This smart panda is Pond Inspector Gihn. Gihn creates trees and plants for their brand Konoha where realism meets a touch of fantasy. For NatureCon 2022, Gihn gave us an insight into the history of their creations and their sources of inspiration.
When did you start to create plants and trees, and how did it all begin?

I have been making plants since 2020. So it’s been just over 2 years now. The way it started was interesting. I had just taken to learning mesh, the winter of 2019, as a hobby. Initially, I was very much interested in making decor and architectural meshes. At some point my interest in architecture veered towards the concept of “overgrown” buildings. I just loved the idea of plants growing on rooftops, along the walls, or something like the Icelandic turf houses. So I wanted to learn how to make plants first, just to practice my new skills, and created a set of plum trees and grasses. And then things just clicked!

Your plants and trees have a very recognizable style. What is your approach to achieve it? 

I have a degree in Botany. I try my best to ensure some forms of scientifically accurate morphology. It’s impossible and just not practical to get every detail right within the limitations of SL but some morphological features such as branching, phyllotaxis (arrangement of leaves) or sometimes even the aestivation (arrangement of petals and sepals), I try to get them right. Again, it’s not always possible, sometimes I just have to make do with relatively “realistic” looks to ensure land impact budgets or to shorten the time taken but I try my best to add such details wherever possible or feasible.

In Second Life, there’s a wide spectrum of creations, especially visible in the landscaping scene, a spectrum ranging from very artistic creations to very realistic creations. My plants tend to be adhered more towards realism, but influenced by my friends and the constraints of Second Life I do try to add some “realistic” elements of fantasy. For example, pink grass, or colors of flowers that you won’t find on Earth, but with realistic aesthetics. I like this idea of “realistic fantasy” and hope to work more on it in the coming future.

We’d love to hear more about the future of Konoha. What ideas do you have in mind for coming creations?

I have many. Too many. Anyone who knows me, knows that I have an impossible to-do list. It’s never ending. I do have some star-marked ideas on the list that I wish I could make as soon as possible. Weeping willows, olives, grape vines, Japanese red wood and junipers are some that I am really looking forward to but are only the ones popping up in my head right now. I also hope to move my store to a new region and for that I wish to make more elements of nature, and not just plants and trees. So I am really looking forward to that as well. 

For many, Second Life is also an extension of their Real Life interests. What is your personal passion about plants and trees?

I must confess that I am a Plant Nerd. Some of my earliest memories that I am fond of are of my grandpa teaching me to plant garlic and ginger in the backyard. 

But I think I fell in love with plants and trees when I read this excerpt from one of the essays Herman Hesse wrote. I wish I could copy-paste the whole thing right here but I will stop myself reluctantly. I will however quote a part that really touched me.

“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfill themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves.” (cited from “Wandering: Notes and Sketches” by Hermann Hesse)

To your personal opinion, why are plants and trees important for us and our ecosystem, and how could each of us contribute to preserve and protect them in our daily life? For example, what should we consider about plants and trees if we have a garden?

This answer is perhaps a direct continuation from the previous one. I don’t think, at this point, anyone is ignorant of the importance of plants and the role they play in our world. I believe that anyone who says otherwise is probably willfully ignorant and no amount of effort would change their understanding unless they are less than 5 years old. So I will skip this one. 

My knowledge is limited by my humble education as a mere graduate but from what I have learned you can’t really do much by planting a few pots of plants, heartbreakingly. 

Of course, a river is formed from drops of water and every drop counts. I would never discourage such enthusiasm. However if you truly wish to make a change, you need to get political. You need a mass of people to make a change, to make a difference. We need changes ranging from personal lifestyle choices like using more natural and sustainable alternatives of daily utilities to our choice of transportation, to large-scale infrastructural changes that can only happen through the policy makers of our governments. We also need education of how such policies affect us, and not just environmentally but also socially. A lot of environmental issues and the lack of their resolution stem directly from complex social issues rather than scientific effort. And this is all political. 

Climate change has never been as visible and threatening as it has been this year. I hope the general populace across the globe wakes up sooner rather than later.

I think I may have gone a little offtrack from the question here. Ahem! If you have a garden, let the weeds grow a little. Unless they are super virile and taking over your land, just let them be a little. A strong biodiversity is the only way an ecosystem survives for long. 

Thanks for sharing this interesting insight and food for thought with us! Is there anything else you’d like to share with the community?

I might have written too much already. Hehe. I am just really really excited about NatureCon! We needed this. 

I am a rookie mesh maker and a rookie landscaping store, I have lots and lots to learn. I am actually a big big fan of many of the older creators in the market. HPMD and Nadine’s 3D Trees are a pilgrimage to me, and so many more stores that I am really fond of. And they keep making Second Life a better place. 

I hope more new creators find this market and create a vibrant and diverse community together with the users, the landscapers and enthusiasts. And I am grateful to NatureCon for providing this wonderful platform. Wishing everyone a lovely time and continued success for NatureCon in the coming years!

Find some of Konoha’s trees and plants being presented at NatureCon 2022, and be inspired to create your own amazing gardens to celebrate nature!
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