Winter may not seem like the best time to visit a botanical garden. It’s cold, the trees look stark and leafless, and the smaller plants look, well, pathetic. But as I recently saw in Lund, Sweden, a garden in winter holds other other surprises…
Two tiny snowmen greeted me at the west entrance to Lund University’s Botanical Garden, whose storied history (Linnaeus studied there!) dates back to the 1690s. The garden is nestled between the university and the historic city center of this cozy college town near Malmö.
A staffer in the garden office also welcomed me warmly, kindly found me a map in English, and recommended a route — along the trees around the garden’s perimeter and then to the warmth of the conservatory.
The garden feels compact, efficient and designed to bring as much biodiversity together in its 20 acre space as possible. Besides several thematic plant collections, the Botanic Garden is also home to insects, birds, and bats, thanks to its policy against chemicals and efforts to provide nest boxes, dead wood and insect hotels.
Even the maintenance buildings are used as habitats for plant specimens…
…such as this vine growing on the brick wall horticulturist’s workshop.
Of course, in the snowy months, it’s the conservatory that feels most alive. Outside, the glass walls dripped with icicles, which didn’t seem to bother this sturdy ivy; but the plants inside enjoyed atmospheres ranging from temperate to tropical.
At the north end, this yellow brick orangerie was kept at a cooler room temperature for its particular inhabitants.
Warmer and drier rooms held cacti and other desert plants. I was fascinated by the sage-green plant here, whose leaves were few but terribly long. In other rooms, I admired a coffee tree, fruiting enthusiastically, and a cocoa tree with three heavy pods just starting to ripen. There was also an extensive fern collection with several large, old staghorn ferns suspended in the air.
A warm place full of light and plants, where all is green and the snow is reduced a backdrop beyond the panes of glass—what could be better in the deepest winter?
Where do you go to get your fill of plants in the winter months?