Photographer's Note

The University of Helsinki Botanical Garden at Kaisaniemi is one of Helsinki's most popular visitor attractions. The Garden is situated very close to the city centre, and its glasshouses and surrounding grounds offer nature lovers a unique experience all year round. The gallery between the large and small glasshouses is used to host temporary exhibitions, mostly on themes related to nature.

The peace and quiet of the Botanic Garden in Kaisaniemi can be reached either from the busy Unioninkatu street or from the adjoining Kaisaniemenranta road. In summertime, perhaps the most attractive part of the grounds is the central garden, an open area with ponds and flowers, bordered by the glasshouses and rose bushes. The well-established trees in the outer parts of the grounds provide welcome shade in the summer heat, a pleasant place to sit and read, to enjoy a picnic or to listen to the birds. Squirrels, hedgehogs, hares, and colourful butterflies can also be seen in the grounds.

The Garden provides plenty to see all year round. The tropical species of the historic Palm House welcome visitors in to experience the enthralling world of plants. The lush Rainforest House presents African plants including the coffee bush and an exceptionally large collection of wild African violet species. In the Desert House the so-called xerophytes, well adapted to extreme conditions, are particularly interesting, as are the floating aquatic plants of the Water Lily House. The leaf of the Giant Waterlily can grow to two metres in diameter and is capable of supporting the weight of a fully grown person. Aromatic plants can be found in the South African and Mediterranean Houses. In all, the greenhouses contain over 900 separately labelled plant species.

Short history of the Botanical Garden

The Botanical Garden of the University of Helsinki was established in 1678 in the City of Turku (Åbo), the then capital of Finland, by professor Elias Tillandz. After the burndown of the City in 1827 the garden was moved to Kaisaniemi in the centre of Helsinki in 1829. The most valuable plants from the outdoors and greenhouse were transported by horse wagons to Kaisaniemi, which also got numerous donations of plants from the Universities of St. Petersburg and Dorpat.
The oldest and largest part of the greenhouses is the Palm House which was constructed in 1889 and designed by architect Gustaf Nyström. He designed also the wings on both sides of the Palm House. They were constructed in 1896.

The greenhouse collections were totally lost during the World War II when three bombs struck the garden in February 1944 and badly damaged the greenhouses. Only one cypress (most probably Cupressus sempervirens) remained alive. Also Giant Waterlily (Victoria cruziana) was saved since the seeds remained alive at the bottom of frozen pool. (Source: Finnish Museum of Natural history, University of Helsinki)

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Additional Photos by George Rumpler (Budapestman) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 8900 W: 3 N: 20435] (82620)
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