Foto Astrid Lindgrens Näs

<br />Sabina Sakari
<br />Astrid Lindgrens Näs
<br />Astrid Lindgrens Näs
<br />Annelie Karlsson

Gardens for work and pleasure – to visit and admire

People have always had gardens, usually for work but sometimes just for pleasure. And, not least, as a status symbol, a way to show off power and wealth.

Europe’s rulers created magnificent gardens with avenues, fountains and enormous plantations to impress their contemporaries. The French Versailles is unthinkable without its magnificent park as are Sanssouci in Potsdam without its imposing terrace and the Dutch Het Loo without its kilometre-long hedges.

In Sweden, we have been a little more modest. For us, the garden has been a place of work and purpose, cultivation and harvests, maybe because it started out as a cabbage patch for the kitchen with cabbage and beans and the odd herb.

At the turn of the last century, allotments came to the towns to give people somewhere to grow their potatoes and plant fruit trees. The idea behind allotments came from Germany and Denmark but quickly caught on in Sweden. In the towns, allotments were annexed and, quite simply, planted for people’s survival. Today, the allotment areas are small oases in the centres of towns, perfect for walks and inspiring for those who want new ideas for their own garden or balcony.

In time, gardens have come to be expected. When the first council estates were built, fruit trees and berry bushes were of course included. And in the 60s when the welfare state began to become established and people had more holiday, the Sunday excursions went to Norrviken’s gardens in Båstad and the flower garden in Blekinge’s Eringsboda.

In Helsingborg, King Gustav VI Adolf, together with his first wife, the English Crown Princess Margaret, put Sofiero on the map thanks to its designed flower borders and rhododendron plantations, and in the 90s a garden party started there that attracted many followers.

Today, the towns and cities in Sweden compete to redesign their old parks, maybe thanks to Enköping, which was the first, attracting the Dutch Piet Oudolf to create beautiful perennial plantations in the centre of the town. Enköping has become world-famous and has gained followers, including Sölvesborg and Skärholmen. Thanks to its year as Culture Capital, Umeå has a new park designed by the city’s son, Ulf Nordfjell. Gardens make a difference and have come to be expected.

Today, an increasing number of private individuals also open their own gardens. Every other year, the event A Thousand Gardens is held when all kinds of gardens are shown in a single day, and many other events around Sweden inspire us to show our own green worlds – to create desire and give inspiration. “This is how I do it, welcome in and have a look!” When A Thousand Gardens was last organised, almost 700 gardens opened. Skåne and Småland are the provinces with most open private gardens.

It is of course particularly nice when there are new public gardens that want to be on show. In summer 2014, Karin and Carl Larsson’s garden in Sundborn in Dalarna opened in a new guise. The garden has been recreated as it was 100 years ago with plants typical of the time. In June the same summer, the then Minister for Culture opened Astrid Lindgren’s Näs, a new open garden with space for culture and debate, seriousness and humour. The garden is an important part of our cultural heritage and emphasises the history and people. Gardens are important and involve everyone. As a tourist, you should be able to go anywhere in our long country and there should always be a garden to visit. Maybe a private one or an allotment area, a town or city park, a churchyard, a collection of trees or just a small green patch to sit on and enjoy the scents of the flowers.

Gardens have become a popular movement and a sort of general education. Through others, we learn more about our own green places on earth. That the garden is a place of relaxation and tranquillity is nothing new, but that there are now so many places to enjoy them is fantastic. And that the number continues to grow is even better, for the sake of people and the environment.

 

Text: Gunnel Carlson

Svenska German

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