Cassian Schmidt, Botanist (Germany)

»The History of Magic Landscapes«

The discovery and emancipation of the landscape during the late 18th century changed the way we look at natural and cultural landscapes today. In the English Landscape Gardens of the late 18th century, the grandeur of wild nature was enhanced by some carefully situated cultural or even exotic elements, which together evoked deep emotions and moods. The resulting “new” landscapes challenge the traditional definition of a garden and extend its boundaries, both conceptually and visually. A good example showing all these elements of a late 18th century landscape park is the “Staatspark Fuerstenlager” at Bensheim-Auerbach within the Global Geopark Berstrasse-Odenwald.

Discovering the different layers of nature and culture in the landscape is an important base for our reflection of magic landscapes. The wild “unadorned nature”, the “enhanced nature”, the “transformed nature” and "nature and art” are becoming important elements of the landscape design. The “land” or “environmental” art movement which emerged in the late 1960s is an art form that was at one with the landscape rather than imposed upon it. By changing our perspectives in viewing nature and stimulating a reflection on it, “Forest Art” can be a bridge for a deeper understanding of the uniqueness and the “Genius Loci” of a Magic Landscape.


Cassian Schmidt, born 1963 in Essen, Germany, is landscape architect and has a master degree as horticulturist. Since 1998, he is the director of Hermannshof Garden, a research institution and botanical garden. It is located at the city of Weinheim. The garden, receiving 120.000 visitors a year, is now an important “Geo Point” within the Global Geopark Bergstrasse-Odenwald in South-Western Germany.

In his naturalistic planting design, the so called “New German Style”, Schmidt connects nature, art and ecology to a concept of “enhanced nature”. One emphasis of his work and research is studying the ecological dynamics of horticultural plant communities and evaluating the aesthetical potential of natural landscapes for the use in landscape design. He is a visiting professor for planting design at the department of landscape architecture at RheinMain University, Germany since 1999.

 Schmidt received his diploma in landscape architecture at Munich Technical University in Weihenstephan, Germany in 1996. He has over 20 years of experience as a professional horticulturalist and landscape architect. He worked for different companies in Germany and for one year in Maryland, USA.