David And Garden


On being confronted with anything profound or meaningful, I always ask myself what the takeaway lessons might be. So, when I was privileged to view Michelangelo’s David in Florence last week, the swirl of emotions and thoughts had me gazing and contemplating for quite a while. Unlike so much else that is overhyped, David lives up to his reputation. His creator’s genius is apparent and it got me wondering how this masterpiece could instruct me. In the garden in particular as that is of course one of my own passions.

Indulge me as I share my thoughts:

  1. The quality of the starting materials is crucial. Good, rich soil. Healthy plants. Clean tools and organic applications.
  2. Let the medium tell you how to proceed. The type of soil, amount of light and general climate should determine how and what sort of garden to create.
  3. Aesthetics matter. If David were not so handsome, we wouldn’t be caring so much. Likewise, a garden must be beautiful. Function is not enough.
  4. Understand the rules thoroughly and then break them. Just as Michelangelo knew his anatomy and proportions before deciding to enlarge the size of David’s hands, head and such so the viewer looking from below would perceive it as correct, a garden too can be made to appear much more than it is. Illusions are possible only through knowledge.
  5. Keep it simple or at least make it look simple.
  6. A well thought out small garden can hold its own against any of the grander sorts. Don’t let the big guys intimidate. Likewise, don’t be afraid to try something challenging or new.
  7. A beautifully designed garden needs no further embellishments. David looks perfect just as is!

For your own inspiration, I give you David in all his glory:

IMG_0541 (1)



This last image is a tribute to the original sculpture by a contemporary artist. What do you think of it?

(c) 2015 Shobha Vanchiswar

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