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Greetings friends – Are we past the Dog Days of Summer?!

This summer has been an unusual one for us as we took an extended break from garden creation, and instead pursued a lengthy period of garden enjoyment & relaxation. A first for us, since we’ve previously only concentrated on garden plan execution & plant acquisition. I can tell you, relaxation IS much easier on the mind & body. Please treat yourself well and fit some time in for some of your own relaxation & downtime!

Nearly everywhere within Europe encountered some portion of the 40+c heatwaves which posed serious limitations upon both tourists and locals. Luckily, Finland only had to deal with temperatures in the 30-39c range. But even those were a bit uncomfortable since hardly anyone has home A/C which made sleeping soundly & comfortably, rather difficult.

The July/August heatwaves in Finland came on the heels of an already warmer than usual June. Heat combined with insufficient to nearly non-existent rainfall made for dangerous situations within the grasslands & forests.  We were relieved to finally get significant rainfall, but even that was not enough. Numerous birch trees throughout the region have suffered severe stress from the heat & drought, which caused many of their leaves to turn yellow prematurely and have now already fallen, despite it being only  mid-to-late August.

We’re fortunate that much of our plant stock has had some time to establish and could withstand another year of warmer than usual temps & rainfall shortages. What’s in store for the future??  As gardeners, plant enthusiasts and purveyors of the outdoors, we are all more attuned to the effects of climate change first-hand.  There certainly doesn’t seem to be what you could consider a ‘normal’ weather pattern anywhere. Everyone we talk to says the conditions where they are ‘abnormal,’ ‘untypical,’ ‘unpredictable.’

Last Tuesday Pekka and I were tourists ourselves – venturing to an eastern seaside town called Kotka.  Discovering Finland maintains a wonderful wealth of information & images about Finland.   For more info on Kotka, see here.

The main purpose of our day-trip to Kotka was to visit the city’s numerous urban parks for which the city has received great acclaim. See here. There’s even a video in the link please watch it!

The Sapokka Vesipuisto (Water Park) was spectacular. Promenades lined with abundant plant groupings and wonderful art sculptures truly tantalized the mind & spirit. We both really enjoyed this park, which for the most part was nearly empty since it was midweek and after the holiday period.

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We visited several of the urban parks including Sibelius Puisto (park), the old oil harbor/riverside Puisto, as well as the Isopuisto where the St. Nicholas church is located.

There are also several fortresses as the video link above makes mention of, and of these we walked throughout the Fort Katarina site which is situated atop a large expanse of bedrock. Spectacular views and so many interesting and clever public enjoyment areas including spots for little kids, grilling areas, water vistas, a labyrinth, and a skate park for the older kids.

A brief journey by car took us to a site astride the Langinkoski rapids – an Imperial fishing lodge of former Russian Czar Alexander III, now maintained by the Finnish National Parks. This place had wonderfully preserved buildings including the actual lodge, caretakers home and fish hatchery hut.

You can read more about the lodge here & here. I really liked this place and can fully understand why the Czar and his family coveted the location too as it’s quite idyllic.

A picture of us on the exact same porch as the imperial family.

Later, we ventured to Strömfors (Ruotsinpyhtää) which is the site of an old iron-works which once maintained 20 blacksmiths at it’s peak. There’s an incredibly beautiful church high on a hill, as well as museum, craft shops and lodgings & accommodations in period home and inns. One word: QUAINT

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Being a tourist has its rewards! I thoroughly enjoyed the site-seeing and visits to the parks and historical points of interest. It was another wonderful opportunity to become more acquainted with Finland; which showcases so well, so much of its ancient and historical past to visitors.  I applaud the Finnish National Park system, as well as the local & regional efforts of preservation societies and organizations throughout Finland. Bravo!

Closer to home, we took part in this past weekend’s festivities which were organized to celebrate the local community of Virkkala, titled Virkkala Päivä which was great fun. Sidewalk flea markets, food, and regional crafts were available as well as live music. A guided walking tour highlighted several major points of interest showcasing Virkkala’s historical importance.  The tour’s main historical protagonist was a jolly fellow, nicknamed Chalk Peter by the locals as well as the significance of the Järnefelt family upon the area.

Virkkala operated a chalk mine just as Lohja, and it served to be the main employer in town for generations.  There was an abundance of interesting lore of Virkkala’s heyday mentioned on the tour.  The tour was fun and for this history nut, a valuable experience.  As we strolled through history we learned the importance of several old buildings that were once only strangers to me and are now better known.

At home, we are glad to report we’ve finally had some rain. Probably need a lot more to replenish dry soil conditions here and throughout, which still pose dangerous forest fire threats around Finland.

The garden has once again rewarded us with spectacular displays of color and beauty. Very quickly, what was recently still patchy and somewhat thin, whole areas are thickly molding together to become a very cohesive border planting.

 

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This Acer Negundo ‘Flamingo’ was no taller than me when we planted it. Now look! It towers Pekka by several meters!

The rose collection is thriving and provides a constant show of vibrant and lively colors, aromas, intriguing petal & bud shape.

The upcoming weekend plans include a trip to Mustila Arboretum, which may well be our final visit there this year. Looking forward to the plant vendors who will be offering a final chance to acquire additional plants this season.  Here are the details if you’re also interested in attending.

With Pekka’s summer holiday time now over, its back to our normal routine – Hopefully your late summer plans were fun & rewarding. I hope you enjoyed seeing Finland through my eyes. Thank for tagging along!

Until next time ❤ Vanha Talo Suomi