Inside Rosendals Trädgård

Inside Rosendals Trädgård, Djurgården

Beyond being a local favorite, Lola A. Åkerström shares a bit of Rosendal’s history.

Rosendals - Photography by Lola Akinmade Åkerström

I remember the exact moment I fell in love with Rosendals trädgård (Rosendal’s Garden). It was after my first bite of their pan-seared buttery light Arctic char fillet atop fluffy couscous garnished with sour cream.

Home to one of the most sustainable cafés in the city and a personal favorite of mine, Rosendals serves up carefully crafted warm meals, thick savory soups, crispy salads, and sandwiches as well as fresh pastries and breads baked from biodynamic flour sourced from Saltå Kvarn mill in Järna in a 16-ton wood-fire stone oven built in 1998, all using organic seasonal ingredients

Rosendals Trädgård Kafé & Bageri - Rosendals - Photography by Lola Akinmade ÅkerströmHowever, boiling Rosendals Trädgård Kafé & Bageri down to just decadent dishes made with simple ingredients you can see and probably count is doing this iconic garden property with its rose and flower gardens, orange and apple orchards, and greenhouses an injustice.

The word Rosendal itself means “The Rose Valley” and the site dates back to the late 1700s. According its historical records, the area started out as a group of shepherd cottages before turning into farmland.

In 1817, the area was sold to Jean Baptiste Bernadotte, who later on would become Swedish King Karl XIV Johan, and it was subsequently cleared and turned into Kungliga Djurgården (“The Royal Game Park”) as we know it today.

Nearby Rosendal place, now a museum, was built by 18th century Swedish architect Fredrik Blom and was completed in 1827.

In the mid 1800s, the iconic two-storey pink circular Orangery building was constructed along with rose gardens. Queen Josefina at the time was a gardening enthusiast who later developed the gardens and a few greenhouses.

It was during this time period – the 1860s – that gardening at Rosendal really took a foothold when the Swedish Horticultural Society was given permission to expand its gardens.

Rosendals Trädgård Kafé & Bageri - Rosendals - Photography by Lola Akinmade Åkerström

According to Rosendals, it was “modelled on the Royal Horticultural Society in England, and the Society worked for the promotion of a ‘more widespread and orderly gardening in Sweden’, through education and training of gardeners, and charitable distribution of free plants, bushes, and trees to ‘landowners withouth means’.”

By 1878, the garden was thriving with over 23,000 potted plants, 1,000 varieties of flowers, herbs, and greens, 235,000 saplings in its tree nurseries, and 400 fruit trees in its orchards.

Over 700 gardeners went through the society’s two-year training program at Rosendals and a lot of the flowers and seedlings were donated to private households and elementary schools all over Sweden to spread the tradition of gardening and horticulture.

Rosendals Trädgård Kafé & Bageri - Rosendals - Photography by Lola Akinmade ÅkerströmThe training school closed down in 1911 with the phasing out the society’s work. The old greenhouses were phased out and many years later would be replaced by the new ones that stand today.

Remnants of Rosendal’s prime in 1860s and 1870s are still seen at the garden including over 100 apple trees in its orchard and over 100 rare species of roses.

Today, the garden’s main purpose is to “present biodynamic (organic) garden cultivation to the general public” through a series of educational activities like lectures, courses, excursions, and exhibitions focusing on “environment, horticulture, organic cooking, or garden art.”

Most of its biodynamically grown vegetables, flowers, herbs, and other potted plants like olive, laurel, fig, and citrus trees are either sold through its onsite shop or used for cooking in the cafe.

“The garden crops are served at our tables, and leftovers go back to the compost heap, providing first-rate soil for next year’s growth. Visitors can actually feel the continuity of a connected whole,” says Rosendals.

Since 1982 the garden property has been run by a self-supporting foundation and in 1988, Vänföreningen för Rosendals Trädgård (“Friends Association of Rose’s Garden”) was established to support its educational initiatives, raise its awareness and accessibility for a membership fee which also goes to new expansion projects like flower beds and playgrounds for children.

Certainly worth the hike and lunch lines, Rosendals Trädgård is open six days a week (closed on Mondays). During the summer months of May through September, it is open seven days a week and closed during the winter months of November and January.

Rosendals Trädgård Kafé & Bageri - Rosendals - Photography by Lola Akinmade Åkerström

Rosendals Trädgård Kafé & Bageri
Rosendalsterrassen 12, 115 21 Stockholm
Phone – 0854581270

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Author: Lola A. Åkerström

Lola Akinmade Åkerström is an award-winning writer, photographer, and travel blogger, and is also the Founder/Editor-in-chief of Slow Travel Stockholm. Her photography is represented by National Geographic Creative. She tweets at @LolaAkinmade.

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