This Spring everyone was blogging about the sakura at the Japanese gardens in Helsinki. Unfortunately by the time I was about to go and have a look, the flowers had dropped.
Thus, my next goal was to catch the rhododendrons at the Rhododendron Park, also known as Alppiruusupuisto. Apparently they usually bloom around Midsummer. However, on my way to work at the end of May I saw some rhodos flowering and realized I was about to miss these flowers too if I didn’t hurry.
So on a Friday after work I drove to Haaga in Helsinki to visit this park I’d never even heard of till this year.
The park was set up in 1975 as the University of Helsinki’s plant breeding experiment, which continues to this day. The first rhodos where planted then. What is lovely about this university project is that it’s a public park at the same time!
The park is an eight hectare area. All the paths and viewing platforms are made with easy access for all in mind.
The area is old marshlands and thus the ground is acidic – perfect for rhodos!
As I entered, I saw people looking at something and taking photos. There were tame squirrels munching on snacks someone (City of Helsinki perhaps?) had provided.
Rhodos are evergreen, so even if there are no flowers, this park is bound to be pretty. Out of the different species developed, I have two to show you.
If I am correct, this light pink species is called “Pekka”. Pekka is a very common man’s name in Finland. This flower was actually named after Helsinki’s former city gardener, Pekka Jyränkö. What an honour to have a flower named after you! Pekka grows into a tree-like shrub.
This one in turn is “Haaga” – named after the area where the park is.
Haaga can grow up to two meters high.
Eight varieties from this experimental site have been selected for commercial production.
At the other side of the park, in the Northern end, past the powerlines, I found blooming azaleas. The azalea breeding program started in 1988.
There are around 1500 azaleas in the park.
I adore the colors!
The park is very pretty and peaceful, I am sure you will enjoy a walk there anytime of the year.
It’s amazing that there’s a place like this in Helsinki, a hidden gem for sure.
Do you like Rhodos? Perhaps you have them in your garden? Have you visited this park before?