It is obvious to me now that I have had a blinkered view of the floral treasures of Switzerland. For me Switzerland has always been a destination for mountain walking, to see wildflowers in their natural setting, to walk the alpine meadows and the mountain tops to search out such delights as their famous Edelweiss, their gentians, pulsatillas, soldanellas, orchids etc etc.
Though a keen gardener, my interest has never extended beyond this aspect of the country. It has never entered my head that there are – and why wouldn’t there be – a range of excellent gardens that are well worth visiting. Quite honestly, I hadn’t previously read any book on gardens in Switzerland so this new book from Hester Macdonald opened my eyes to an aspect of the country which had been beneath my radar to date and which may guide future holidays there.
As the name might indicate, Hester Macdonald is English and, after a taking a degree in English at Cambridge college, worked in industry for a few years before turning to garden design. She moved to Switzerland and, among other activities, presented a radio programme where she interviewed Swiss gardeners and this led to the book.
She describes 52 gardens open to the public across Switzerland and presents a page of photographs and a page of text on each – the text is quite brief, a single column, as it is given in English, French and German but it is sufficient to give a quick introduction and to whet the appetite of would-be visitors.
Of the 52, I have visited two: The Alpengarten at Schynige Platte and Isole de Brissago on Lake Maggiore and was unaware of the Parco delle Camelie when I visited Locarno. Future visits will be better informed and more enjoyed as a result of this book. It is an excellent introduction to the gardens of Switzerland and will be an excellent handbook for garden visitors to that beautiful country.
[Gardens: Switzerland, Hester Macdonald, Bergli Publishers, Bergli, Basel, 2019, Softback, 135 pages, €26.40, ISBN: 978-3-03869-067-2]