Basel, Botanical Garden/Botanische Garten 1589. Photo/Foto: TES.

The First Botanical Garden

The location of the first botanical garden in Switzerland was on the on the southern bank of the Rhine, on the complex of University of Basel (1460). Gardens were until then only cultivated by the monchs of monasteries and abbeys. The so-called cloister plan of St. Gall (around 830) and the gardens belonging on the Reichenau island (nineth century) are witnesses of this culture. The garden in Basel (Hortus medicus) was developed by the scholar Caspar Bauhin (1560-1624), who also wrote the first scientific description of the potato in 1596 in Phytopinax, where the potato was named Solanum tuberosum esculentum.

The Hortus botanicus joined the ranks of gardens of illustrious universities of Bologna, Pisa, Florence and Leiden. In 1692, however, the garden was moved to the Petersgraben, where it still is, in the vicinity of the new university complex. The old hortus became private property of the Sarasin family. After a long decline, the (neglected) hortus was recognized in 2017 as cultural heritage. (Source: J. Stoffler, ‘Jardins botaniques’, in Art + Architecture en Suisse, 2016, Nr. 3, Berne, 2016).