playgrounds, no people, no children; just water. Our terrace now is green. Birds, spiders, snails, butterflies, all kinds of insects everywhere. When I arrived, with all the loss in my heart, this place was empty. Now, all over around me, everything is taking roots; amber creepers, succulents, roses and carnations, herbs and vegetables everywhere. I miss the deep black oily soil, but – as my life – my new floating garden flourishes; it is receiving, keeping, replicating and giving back life energy.
Since we moved to the Netherlands, I´ve been working in different gardens. I volunteer in Muiderslot in a medieval herb and vegetable garden from the 17th century. I work in Laterna Magica, with children, in the school garden of my son. I worked in an olive garden in Sicily, Italy and visited many medieval cloister gardens in Normandy, France. While enjoying the constant presence of various gardens I am also looking for new opportunities to expand into new professional territories and find partners to my long term goal of creating a „European garden’ of exchange.
Laputa, the European Garden
I have a long-term project plan about creating a green place, a Garden, a ´European garden´. This garden would not belong to a particular country but would be interconnected; floating above cultures, but embedded into the culture of its physical location. This would be a safe place for integration, arrival. A space where people would heal their traumas of migration, can have a rest without being pressed to do anything particular. This garden would be a place for work, for learning, for art, for therapy, just for being. This would be a place without labels, without special aims, where people would keep and regain their dignity and respect. This place would be a ´floating´ station of silence, place of healing, where people could be energized and empowered. Physical presence, physical work, embodied programs would make possible to get back to the inner balance if it has been somehow lost it in the transition, in the long journey in between the old and the future home. Both spiritually and physically this garden would be modeled after medieval cloister gardens, floating between the heavens and the earth, rooted in the soil, but anchored in the universal.
The floating garden – the present
Gardens can teach us things beyond words. It taught me how to be present, how to listen, how to listen actively. To distinguish between the important and one that could wait. Gardens taught me to feel the energy, good and bad vibrations, to detect if something is about to happen. In a garden there is hardly anything, that is inherently good or bad, beautiful or ugly. Things are simple and functional. Beauty hides in this order. Pain, suffer, loss, death have their own place in the garden. Working in the garden also reminds me to be patient, to trust the forces of birth, growth, transition and death. I believe that physical presence, physical work, embodied activities enable us to re-connect with our inner balance.