A lot of construction goes on in Helsinki during the summer months due to the extreme cold here in winter. Unfortunately this means the grounds of the Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden are closed for maintenance, but Miko and I spent a lovely afternoon wandering through the glasshouses recently.
Also known as the Helsinki University Botanical Garden, this is the oldest scientific plant collection in Finland. Originally opened in Turku in 1678 they were moved to Helsinki in 1829 after the Great Fire of Turku.
The greenhouses were originally wooden and had to be rebuilt after they deteriorated. During the Winter War of 1940, bombs smashed the glass and only the seeds of the giant water lily and one cyprus tree survived the cold.
The greenhouses were rebuilt in the 1990’s and are now automated. There are a series of eight interconnected houses, each home to a different family of plant species.
I was interested to see they had a Wollemi Pine, an amazing fossil of a tree from Australia. They also had some specimens of New Zealand plants in the Island House. This made me smile as I forget New Zealand is an island nation and tend to think of islands as the many smaller land masses off our coasts.
There was a cafe in the grounds but we didn’t stop. Somebody’s child (mine) was following me around saying “Can I have an ice cream?” on repeat until I eventually gave in, so he enjoyed that as we made our way home.
We’ll be back to visit the grounds once they are re-opened but in the meantime the greenhouses are lovely and warm and a good place to visit on a wet, Helsinki afternoon.