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A century of Swiss gardening

Swiss gardeners never developed a style that could be described as uniquely Swiss

(Keystone)

The changing landscapes of Swiss gardens are the focus of a new exhibition currently taking place near Zurich. The show takes the visitor through the history of gardening in Switzerland over the past 100 years.

Entitled "From Flower Show to Art Garden", the exhibition highlights the trends and fashions of Swiss gardens, both private and public.

The show has been organised by the Landscape Architecture Department at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), and holds plenty of surprises for the visitor.

Most remarkable, perhaps, is the fact that throughout a century of constantly evolving landscapes, Swiss gardeners never developed a style that could be described as uniquely Swiss.

"I thought naively coming to Switzerland that there was a Swiss landscape style," says Christophe Girot, Professor of Landscape Architecture at the ETH. "What was surprising looking at the exhibition is that the style and thinking about nature changes with every single decade."

"No work or book on this subject matter has ever been written in Switzerland," he adds.

Before joining the ETH, Girot was head of the Versailles School of Landscape Architecture in France. He told swissinfo that the challenge for today's landscape architects and gardeners is to accept the principles of the past but also to take on board modern design principles.

"The ecological movement of the 1970s and 80s had a very strong impact on landscape architecture - it was a reaction to the high-brow design and purely artistic thinking of the past."

He laments that today "we are in something of a lull when it comes to design elements within landscape architecture".

From Flower Show to Art Garden runs until November 3 and takes place at the ETH's Honggerburg campus, near Zurich.

by Tom O'Brien


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