Les pépinières Baumann : pionniers de l’horticulture en Europe by Cécile MODANESE – Château de Bénouville

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Les pépinières Baumann : pionniers de l’horticulture en Europe by Cécile MODANESE – Château de Bénouville

The Baumann nurseries: pioneers in European horticulture

Jean Baumann, the lord’s gardener for a leading family of aristocrats, founded a fruit tree nursery in Bollwiller in the 18th century. His son followed in his footsteps, enhancing the activity with tree and ornamental plant growing, and developing the business into a leading 19th-century horticultural establishment. At the time of the Baumann brothers (Joseph and Augustin), from 1801 to 1841, it was renowned well beyond Alsace, massively exporting towards European countries, Germanic in particular. Handing down the business over several generations, they spurred new planting fashions that metamorphosed romantic gardens. Some varieties became must-haves: tulips from Virginia, ginkgo biloba, copper beech and, in the second half of the 19th century, giant redwoods.
In complement to plant growing, the gardeners were quick to propose garden designs. From a favour to good clients, garden composition developed, not only into a complementary activity in its own right, but also a genuine showcase for any novelties they put on the market.

Cécile Modanese

Cécile Modanese is a Pays d’Art et d’Histoire (Land of Art and History) project leader for the Guebwiller region community of communes, certified since 2004. She is in charge of the Château de la Neuenbourg in Guebwiller, which houses an architecture and heritage interpretation centre. The site stands amidst a 19th-century landscaped garden, highlighted thanks to an interpretation trail.
A historian of garden horticulture, she is a doctor in contemporary history and presented her thesis in June 2020, entitled ‘The dynasty of the Baumann nursery gardeners from Bollwiller, their influence on horticulture and garden tastes in the 18th to 20th centuries.’ Her knowledge on historic gardens has enabled her to integrate the Remarkable Gardens commission at the Grand-Est DRAC (Regional Cultural Affairs Directorate). She has published a number of articles on the gardens of Alsace, on nursery gardening and horticultural professions and training, and on heritage valorisation. She is the author of La région de Guebwiller, une Alsace loin des clichés (The Guebwiller region, Alsace far from the clichés), published in June 2022. Finally, her thesis work will shortly be published by the University Press of Tours.