As our plane took off from Arlanda airport in Stockholm, I watched the landscape shrink into a collage of cultivated fields and prickly green forests marked by wooden farmhouses with red roofs scattered across the land.
It was a whirlwind 3-day weekend, but the time Jorge and I spent surrounded by nature was some of the most enjoyable. After finding Rosendals Trädgård on a blog before we left London, we made a special effort to find this beautiful green space.
It’s a biodynamic garden just over the Durgårdsbron bridge from the wealthy district of Östermalm. We took a slow walk from our hotel, down the tree-lined pathway lining the sea. The sun was shining brilliantly already and it was only 10am. Stockholm was in the midst of a blazing summer.
And what better weather could you ask for when you’re heading to the perfect place for an alfresco lunch? One of the reasons I was so drawn to Rosendals Trädgård from the blog post was that it has a bright café where natural light seeps into glasshouse windows. It serves up delicious, organic food that you can take outside and eat anywhere you like on the serene grounds.
We ate sandwiches and crispy salads with crunchy hazelnuts under an apple tree on a private little picnic table surrounded by shrubs. There were once 400 apple trees planted in that garden. Jorge noticed a large mistletoe growing from one of the branches behind us. They are parasitic plants – learn something new every day.
The grounds also have rose gardens, stretches of lavender, a few green houses and an orchard. They’re run by the trust fund “Rosendals Trädgårds Stiftelse” who use these spaces to teach people about organic gardening. They are immaculately maintained.
Next to the café is a small shop with all sorts of bits and pieces I would have loved to take home but didn’t. There’s wooden kitchen utensils, jars of jam, vases lining the window and beautiful cookbooks full of Swedish recipes. There are also veggies for sale which have recently been picked from the surrounding gardens.
There were trays and baskets full of freshly baked pastries and bread perched on tree stumps inside the bakery. The organic flour they use is sourced from a mill in Järna.
Here’s a lovely little video by homegrown swedes that shows the bread-baking in progress.
Walking in to Rosendals Trädgård, you pass a long sweeping line of roses that form a border to the orangery. Over 100 species of roses are cultivated there and it must be a stunning sight at the time of year when they are all in bloom. Rosendals actually means “the rose valley” and it certainly lives up to its definition. They also grow seven different types of grapes which are used in wine-making. There are olive trees, fig trees, laurel trees and citrus trees, wildflowers, herbs and all sorts of potted plants.
A 3-day weekend in a new city with so much to explore goes by in a bit of a blur, but sitting there in that garden, giving ourselves a bit of time to reflect and take it all in as a moment when we hit pause for a few hours is one that will stick with me when I think of Sweden.
If I ever lived in Stockholm, I’d like to think it would be a place I’d go to retreat from the city life, to read and write and take long deep breaths of fresh air amongst all of the plants. Besides lunch and simply somewhere to relax, it’s the perfect place to fika, the Swedish word for enjoying a little coffee break with something sweet.