My garden will be three levels. It will be located in Bonito, Brazil. It seems like an odd place for an American-Italian to build a garden, especially considering my roots are stronger elsewhere. But I chose this location because “bonito” means pretty in spanish and that is what my garden will be: magical and soothing.
I want my garden to be beautiful and peaceful. I will use nature as art to help create a stimulating presence that promotes relaxation and tranquility.
The symbol of my garden will be the white dove. In Brazil, the white dove and white flowers are symbols of peace. The fountain, about 3 times larger than the one pictured, will be constructed of white marble and gold rimmed around the edges. The fountain will blow water from the top, but each basin will collect water. Around the fountain will be dozens of white roses encompassed by an ankle high rod-iron fence.
The first level will be connected to the second level by stairs and a ramp (for handicap accessibility). There will be two sets of adjacent stairs that meet in the center, but a fountain will run from the third level pond down to the first level. The water is part of the symbolism in the garden. The first level is about the discovery of drugs in life and how they can be used to self medicate us. The second level is representative of how deceptive and fatal drugs are. Lastly, the third level is supposed to represent true happiness and peace in life, just as the meaning of the white dove in Brazil signifies.
The issue of drug use is very close to me because I know people of have been personally affected. The poisonous plants are more of a metaphor. Obviously, they aren’t meant to kill anyone, they are simply to tell the story of how drugs can give you a sense of false hope or happiness. I chose poisonous plants because if you look at some of the pictures of these herbs, they are very pretty, but also dangerous. So connecting it back to the first level, I would say that because drugs are often used to escape reality, I wanted the second level to be symbolic of that fallacy. So the second level would represent how one would think that drugs can help you, but in reality, they are dangerous even when we don’t think they pose any immediate danger.
Lastly, the water chain I have planned for the garden to connect all levels of the garden will be one that looks like syringe needles. Symbolic of liquid drugs flowing through the needle. The top of the syringe will sprout from the third level where peace and tranquility are paramount. Flowing downwards, the tube will be the focal point of the second level. This is indicative of the poisonous substances that syringe needles can be filled with before being injected into the body. Finally, the needle will be the focal point of the first level. This will symbolize that drugs are dangerous and even though they will be growing in this first level, they are harmful and their impact should not be taken lightly. So, if we walk up from the first level, we will go from a harmful needle (where there will be drugs growing); to the chamber of the syringe (where the poisonous herbs will grow); to the top of the needle (where the peaceful waterfall is placed). The third level is symbolic in that we do not need drugs to function, and in fact we could be happier without them in our systems.
Inspiration for the first level:
The first level will be for the purpose of growing psychedelic and hallucinogenic drugs. I will grow mushrooms, cocoa leaves for cocaine, marijuana plants, and tobacco. These drugs, used only for medicinal purposes, would not be sold. This level will have a shrubbery maze connecting the different parts of the garden. Each drug plant will be grown in a separate corner of the garden to prevent crossbreeding and also to reflect a different journey through life.
One corner will be consisting of tobacco plants. Yet another representation of how drugs and the trial of compromising substances can affect our bodies and our lives. This is important because even though tobacco is legal, it is still a drug that most people don’t consider to be harmful.
Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica plants, will be grown in one corner. The first plant I mentioned grows to be six feet tall and the second grows to be two feet tall. I won’t go into detail about the chemical effect these plants have on the body, but I will say that as we go through life, we tend to make good decisions and bad decisions. Sometimes these bad decisions come in the form of drugs.
Another corner of the garden will be populated with wild mushrooms. A hallucinogenic product that basically induces an extreme case of food poisoning. This is yet another symbol of the dangers of drugs. So far we have moved from one of the first forms of drug plants to be discovered into a substance that is grown as an edible one. We don’t often associated dangerous drugs as being edible, but they are still harmful. So we have different byproducts exhibiting different effects and manifesting themselves in different ways.
The final corner will be used to grow cocoa plants, which are used to produce cocaine. A harmful substance that requires a bit more processing than the previous three. This is an example of humanity’s desire to numb the pain or memories that might haunt us. Used as an escape, cocaine represents one of the more harmful drugs available on the open market.
The maze is critical in this level. The maze will consist of shrubs that are neatly trimmed, but they will be intentionally grown to be almost eight feet tall to mimic the effect of our journey through life being one based on self discovery and exploration through risk-taking. Each corner represents imbalance to the Greek ideal a balanced man. One of a sound mind, sound body. We go through these trials with a curious mind as we struggle to forge our own path in life. This level will represent that struggle, more specifically one that epitomizes the search for happiness. Since drugs are often the result of self-medication, in each corner, there will be a two meter high statue of the Greek God, Asclepius, the deity of medicine.
