It would be easy to call Rosendal Trädgård a ‘refuge in the big city’, but the truth is that in mid-summer, the whole of Stockholm seemed to be a picture of sunny bliss and afternoon Fika in front of the mustard coloured houses. I arrived at Rosendal’s after a blissful walk across Sodermalm island, then caught a boat across to Djurgarden island. The island was a picture of holiday heaven. A vintage amusement park, local riding bicycles and walking their dogs through the tree-lined paths by the water. Hidden somewhere in the great green patch of Djurgarden Island is Rosendal’s – a garden, organic farm, and series of small cafes and shops.
The project started in 1982 when the Rosendal Garden Foundation took over the piece of land. The word ‘Rosendal’ means The Rose Valley, and the site can be traced back to the 1700s when it started as shepherds cottaged before becoming farmland. A series of Swedish royalty then acquired ownership, also building the nearby Rosendal Palace which is now a museum. The mission of Rosendal Trädgård was to cultivate and spread biodynamic farming practices, as well as opening the gardens to visitors who wished to learn more about this method of farming and try some of the products produced there.
On the midsummers day when I arrived at Rosendal’s for lunch, the fauna was out in full bloom, gardeners were working in t-shirts and full brim hats and visitors had started to sit on wooden tables with homemade cakes or bowls of gazpacho. Lunch was beginning and I treated myself to their salad of the day – a medley of asparagus, watermelon, feta, mint and leaves. Not only were most of the ingredients sourced in the garden where I feasted, it also tasted like a summer dream. Juicy and fresh and perfectly mopped up with some of their homemade bread which you can find heaped in baskets as you leave the greenhouse where food is served. I could have gone back for Fika, for their speciality tea, even for another salad, but instead, I took some time to see what else Rosendal’s had to offer a visitor.
In the greenhouse next to the cafe, a light and bright gardeners shop sells house plants, beautiful pots, fresh produce, seeds and gardening equipment. Outside, bundles of fresh flowers are for sale, and for those lucky enough to have their own green space in Stockholm – larger garden plants too. A few steps away there is a cosy shop and bakery selling a gorgeous selection of produce from across Sweden, as well as freshly baked bread and cakes. In the shop, you’ll find homemade jams, cookbooks, kitchen utensils and linens and much more. Outside the cafe seating area, a large open field with dotted trees is providing the perfect sunbathing spot for many families who are also queuing for waffles and ice cream at the small kiosk serving alternatives to lunch.
Rosendal’s felt like space which every city should have. Teaching children to appreciate and eat produce from the earth, while training young adults to garden and bake, and treating the rest of us to delicious plates of unforgettable food and afternoons in a countryside bliss. After my two days in Stockholm, I felt that the Swedes were lucky for so many reasons, but I was particularly jealous that they could visit Rosendal’s every weekend and see the space in every season.
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Annapurna Mellor is a travel photographer, writer and co-founder of Roam Magazine. She fell in love with Asia shortly after graduating and has since spent extensive periods travelling and photographing in India, Nepal, Myanmar and many more. She shoots regularly for brands and publications and her work can be found in National Geographic Traveller Magazine, Lonely Planet, Suitcase and The Guardian. When not on the road, she is based in Manchester, UK.