Monday, February 11, 2008

Uppsala my Uppsala

(This blogpost is the result of a challenge from Jodi de Long at Bloomingwriter.)

Every summer the staff at the Orangery at the Botanical Gardens carry out the plants to give them some outdoor sun. The plants includes laurels, ginkos and fig in natural sizes.
(This photo is called "The courtyard at Linneanum in June - WOW", and the photografer is The County Clerk. You find more photos and his profile here.)

I live in Uppsala, Sweden. I moved here from Stockholm when I was twenty and fell in love with the place because of its tolerance towards geeks, plus because of the many book sellers around. The thing about universities is that they tend to spread books in the way dandelions spreads their seeds. They doesn't grow that fast, but I dare say that Uppsala University is the result of a seed from Paris.

Speaking of the university I can't leave Linnaeus out. He was born in Småland, and spent many years here as a professor. Eventhough I am a gardener I haven't spent much time pondering him and his works. He seems to have been a nice chap with a feeling for greenery. I managed to avoid the jubilee last year, as I manage to miss the Linnéweek (in swedish) celebrated every year. On the other hand I like spending an afternoon at Linné's Hammarby.

My big gardening love in this city is the Botanical Gardens with the baroque garden (they are situated on both sides of a street). The baroque garden is a good place for picnicks and on a fine day you'll find several groups dinnering there. Since this is Uppsala it isn't unusual for one of them to carry funny clothes - for exemple we have a local Sherlock Holmes clubb with a taste for portable wind-up phonographs and croquet (and, of course, period clothing).

On the other side of the way you'll find the Botanical Gardens (eventhough the greenery in the baroque garden are neatly labled with latin names, common names and origin too). It nags me that a big condominium complex is being built between the gardens and the Uppsala castle, because it's a clumsy addition to the environment, hopefully it'll turn out alright when all is finished (and with the current trends in architecture I say Ha! to my own hopes). I think I'm becoming an old curmudgeon.

Anyway, the Botanical Gardens sports plants from all around the world, planted according to current classification system. You'll find the vegetables close to the entrance, and can take a convenient tour around the world of cabbages as well as admire the herb gardens. Every now and then I pay the fee to get into the green house and look at the main diva, the Victoria waterlily. Well, I look at the leaves since Victoria mainly blooms in the night. Then I stroll off into the inner sanctuaries, dreaming about being able to grow as big plants in my home.

Since I'm an indoor gardener it may be in place to say something about swedish indoor climate. Indoor climates vary from country to country in almost the same way as the outdoor climate do. In Sweden it's generally about 20-24¤C indoors and very dry. My own flat is 22-24¤C warm in the winter, and since it's in a sunny spot 26-28¤C in the summer. Up untill last years Sweden was a place where winter could be freezingly -20¤C cold, and my theory is that as soon as we could afford it we built buildings insulated enough to keep those temperatures out. I have no explanation for the dryness though, perhaps a way to keep out mold since swedish buildings tend to be almost watertight.

The more I grow plants indoors, the more I abandon my original plan to grow old swedish cultivated plants and switch to the field of exotic - and edible - plants. They are more suited to the climate where they will grow. And I'm starting to look longingly at the Uppsala allotment gardens. I still fear the sturdy Uppsala clay, that are hard to work with and build up mounds under the shoes (no, not lumps, mounds), but some more root vegetables in the diet would be nice!


TopVeg said...

Your indoor climate sounds my kind of thing. I spend the winters dressed in ski-pants, as it is so cold in our old Victorian farmhouse!

WiseAcre said...

Stop 2 on my trip around the world!

Thank goodness for universities! I'd hate to think how backward my area would have been without them.

Unfortunately the nearest Botanical Gardens are a long way from home. I like to joke I have to go to another county to see the nearest one.

Rosengeranium said...

topveg: That's the backside of "victorian" isn't it? But I suspect that this indoor climate is behind such lovely things as scones and clotted cream, so there are some good things with it too.

wiseacre: Thanks! Your place would be just the right thing for us, actually. My husband grew up in northern Sweden where climate, nature and population density strongly resembles St Lawrence County. Visiting the county would be like going abroad to go home, so to speak.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I hope you get an allotment. It sounds like you are ready.

Rosengeranium said...

I might be, but because of our clay soil I've decided to wait untill next autumn to get one. At least this gives me plenty of time to think it over...

Nancy J. Bond said...

This was a fascinating addition to the gardeners' geography project and I enjoyed reading about your part of the world very much!

Rosengeranium said...


Ewa said...

thank you for this post - I just learned where Linneus came from.
Greetings from last winter days in Poland :)

Rosengeranium said...

Thanks! Winter is pushing a last push over here too. It's been unusually warm this year, so I'm almost relieved to see some snow now.

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Thanks for this lovely post about your neck of the woods. I've met quite a few indoor gardeners while blogging.

Don't let the heavy clay stop you from getting an allotment. I garden on heavy clay too but if you put on lots of compost it soon gets a lot easier to work with!

Rosengeranium said...

Thanks! I'll do this!