A Moroccan Garden in Switzerland

In the Swiss town of Kreutzlingen, three men transformed a garden into a Mediterranean oasis.

At first, this modest home in the Swiss town Kreutzlingen, situated near the German border, doesn’t seem like much of hidden gem. There are no views to speak of, no grandiose vistas: just three men who have spent the past twenty years transforming a dark, overgrown backyard into a Mediterranean oasis.

The three-story home is currently inhabited from three families, one of which belongs to Diethelm Herman, the garden’s principle attendee. The backyard of the house serves a pragmatic purpose; there are 3 vegetable beds, a plentiful stack of firewood, and even a defunct customs house from the Swiss-German border, refashioned into a toolshed. The concrete landscapes are absolutely overgrown with roses, presenting occasional – but beautiful – physical obstacles.

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The gardeners on site have managed to encourage the flowers to grow freely on their own, guided when necessary but nonetheless assertive in their presence. Consider it an act of nature’s defiance in the wake of two decades of development.

Another remarkable aspect of Herman’s property is its Moroccan styling, evident in the structures and shapes of the space itself: consider the small seating alcove with its soft arcs, mirrored in the hydrangeas, or the subtle, wild geometry of the rose bushes: two characteristics prevalent in Moroccan design and other native art.

The plants surrounding the area are entwined with the architecture to such an extent that vines form green roofs on almost every external surface, requiring little light and rendering them easy to care for. Herman imported the plants from all over the world, but his collection turned out to be surprisingly versatile: the climbing hydrangea have grown over the entire dwelling, bridging the home and garden.

A green roof has formed over the passages and the terrace provides shade in the summertime before dying back in the winter and letting the sun shine through. The cyclical manner by which the home works with nature provides another aesthetic intricacy that pays homage to the region it is meant to emulate – it is a circle, a symbol of unity in this historically tense region.

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