Thursday, June 18, 2009

An ultimate haven... my favourite garden

A copy of the 16th century statue of Mercury (Hermes) by Giambologna, looking at the sea over the cliffs of Källskär.
K
I sometimes get the question of which garden that I have visited I have liked the most and I always have found this a very difficult question to answer; an old-fashioned cottage garden can just as wonderful, even if in a different way, as a magnificent palace garden, an avant garde modern garden or a spiritual Japanese one... It all depends on the feelings the garden is able to awake. But yesterday, while shuffling some old photo albums on the bookshelves, I randomly opened one of them and flipped through the holiday photos in it dating from 1994, from a sailing trip with my parents in the archipelago of Åland in South-Western Finland. Looking at them, I think I found the answer to this puzzling question; for despite having visited so many beautiful, serene, bountiful and/or impressing gardens, the garden in Källskär near Kökar represents for me the garden as an ultimate haven; a perfect escape, a shelter from storms and an improbable dream that became true.
K

Källskärskannan
KK
The little island of Källskär is mostly known for its natural beauty, the special stone formations and flowing cliffs shaved smooth by the ice age and the sea. Particularly well-known is a stone pillar called "Källskärskannan", "the pot or jug of Källskär", named after its rounded form. The natural meadows were used as summer pasture for sheep until 1958, when Baron Göran Åkerhielm from Sweden sailed in and fell in love with the island. During the following years, he built a low log house between the huge cliffs, and started to build a garden with the help of sheltering stone walls. The people from the surrounding islands like Kökar, always called him "the Count" and helped him to carry soil to the barren island, and for several years, the young people were employed by him to help with the garden. He used sculpture as a contrast and complement to the wild surroundings of the garden, and he loved especially Rhododendrons and roses, getting them to thrive in this harsh and remote environment. In 1983, "The Count" donated his summer residence and garden to the county of Åland, and since then it has been used as a retreat for guest artists and cultural persons, one of the most famous of whom was Tove Jansson, the author of the Moomin books.

A stone path to the log house.




The main house of "The Count", who's real name and title was Baron Göran Åkerhielm.

Källskär is open to the public but visiting it is quite an adventure; the sea around is shallow and full of stones. My father has always loved sailing, and has taken us to most islands in the Archipelago of Turku and Åland, but if you are not an experienced sailor or/and boatman, it is best to travel there with a fishing boat from Kökar that traffics the island daily between June 25 and August 7.

Unfortunately, my holiday pictures were not of a very good quality and when I took them, I was still at the stage where somebody has to be standing in the middle of the picture, smiling. So the only picture here that is taken by me is the first one with the statue of Mercury, which I scanned in. Fortunately, I found some wonderful photos at FlickR taken by Daniel Frigo and Megan and Murray McMillan. Copyright is theirs, even if I have loaned their pictures here; please visit the links above for more beautiful pictures from Källskär and Kökar.

12 comments:

Slottsträdgårdsmästaren said...

Härliga skärgårdsbilder...önskar dig en skön midsommar!

The Intercontinental Gardener said...

Tack, Slottsträdgårdsmästaren; bilderna var väl passande för den här årstiden. Lite hemlängtan har man, kanske. Ha en härlig midsommar, du också!

Bay Area Tendrils Garden Travel said...

I'm also asked quite often to name my favorite garden.
A challenge, for certain, when I enjoy so many types of gardens and garden styles.
Thank you for opening my eyes to a garden completely unknown to me, in an unfamiliar region.
Maybe.... one day?
Cheers! Alice
BayAreaTendrils

The Intercontinental Gardener said...

Alice, for this garden, one could easily use the wornout epithet of "off the beaten track"... Difficult to reach, it feels even more special when you arrive and see the tender plants nestled between the cliffs. Hopefully you get there one day - there is so much to see in this region that I know you would enjoy and appreciate.

Ruben said...

Dit måste jag absolut försöka ta mig någon gång! Det låter helt fantastiskt!! Kan redan ana känslan!! Trevlig midsommar och ta det lugnt! ;-) /Ruben

Karen said...

Thank you for sharing this, and it' so interesting that it is your favorite garden! Is it partially due to the extreme effort required to have made it? The Baron must have really loved plants, to have transformed such a harsh environment into something so lovely. Sailing trips with your family, that sounds idyllic despite the rocks!

Tant Grön said...

Kul att läsa om greven! Det finns en liknande historia från en ö utanför Strömstad, som kallas Alaska. En excentrisk kvinna, Hilma någonting, som en gång utvandrat till Alaska, kom tillbaka på femtiotalet och bosatte sig på denna ö. Och så började hon samla sten och byggde murar och skulpturer, och anlade en trädgård. Dessutom tog hon emot gäster i ett litet café på ön.
Numera är trädgården rätt förfallen, men murar och skulpturer står kvar, och ett gäng entusiaster har under det senaste året försökt få ihop pengar för att restaurera trädgården, men detta strider tydligen mot viktiga naturvårdsintressen, så det blir inget denna sommar i alla fall.
Men det går att gå iland på ön, och den är nog inte lika svårtillgänglig som din ö.
Underbara bilder förresten! Man kan riktigt föreställa sig muminmamman vandra runt på stränderna och leta efter vackra stenar till sina rabatter.
Trevlig midsommar! Hoppas ni får bättre väder än vi-här väntas 14 grader, kuling och risk för regnskurar...

Glädjekällan said...

Underbara skärgårdsbilder. Naturen är nog den vackraste trädgården?
Källskär ser spännande ut. Tro och vilja kan försätta berg.
Trevlig midsommarhelg
Birgitta

Arboarkticum said...

Hm, både en trädgård och en omgivande natur som ställer begreppen lite på ända ser det ut som - det gillar vi! Och det är ju ett besökstips som inte alls är omöjligt för oss östkustingar att ta oss till. Där blir det nog ett besök, så småningom - tack för att du berättade om det!

The Intercontinental Gardener said...

Ruben - det är verkligen fantastiskt, även om bilderna inte gör riktigt rätta för själva trädgården, det finns en del att se!

Karen - I think it is the combination of remoteness and effort, and also the very special atmosphere that you get by being surrounded by the sea and still having a calm haven between the cliffs...

Tant Grön - vilken härlig tips, jag kollade och och Hilmas Alaska är på topp-listan för trädgårdsbesök i Sverige, hoppas redan nästa sommar. Och efter en månads värme, nu blev det kallt och regnigt här också, lagom till midsommaren!

Arboarkticum, det blir en spännande resa om du tar dig dit, Ålands skärgård är så väldigt vacker... tycker jag :-)

Lisbeth said...

Surfade förbi för att önska alla en GLAD MIDSOMMAR! Själv jobbar jag :-( Men tänker sticka emellan med lite bloggande. Välkommen in, titta runt, läs och var med och tävla om en trädgårdsbok - ELLER en inredningsbok! Adressen? http://designskolan.blogspot.com

Daniel Mount said...

Thanks for showing me a garden i probably would never seen otherwise. It's amazing what we people do. D.