The Merian Gärten (Merian Gardens) are a magical place of beauty. The extensive botanical garden on the outskirts of Basel enchants visitors with an incredible variety of plants and a profuse display of blossoms.
The former country residence of Christoph Merian, a prosperous 19th-century agronomist and philanthropist, includes a landscape garden, valuable collections of ornamental plants, a kitchen garden with rare types of fruit, vegetable and berries, varied garden landscapes and protected areas of nature. It is thus a valuable haven today for both people and animals in the growing urban environment.
Whatever the season, visitors can find respite from everyday life and an unforgettable garden experience here.
The Merian Gärten (Merian Gardens) are home to approximately 7000 different species and types of plants. The iris collection featuring 1500 historical bearded irises and 300 species of wild iris is renowned worldwide. Further impressively diverse collections include the clematis collection, the rhododendren and snowdrop collections and other scientifically managed collections of ornamenal plants. Among the many other garden delights are lovingly created beds of perennials, unusual bulbous plants in all shapes and colours, aromatic sage and potted sub-tropical plants.
Diversity is also the determining characteristic of the semi-natural dry meadows, hedges and bodies of water with their native flora and fauna – around 40 percent of the Merian Gärten are protected natural areas. The 200-year-old landscape garden with its constructed sightlines and views, its playful use of the openly visible and the hidden and its large collection of old trees, is a particularly beautiful example of this type of garden design. The assortment of rare cultivated plants is especially impressive: 400 types of fruit can be found in the orchard while a rich array of types of vegetables and berries can be found in the farm garden. Chioggia beets (red beet), whitecurrants and seven different types of rhubarb grow here. The Merian Gärten maintain and care for the largest ProSpecieRara collection in Switzerland. (ProSpecieRara is a Non-profit Association for the culturo-historical and genetic diversity of plants and animals).
Visitors to Villa Merian are received on its wonderful garden terraces with lovingly prepared culinary delights from the region, created using vegetables, fruit, eggs and other products from its own gardens where possible.
The Merian Gärten have developed over many years and can look back on a rich history. The fact that the area was already settled at an early period is evidenced among other things by the mill, which was first mentioned in 1259. Christoph Merian came to Brüglingen with his wife Margaretha in 1824 and developed a model farm here. He ensured that great care was given to the garden and park and laid the foundation for today’s collections with his flair for plants from faraway countries. He engaged Melchior Berri, the star architect of his time, for the construction of an impressive dwelling and corresponding agricultural buildings.
The Merians did not have any children. After the couple’s death, their estate passed over to the Christoph Merian Stiftung CMS (Cristoph Merian Foundation). In 1968, the foundation made the land available for a public botanical garden. The Swiss garden show, Grün 80, enabled it to be further extended.
As a botanical garden, the Merian Gärten are part of a global network. Their unique cultural heritage is managed in accordance with the ethical principles of ICOM (ICOM (International Council of Museums) and the standards of BGCI, the umbrella association of botanical gardens. The gardening team has a remarkable level of specialist knowledge in horticulture, from raising plants to collecting seeds, and is also engaged in vocational training in this respect. As one of the first bio-certified botanical gardens in Europe, the Merian Gardens are constantly looking for new materials and methods for the organic care of ornamental plants.
The Merian Gärten were awarded with the European Garden Award in 2019/2020 for their excellent work in the field of nature education. The educational programme combines unique experiences in nature with learning about sustainability. Over 3000 children and adolescents attend courses in the gardens every year. Here they experience nature directly outdoors whatever the weather, thereby laying the foundation for a healthy relationship with nature.
Vorder Brüglingen 5
Owner: Christoph Merian Stiftung Basel (CMS)
Entrance fee: Free
Opening times: Daily from 08:00 until sunset
Events: Open-air concerts, location for weddings and other events
- Shop: Fruits, vegetables, eggs, honey and seasonal products
- Restaurant/Tea-Room: Villa Merian with outdoor seating, open daily, for details see www.meriangärten.ch
- Toilet: yes
- Parking: Paid parking St. Jakobshalle
- Guided tours: public and private tours and experts advice. Check www.meriangärten.ch for details
Further information about the park:
Map: Link to a map on the garden’s website.
Accessibility: There is only limited accessibility (even on main paths) caused by the historic pavement.
Activities for children: A wide range of activities for children can be found on www.meriangärten.ch
Dogs: Dogs are not allowed.
Bikes: No bikes in the gardens. Bikes can be placed at the entrance areas.