How do you know spring has arrived? Flowers, spring showers, sundresses or swimming in the lake? In Geneva’s old town, there is a tree that is the official harbinger of spring. On the Promenade de la Treille in the Old Town of Geneva, there is a chestnut tree whose first bud marks the official arrival of spring (Marronnier Officiel). It’s known as “l’eclosion” which translates as “the hatching” or “the blooming” but in this case means “the budding.”
The first bud has been recorded since 1808! It has always come sometime between January and the beginning of April, its arrival varying considerably (but generally getting progressively earlier). Since observations began, 4 trees have been used. The original from 1818 to 1905, the second from 1905 until 1928, and the next to last since 1929. It was so bent over that it has to be propped up with a pole. The current one has been officially designated since 2015.
In 1808, Marc-Louis Rigaud-Martin began recording the tree’s first bud, likely due to something like scientific curiosity. Since 1818, all the dates have been recorded on a parchment-roll in a special place in Geneva’s State Council chamber.