In the 17th and 18th centuries, the reinforced terrace of the Hôtel de Ville and the Hôtel de la Poste was placed directly onto the banks of the Rhône meandering its way through the valley plain. Around 1900, this natural landscape with gravel build-ups, small lakes and kitchen gardens served as the primeval surroundings for a utopian island – an English-style hotel garden, populated by guests, who had arrived at the adjacent railway station on the new Simplon railroad, the Orient Express, and who would use the hotel as their base for alpine excursions.
The new garden has been inspired by the spirit of this setting. The ideal state of the Fin-de-Siècle fascinates by its botanical diversity as well as in the sequence of spaces, squares and promenades. Some trees – mainly holm oaks – of the old site had survived. The original stock of tree species and plant varieties was reconstructed using historical photos and dendrochronological methods and located with excavations. Catalpa were then added. The colourful discoveries, mysteriously grown together, are surrounded by “living stones” or “pebble plants” (Lithops) as a memento to the erstwhile hedges. “Erratic plants” (holm oak, Portuguese cherry laurel) defy any categorisation. The annual cycle produces an ever-changing kaleidoscope of vivid vegetation.
A miniature world – which evokes the original English garden – again unfolds on the surface of river sand, solidified with a stabilising coating: in his palace, the Chinese emperor had recreated the landscape of his empire with fantastical landscapes and plant collections. Thus, these unique surroundings and the Baroque castle hall offer a festive venue for social events.
This strategy has been developed for:
Jardins de l'Hôtel de Ville et de l'Hôtel de la Poste
Location: Sierre, FR
Lansdscape architecture: Maurus Schifferli, Bern