Roberto Burle Marx (1909-1994) one of the seminal figures in 20th century landscape design, was the child of a Brazilian mother (Burle) and a German-Jewish father (Marx). His mother fostered his passion for gardening and his father in design. His father had immigrated to Brazil around the turn of the century. Born in Sao Paolo, att the age of 19, (1928) Roberto moved to Berlin to study art while engrossing himself in the massive cultural revival of the Weimar Republic. (Burle-Marx left after a couple of years as the political climate had quickly changed, most obvious of which was the building anti-semitism). However, It was while studying painting in Germany during the Weimar Republic, as he would later tell it, that Burle Marx realized that the vegetation Brazilians then dismissed as "scrub and brush," preferring imported pine trees and gladioli for their gardens, was truly extraordinary. Visiting the Botanical Garden in Berlin, he was startled to find many Brazilian plants in the collection and quickly came to see the untapped artistic potential in their varied shapes, sizes and hues.
The irony here is that these native Brazilian plants were not as prized in Burle-Marx’s homeland of Brazil as they were in Germany. Yet the twist is that they were soon to disappear from the Botanical Gardens because at around this time the Nazi party was developing it’s “Blood + Soil” ideology. “Blut und Boden” ideology insisted on the close relationship between nature and the German people and with it, preached the crucial role of landscape in forming and preserving national culture. This included the banishment of all non-native plants and trees from the Fatherland (Germany).
Reich Minister of Food + Agriculture Richard Darre,
one of the leading proponents of "Blood + Soil."
Tried and convicted at the Nuremburg trials, he died of alcoholism.