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  Burle-Marx
From: "Eduardo Goncalves" edggon at hotmail.com> on 2000.10.03 at 08:40:13(5508)
Dear Aroiders,

I am just back from a visit to the Burle-Marx collection at Rio de
Janeiro, and I think I should share my impressions with all of you. For
those that don't know him, Roberto Burle-Marx was a Brazilian architect and
painter, but he is mainly know for the gardens and landscapes he created,
usually using lots of aroids. His collection of plants (approximately 400
spp. of Aroids!!!!) is really impressive, mainly if you consider that most
climbing Philodendron (and other climbing genera) are towering up to 4 m
high and flowering like crazy. If you have never seen Dieffenbachias with
stems measuring 20cm diam. (and up to 2 m high), you probably will be
shooked up there! I could count 29 different aroid genera growing there,
including mature plants of Heteropsis! The main group represented in his
collection is Philodendron, including very rare plants like P. alternans and
P. distantilobum. Anthurium is also well represented, as well as
Dieffenbachia. Alocasias are also diverse, including 3m high plants of A.
portei and the biggest A. macrorrhizos I could see in my whole life!
Aglaonemas are everywhere, sometimes covering considerable portions of the
beds. It is also possible to see big plants of Philodendron spiritus-sancti
(formerly known as P. "Santa-Leopoldina") as well as many undescribed
species and weird hybrids. Most plants are full-sized, and in fact for most
species I know, his plants are the biggest I have seen! His collection seems
like heaven to the eyes, but looks like hell to the brain! He have amassed
plants for more than 30 years, but his interests for plants were merely
aesthetic. He collected in Panam?, Colombia, Ecuador and mainly in Brazil,
but never kept any kind of information concerning origin for any material.
After his death (in 1994, if I am not confusing), it became impossible to
bring back the information about the origin of his plants, so the scientific
importance of his collection can be considered limited. Things get worse
when we realized that many plants were also donated, bought, traded and even
"created" like hybrids. To ID those things is a real challenge for brave
aroiders. It is like a voyage to the chaotic world of morphological
variation... If you think you know aroids, you should visit there to
remember that our knowledge about these plants is rather fragmentary and
insufficient.

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From: EGoldfluss at aol.com on 2000.10.03 at 13:04:53(5510)
Dear Eduardo:

Roberto was a friend of mine and I was fortunate to have spent some time at
his home in 1986. He was very concerned that after his death the collection
would not be respected and maintained.

Apparently it has been. I'm very glad to hear that.
Ed

From: Betsytrips at aol.com on 2000.10.03 at 13:06:14(5512)
Sounds like you had a wonderful time. Isn't it fun to begin to change our
perspective and to see things in a different manner than we had before, like
scientific to artistic?

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From: Al Wootten awootten at NRAO.EDU> on 2000.10.03 at 13:06:27(5513)
Eduardo,

Thanks for your fascinating description of the Burle-Marx collection at Rio de
Janeiro. Is this collection open to the public? I'm contemplating attending
an astronomical meeting in Rio in March and was wondering what sort of
botanical gems I might find there when your answer popped up.

Clear skies,
Al

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From: "Eduardo Goncalves" edggon at hotmail.com> on 2000.10.07 at 21:27:39(5531)
Dear Al,

Yes, the collection is partially open to the public, but I think it must
be scheduled first. I don't know exactly because I was in a special
condition, since I am helping in the preparation of a book concerning
something about Tropical Plants of Burle-Marx (it will be published by
Instituto Plantarum in a year or two), with nice photos of most plants. I
will try to discover how to schedule visitations there and will put in the
list.

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From: Alwyn Wootten <alwootten at gmail.com> on 2014.08.27 at 03:18:40(23063)

One of my goals on my current trip to Brazil was to visit Sitio Burle-Marx south of Rio but time constraints once more foiled that goal while in Rio. However we are enjoying traipsing through the SE Atlantic forest seeing birds and aroids, still hoping to get to Burle - Marx ' s place sometime!

