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Dig It! The remarkable trees of Geneva (9 Oct 2017)

Dig It! // Gardening & Green Spaces // Oct. 11, 2017

With some clear autumn weather on the horizon, it’s a good opportunity to get outside and enjoy all that the green world has to offer, and for anyone visiting or living in Geneva, there is a magnificent new book, which should provide plenty of inspiration for tree-related walks in the city.

The book is a called “Des Arbres Remarquables: 41 Histoires Enracinées à Genève”, or “Remarkable Trees: 41 Stories Rooted in Geneva.” It was published in association with the City of Geneva, and is the fruit of a collaboration between Bertrand Favre, who is the director of the program to map the cantonal tree list, Roger Beer, a forestry engineer, now head of the department in Geneva responsible for trees and forests, and the photographer Thierry Parel.

The book not only contains plenty of detail about each of the trees selected but also includes a pocket guide to walks around the city that include one of the trees. The photographs are magnificent, with tree portraits for every specimen as well as some luscious macros that would make very attractive prints. Perhaps that will come next?

I met up with one of the authors’ Roger Beer in the Park Floraire in Chene Bourg. The tree I had come to admire is an Abies pinsapo, a Spanish Fir, and it really is a beautiful tree. The soft needles run right round the branches, like a bottle brush, and the green-blue colour is superb, particularly on the younger growth.

Roger explained the history of the Abies pinsapo, and its’ connection to Geneva. The Genevan botanist, Pierre Edmond Boissier discovered the tree in Spain, when on a carriage trip with his wife, and brought back some specimens. Boissier was a friend of the Genevan botanist Correvon, and it is likely that the specimen in the Parc Floraire is due to a connection with Correvon, whose chalet is also in the ground of the park.

The tree makes a good garden tree for a medium to large garden in the Genevan region, it tolerates the neutral clay soil and does well in cold winters and hot summers.

If you would like to visit the tree, it’s easy to spot next to the Mairie in the Parc Floraire. The Park is easily accessible on foot from Chene Bourg and public transport links. There is plenty more in the park to enjoy apart from the superb Abies pinsapo, centennial cedars, a beautiful monkey puzzle tree, and holm oaks – it’s a real tree-lovers paradise.

Roger’s book is available online at arbresremarquables.ch for the very reasonable price of 32CHF.


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