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By Panayoti Kelaidis, Senior Curator & Director of Outreach on Apr 30, 2013
Succulent sculptures at entrance to cactus and succulent greenhouse, Gothenburg botanic garden. The Swedes have a great sense of humor.
I have been lucky to visit many of the world's great gardens: I shall never forget an April visit to Savill Gardens: millions of daffodils in bloom and me (just like Wordsworth's poem!). Royal botanic gardens Edinburgh on a perfect spring day. And I have now visited Gothenburg botanic garden again--after nearly 20 years absence. Many of my plant addicted friends agree with me that this may have the finest collections of Temperate plants on earth, grown to perfection and displayed with great artistry. Gothenburg ROCKS! And I'm here at the perfect time for their mind boggling bulb displays...a tiny fraction of which I shall share here with you...
Anemone nemorosa coming into full bloom in woods all over Sweden: floral symbol of Gothenburg botanic garden...(sublime!)
Before I do that I thought I should show you the wood anemone that is blooming by the million everywhere in Sweden right now: these were taken at Gothenburg: this is the floral symbol of that garden. Not bad, eh? I think Denver Botanic Garden should have a floral symbol...the Pasqueflower, perhaps? Easter daisy? Let's hope we pick as wisely!
Carl Skottsberg, first director of Gothenburg Botanic Garden: a great botanist and visionary leader
Gothenburg has had more than its share of brilliant leaders, starting with the first (who is honored on this medallion in the administrative building). Per Wendelbo, who led the garden in the middle of the last Century, is credited for really elevating its collections and stature--he was Norwegian by birth, and died tragically in a traffic accident in middle age. He picked out Henrik Zetterlund as horticulturist, who has been the guiding spirit of the garden ever since--and whom I will honor in my next blog--showing him in his native habitat in Götene where he has a weekend home....
Tanacetum leontopodium, a wooly composite from alpine heights in Central Asia--one of thousands of fabulous plants blooming right now at Gothenburg
An alpine daisy, challenging to grow outdoors in Sweden, grown to perfection in one of the many alpine houses.
Mats Havström, curator of Herbaceous collections took Sunday off to show us around behind the scenes: one of many young talents who are maintaining the momentum of Per Wendelbo's dream.
One of the many talented young staff in the Dionysia house, showing a group of us around last weekend.
Iris linifolia, a rare Central Asian Juno iris grown to perfection in one of the bulb greenhouses ("behind the scenes"). I doubt you would find a FRACTION of the plants in this botanic gardens' collections anywhere in America--public or private.
I am a big fan of Juno iris--and Gothenburg has one of the best collections along with Kew. We grow these outdoors, however: Gothenburg is generous and has shared many bulbs with us over the years. It is possible that some plants in your garden trace indirectly to them as well!
Iris graeberiana x magnifica, at height of bloom in the public bulb display
I was charmed by this hybrid juno--which I suspect would grow gangbusters in our xeriscapes.
Anemone biflora in its dazxzling scarlet phase--in the public alpine house display
I have admired this bulb in books for decades: what a treat to see it in "the chlorophyll" (plant equivalent of "in the flesh")
Androsace (Douglasia) idahoensis--a very rare native American alpine grown to perfection in the backup alpine collections. Don't look for this anywhere in American public gardens--you will not find it.
There are literally hundreds of American wildflowers growing throughout Gothenburg, a distressing number of which are NOT being grown by American botanic gardens. Sometimes we forget that botanic gardens should be about plants (ahem!) instead of distractions...but I am getting on my soap box. Sorry!
Primula renifolia, the rarest primrose in the Vernales section, recently introduced from Caucasian cliffs by Gothenburg staff.
They would not be thrilled that I'm showing this a big past peak of bloom--but this is a plant of great pride: the most unusual of its section and a spectacular new garden plant. They should be proud.
The public is flocking to visit the bulb collections, although the day was blustery...
Their garden is loved by the citizenry. And botanic garden afficianodos around the world make pilgrimage to Gothenburg: our Mecca!
One of many dozens of species of Fritillary blooming now--all meticulously labeled.
Some of us are proud to be Frit Freaks--although many in the genus are chequered brown and green and invisible to ordinary folk. Too bad for them!
Rare Asiatic saxifrages in the porophyllum section, some still unnamed after decades in cultivation. You will not find these at your local Wallmart, incidentally...
More treasures...ho hum.....
Most of the dionysias were finished blooming (their flowers trimmed off to prevent rot)--but Dionysia khuzistanica still glowed in the Dionysia house.
Just a tiny fraction of the treasures in a few of the many glass houses--and there are acres of rhododendrons, trees, perennial borders, and a rock garden with hundreds of vertical feet of relief--it would take an encyclopaedia to show it all: you must simply make Gothenburg a destination...but don't expect to see it all--especially not in just a single day!
"...And haply then
That future country lost its gloom;
More lovely in that world than this,
Immaculate the white lily grows,
And perfected we walk in bliss."
Hortus Paradisi, William Bell Scott
More pictures from Gothenburg this week on this blog....
Category:At the Gardens