The Gardens of La Gara

An 18th century estate in Geneva with gardens designed by Erik Dhont and a labyrinth by Markus Raetz

Contemporary and historic landscape design on an 18th-centruy estate near Geneva.


Disponible aussi en français


Title Information

Edited by Anette Freytag

1st edition

, 2018


380 pages, 240 color and 48 b/w illustrations

19.5 x 27.5 cm

ISBN 978-3-85881-802-7


La Gara is an 18th-century country estate in Jussy, a village near Geneva, Switzerland. The buildings have been carefully restored by Swiss architect Verena Best, who also added coherent interventions to the interior design. The renowned Belgian landscape designer Erik Dhont reinterpreted and subtly redesigned the gardens and surrounding grounds, completed by a palindrome-like labyrinth designed by Swiss artist Markus Raetz.

This new book tells the full story of the La Gara estate and illustrates its beauty. The essays by Anette Freytag, Verena Best-Mast, Erik A. de Jong, Erik Dhont, Éric Dumont, Leïla el-Wakil, Anette Freytag, Iris Lauterbach, Gaël Maridat, Rainer Michael Mason, Markus Raetz, Luc-Éric Revilliod, and Natalie Rilliet investigate various aspects of its preservation and restoration of buildings and gardens and the contemporary interventions. They highlight features such as the historic watering system for the gardens and the included fishponds and look at the specific Genevan garden tradition and characteristics of the rural landscape around Jussy with its biodiversity. Moreover, they contextualize La Gara with the “ferme ornée”, a villa with agricultural and ornamental features following ancient Roman models. The beautifully designed volume is rounded out with newly commissioned photographs by renowned Swiss photographer Georg Aerni.


Deutsche Ausgabe

Edition française

Authors & Editors

Verena Best-Mast

Erik A. de Jong

Erik Dhont

Éric Dumont

Leïla el-Wakil

Anette Freytag

 is a Professor of Landscape Design at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ.

Iris Lauterbach

Gaël Maridat

Rainer Michael Mason

, born 1943, art historian and specialist in prints, has been curator of prints at the Museum of Art and History in Geneva 1979–2005.

Markus Raetz

Luc-Éric Revilliod

Natalie Rilliet

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Towards the southeast the estate gardens are separated from surrounding agricultural lands by an 18th-century canal. This element, called “ha-ha,” prevents livestock and game to invade the gardens. Nowadays, Erik Dhont’s trimmed yews have taken the place of the stately baroque flowerbeds of the past. Photo March 2013, © Georg Aerni

The trimmed yews by Erik Dhont seem to form a labyrinth. They tower overhead and form little chambers within them. Children love to play hide and seek in these landscapes. During garden parties, groups of guests enliven them with their conversations. Photo March 2013, © Georg Aerni

The driveway of La Gara was created in the 18th century and has been remodeled by landscape architect Erik Dhont. Lime trees, rose bushes and geometrically trimmed yews line the street and set the scene at the entrance to the cour d’honneur in front of the manor. Photo June 2014, © Georg Aerni

The mid 18th-century manor with a newly designed court by Erik Dhont. A plateau with four chestnut trees and a bench, framed by trimmed hedges, balances out the sloping forecourt. Photo June 2014, © Georg Aerni

Erik Dhont likes to model his gardens on the traditional English “walks,” with chambers in the hedges and perennial beds. The vibrant colors of peonies and lupines enliven the scene. Photo June 2014, © Georg Aerni

From the thicket of old deciduous trees in the southern part of the garden emerge the geometrically trimmed yews on the central lawn in front of the terrace. Photo September 2014, © Georg Aerni

Spring at La Gara: flowering cherries bloom under the 100-year-old trees, and windflowers and crocuses peek out of the grass. Photo April 2015, © Georg Aerni

Markus Raetz’ labyrinth and its winding paths during construction. Photo April 2015, © Georg Aerni

Entrance to Markus Raetz’ labyrinth. The selection of plants was planned by Erik Dhont: boxwood, hedge maple, garden pear, crabapple, cornel cherry, European beech, and winter jasmine together with other plants form a dense, mixed hedge. Photo June 2016, © Georg Aerni

Plan of the Mandement de Jussy, 1745. Archives d’État de Genève

Plan of La Gara, ca. 1791. Private collection

Garden façade of the manor house with the new terrace surrounded by flowerbeds, potted plants, orange trees in large wooden tubs, and oval ornamental beds, beginning 20th century. Archives d’État de Genève

La Gara’s cour d’honneur with the Thellusson coat of arms and beneath it the stone bench on which generations of owners and visitors have sat, beginning 20th century. Archives d’État de Genève

The cour d’honneur of La Gara when it was still a working farm, first half 20th century. Photo Atelier Boissonas, Bibliothèque de Genève

Horsedrawn hay carts and wagons bearing huge wooden tubs for the wine and fruit harvest were a common sight in the countryside around La Gara until well into the 20th century. Archives d’État de Genève

The wisteriadraped southwest façade and parklike landscape garden with the cedar of Lebanon and various other trees, first half 20th century. Bibliothèque de Genève

The outbuilding remodeled as an orangery with a new garden, first half 20th century. The manor house is in the background at right. Private collection

Erik Dhont, Sketch for the remodeling of the garden in front of the garden façade of the La Gara manor house with yew “solids,” 2007

Erik Dhont, Model showing the layout of the topiary to create a convivial space for friends, 2007. Photo: Reiner Lautwein

Erik Dhont, First sketch of the fluid, interconnected paths, 2007.

Erik Dhont, Study for the planting of “undergrowth,” 2007

Erik Dhont, Plan for the planting of the berry garden with artichokes, sunflowers, redcurrants, raspberries, and blackcurrants, 2009

Markus Raetz, Maze of La Gara. Plan detailing the paths and plantings, 2015. © 2018, ProLitteris, Zurich / Markus Raetz

Markus Raetz, Maze of La Gara. Coordinate grid for the application of the plan onto the site, 2015. © 2018, ProLitteris, Zurich / Markus Raetz

Erik Dhont, Site and project plan of the gardens of La Gara, 2015–2016, scale 1 : 500.


All images printed must come with respective picture credit and may only be published in connection with a book review.


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