The First Cycle of Planting

The First Cycle of Planting


We have been given 1300m2 on the ETH campus, a space marked off by a simple fence. We are the pioneers of this new garden. We will dig holes, realise the weight of soil and the speed at which grass grows. It will change your relationship to nature.


This garden is a new model of learning, one that does not have the parameters of a semester, school year or degree course. Instead, like a science laboratory, it is a framework for innovation over time. We will consider the consequences of our choices in one semester, one year, five years, twenty-five years and fifty years. We will learn from growth and decay, the spectrum of natural processes and the patina of time. Gardens thrive while architecture ages: our site will be an opportunity to explore this reality first-hand.

Our project will be a finished piece in itself. But it will also be the foundations of the next. The process of adaptation lies at the heart of architecture and at the core of this design studio. The garden is a room from which nothing ever leaves and where everything can be boiled, burnt, eaten and reused. Unlike previous group projects in the studio, the garden is not a pavilion that will be dismantled at the end of the semester. We and those that come after us will need to care for and nurture it. We will learn from success, failure and surprises. As the garden becomes more established fencing may become obsolete, trees might be coppiced to make social spaces, furniture might be burned to fertilise the soil. It will be a form of layered bricolage that encourages you to engage with the social, historical and scientific attributes of nature.

The design and development of the garden is broken down into six tasks that unfold simultaneously. We are asked to analyse, structure, plant, populate, build and maintain. As the first students to enter the garden we will be particularly responsible for analysing the soil conditions and preparing the ground. Soil is not a line at the bottom of the page, it is a living substance: it can be healthy; it can be unhealthy; it can be suitable for very different things.

Like with any true experiment, analysis and data collection lies at the heart of its success. Students will conduct an ongoing survey of the garden that highlights the layering and reconfiguring of each semester cycle. One year it may be a medicinal garden, another year it may be a bird sanctuary or a lake. History is an indelible part of the garden but can be peeled away in survey form.


Wednesday, 25 March 2105

Weather not too bad, at least no rain. Temperature about 13° C. The fruit trees we have ordered last week where delivered by Toni Suter this morning at 9:00 a.m from Baden-Dättwil.

The following species, some rare ones from ProSpecie Rara, came in good condition: 13 Apples to plant like 1 `Goldparmäne`, 1 `Goro`, 1 `Rote Sternrette`, 1 `Usterapfel`, 1 `Berner Rose`, 1 `Berlepsch`, 1 `Schweizer Orangen`, 1 `Hansueliapfel`, 1 `Sternapi`, 1 `Edelchrüsel`, 1 `Oberrieder Glanzreinette`, 2 `Birnenförmiger Apfel`. Ordered also plum trees as 2 Katinka`, 1 `Trailblazer`, 2 `Kirkes`, 1 `Top Hit`, 2 Ziparte yellow`, 2 `Ziparte blue`, 3 `Berudge/ Sugarplum`, 3 `Zimmer`s`, 2 Cherry trees `Hallauer Aemli`, 2 `Mirabelles de Nancy`, `Zwetschgenfarbene Mirabelle`, and 2 greengages `Reineclaude d`Oullins`, 3 quinces `Konstantinopeler`, `Vogelrüti`, `Vranja`. In changing shifts the students planted all day about 32 trees. The other 8 trees we will do next week. After planting we also did the first pruning. Started to paint the stems for protection (frost and sun). Spread some manure on the trees.

Daniel Ganz

Dan Graham visits Studio Tom Emerson

Wednesday, 19 May 2015

Good and warm Weather. About 23° C. Organized tools and establish the structure for equipment. Cleaned the garden and collected and removed all the trash from the side. Did mowing the meadow after the grass grew to tall. Improved the soil and brought in to the bed some seeds: Purple Tansy (Phacelia tanacetifolium), Red Clover (Trifolium pratense), Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus) and Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus). Finished painting the tree stems and the pruning. Worked late into the evening since the weather is so nice.

We brought in all the seeds: Opium Poppy (Papaver somniferum), Yellow Marigold (Calendula officinalis), Blue Flux (Linum lewisii) and White Clover (Trifolium repens)

The potatoes we planted about two weeks ago are pushing through the soil. The Purple Tansy (Phacelia tanacetifolium) and Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) are already germinating.

