Bern Geranium Market (Bärner Graniummärit)

Bern Geranium Market (Bärner Graniummärit)
Every year, the Swiss city of Bern hosts a magnificent and vibrant flower market known as the Bern Geranium Market (Bärner Graniummärit). Established in 1957, it is the only event of its kind in Switzerland.

The inaugural Bern Geranium Market was held on May 22, 1957 to commemorate the 20th founding anniversary of the Für Bern (“For Bern”) cooperative and the 60th founding anniversary of the Bern Master Gardeners Association. The main goal of the market was to support the cooperative’s Bern in Flowers campaign, a competition for the most beautiful balcony and window flower decorations. At the market, residents could buy various balcony flowers and learn how to take good care of them.

But why geraniums? These flowers were chosen for several reasons: they come in an impressive spectrum of colors, tolerate drought and heat well, flower continuously from early spring to the first frost, and combine well with other bedding plants. Due to this, geraniums are the most popular bedding and balcony plant in Switzerland.

Over the next decade, the geranium market at the Bundesplatz became a fixture in Bern’s event calendar. It was always held on the Wednesday after the Ice Saints (the feast days of Saint Pancras of Rome, Saint Servatius of Tongeren and Saint Boniface of Tarsus, observed on May 12, 13 and 14, respectively). However, the city government moved the market to the Münsterplatz due to traffic planning considerations in 1967. The following year, the Graniummärit was moved to a Saturday so that it could be held concurrently with the newly established Bernese Youth Festival.

The joint event didn’t last; while the geranium market felt like a special event when held on Wednesday, it became just another weekly market after its move to Saturday. In addition, the nights in May were deemed too cold for an outdoor youth festival. As a result, the Graniummärit was moved back to a Wednesday in May and the youth festival was postponed to June in 1969.

Around the same time, gardeners began to refuse to participate in the market due to a decline in sales caused by the new, less accessible location and tough competition with large distributors. To save the Graniummärit Willy Liechti and a number of other gardeners founded the Bärner Graniummärit Association that took over the organization. The association persuaded gardeners to participate in the market by promising to pay for and take over any unsold plants.

Since then, the Bärner Graniummärit has been going strong. Every spring, the Bundesplatz (the market was moved back there in 1997) is transformed into a sea of the most beautiful window and balcony flowers. Attendees have the opportunity to purchase geraniums and other balcony plants, culinary herbs, seedlings, and various gardening products such as containers, fertilizer, and soil. There is a free delivery service, so buyers don’t need to carry their purchases around. The market also features an entertainment program with music and the crowning of the geranium queen (or king), and refreshment stands.

Bärner Graniummärit





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