Thursday, 17 March 2016

Visiting Oslo: the Botanical Garden

The University Botanical Garden (Botanisk hage) is Norway's oldest botanical garden. It was established in XIX century and administrated by the University of Oslo. It is situated in the neighborhood of Tøyen in Oslo. 

Flowerbed at Botanical garden in Oslo, Norway

In 1814, Christen Smith (1775-1816) was named Professor of Botany and Economics at Norway's newly founded “Royal Frederician University”. This new title included responsibility to build and lead a botanical garden in Christiania, the name by which Oslo was then known. Smith, who died at of fever at age 30 during an 1816 expedition to the Congo, was never able to see the fulfillment of this goal. Nevertheless, the memory of the Botanical Garden's first leader lived on for a great time in the form of a Canary palm planted from seed that Smith sent home from a botanical excursion to the Canary Islands in 1815. This palm lived in the Botanical Garden's Palm House until its death in the year 2000. 

Johan Siebke, the gardener from the Botanical Garden of Copenhagen, was engaged as well in the development of the Botanical Garden from the date of its establishment. 

Today the main task of the Garden is to maintain its rich collection of plants that are used in scientific research and for studies of the University of Oslo. 


One of the largest zones of the Botanical Garden is the Aboretum. In addition to familiar Scandinavian trees and bushes, the Arboretum contains many that are exotic and rare on northern latitudes. 

One of the oldest trees in the Botanical Garden is the giant horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) that grew their already in the XVIII century. 

Ginkgo biloba, Oslo

Do not miss the collection of conifers. Plantings of circassian walnut (Juglans regia) with their dissected half-meter leaves make the place exotic and luring. White mulberry (Morus alba), one of the oldest trees in the Garden, is a peculiar exhibit as well. 

The most graceful three of the Botanical Garden is maidenhair tree (Ginkgo biloba); here it has been grown since 1870. Another “living fossil” is dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) – a large confer tree that used to be widespread in the Northern hemisphere and until 1946 considered extinct. 


The Oslo Ridge is home for multiple species of plants that inhabit calcareous and shale-rich soils of the Oslofjord. This is a new zone of the Garden that appeared in 2000. Here you can find mountain clover (Trifolium montanum) and saxifrage (Oslo saxifraga) named after the city of Oslo. 

Flowers in blossom

The Garden exhibits many plants that blossom in spring like mayflower (Hepatica nobilis), meadow pasqueflower (Pulsatilla pratensis), European wood anemone (Anemone nemorosa), cowslip paigle (Primula veris), and lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis). 

In summer, you will enjoy bright colors of purple blood-red crane (Geranium sanguineum), light-blue dragonhead (Dracocephalum ruyschiana), cream meadowsweet (Filipendula vulgaris), and yellow willow-leaf inula (Inula salicina). Some of around 90 exhibited species are at the edge of extinction in wild nature. 


The Herb Garden, Oslo

The Herb Garden contains both medicinal and poisonous plants, spices and culinary herbs, fiber plants and plants used for dyeing. In The Kitchen Garden you find vegetables, grains, fruits and berries. 


The Systematic Garden demonstrates the family relationships among plants. Botanical systematics have undergone great changes in recent years due to genetic analysis, which yields new knowledge of these relationships. This garden is frequently used for teaching purposes. 


In 1868 the Palm House was built – a palm greenhouse with three separated zones: two climatic zones – the Mediterranean Room and the Desert Room – and the Evolution Room to study the evolution of palm trees. 

Victoria House, Botanical Garden in Oslo

Soon, in 1876, the Victoria House was specially constructed for the demonstration of an amazing water plant – giant tropical water-lily – royal water platter (Victoria regia). Around the pool with this wonder, they plant various industrial plants of the tropical region: mahogany, cinnamon, papyrus, sugar cane, rice, vanilla, ginger, and cacao. The majority of tourists visit the Victoria House in August when Aristolochia maxima – a most rare tropical liana with 30 cm disc flowers – starts to blossom. The greenhouse has a special room for exotic orchids. 


The Rock Garden contains alpine plants from all over the world. The miniature mountain landscape includes a meandering creek, ending in a small waterfall and pond. The flowering season starts in April and is at its peak in May and June. 

The Rock Garden, Oslo

The Rock Garden is one of the most interesting and loved by visitors zones of the Botanical Garden. A relatively small territory replicates the Alpine landscape with its stone ridges, peaks and grass-covered slopes, meadows and valleys. The Garden is divided into different geographical areas like American Plateau, Asian Landscape, Asian Ridge, Alpine High Mountains, European Rocky Slope, European Ridge, European Cliff, and Caucasian Mountains. Every zone presents its endemic plants. 

The Rock Garden is especially beautiful during the blossom period – in spring and the beginning of summer. In autumn the Garden is decorated with brightly colored and fruit. Its territory accounts approximately 1400 species and forms of alpine plants. 

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