Somewhere far far away at the end of the world to the left, there is a little town (or maybe a region), called Guaratiba (Guarana + Curitiba was the easiest way for me to remember it). Aside from lots of banana plantations, dirt roads and some fish restaurants, there is not very much around this area, that would justify the long trip from Rio, except for one thing – Sitio Burle Marx.
Roberto Burle Marx was a very famous Brazilian landscaper and architect (kind of the Niemeyer of plants, only better), that saw the nature as his art canvas. The interesting thing I found out was that prior to his creative time, Brazilian landscaping was referencing Europe and he was the one that brought Brazilian/tropical nature into fashion. One interesting example was the Bromelia plant that he saw in a botanical garden in Europe and liked a lot. He then found out that the origin of this plant was actually from Brazil! He was also one of the first to say that one can create a beautiful garden without using flowers, unlike the way the gardens were designed in Europe (I am not sure I totally agree with this, as I kind of prefer the Windsor Castle gardens to his, but don’t tell anyone..).
Some of the famous works of Burle Marx that I had seen already are Flamengo Park in Rio, Ibirapuera Park in São Paulo, and the gardens in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Brasilia.
The sitio includes Burle Marx’s house, huge gardens with more than 3500 species of tropical plants, his studio, and an event hall where he used to host all his friends on a regular basis. He also had a huge collection of art from all over the world, which is still maintained at site.
It was very inspiring to get a glimpse into the life of a man who created so much beauty and was talented across so many dimensions. From landscaping, painting, design, to writing. How does one meet those type of people in the living world?