Carlo GabrieleOn gardens, colours…and love

I don’t want to give you the idea that I am a philosopher, but my personal growth is strictly connected with my professional growth. What I learn in my job always has a reflection in my spiritual life. Since I moved to Australia, I have wanted to change the way I have always designed gardens and at the same time my point of view on life.

Agastache 'Sweet Lily'

Agastache ‘Sweet Lily’

I don’t think there is any reason to design a garden or an object (or anything else) if they don’t show something magical and unique, if they don’t evoke something beyond what they represent. In fact the sight has the horizon as a limit, but the imagination doesn’t have any constraint.

Clouds of yellow Santolina flowers with purple salvia

Clouds of yellow Santolina flowers with purple salvia

That’s why every day I spend part of my time looking for inspiration: pictures, videos, books, whatever could feed my ability to tell and evoke. My need to know and understand is a hunger with no end, and the curiosity I feel about life has no limits. The observation of Nature often suggests the answer to the questions I have in my soul: the mind loves complications and, at the opposite end, Nature is simple.
But simple rarely means easy.

Lately I have been studying the theory of colours and how they interact. I have been studying how relationships work, especially that one that I have with my partner Mike who moved from Italy with me. What I am learning is that colours and relationships are not easy. At all.

Painting by Criss Canning

Painting by Criss Canning

Some months ago I went back to Lambley, the beautiful nursery owned by David Glenn. In the same occasion I met his partner, Criss Canning, an extraordinary painter. The lunch Mike and I enjoyed with them is one of those rare moments in life when you don’t need to talk, you only need to listen and hope to not to miss anything.

David and Criss are like complementary colours: together they work perfectly.

Painting by Criss Canning

Painting by Criss Canning

Do you know why the combination between two complementary colours is harmonic? Because the eye perceives it as balanced (it’s more complicated than that but more about that another time). It’s the same reason why a walk in the Nature is perceived as relaxing: the green colour is the only one that doesn’t need to be focussed by the eye.

Blue Salvia azurea with orange chrysanthemum

Blue Salvia azurea with orange chrysanthemum

There is more: when the eye perceives a colour, it needs to automatically create its complementary and project it next to it. That’s why complementary colour combinations look very bright: it’s like the eye perceives the colour twice.

Salvia nemorosa 'Amethyst' with pale yellow Sisyrinchium

Salvia nemorosa ‘Amethyst’ with pale yellow Sisyrinchium

David and Criss project their aura on each other and the result, their relationship, their interaction is something new and powerful that you can also notice in their works: the paintings of Criss remind me of the Lambley gardens. David’s garden is not just a combination of mixed borders: it’s a modern celebration of colours, I would say pop.

Lambley Nursery gardens

Lambley Nursery gardens

In addition, I have finally understood how colours work together and how harmonious relationships should work.

P.S. The next Criss Canning exhibition will be held in Melbourne at the Mossgreen Gallery in Melbourne from Sunday 28 May to 26 June 2016. I will certainly be there!

Like this post? Why not share it with a friend?

Carlo Gabriele

About Carlo Gabriele

Carlo Gabriele is a landscape designer from Milan, Italy, with formal qualifications in Agronomy and Landscape Design. After completing his schooling he worked with notable Italian designer Niccolo Grassi on many high profile projects within Italy and abroad which have received a lot of media attention in Marie Claire, Maison, Elle Decoration, Vanity Fair, Gardenia and Home Beautiful. In 2010 Carlo started his own design firm, Carlo Gabriele Architettura dei Giardini, designing outdoor spaces from tiny intimate courtyards to entire city parks. He has also designed striking outdoor furniture and exquisite pots; the latter have been produced and sold by the Italian company Laboratorio San Rocco. Most recently Carlo moved to Melbourne Australia where he has established his design company Carlo Gabriele Gardens and his blog I Will Teach You To Design Your Garden.

2 thoughts on “On gardens, colours…and love

  1. Hi Mr Carlo Gabriele,

    I am an amature photographer and watercolor painter. Some time I was wondering why I am attracted to the nature and land scape. After reading your artical and enjoying to look at your photos and Chris Canning paintings, I discovered that it is the color contrasts and relationships, make me enable to pick up my camera and brushes, snap and draw the nature and landscapes closer to me; inside my house, frame and enjoy looking back to them.


    Mir Frahmand
    Garden Drum member

  2. Hi Mir,

    thank you for sharing your thoughts. Even if we are living a ‘civilized’ life, the call of Nature is something powerful and unconscious. At the same time, the study of the colours is one of the most exciting endeavors I have embarked on so far. We are living in a world which is completely informed by vision so I find interesting to understand better how colours can affect our spirit. And I am sure that you, having been involved in visual disciplines like photography and painting, have many things to teach us about it.

Leave a Reply (no need to register)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.