THE CONSERVATORY AND BOTANICAL GARDEN OF GENEVA
BY LIVIA DANESE
The Conservatory and Botanical Garden of Geneva is a major institution for botanical research, conservation and development. It was founded in 1817 and was since then transferred to Parc de l’Ariana and opened to the public in 1904. The Garden hosts over 16000 different species of plants, trees and shrubs which are organized according to their habitat and marked with information panels.
Geneva’s Botanical Garden is also appreciated today as a leisure park. The free entrance and the recreation areas allow anyone to rest and enjoy the tranquility of nature, while not leaving the city. The Garden organizes many different activities to introduce the visitors to nature and botany: one of the most relished is the Garden of smell and touch where people can interact with the plants which are chosen for their perfume and tactile interest. Some services, such as the picnic area, the playground and the small zoo, which also aids indigenous and endangered animals, are especially meant for families and children to enjoy.
In short, the organization of the Botanical Garden is not only dedicated to the study and conservation of the flora but is also committed to guaranteeing visitors an all-round entertaining experience.The greenhouses too are arranged to show the many different ecosystems of the world and accompany visitors in an ideal journey through exotic surroundings. The Tropical Greenhouses are organized in four sections: the main greenhouse is dedicated to a range of species adapted to high temperature and humidity conditions, such as the giant water lilies. The second section reproduces the Canaries Island’s volcanic landscape with cacti and succulent plants growing on dark soil and lava rocks. The Bromilaceae greenhouse showcases a very interesting collection of Tillandsias which are referred to as “airplants” because they have no roots and derive their nutrients form moist, air and rain. The last section displays plants form tropical mountain areas.
The Temperate house with its characteristic neoclassical glass dome contains Mediterranean type vegetation from around the world. A central staircase provides access to a high gallery which offers an impressive overall view. Finally the Victorian style Winter Garden is particularly noteworthy. Built in 1911, its elegant structure testifies the influence of the Industrial revolution on its glass and steel architecture. Today it houses an impressive collection of useful plants and a selection of tropical species.