The garden has a long tradition in cultures the world round. It can represent a bit of wild and untamed Nature kept close at hand, or, alternatively, a corner of Paradise. Either way, it’s a haven where the restless soul can find some sort of peace or the creative soul some inspiration, which makes them crucial elements in our world.
Gardens come in all shapes and sizes. At one extreme, perhaps, is the famous French garden, the epitome of planning. Very little was left to chance at the magnificent court of King Louis X IV, where it was born. Nature itself, the godmother of randomness, was put under the guidance of one André Le Nôtre (1613–1700). His idea was to promote symmetry, formality and geometry of a well-organised landscape that glorified man over nature and by extension the Sun King over his people. Almost 400 years later, the gardens of Versailles still stand as a reminder of a world of order, reason and ultimate power.
A different spirit guided the horticulturalists cross the Channel. It was on the estates of Lord Cobham that talented gardeners and landscape architects such as Lancelot ‘‘Capability’’ Brown (1716–1783) took the new garden trend launched by William Kent to wondrous heights – Brown even became Kent’s son-in-law in the process. He ingeniously dammed streams to create elegant, elongated lakes. He also encircled mansions with carriage drives and arranged trees into long melismatic sections or clumped them together. Here was Nature landscaped, yet still unbuttoned in some way.
Fast forward a few centuries. The feudal garden as a whim of the ruling class is still an ideal of sorts, but one that has de-gentrified. It is one of those little luxuries that much of the middle class can afford and is even given to the working class in the form of public parks, oftentimes a sad and dusty imitation of the original blueprint. Of course, artists of the Capability Brown or Le Nôtre calliber would probably succumb to an attack of claustrophobia given our densely populated urban environments, and despair at our tendency to disregard the rigours of style and the rules of horticulture. Indeed, we tend to be instinctual today, or how-to magazine-based. How often did you instruct yourself on the “dos and don’ts” of gardening before picking up the shovel? Well, there are businesses built up on just that gap in the market.
The cavalry to the rescue
Switzerland’s breathtaking natural landscapes are complemented by many botanical gardens, associations and friends of flora. Let us begin with the Botanical Society of Switzerland, which, since 1889, promotes botanical research and scientific exchange between amateur and professional botanists. On the other end of the scale is the huddling Swiss Cactus Society, which gathers enthusiasts of cacti and other succulents. Between the two there is plenty of choice and inspiration for you to become a better gardener.
If you have the wherewithal, however, and you prefer a personal team of experts with whom to entrust your soil, putting one together isn’t a problem. Positioned at the top of the range is one of the leading landscape architecture firms in Switzerland and in the world: Enea Landscape Architecture. The company specialises in complex designs and private and corporate projects and is headed by Enzo Enea, who took over the family company in 1990. Since then, he and his team of more than 140 specialists have trotted numerous international shows, won important awards and secured some noteworthy clients – Prince Charles, Tina Turner and the Queen of Bahrain.
A creative spirit, Enzo Enea is first and foremost a nurturer. In his years of practice he had amassed a vast collection of trees from around the world that otherwise would have been cut down to make space for landscape projects – more than 2000 specimens — which he now exhibits in a public one-hectare personal tree museum on the shores of Lake Zurich. “I had developed such a love for these trees that I had a hard time selling them,” he says. Against sandstone walls, each tree is like a painted canvas: “I do not see nature and culture as opposites. I believe they are a pair,” says the tree collector.
Enea is big. For small to medium size garden works, there is Parc’s GmbH, the landscape architecture and garden design boutique. Branched out of the larger “Egli Gartenbau AG” and having borrowed from its almost 50 years experience in garden planning, execution and maintenance, Parc’s stands on its own today and offers an array of personalised services and a dedicated team. It was Cathrine Toller who started the company in 2005 and moved its headquarters to Rapperswil-Jona in 2006, a choice that had to do with the town’s advantageous location at the crossroads of once ancient trade routes and now modern traffic connections. Not confined by the office, she juggles comfortably between management and work as a hands-on garden designer who “can turn any turf into an oasis of relaxation and escape”. In her job, she is aided by her A-team: Julia Janusch who dresses up the garden and gives it style, and Andreas Jetter whose horticultural know-how makes even the most stubbornly recalcitrant greenery flourish.
Birth of an enterprise
Parc’s was started out by Cathrine Toller in 2005. It was founded out of the planning department of Egli Gartenbau AG, a Swiss gardening design and execution company active in the Zurich area. Initially the company carried the name von Eden GmbH and worked closely with Gärtner von Eden, or Gardeners of Eden, a cooperative of several garden companies from Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Following the move to a new building in 2006 in Rapperswil-Jona, the company changed its name to Parc’s GmbH in 2011 and left the cooperative to embark upon its own path.
Three tips from Parc ’s
Include vertical elements such as trees in your garden: they serve as eye catchers and create natural shelters and resting spaces. Plan your garden space to appear calm and neat. Don’t overload it with enhancements or too many colours. Repeat similar plant combinations throughout the garden to illustrate your style concept but whatever you do, never plant roses next to bamboos.
Article by Rodica Miron