Al

Guapiaçu Bird Lodge

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From: brian lee <lbmkjm at yahoo.com> on 2014.08.29 at 09:23:19(23070)
Dear All,

Aloha ("In the presence of the breath of life").

I knew Roberto Burle Marx for many years and I have to compose my thoughts before I can condense his legend to a few words. The week he died, he told me that he had a good life and that he wished he had many more years to share with all his friends. He ended by saying, "You were a good friend that I had." Beyond all that he accomplished in life; his friendship was the most valuable to me. I will never forget the passion with which he lived.

He was driven to collect taxa of all sorts of Brasilian plants as a legacy for his country. I remember how observant he was looking at every plant that looked different. He surrounded himself with specialist botanists to better understand the Brasilian flora. I met Dr. Simon Mayo at the Sitio before he left for Bahia to study Philodendron subgenus Meconostigma. I have been in love with the subgenus ever since. Dr. Helen Kennedy was another frequent guest who described new species of Marantaceae from Roberto's collection. Dr. Gustavo Martinelli described some new bromeliads as well. My dear friend, Margaret Mee, was a botanical illustrator and Amazon explorer, who was an amazing personality in Roberto's inner circle. The list goes on and on.

I highly recommend a visit to Roberto's Sitio if you ever get the chance. Words cannot adequately describe it. I was last there in 1994, when Roberto was still alive. I am sure the spirit of Burle Marx is still a strong presence, but, it is a shame you all cannot experience the vortex that was the living man.

Aloha,

Leland Miyano

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From: Tom Croat <Thomas.Croat at mobot.org> on 2014.08.30 at 12:35:22(23073)
Dear All:

Roberto certainly was a force of nature. I first heard about him from Bette Waterbury who visited his place south of Rio. I was working there for a week, vouchering and describing many of this collection. It was quite an experience. Roberto loved scotch whiskey and I was really impressed that the dining room was lined with cases of scotch whiskey. He must have been afraid that they would outlaw imports or something. We had some wonderful conversations each night at dinner about his field expeditions or his various projects such as his project to ornament the grounds on the new Brazilian capitol in Brazilia. I had had the opportunity to see some of that work back in 1962 when I visited Brasilia when it was still under construction. Roberto’s collections in the wild were designed to find good ornamental plants that cold be propagated for his various architechtural plant displays. If you have not seen his book “The Gardens of Burle Marx” (or something close to that). I have a copy at my office.

On Saturday Roberto spread out what looked like bed sheets onto big tables and then started splashing and spreading various colored paint on them with big brushes. It was all done in a great flurry of activity. He would then stand back and look at the work and then go back to his painting activities. He ended up with a massive Picaso-like image. On Sunday he always had a big social event to which all this rich friends were invited. The colorful bed sheets were by this time dried and were hanging up on display. I was told that these would then be purchased for hundreds if not thousands of dollars depending on the crowd.

Roberto liked to sing operas and after the boose started flowing (and there was plenty of it) someone would get on the piano and the singing would start.

It was a wonderful week and I managed to voucher and describe many of the collections, always attaching one of my aluminum tags with my voucher numer onto the plant. It is unfortunate that the original collecting localities were mostly lost owing to the fact that they relied on wooden stakes with numbers for the plants. Most these rotted away and I was told that there was no way to reconstruct the information. That was a real pity.

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From: DAVID LEEDY <djleedy at sbcglobal.net> on 2014.08.31 at 06:51:42(23081)
There is a nice article about Burle-Marx in Aroideana, Vol. 1, No. 1

David Leedy

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From: =?UTF-8?Q?Genevi=C3=A8ve_Ferry?= <jpcferry2 at wanadoo.fr> on 2014.08.31 at 10:43:14(23084)
This is a beautiful french book for Roberto Burle Marx .