Inspiration for the second level:
The layout of this level will be ominus. The center of this level will be look like a skull and crossbones erected from the same shrubbery used in the first level. Only these shrubs will only be knee-high, about a half meter. The eyes will be left blank, but statues of Venus Fly Trap plants, like the ones that eat you in Mario, will protrude two meters into the sky. The water chain in the shape of a syringe will run in around the skull and crossbones, like an aqueduct to connect the third layer, where the beginning of the water chain is, to the first level, where it ends. Around the aqueduct is a gravel path, a bridge on either side of the skull and crossbones will allow visitors to wander into the center for a closer look. The bridge goes over the water. The gravel path follows the aqueduct and branches off at various points to each section of poisonous herb. The four corners will contain four different two meter high statues. One, will be Hades, another Persephone, these will be the two closest to the front. In the back, are statues of the Three Fates and Charon and his boat. All statues allude to death or the ending of a life in these Greek representations. I want the plants and flowers on this level to symbolize disguised beauty. White flowers, falsely projecting purity are poisonous. Edible fruits are poisonous, too. These will be featured in the garden.
Daphne, a deciduous shrub growing to 1.5 m tall, it is very poisonous for people, though fruit-eating birds like thrushes are immune and eat them, dispersing the seeds in their droppings. Daphne mezereum is very toxic because of the daphnetoxin present especially in the berries and twigs. If poisoned, victims experience a choking sensation. Handling the fresh twigs can cause rashes and eczema in sensitive individuals. Despite this, it is commonly grown as an ornamental plant in gardens for its attractive flowers.
European Spindle will also grow here. The fruit is poisonous, containing amongst other substances, the alkaloids theobromine and caffeine, as well as an extremely bitter terpene. Poisonings are more common in young children, who are enticed by the brightly-coloured fruits. Ingestion can result in liver and kidney damage and even death. There are many other species of Euonymus, many (if not all) of which are also poisonous.
Other poisonous flowers will include Hemlock (Conium). Poison Hemlock contains coniine, which has a chemical structure and pharmacological properties similar to nicotine. Coniine disrupts the workings of thecentral nervous system through action on nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. In high enough concentrations Coniine can be dangerous to humans. Due to high potency, the ingestion of seemingly small doses can easily result in respiratory collapse and death. Coniine causes death by blocking the neuromuscular junction in a manner similar to curare; this results in an ascending muscular paralysis with eventual paralysis of the respiratory muscles which results in death due to lack of oxygen to the heart and brain. For an adult the ingestion of more than 100 mg (.1 grams) of coniine (approximately 6 to 8 fresh leaves, or a smaller dose of the seeds or root) may be fatal.
Jimson Weed, commonly referred to as Datura is also poisonous. Datura intoxication typically produces delirium (as contrasted to hallucination); hyperthermia; tachycardia; bizarre behavior; and severe mydriasis with resultant painful photophobia that can last several days. Pronounced amnesia is another commonly reported effect. The onset of symptoms generally occurs approximately 30 minutes to an hour after smoking the herb. These symptoms generally last from 24 to 48 hours, but have been reported in some cases to last as long as 2 weeks.
The reason for these poisonous herbs is to mock the effect of beauty and show how beauty can be falsified or faked. In our journey through life, it is common to think that drugs can help us cope without serious consequence. Drugs are beautiful because they help numb us, right? Wrong. The purpose of this level is to show how wrong that statement really is. Its meant to be deceptive and fatally beautiful This effect will be to show how drugs can only be a temporary substitute to true happiness.
Inspiration for the third level:
The third level will be a relaxation “temple.” A set of of semi circular steps will lead to the third level and split to the left and right after one flight so that there may be an overhang to overlook the skull and crossbones in the second level. Benches will line the perimeter of the garden and there will be a small pond in the center decorated with beautiful coral and small fish. I would design this to be a place with cleanly trimmed trees around the perimeter to “seal off” the garden from the rest of the world. The trees are of Pau Brasil type. They are good for painting. Benches will be constructed of iron and consist of a mannerist design.
The natural waterfall will be one of the focal points in the garden.There will be a giant waterfall that runs into the pond from above, an example of nature as art. Fresh, clean water will inhabit all of the third level as it will be coming from the waterfall. Water from this is virgin and uncontaminated because its coming directly from nature. Since water is pure and it both preserves and creates life, I thought it would be best to have the natural waterfall at the top level because each level will represent a step in the purification of human life. The water flows through each level infecting it with life, to which someone walking through the garden would be drawn to. This level will symbolize peace and and happiness.