Building the Perfect Greenhouse


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THRouGH A TUNNEL of bowed mimoTurkish garden historian and designer Sea of Marmara. "That's where Ottoman ministers were hanged after the 1961 coup," he says. Ergil is leading me around Biiyiikada, one of the Princes' Islands offthe coast of Istanbui, and he's not afraid ofsprinkling in the (occaGiirsan Ergil points to atiny smudge inthe

sionally gruesome) anecdote. Itwas here on this stuck-in-time Shangri-La


where horse-drawn carriages and bikes

are the only modes of transport gardens was born.

"In my grandmother's garden, we had big lunches under the shade ofa monumental flg, and my cousin and I would
sneak out to spend whole nights under it," he


his love of

recalls. Last summer, Ergil initiated tours of the islands' historic villas and their secreted gardens; he is writing a "half-touristic, half-

academic" book about them



couplet of

unprecedented, awareness-raising endeavors. With the serenity of a metronome and an artist's penchant for abstraction, Ergil is an unlikely activist. But after six years studying
at Harward's Arnold Arboretum. he returned to Istanbui alarmed at a construction boom that Ieft each citizen an average ofone square yard ofgreenery. That grim statistic inspired him to present "mobile gardens" - portable green spaces carried like a backpack or pulied by a flatbed - at last year's Istanbul Design Week. Though seemingly tongue-in-cheeh,
de sig ns us e r e claime d benchfrom old vats (top) and a b ir dh o u s e fr o m a mmunit io n b o x e s (c ente r left). Sculpture, like this l6th-century tomb post (center right) orfrom modern Turkish sculptor Mehmet Aksoy (bottom), plays arole inErgil's

Giir s an E r g il's furniture

materials, in

landscape design.



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