Green Themes

Climb that mountain

About Green Themes

    Hout bay landscape artist Danny Barnard thinks a little differently to most other people would be an understatement. To try to describe the multi-faceted, multi-layered complexities of this deep thinking man would not do him justice. Suffice to say that he is a fascinating individual who not only chooses the road less traveled, his footsteps are more often than not, the first on the road.
    Born in Cape town but raised in the northern Transvaal and Johannesburg, Danny was expelled from every school he attended, exhibiting, even as a youngster the steel will to defy anything in which he did not believe. Some people may see him as a rogue, but a few hours in his company will reveal a person of great depth, insight and compassion.

    As a young man he worked in many jobs but couldn’t find anything that really captured his imagination. He loved the outdoors and became very frustrated having to do the normal 9-2-5 thing. He would spend as much time as possible exploring and reveling in the environment.

    He also loved the ancient art of Bonsai and spent hours growing and perfecting his own collection. Not content with ‘simply growing the individual trees’, Danny began to create whole Bonsai landscapes, including miniature Japanese buildings and sculptures or tiny Stonehenge circles. Other people were enthralled by his creations and asked him to create diminutive landscapes for them. Dissatisfied with his job at the time Danny began to craft his Lilliputian scenes for clients.
    He was sadly disappointed though with some people who bought his creations for, in his opinion, the wrong reasons. Instead of embracing the philosophy of perfectly created and maintained living environment to nurture and cherish, some people simply wanted a new toy to impress their friends. It would break his heart to see his living creations neglected and left to die after the novelty wore off.

    Danny then decided to create bigger landscapes in small gardens and decided to move to Cape town where space is often a problem and gardens are small. Combining his wealth of Bonsai experience with a vast knowledge of Zen philosophies, Danny has created some of the most uniquely attractive gardens in Cape town and in the current drought, some of the most sensibly waterwise. The drought has hurt many garden related businesses including Danny’s, but he is perfectly equipped to create attractive gardenscapes that greatly decrease water usage.

    In addition to his eco-friendly gardens, Danny will also incorporate miniature historical, mythical, astrological or even religious aspects into the garden. For example he could create a mythical castle incorporating a persons birthstone which would be illuminated by the sun on their birthday!

    However, the lack of understanding for and commitment to their gardens, exhibited by some clients, remains a source of frustration for Danny to the point where he sometimes feels that he should stop what he is doing. However, working for a client who truly embraces the concept of his creations makes it all worthwhile, for Danny really wants his gardens to inspire and nurture the spirit of the people who see their new gardens for what they are – living extensions of their homes and personalities.

    Based on the ‘lost book; of Enoch’s description of Uriels machine, Danny has even created a solar calendar garden clock in a private Hout bay garden. Not only does it tell the time of day , this machine tracks the sun from solstice to equinox, showing the seasons as well as measuring the rainfall and showing wind direction. It also apparently marks the plane of the ecliptic and allows crude prediction of comet impact and a rough estimation of the declination of stars. Danny is now trying to incorporate an eclipse forecast system as well! The inspiration Danny tries to instill in others encompasses the natural environment too. He spends as much time as he can hiking alone on our wonderful Table mountain and knows many special and some very secret places of outstanding beauty. He has started his own guide company, [characteristically called Fukawe trails] and will show his clients some of the least visited places in the beautiful south. Typically though Danny does this with a certain reluctance because he feels that guides, himself included, expose these places to the threat of commercial tourism and ‘development’. People who are fortunate enough to hike with Danny can be assured of one thing though; they are unlikely to ever meet a more erudite, philosophical and unique guide anywhere else. Danny really is one-of-a-kind!

    Written By Sean Houghton - Full Circle Magazine