The Garden Society of Gothenburg

Gothenburg, Sweden | C.1842

Photo Credit: Gary Meynell

With rose-filled gardens and fluttering foliage encased in a charming 19th century Palm House, The Garden Society of Gothenburg is very much an elegant garden getaway nestled within one of Sweden’s largest cities. But before the Society’s lush grounds were enjoyed by city dwellers, a young botanist had to convince Sweden’s king to build it.

The botanist? Henric Elof von Normann, an amateur scientist in his late thirties with a passion for bringing a public garden to Gothenburg. The King? Sweden’s King Charles XIV John, a French-born, former military leader who was once a rival of Napoleon Bonaparte. Together, this unlikely duo would conceive The Garden Society.

By the time Normann brought his plan to King Charles, the monarch was in his late seventies and had been reigning Sweden for twenty-four years – and the former military leader was open to the scientist’s scheme. In 1842, The Garden Society was officially founded and quickly became a popular spot in Gothenburg for its residents to rest and relax.

Thirty-six years after its opening, the Society constructed its Palm House, seen here. The elegant structure is made of cast iron and glass. The 3,280-square foot greenhouse holds five different dimensions of tropical and subtropical plants, including (of course) Palm.

Now considered one of Europe’s best preserved 19th century parks, walking in The Garden Society is like entering a gateway to the golden age of horticulture – and goes to show what great beauty can emerge when opposites attract.

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