And so it was under a wet and dark sky that we made our visit to the alpine garden of La Thomasia. Bad omen … good omen? Nah … just our bad luck to visit the garden on a day of the week with the least favourable of weather condition! But thankfully the sudden downpour that greeted us when we arrived at Pont de Nant did not last very long … and we soon got to enjoy the garden without having to hold our umbrellas … which also made it easier to take shots of the beautiful flowers in the garden! phewwww …
We had waited (or at least I had) … for months to be able to visit La Thomasia after having heard about it from Kak Maznah. But we could not go there any earlier because … like some other places in Switzerland located close to a mountain top (such as Villa Cassel at Riederfurka, for example), La Thomasia is not open to visitors in winter. It is only open for half the year, from May to October. Thankfully though, just like La Rambertia, the other famous alpine garden in the canton of Vaud (located on the mountain of Rochers-de-Naye) which we visited a year ago, admission to La Thomasia is free, too. Nice!! 🙂
The alpine garden of La Thomasia occupies only a tiny part of the small valley of Nant that extends from Pont de Nant — which nestles on the western foot of the massive mountain range of Grand Muveran, some 800 metres higher than this area (itself some 1,260 metres above sea level), and acts like a kind of gate to the valley — to the source of the river Avançon (altitude of approximately 1,500m) some 3 kilometres away.
A lodging cum rest house in the area, situated between the car park and the alpine garden. We contemplated taking shelter from the rain in the rest house while having a drink inside … but since the rain seemed to have let up a little while we were deliberating on what to do …
… we decided to proceed towards the alpine garden, instead. Well … we were eager to check it out, especially when we saw these children running excitedly towards the garden under the rain! If they did not mind a little rain … then neither should we lah! 🙂
The simple entrance to La Thomasia, which was named in honour of a family of keen botanists from Bex, the Thomas.
This was an overview of the garden from outside the fence (taken by the hubby at my request from the top of a big rock as we were walking past the garden on our way back to Les Plans-sur-Bex a few hours later ! :))
The garden, as you can see here … is organised according to ‘rocks ‘ (heaps of rocks and turf) with flowers from different continents: Europe, Asia, Americas, etc. Apparently, the lack of sunshine in the valley explains why mountain plants grow so well here – indeed, it is stated that there are 3,000 different species at La Thomasia.
And this was the view of the garden upon entering the gate … to the left of the entrance. The mist in the background definitely added to the charm of the garden that afternoon!
The view in the middle.
And the view to the right of the entrance.
And this was the gardener, who was busy walking around the different rocks to ensure his ‘babies’ were OK before returning to his chalet for lunch. 🙂
Okay, more photos of the garden …
The view in the direction of the entrance.
The garden was founded in 1891 by the Society for the Development of Bex in honour of the Thomas family and, a year later, was transformed into a true botanical garden by Professor Ernest Wilczek of the University of Lausanne (who also played a seminal role in the setting up of botanical gardens in Lausanne). Apparently, this makes it the oldest alpine garden in the world to have been operating uninterruptedly.
This garden is still placed under the authority of the botanical gardens and museum of Lausanne, which is why the thematic exhibition on diaspores currently on display at La Thomasia can also be seen at the botanical museum in Lausanne.
The hubby busy taking photos of the plants to share in this blog. Between the two of us, as usual … we took loads!! hehehe … 🙂
One of the several ponds inside the garden … which added a lovely touch to this alpine garden.
And wooden paths with bridges cutting across parts of the garden … another nice touch!
The gardener’s chalet partly hidden, as seen from one end of the wooden paths.
And here is a section of the alpine garden with narrow path. This area, which is on the other end of the garden (after walking on the wooden path), is covered with more fauna than flora … making the area look very lush and a little wild, indeed.
And this is the side view of the garden (with the gardener’s chalet next to it) taken from one end of the garden, which is close to the nursery. Although there is no gate to the nursery, there was a sign to say that it is a prohibited area. So although I was tempted to go in and have a look, I decided to honour the sign lah! 🙂
And so that was how the garden of La Thomasia looked like that wet afternoon. Quite a pretty garden, do you not think so? The hubby certainly found it very lovely and liked the garden very much (so much so that he is keen to remind me that we stayed in the garden for an hour and forty minutes in all). Although I think it quite lovely, too … somehow I found myself to have preferred the alpine garden of La Rambertia at Rochers-de-Naye. I reckon it is because of the strategic location of La Rambertia, which offers a breathtaking view of the mountains across and the valleys below which clinch it!
By the way, this entry is not finished yet lah. No, no …
How can I share photos of a garden … a famous one, no less … and not share photos of the flowers themselves, no? So here are a selection of the lovely alpine flowers growing and blooming on that afternoon at La Thomasia.
Just be prepared for an overdose of these lovelies …
Alpine flowers at La Thomasia …
More alpine flowers at La Thomasia …
Some more alpine flowers at La Thomasia …
And even more alpine flowers at La Thomasia …
Well … I did warn you! hehehe … 🙂
Other entries on botanical gardens on this blog:
- Botanical gardens in Lausanne (as part of our Night at the Museums 2011 entry)
- Alpine garden at Rochers-de-Naye
Previous entry on how to get to La Thomasia from Plans-sur-Bex on foot: