Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Rum & Trädgård ("Room & Garden fair") 2008

Most of the links in this post are in swedish only. I've still provided them since most swedes speaks quite good english. If you find an interesting vendor you'll be able to communicate with them.

When I was about seven I visited my first garden fair at Sollentuna Expo Center. There's where one of my lifelong passions was established. No, not for gardening - for fairs! My inner child jumps up and down at the thought of an endless supply of sweets and presents (gift samples). It doesn't matter that I don't eat from the marketing candy nowadays, or that I seldom vie for test samples anymore; I can find excuses to attend any fair. So the circle was fulfilled when Sollentuna Expo Center chose to revive their garden fair this year under the name of Rum & Trädgård ("Room & Garden" - link in swedish), and decided to add interior design to the theme. Still I'm very happy that they are moving to new locations next year, because their current halls are tiny and badly lit. This destroys the impression of any fair, and during my grownup life I've avoided fairs at this place. Rum & Trädgård was the one exception.

So, how was the fair? Taking shape, I would say. I had the feeling that there were a lot of exhibitors randomly crammed into a hall, rather than a theme to the fair. This may be due to the environment, it's hard to get an overview in cramped and dark spaces. But I met quite a few nice people, and ran across Maj-Lis Pettersson twice! She is a gardening expert on a swedish radio show called Odla med P1 (~"Grow with program 1" - link in swedish), and one of the few persons I would ask for an autograph.

Of course Impecta (swedish mail order seed vendor specialising in swedish heritage seeds as well as exotic ones, site in swedish only - unfortunately) was there. I took the chance to buy too many seed envelopes, praise their outstanding assortement and asked if they could import ulluco (Ullucus tuberosus) to Sweden. If ulluco is propagated using root tubers only the answer is no (due to import regulations), but they would check out the plant anyway. The lady I spoke too became happy when I commended them. She obviously knew that they do a good job, but still wasn't used to praise. That's what I'm allways saying; we should praise things we like more often!

Another interesting exhibitor was Jennys frön och sånt (trans: Jenny's Seeds and Such - I spoke to Jenny herself! Site in swedish.), a small company vending russian seeds (among other things). The russian treasure of plants are incredible due to the works of N.I. Vavilov Research Institute of Plant Industry that spent many years collecting as many varieties of plants as possible, and many of them are available commersialy to russians. To a 'normal' swedish gardener the cold hardy varieties of plants like tomatoes and cucumbers may be most interesting. For my own part I think russian looks cool on the seed envelope, plus I fall for the fact that the seeds comes with a story.

I was close to kissing Lena Ljungkvist who was the hostess of Wexthuset's booth (link in swedish). She told me that the company had "indoor gardening" as one of their activities. Since she used the english term in middle of swedish conversation she clearly meant that "indoor gardening" was a special way of garden (instead of having ordinary potted plants indoors), which makes me a bit confused. The indoor gardeners I've found online have been classical ones, ie, they've grown classical potted plants of all varieties. Have I missed something? Anyway, Wexthuset are the swedish general agent for Growth Technology, a company specialising in hydrocultures. They do it professionally and ecologically. Finding ecological growth sollutions for hydroculture seems to be hard as far as I know, so this is a refreshing alternative. (I was not surprised to find that Growth Technology is from Australia - the home of permaculture.)

Last but not least I have to tell you about the most dangerous place on the fair; Risbergs Bokhandel (old established book seller and second hand book shop - link in swedish) had a booth in a corner. A nice couple displayed a heaven of gardening books on two square meters (about three square yards). Perched on their shelves I found two books I've wanted for months, but have been to tight fisted to buy. Each one was cheap, but together they became just a tad too expensive. Talk about a rock and a hard place, that's an easy situation compared to what I went through. I put one book on the shelf and hugged the other, only to exchange them the other minute. I repeated the procedure over and over untill I took the courage to ask if I could have a discount if I bought them both. Not only did the owners give me the discount, they took care of my books (weighing 3kg/6,5 pounds) while I did the rest of the fair. I'm eternally grateful!

Meetings like this makes a fair! And if you excuse me I now have some reading to do. (Muahaha!)

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