Alpine Garden

FOR THE FIRST TIME since we arrived, we can see all the surrounding peaks as we set off for the Alpine Garden at Schynige Platte to get familiar with the local wildflowers.

As the train goes through a tunnel on the steep ascent, I get – for an instant – my first view of the Eiger, framed by a narrow shaft.

I draw Globeflower, Alpine Snowbell and a white anemone in the garden. A useful guide in English explains that the aim of the garden is to recreate the main Alpine meadow habitats you might find in the area. There’s an ‘ideal’ Alpine meadow, rich in species, the kind of thing that might result from years of controlled grazing and gradual recycling of nutrients but also examples of the changes that can take place through the addition of too much fertiliser or the effects of too much trampling, whether that’s by cows or skiers.

The Alpine meadow is a dynamic habitat, or perhaps that should be a habitat in dynamic balance. It’s possible that very similiar types of grassland, wild versions of the present-day cow pasture and hay meadows,¬†existed even before the introduction of agriculture.