Nature in the City: The Splendour of Oslo’s Gardens
Art lovers go after the museums and galleries, hoping to see Old Masters and up and coming talent alike. Shoppers hunt down unique gifts in the area or look out for the opportunity to buy global brands at better prices. Music, theatre, people-watching — Oslo has it all. But there’s another side to all this activity: a need for respite.
That’s where the remarkable gardens in the city come into play. Norwegians value their connection to nature and go to great lengths instilling cultural norms and legal policies towards conservation. Another expression of this national value is expressed in the many beautiful landscapes that are incorporated into Oslo for the pleasure and relief of citizens and visitors alike. It’s a different way to “walk on the wild side” where a bustling metropolis melts away in favour of serenity. Here are a few of Oslo’s best gardens to visit.
University Botanical Garden
One of the best-known and most widely loved green spaces in the capital is the University Botanical Garden. It was first founded by the University of Oslo back in 1814 and ever since it has been a lure to anyone seeking the beauty of its vast variety of flora. About 7,500 species are represented in its over 35,000 plants living and breathing there. With 150,000 square metres of space to root all those shrubs, flowers and trees, there is a lot of ground to cover!
A few exhibits are of special interest. Two greenhouses — The Palm House and the Victoria House — hold exotic species from the world over. It’s like traversing the planet’s forests all in one place. The Scent Garden features aromatic plants that are intended as therapy for people with dementia, blindness and wheelchair-bound (although it’s a pleasant experience no matter who you are). And the Great-Granny’s Garden is the place where native species are preserved and protected.
Imagine a space created and manicured for royalty that became such a crucial retreat for common folk that the 1960s hippie movement used it to congregate. Such is the Palace Park in Oslo. This 54-hectare green space was assembled around the Royal Palace, originally constructed for King Charles III in the early 19th century. While still the official residence for the current monarch, the grounds are open to all, and citizens and tourists alike enjoy its wide-open spaces and natural splendour. Combine this with a little regal splendour and you will find an attractive mix of nature and architecture.
Strolling the area will bring welcome and refreshing features. Sculpted shrubberies show off the artistry of the groundskeepers. Placid ponds pop up all about, with fountains sprouting from the middle and quaint pedestrian bridges crossing over. Trails are shaded by looming trees providing shelter no matter what the weather is. Summers see flowerbeds spring up every colour of the rainbow. And a number of statues will offer something for art lovers as well.
A very popular open space in Oslo is the hilly Tøyen Park. First built in the 1920s, it has been a local favourite ever since. The grassy rolling landscape allows casual hikes to lead to views of the city’s center centre and also of the world-famous nearby fjords. In the winter, these downhill features attract legions of tobogganers whenever snowfalls create the perfect conditions. In the summer, an outdoor pool brings in swimmers looking to cool off and get in their aquatic adventures in the big city. There’s also a sauna, an indoor pool, climbing wall and even a waterslide! And the soccer pitch is popular all year-round.
There is also plenty for nature lovers to do here as well. Large trees have been planted and nurtured here in clusters, making it a perfect habitat for many wild creatures. This is especially true for our avian friends! Birdwatchers are encouraged to visit Tøyen Park as it is widely known for its wealth of winged critters such as the hawfinch, which prefers the area to frolic within. It’s a great balance against the large swaths of open lawns, where picnics and frisbee games are favourite pastimes. Tøyen Park also hosts the Øyafestivalen music festival for four days every year, featuring top artists from around the world.