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The Schynige Platte Alpine botanical garden was established in 1927 to showcase and study as many Swiss Alpine plants as possible in their natural plant communities. The concept and the mountain location make the garden a unique place for nature lovers and researchers, but also a particular challenge for the gardening team.


Opening of the Schynige Platte Railway


Founding of the Schynige Platte Alpine Garden


Beginning work in the Alpine Garden


Opening of the Alpine Garden


Opening of the residential and study building


First Alpine botanical course, held since then annually with some interruptions, under the direction of the Institute of Plant Sciences of the University of Bern


Establishment of the Dr. Werner Schmid Foundation


Residential and study building renovated and extended


Opening of the permanent exhibition


Use of only plastic labels (previously porcelain)


Art by Ueli Bettler, Matten, in the entrance of the building


Renewal of retaining wall on valley side


Rockfall net below rock face


Introduction of garden maintenance


Twinning with Rokko Garden, Japan


Opening of shop and entrance area


Renewal primary rock outcrop -Rücken-


Primary rock area renewal


Emptying rockfall net


Extension of the Alpine Garden and construction of the new west access


Renovation and expansion of wetland (alpine fen)


Creation of the golden fescue lawn (new plant community)


Creation of the upper exit/Valais

History of the foundation of the Alpine Garden

In March 1927 the newly founded Schynige Platte Alpine Garden Society was able to take over tenancy of land on Ausser-Iselten Alp . This had already been envisaged in 1905, following discussions between former Federal Councillor Forrer, chief forestry inspector J. Coaz, H.Studer, former director of the Bernese Oberland Railway (BOB), Prof. Eduard Fischer, director of the Bern Botanical Institute and Alexander Schenk, head gardener at the Botanical Gardens. Nothing was done because the alp cooperative was not prepared to rent out the land to a tenant. In 1925, chemist Dr. R. Jenzer and hotelier W. Hofmann raised the matter at the spring meeting of the Swiss Botanical Society in Interlaken. They campaigned for the project together with H. Itten and C. Bridel (BOB director), and subsequently founded the Schynige Platte Alpine Garden Society on 10 June 1927 with President of the Court H. Itten as its first president.

Work on the project was finally able to be taken in hand after the promise of financial support from various sides and the assurance of scientific and horticultural advice on the garden from the management of the Botanical Gardens of the University of Bern. An agreement between the Botanical Garden and the Alpine Garden was concluded in 1928.

The Schynige Platte Alpine Garden was able to be established thanks to the excellent teamwork between all involved from the fields of science, tourism and nature conservation. And it is thanks to the great commitment of the committee, members and employees as well as the good relationship with the Ausser-Iselten Alp Cooperative that it still exists today.

The 1927 annual report contains an interesting sentence: «The Federal Council approved payment of an annual subscription of CHF 500.– to the Alpine Garden from 1928, and at the request of the Finance Commission, the Federal Assembly also approved a one-off credit of CHF 2000.– for initial development costs.»

Head gardener Herrmann Schenk, son of Alexander Schenk who was involved in 1905, played a particularly active role in establishing the garden. Together with Prof. Fischer, Prof. Rytz and Dr. W. Lüdi from the Botanical Institute of the University of Bern, he designed the initial plan, a significant part of which still exists today. The basic principle, the presentation of species in their natural plant communities enriched by planting, has been retained and incorporated into the mission statement issued by the Alpine Garden in 1997. This is the first botanical garden in the world to be established in this manner.In 1928, Schenk and district warden Häsler marked out the paths and constructed them with the help of workers from Gsteigwiler. The main circuit measured 420 m with an average width of 1.2 m, to which could be added 225 m (today 500 m) of side paths. The extremely favourable terrain meant that the route required very little blasting. Shaping the terrain was unnecessary as native plant communities were taken as the basis of the garden.

After his apprenticeship in the Botanical Garden Bern, W. Meier decided to spend two summers (1928 and 1929) as a gardener on Schynige Platte. In 1930, before his period of national service in the Swiss army, he acquired many plants as seeds or, with cantonal permission, dug them up and took them to Schynige Platte. In this way he also broadened his excellent knowledge of various species. W. Meier ultimately became president of the Schynige Platte Alpine Garden Society from 1958 to 1979.

1931 saw construction of the building by the grandfather of today's committee member, Hans Boss, an architect in Zweilütschinen.

Become a Member!

The Schynige Platte Botanical Alpine Garden is supported by its members and by donations. Become a member and help to secure the future of the Alpine Garden!