Photography by: Longwood Graduate Fellows
9am sharp and we are out the door with our guide Gerardo. Our destination today is the Sitio Roberto Burle Marx, but first Gerardo is taking us on a whirlwind tour of the city of Rio. Driving along the Copacabana beach, we pull over for 5 minutes to snap a group photo on the famous sidewalk designed by Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx.
Back in the van, we drive through the city to the Sambadromo, a huge stadium designed by Oscar Niemeyer just to host the samba competitions during Carnival. Gerardo gives us a quick lesson on how to dance the samba and then Laurie, Ling, and Josh try on carnival clothing and pose for photos.
We finish our city tour at see the cathedral, a huge, imposing concrete structure inspired by the pyramids at Chichen Itza in Mexico.
An hour later, we arrive at the Sitio Burle Marx, the home and studio of landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx. Burle Marx was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 1909. As a young man, he traveled to Germany where he was inspired by the use of Brazilian plants in the Berlin Botanical Garden. Returning to Brazil, he began collecting plants around his home in Guaritiba and designing landscapes for friends and clients. He is most well known for the design of the Copacabana promenade and the landscapes around some of the government buildings in Brasilia. He also designed the Cascade Garden at Longwood Gardens. Burle Marx’s property in Guaritiba was donated to the Brazilian government in 1985 and became a national monument. It houses over 3,500 species of plants and many works of art by Burle Marx and other artists.
Thanks to our tour guide Gerardo, we have a wonderful and insightful tour of the Sitio. Gerardo translated everything that the Sitio tour guide said and added his own information about Brazilian plants. He also provided everyone with much needed mosquito repellant!
The Sitio is truly stunning. Swaths of bromeliads. 20 foot tall Plumeria trees. Contrasting black and chartreuse foliage (years ahead of his time) and the use of textured plants and hardscaping. So many native Brazilian plants, including the Helenconia hirsuta ‘Burle Marx’ that the designer discovered in the Amazon region. Burle Marx’s use of native plants in design is inspiring.
We left the garden and returned to Rio late in the afternoon. A shopping trip before dinner turned into a hilarious adventure after we got caught in a downpour (we were told it doesn’t rain in Rio!) and took a wrong turn walking back to the hotel. After a misadventure with a sink, we finally made it to dinner at a churrascaria (a Brazilian steakhouse) where we indulged in beef and sushi and various Brazilian dishes. It was a wonderful way to celebrate our last night in Rio and the start of our day off.