Italian Garden Designer: ‘From Nature I Learned Its Slow Pace’

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October 25, 2021

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(TREVISO) —Gaia Chaillet Giusti has strong, hard-working hands that know the difficulty, yet the pleasure, of working with soil and plants. She is the heir of the Giusti del Giardino family who has one of the most prestigious gardens in Italy, the Giusti Garden in Verona.

Visited by Mozart, Goethe, and Ruskin, its elegant simplicity recalls a garden of the past — few flowers and bushes, or exotic trees and many vases with citrus plants, statues, fountains, ancient Roman ruins. A marvelous cypress tree boulevard runs along a symmetrical maze, which confers order and tranquility to the entire place.

One of the most celebrated garden designers, Giusti worked with Luca Guadagnino to create the spectacular landscapes for his movie “Call Me by Your Name.” Born in Switzerland in 1971 and raised in Milan, she graduated from Milan University with a degree in Botany. In 2003, after collaborating with architects such as François Goffinet, Martyn Rix, and Alasdair Cameron between London and Bruxelles, she opened her Milan atelier to design gardens and terraces in Italy, Europe, the Middle East, and South America.

Giusti’s favorite quote is from artist, writer, and garden designer Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932), which reads: “The garden is a great master: it teaches patience and carefulness, it teaches hard work and parsimony, but most of all it teaches a complete trust.” She talked to The Click about her work and her concept of nature. 

The Click: What did you learn from gardens?

Giusti: What distinguishes nature from the life of mankind, particularly in this period, is a difference in pace: that of nature is slow, very different from the frenzy of human life. Nature taught me that I need to follow its slow pace rather than force things into a faster one. Patience and slowness: I believe this is one of the strongest messages that nature has to give us.

The Click: Is a garden a work of art?

Giusti: It certainly is. But it is also a reproduction of nature itself, therefore there can’t be too much of an intrusive human intervention. Nature is life and it needs to be taken care of, loved. It is not a set design. 

The Click: You have worked with movies. Is it difficult or is it easy to make a garden photogenic?

Giusti: With movies it is a true set design, which is different from what I usually do. It is not hard to make a garden photogenic as much as it is sticking to shooting times for nature is slow and movies are fast, and one needs to forecast many environmental aspects. Creating a set design with living matter is like a complex game.

The Click: Nowadays there is much preoccupation with nature. Do you think it is just a trend, or is it authentic?

Giusti: I think it is an authentic preoccupation. People have found themselves in small apartments and couldn’t go out during lockdown. They couldn’t experience nature. Today there are many more requests for growing plants, both private and public. If you think about it, nature is the source of our oxygen. 

The Click: You are lucky to work with something you love. What do you like to do in your free time?

Giusti: I like walking in nature. Every day I walk my dog at the park, and on weekends, I try to escape from the city routine and go somewhere different. Unfortunately, I don’t live in a green area, but I do have a vegetable garden that I love and take care of on a daily basis. Then I love art and beauty, churches, exhibitions, architecture.

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