without having to worry about beauty


Sheppard Craig

Il Bosco della Ragnaia was almost my favorite garden in Italy.  That is not quite right. I was corrected by Sheppard Craig: he prefers “place” to “garden.”  I am happy to oblige.  In my blog entitled Il Bosco del TWEET, I tried my best to describe some of  the concepts in Craig’s “place.” I had second thoughts about my ability to communicate his work.  I wasn’t a good enough writer.  I decided to go to the horses’ mouth.

PHYLLIS:  How did you get into gardening?  I know you were artist before you began working on the garden.

SHEPPARD:  I got tired of being a painter, and wanted to do something larger and more physically difficult. I felt, somehow, that many years of painting imaginary landscape was a preparation for making a real landscape.

PHYLLIS:  Why make a garden in Italy?

SHEPPARD: Because Italy is already so beautiful, especially here where I live.

PHYLLIS:  Did you have a preconceived idea when you bought the property or did the garden evolve in a different way?  if so, how, why, etc.

SHEPPARD:  No I did not have a preconceived idea. The Bosco IMG_0460was much too thickly overgrown  and abandoned to offer any ideas. The ideas came with the clearing of shrubs, vines, small trees, anything which seemed to obstruct. So the work led to the ideas. This sounds simple, but that’s the way it was.  Doing comes first, thinking follows. NOT the other way round. We still work in this fashion.

PHYLLIS:  I feel the garden is a work of art …. of course, it is so different than anything else (that I have visited in Italy) can you talk about your intention in the garden?

SHEPPARD:  I wanted to make a memorable place within a handsome stand of mature oaks. I prefer “place” to “garden”. Note that the oaks are all evergreen oaks, called Quercus Ilex. My first rule was and still is: Don’t mess it up!

The Bosco is open for free most of the year. It just turned out like that. I rather like it this way, but I may someday start charging, esp. for groups.

PHYLLIS:  How did you decide to make the garden – open all the time and free.  Having just returned from Italy, my pocketbook is full of all those all paper tickets in varying amounts.

SHEPPARD:  .…..Calling the Bosco a place points to its antecedents in the ancient world, such as sacred woods, springs, stones, etc. If  I call it a garden, English visitors, usually my best visitors, become confused because there are no flowers and not even a house. And a garden always implies beauty. It’s easier to work without having to worry about beauty. It’s the aspect of being a memorable place that I want to achieve….

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