Daniel Ganz


Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Nice weather, around 27°C. Since we had the last two days rain the soil is moist. It`s a good time to weed the beds. The lawn got mown again. Not all Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus) germinated since some of the seeds were not properly covered by the soil. So we brought in some more seeds to complete the seedings also for the Purple Tansy (Phacelia tanacetifolium) and Red Clover (Trifolium pratense). The Opium Poppy (Papaver somniferum ) hardly germinated, but we will be patient for an other couple of weeks. The Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus) and the Yellow Marigold (Calendula officinalis) are looking very promising. The blue and yellow flowers will go together very well for high contrast.

The potatoes are growing well, some variety are already blooming. King Edward loocks to be the weakest Variety so far. I guess this year will be a good potatoe year compared to last year.

Daniel Ganz


Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Nice weather again after rainy days over the weekend. Sunny, around 25°C. Again the soil is moist and perfect to weed. We have sown some more Blue Flux (Linum lewisii) in to the bed since the growing looks quite week. We also did the weekly mowing of the lawn. Today we managed to weed about fifteen tree pit surfaces out of sixty. So there is more to do! Since we want to improve the herb variety of our meadow we also have to maintain it by controlling obnoxious plants like Broad-leaved dock (Rumex obtusifolius). With the spate we dug them out and made sure the roots will dry out in the sun so they not growing again. Three of us worked all morning and in the afternoon we were two. We just did maintenance all day! The garden looks good, special after such a successful working day.

Daniel Ganz


Wednesday 1 July 2015

Very hot and dry today. Temperatures up to 35° C. Sometimes more then four people worked all day till late in the evening. Today we finished to weed all tree pit surfaces. Also did the lawn cutting again. The Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) are starting to bloom. Brought in some more poppies seeds since they never germinated, which is strange. The meadow looks ripe and wants to be cut by next week. In the early evening when the sun was not so hot again, we watered the whole garden for about 2-3 hours (afterwards we could hear the plants singing sweet songs). The garden looks good!

Daniel Ganz

Wednesday, 7 July 2015

Very hot and dry today. Temperatures again up to 35° C. We started to cut the meadow early in the morning at 6 a.m. Four of us where in the garden and it took about 7 hours for the cutting. We left the grass for a couple of days on the ground so all the seeds can trop out easily.

Daniel Ganz


Tuesday, 22 July 2015

Again temperature over 30° C. Last night we watered the garden and this morning we did it again. The fresh cut meadow looks very dry and instead of a green carpet we look on an ocher one. We also did some weeding in fact we did the Nasturtium bed (Tropaeolum majus).
Exciting was the cropping of the potatoes `Charlotte`. It was like to search for gold and we where quite successful about it since we could dig out about three kilos out of 18 plants. The `Carla` potatoes are not quite ready now to crop. Even the leaves are mostly dry I would leave them for another one to two weeks in the ground.
One fruit tree is suffering. Probably some mice are on the roots trying to survive the hot summer.

Daniel Ganz


Wedensday, 19 August 2015

Not a very good day for gardening since the weather is cold (16° C) and wet. But it is a good chance to get a good impression of the gardens state after being absence for a couple of weeks. In general the garden looks fine, nothing has grown too much after weeks of heat (over 30° C). But still there is a lot to do since the mowing of our lawn has been neglected and wants now to be cut as soon the weather gets dry again. One fruit tree (`Hallauer Aemli`) seems to be dead, probably some mice caused it, and has to be replaced in autumn. Interesting is the state of the potatoes ripeness’! `Charlotte` was the first one and then came `Carla` and ` Eersterling ` about three weeks ago by the end of July. `King Edward` and `Ratte` are ripe to dig out now as soon the soil is dried up again. Next crop will be `Up to date` and ` Eigenheimer ` in about two weeks and last but not least `Blaue Schweden` by the beginning of September. Looking at the seeding beds is showing the following: Purple Tansy (Phacelia tanacetifolium) are getting dry after blooming, Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) is doing well but has not shown an exciting grow, Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus) did very well but are now over, Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) is still blooming but could have been done better probably because they wanted more watering in the past. Opium Poppy (Papaver somniferum) has been an great disappointment since nothing came up unless weeds, Yellow Marigold (Calendula officinalis) did well but started to finish flowering, Blue Flux (Linum lewisii) did very well but is now dry as well and White Clover (Trifolium repens) did well but could have done better.

Thinking about the future would be appropriate now to find out what could be done to improve the quality of the soil. Maybe bringing out some manure in about two month could guaranty a richer growing for annuals, perennials and even vegetable for next year.

Daniel Ganz