by Netera Landar
(note: please see the in-world magazine for more photographs)
There are some lands in Second Life® that draw you into their exotic landscape with the curve of a terrace, the splendor of waterfalls, or weeping willows that shade you and your lover.
Isablan Neva’s vision long ago was transformed into SL Botanical Garden.
Here visitors are comforted by Japanese Maples. They lounge in a canopied gazebo. They feel the cool drops of a breaking rain while sitting back in Adirondack Chairs.
Fly up to the levitated rocks to float in a shallow pool or scan the gardens below. She incorporates “the best elements of virtual nature” designed by SL creators. Trees and plants, waterfalls and cliffs, ground cover and more, by Khamon Fate, Higbeen Protagonist, Vitrail Illios, Bliss Garden Center, Heart Garden Centre, Transparent Banshee, Rose Karuna, Elicio Ember, Aki Shichiroji, Baron Grayson, Arwen Eusebio, Moon Fargis, Jopsy Pendragon, Tobias Novi, Brice Bonetto, Phat Dufaux and her work.
I was honored to meet Isablan and to learn about her ongoing botanical project. After locating me on her map, she told me that she learned about SL through an L.A. Times Sunday Magazine article. What caught her attention was the line, “How much would you pay for a Second Life?”
“I was intrigued with the idea of a world where the residents were the content creators. I’m not much of a gamer—I don’t want to be shuffled around someone else’s script. So when I read that you could explore all of SL, I was ready to sign up.”
Her interests naturally navigated to creating virtual items and environments. By watching a venue owner terraform a landscape to prepare it for rentals, she was drawn to the idea of sculpting land. When she watched him build, she realized that everything was made from basic shapes with applied textures. Her next step was a Yadni’s tutorial on how to create a chair. She learned how building was done in a sandbox.
“I literally ran to take advantage of First Land, which was a expansion program in SL. You use to be able to buy a 512 parcel for $1L a meter,” she explained. “But, sadly, First Land was abused and discontinued.” Apparently, people bought the land and flipped it for a big profit. This crashed the land market in SL because Linden Labs kept making more land to fill the demand.
Isablan sold her first land when she realized she needed a larger virtual canvas. She envisioned creating a public garden. That meant purchasing one-eighth of a sim on Federal. This is how SL Botanical Gardens was created.
“Eventually, I bought up more and more of the sim until I owned about one-quarter of it,” recalled Isablan.
“There were two old places in SL that in-spired me a great deal: ‘A Change of Fate’ on the sim Dore, which may still be there and ‘Liloness Garden’ which is long gone.”
Isablan spent a great deal of time on both listening to music and enjoying the atmosphere. That inspired her to create on her property sitting areas where people can simply relax with friends.
“It’s truly beautiful and everyone comes here,” she said with pride. “I hear from people all the time who just log in and listen to the music. For some people the garden is home—they live here and rez in here. It’s a date location for others. A lot of couples get engaged on the sim, some marry here.”
Isablan tells me we’re in the Gardens of Babylon and the colors in the stonework were taken from Ishtar Gate of ancient Babylon. Her original intent was to display plants from all the major creators of SL, but as the population grew, that proved to be impossible. What she did instead was dedicate certain areas to creators. She didn’t follow any guide. All she knew was she wanted multi-levels with terraces and water. Water is represented everywhere on her sim. Even in a rainstorm!
Another region is “The Terraces” Here you will find fountains and fruit trees that lead up to the Rajah. Isablan informed me that numerous times the landscape told her what to build.
This is the true sign of a creative individual. She raised the land to create a hilly region providing elevation changes.
“Much of it has changed over the years,” she said. “Nothing is easy to create, but when you are building out of love, it just flows. Even six years later, the sim isn’t ‘done.’ I’m working on the Mirage in the corner of the sim next. That’s one of the oldest areas and badly in need of a remodel. Like any craft, you get better with time.”
The Mirage is a series of hanging islands and waterfalls which Isablan originally created for Burning Life 2006. She said it’s due for changes.
She purchased the rainstorm from Menubar Memorial and then had to come up with th appropriate place to place it. Where natural storms pretty much have their say in their passage, SL artists consider their creations a canvas of coordinated colors, textures and themes, meaning they can place the storm, or anything else, where they want.
Should you explore, you’ll find a quiet area for contemplation near the hedges. At the base of the waterfall you can float in the lagoon. Watch the sunset with your partner from Sunset Cliff. From the top of The Mirage, gaze at the entire sim. Kiss in Mirage’s waterfall or travel down the river in the gondola. Better yet, plan your SL wedding here. Ask Isablan for an information notecard.
Save a landmark for Sky Dreams, 420 miles directly over the gardens. Here you’ll find wonderful sky houses to make your platforms home.
When you desire times of quiet contemplation, teleport to SL Botanic Garden.
For more information, please contact Netera Landar, Editor-in-Chief, neteralandar.gmail.com