- Bergius Botanic Garden was founded by the Bergius brothers in the mid-1700s
- It was originally known as Bergielund and located at Vasastaden
- The garden moved to Frescati in 1885
- Today, it serves as a teaching and research facility as well as a recreational area
There is no doubt that there are a plenty of green places all around Stockholm where you can take a little break and enjoy the summer sitting on a bench or lying on nice lawns. However, it is never a bad idea to take your retreat from the rush of the city one step further and go to some place that feels completely detached from the daily struggles of life. Welcome to the Bergius Botanic Garden!
To be fair, that is exactly how the Bergius brothers intended the garden that carries their name to be from the very beginning. It may come as a surprise, though, that while they planned their garden as a place where they could relax from their urban lives, it did not stand where it stands today.
The original botanic garden known as Bergielund was created in the mid-1700s and it stretched roughly from where you would find Vasaparken today all the way to Karlbergsvägen. It was especially the younger of the two brothers, Peter Jonas Bergius, who had shown interest in botany and dedicated himself to scientific work in the field.
When Peter Jonas passed away some six years after his brother Bengt, in 1790, he bequeathed the estate to a foundation that shall be established with the purpose of maintaining a botanic garden in the location. Fulfilling his will, the Bergianus Foundation (Bergianska stiftelsen) was established, which took responsibility for the garden.
In the latter half of the 19th century, the population of Stockholm was booming and what once was a green retreat from the city now became an obstacle for the city expansion. Because the city wanted to use the land on which the garden then stood for construction, a proposal to move it to the countryside at Frescati came to life. On the positive side, the botanic garden would gain a significantly larger land for its expansion in this scarcely populated area of the city near one of the most interesting university campuses in Stockholm.
Eventually, the proposal was passed in 1885 when the Bergius Botanic Garden (Bergianska trädgården) officially moved from its facilities at Vasastaden to Frescati. The long yellow house near the Victoria Pond (Victoriadammen) known as Bleket and the so-called Professorsvillan, where the garden’s directors called ‘Professor Bergianus’ used to live, were built the following year.
One of my personal favourite parts of the garden, the Italian Terrace (Italienska terrassen), has also been at its place overlooking Brunnsviken for almost as long as the botanic garden itself. Especially in summer months, this place can take you to the Mediterranean in mere moments thanks to the design of the terrace itself as well as the surrounding plants from Southern Europe.
Early in the twentieth century, the then Professor Bergianus Veit Wittrock came up with a proposal for what later became known as the Wittrock’s Tower. The tower standing south of the garden was primarily used to store Wittrock’s collection of seeds but also turned out to be the place where collections were catalogued and the professor proudly used it for social gatherings, too. In winter, for instance, it would be used as a tower for judges during horse races while during summer, guests used to be invited there to enjoy views of Brunnsviken and the Haga Park on its opposite side.
In the western part of the botanic garden, you will find its first greenhouse opened in 1900, which likely resulted from the efforts of the press that criticised Wittrock for not having a greenhouse in the garden. The cupola-shaped structure known as the Victoria House (Victoriahuset) was originally meant to stand on the peninsula in the middle of the nearby Victoria Pond (Victoriadammen). However, that turned out to be impossible and it was, therefore, moved to its current location.
A long time has passed before another significant novelty was unveiled during the celebrations of the Bergius Botanic Garden’s 200th anniversary, in 1991. The Japanese Pond (Japanska dammen) was inaugurated with both the King and the Queen attending the occasion. This place was designed as a location for rest and meditation and as you can see in the picture above, the design following the Japanese gardening style, mainly from the island of Hokkaido, turned out beautifully.
Likely the most significant structure in the area is the one erected most recently, despite the idea for its construction dating back many decades. The Edvard Anderson Conservatory was built to fulfil the wishes of the donor Edvard Anderson, who used to spend a plenty of his time in the garden. He thought, though, that the garden’s flora was too limited by the Swedish climate and that this also affected people’s well-being.
The conservatory was opened in 1995 and it contains multiple rooms representing climates from different parts of the world including California, Australia, Mediterranean, and South Africa.
Although the botanic garden at Frescati is first and foremost a teaching and research facility with a focus on plant diversity, it is also a great place to visit when you are seeking some relax in beautiful nature. Whether you decide to come alone, with your partner or the whole family, you will get the chance to enjoy nice views, a plenty of diverse plants, and even a fresh cup of coffee in the calm atmosphere.
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Anders, Hedin, 2015. Frescati – människorna, husen och allt som hände.