Two-day trip along the eastern shore of Lake Vänern
Three gardens linked by the words organic, locally grown and genuine. Join us to see what a historic farm in Västgötland, a smallholding with a kitchen garden and a castle garden have in common.
The first stop of the day is GreveGarden on Grevegården farm, in a beautiful location on the Västgötland plain, 10 km south of Lidköping. We arrive at a leafy spot with deciduous woods, beech hedges, fruit trees and perennial beds. GreveGarden’s focus is to design environments that promote well-being, based on research into the effect of gardening and nature on our health. The ethos here is to work with nature, not against it. GreveGarden nurtures both people and crops. It's very inspiring! After getting a grounding in the GreveGarden philosophy we’re ready to continue our garden journey.
Today's second destination is Ekebo Farm, just a stone's throw from Läckö Castle. Ekebo is a farm with organic and KRAV-certified grain production. The farmhouse is a listed building and the garden a typical West Swedish farm garden, with roses, peonies, lavender, lilacs and apple trees. And of course a kitchen garden! At this point our stomachs start to rumble and we decide to eat our packed lunch. The nicest place to eat it is along the Pilgrim Path which is only about 75 metres from the farm. Before we leave Ekebo, we take the opportunity to buy some of the farm's own rye flour and a few other bits that the farm produces and sells.
Now we are ready for today's third and final destination which is the Walled Castle Garden at Läckö Castle. This oasis framed by high stone walls is a delightful kitchen garden where nothing is left to chance. The aim is to recreate the kitchen garden as it was originally intended to be. The heavy legwork of digging, planting, composting and nurturing is constantly ongoing. Growing is done organically and everything edible is harvested to be used in the castle's kitchen where it gets prepared the same day. It couldn’t be more locally produced! We can see that the vegetables are grown with a lot of love. Naturally, we’re eager to taste the delicacies ourselves and fortunately there is both a café and a restaurant here to satisfy our desire. But those who prefer to bring their own food will find many lovely picnic spots in the castle grounds. Anyone who wants to can end the day with a guided tour of Läckö Castle which is of course also a fantastic attraction, but we decide to pass for now. We are on a garden trip!
Some decide to extend their garden tour by another day and spend the night here at Naturum, Vänerskärsgården. The hotel is on the shore of Lake Vänern, a short walk from Läckö Castle.
A busy second day that begins in a nature reserve, includes both a manor and a private garden and then ends in a park next to the River Tidan's peaceful waters – that’s what we can look forward to on this garden tour!
Handens Hus, Hisingsgården, Medelplana. 533 94 Hällekis
Hellekis Säteri, Hellekis Säteri, 533 94 Hällekis
Christians trädgård, Hönsätersvägen 13, 533 74 Hällekis
Universitetsparken med residensön i Mariestad, Marieholmsbron 3, 542 30 Mariestad
Our first destination is Handens Hus, located on the slopes of Kinnekulle with Lake Vänern sparkling below. We have come to a place offering garden inspiration, handmade crafts and glorious flower beds that both we and the bees enjoy. Lavender, roses, mallows, orpine and daylilies are just some of the flowers that thrive here. Plants are allowed to self-seed giving the garden a relaxed and natural feel. Did you know by the way that the Kinnekulle plateau mountain is a nature reserve and one of Sweden's five biosphere reserves? In addition to the garden itself, crafts lovers will be able to get their fill of textiles, antiques, ceramics and ironmongery. After this enjoyable stop we continue on our garden journey.
Today's second destination is the stately Hellekis Manor. We do as Carl von Linné himself when he completed his famous journey around Wästgötaland and enjoy the splendour of the magnificent park that surrounds the manor. The park is renowned for its many beautiful and unusual deciduous trees including sweet chestnut, walnut, magnolia acuminata and a gingko tree that was planted here more than a hundred years ago! Us rose lovers are not disappointed, the fragrant rose garden takes our breath away. Thanks to the favourable climate, even more exotic plants thrive here and we almost feel as if we are in the Mediterranean. We fancy a sit down and a coffee and luckily there are opportunities to do that, both for those with their own picnic and others wanting something tasty from the café or restaurant. Sated and satisfied, we now feel ready to experience something completely different!
Today's third stop is a private garden in Hällekis, called Christian's garden. Christian is always open for people, animals and pollinators so we feel more than welcome here. As well as Christian himself, the welcoming committee consists of both a well behaved dog and a flock of clucking hens. The garden is divided into three sections, one for cultivation, one for flower beds and a wild part. Imaginative and varied are the keywords here. Among other things, we are fascinated by the ingenious things you can do with straw. Coffee and homemade cakes are available here as well and we also buy both handicrafts and plants to take home. Leaving Hällekis we head for a slightly larger town.
Today's fourth and final stop is Universitetsparken and the island residence in Mariestad. This destination is in two parts, the University Park itself and the Marieholm island residence. They are located next to each other, on either side of the river Tidan in Mariestad. On the island lies the magnificent residence that houses the Vadsbo Museum, well worth a visit. The borders in front of the building are inspired by late 19th century flower gardens. In the University Park there’s a mix of strollers, children playing, garden enthusiasts, students and researchers. The park is namely the result of a collaboration between Mariestad Municipality and the University of Gothenburg. Training courses are run here in, among other things, landscaping and garden crafts. Depending on the season, there will be different plants to enjoy, but as we are here in the summer we are rewarded with showy perennials in calming shades. There are several lovely places to sit and for anyone attracted by a touch of retail therapy, the shopping streets are just a stone's throw away. Mariestad offers both a varied selection of restaurants and accommodation. We choose to end our wonderful garden tour with an ice cream in the harbour area.