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hester Schilliger

Hester has kindly offered one lucky reader a copy of the book! Read below for competition.

Most everyone knows of Hester Macdonald. She not only voices her way into your life via the radio, but also runs her own garden design company HM Garden Design, as well as the Swiss Gardening School, and provides guided tours for the garden at the Château de Prangins. Mother of two, she is an empty-nester and is always on the lookout for a challenge. Is this her next baby? Gardens Schweiz/Suisse/Switzerland, a 52-page delight for the eyes, the senses, and the emotions is a must-have for anyone with a passion for the neat, the natural, and the unusual. The only thing missing would be the wonderful scents these gardens release... in the early morning, baking in the afternoon sun, or at rest at dusk. Switzerland has many of the world’s finest gardens. British garden expert Hester Macdonald features 52 of them in her new book. Gardens Schweiz/Suisse/Switzerland is the first multilingual guide to Swiss gardens to date.

We asked Hester to give us some background on this new venture and here is what she said:

What prompted you to do this book?
I'd visited lots of amazing gardens in Switzerland, I thought they were easily as good as many famous gardens I'd visited elsewhere in Europe, and thought it was time that Swiss gardens were recognised in their own right as a reason to visit Switzerland. I also wanted to to help them become better known for people living in and around Switzerland, who may not know that there was a gem of a garden, waiting to be discovered, right on their doorstep! I was introduced to Richard Harvell of Bergli Books, by Ian Smith at WRS, and Richard loved the idea of doing a book about Swiss gardens from the start.

Did you comb through every garden or were you invited?
I had already visited dozens of gardens, for my radio show Dig It, over the years, so I already had a significant number of great gardens I wanted to include. I then asked advice from colleagues, friends, other gardeners, in person, and via various FaceBook pages, as to which gardens they thought warranted a visit. I made a huge list, grouped by area, and tried to visit them all. Some were amazing, some were disappointing, and I also revisited gardens that I had liked previously. For some of the gardens, I went "officially", because I was going to interview the head gardener or the curator or creator, and for some of the gardens, I was just a member of the public, who asked some pretty specific questions!

seedstomatoes

Seed packages always look so beautiful suspended together and it is hard to ignore them when browsing. These photos were taken at Jumbo Brico this week. With the sun shining and the warm weather upon us, it is hard to believe that a few weeks ago we were shoveling snow! But at the same time, it brings the desire to get gardening again.

Normally, this subject might not warrant an article but have you ever seen such a variety of types of tomatoes, hot peppers (see photo below), forgotten veggies, and unusual flowers? Seeing the colors, the varieties and amazing selection, who wouldn't want to start a little garden plot? Maybe you could just start with 3 pots to get the hang of it, and enjoy seeing the growth everyday! It would make a lovely gift as well with a thoughful collection of packets, some potting soil, and a garden tool.

Some annuals are best seeded directly in the garden in spring whereas some can be nurtured in little starter plug pots and then transferred outdoors once the freezing temperatures have finished. Side note on this subject, known in French as Saint de Glace, here is an excerpt from the latest Know-it-all passport®:

saint de glace

laurelbush

Are you too busy with work to find the time to manage your garden? Do you need to tidy up and prepare your garden for the winter, but feel overwhelmed by the enormity of it all – especially when you’d rather spend the time relaxing with your family? Or have you already decided you need a gardener, but just get fed up every time you arrange for someone to come and they never arrive on time, if at all!

Having worked in the region since the beginning of 2010, local gardener and handyman, Thomas Wilkins, knows only too well the problems faced by expats, trying to find a reliable gardener who not only understands what needs to be done, but who is prepared to take on some of the less glamorous gardening jobs such as plant removal and leaf clearance. As a former project manager and consultant within the construction industry, Tom is also aware of the importance of time management and completing projects on time.

Tom told knowitall.ch, “When I arrived in Switzerland I found that many expats were looking for a reliable and competent handyman or a knowledgeable gardening service. Most people wanted someone who would turn up when they said they would and do what had been discussed without communication problems or other proposals for work that they didn’t want. If a client wants more, then I am very happy to discuss how they may develop their garden to its full potential, and will provide a fair and competitive quote for the work that will meet with their expectations on quality and time delivery.”

Tara Hester Macdonald

Photo: copyright Jean-Luc Pasquier

Have you always wanted to work in your garden but been daunted by the sheer scale of your space? Do you find trees, bulbs, shrubs and flowers a mystery? Have you been disappointed with the results in your vegetable plot? Would you like to improve your skills, knowledge and success in your garden?

If so, then you may be interested to sign up for one of the many courses being organized this Autumn at the newly-opened Swiss Gardening School.

Headed up by British-trained Horticulturalist and Garden Designer, Hester Macdonald, and her enthusiastic, self-taught gardening partner, Tara Lissner, the Swiss Gardening School aims to provide enjoyable and easy-to-follow introductory courses for gardening novices, as well as advanced courses for more experienced amateurs who would like to expand their knowledge. Course sizes are small, with between 8 and 12 participants, enabling Hester and Tara to combine group work with individualized attention. All instruction is in English.

sapin


GENEVA (other areas below)

During the month of January 2012, the voirie will pick up your Christmas tree. Before your floor is littered with needles, make sure to drop it with your waste so that it is recycled!

 

Throughout the month of January 2012, the garbagemen will pick up your Christmas trees on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, at the same locations as household waste throughout Geneva.

 

The trees must be without decorations by the road between 5h and 6h30.