From: Tom Croat

Sent: Saturday, August 30, 2014 9:35 PM

To: Discussion of aroids

Subject: Re: [Aroid-l] Burle-Marx

Dear All:

Roberto certainly was a force of nature. I first heard about him from Bette Waterbury who visited his place south of Rio. I was working there for a week, vouchering and describing many of this collection. It was quite an experience. Roberto loved scotch whiskey and I was really impressed that the dining room was lined with cases of scotch whiskey. He must have been afraid that they would outlaw imports or something. We had some wonderful conversations each night at dinner about his field expeditions or his various projects such as his project to ornament the grounds on the new Brazilian capitol in Brazilia. I had had the opportunity to see some of that work back in 1962 when I visited Brasilia when it was still under construction. Roberto’s collections in the wild were designed to find good ornamental plants that cold be propagated for his various architechtural plant displays. If you have not seen his book “The Gardens of Burle Marx” (or something close to that). I have a copy at my office.

On Saturday Roberto spread out what looked like bed sheets onto big tables and then started splashing and spreading various colored paint on them with big brushes. It was all done in a great flurry of activity. He would then stand back and look at the work and then go back to his painting activities. He ended up with a massive Picaso-like image. On Sunday he always had a big social event to which all this rich friends were invited. The colorful bed sheets were by this time dried and were hanging up on display. I was told that these would then be purchased for hundreds if not thousands of dollars depending on the crowd.

Roberto liked to sing operas and after the boose started flowing (and there was plenty of it) someone would get on the piano and the singing would start.

It was a wonderful week and I managed to voucher and describe many of the collections, always attaching one of my aluminum tags with my voucher numer onto the plant. It is unfortunate that the original collecting localities were mostly lost owing to the fact that they relied on wooden stakes with numbers for the plants. Most these rotted away and I was told that there was no way to reconstruct the information. That was a real pity.

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From: brian lee <lbmkjm at yahoo.com> on 2014.08.31 at 14:32:39(23086)
Dear All,

Aloha.

I thought I would share a Roberto Burle Marx story that is probably not known. It illustrates Roberto's passion and zest for life and plants.

Roberto was a large and very strong physical presence, but, in his later years, his hips were wearing out. He eventually had to rely on crutches, and he really struggled to walk on his own. I remember on one trip, Roberto had found out that a large ranch with tracts of forests was
being clear cut for cattle production. He stayed in the cab of the truck and pointed to likely areas that looked promising to collect. We would then scramble over all the fallen logs and try to ignore all the masses of epiphytes burning in the tropical sun to find plants that were unique or different from all the rest. Then we would climb back down and return to show Roberto what we discovered. Everything we showed to him triggered similar responses of how marvelous this or that was. He was like a kid at Christmas. On one particular muddy slope that had a meandering opening through the jumble of logs, Roberto could not contain his enthusiasm any longer. He had to get out of the truck and see the area for himself. Roberto was much larger than I but, with the help of another friend, he wrapped his arms around us and we hauled him up the mountain with great
difficulty. Roberto was constantly apologizing to us for the hardship he brought upon us, but, he was having the time of his life. When we finally reached our destination, he was so grateful that he was able to see the plant we had all worked so hard to see. I have forgotten what that plant was, since there were so many, but, this story was about the journey.

Not long after this trip, Roberto had a hip replacement operation. I saw
him two weeks after this operation and he was so happy about the results, he started to jump up to test his newly strengthened anatomy. It was hard to keep him down to prevent a re-injury. That was how honest and passionate he was about life.

Aloha,

Leland

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From: Tom Croat <Thomas.Croat at mobot.org> on 2014.09.08 at 19:37:27(23101)
Dear Gen:

It is interesting that this book was presented in French as well. I have an English language book with the same title!

Tom

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From: brian lee <lbmkjm at yahoo.com> on 2014.09.09 at 10:15:48(23105)
Dear All,

Aloha.

A great book about the life and work of Roberto is, Roberto Burle Marx, The Lyrical Landscape, by Marta Iris Montero. It is well illustrated and is an excellent history. It is out of print, but, still available from time to time.

Aloha,

Leland

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