Name of project: Boher Garden

Garden surface: 3.250 m2

Construction year: 2009

Location: Lo Curro, Santiago, Chile

Architect of house: S3 Schmidt Arquitectos


This garden extends over the slopes of a hill in a residential neighborhood of the city of Santiago. The large number of adult trees on the site, mainly enormous eucalyptus and aged elms, restricted the view from the house to the distant landscape.

I had the opportunity to participate in the design stage of the house with the architect, which permitted us to define certain elements of the project together, such as the inclusion of waters from a nearby spring.  As a structural element in the garden, water is used as a kind of guide that accompanies the path at all times. Its source is a spring at the highest point of the land; it flows through ditches and falls, and ends its journey at the lowest point, in a small pond in the shade of giant trees.

The pure and transparent volumes of the architecture allow the enormous trunks of the oaks, eucalyptus, smooth-leaf elms, and surrounding acacias to be enjoyed from inside the house. Without eliminating any of them, my design consisted of incorporating other trees and shrubs with the purpose of generating an undergrowth between those natural columns.

The idea of a garden without limits was achieved in the following way: on the one hand, we planted some evergreens, like Chilean acorns and cork oaks next to the borders and they mingled with the trees of the neighboring sites. And, on the other, a profusion of shrubs “ambushed” the walks, making this small garden feel like a forest of great mystery. One is really not aware of where the garden begins and where it ends.

The absence of far-reaching view of the surrounding landscape, combined with the exuberance of the vegetation, focuses attention on the details of the surroundings and sharpens the senses. In addition, the watercourses, with their different tones of sound, have a powerful effect and prominence, allowing one to read and understand the garden as the Japanese do with their dry rivers of stones.

Due to the exuberance of vegetation and wetlands, the plants of the garden, such as the giant rhubarb, saplings, and ferns, sprout spontaneously. This growth lends the garden a natural and feral atmosphere with a great identity. The main shrubs are hebes, spiraeas, Mexican orange blossoms, Japanese pittosporum, viburnum, Chilean myrtle, giant rhubarb, and ferns.

This is a dark garden, where the changes of spring and autumn are fully appreciated. The place is cool, damp and mysterious, which produces a very interesting counterpoint to the architecture of the house, which appears to float amidst the trees and the plants that embrace it.