Rhododendrons in Helsinki

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.

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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!

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The park is an eight hectare area. All the paths and viewing platforms are made with easy access for all in mind.

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The area is old marshlands and thus the ground is acidic – perfect for rhodos!

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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.

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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.

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This one in turn is “Haaga” – named after the area where the park is.

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Haaga can grow up to two meters high.

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Eight varieties from this experimental site have been selected for commercial production.

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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.

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There are around 1500 azaleas in the park.

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I adore the colors!

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The park is very pretty and peaceful, I am sure you will enjoy a walk there anytime of the year.

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It’s amazing that there’s a place like this in Helsinki, a hidden gem for sure.

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Address:
Laajasuontie 35
00320 Helsinki

Do you like Rhodos? Perhaps you have them in your garden? Have you visited this park before?

xx


23 thoughts on “Rhododendrons in Helsinki

  1. Hello from Kuopio where there is a rhodie and azalia grove next to the Ukkokoti near Valkeinlampi (Niirala) I grew up in Seattle and San Francisco where there are plenty of rhodies. Later I moved to Louisiana where azalias are prolific and there are famous gardens (Alabama). The two never seen to be in the same area. Then, I was delighted to see them both in Niirala. I was told that a Finnish sea captain actually brought them to Finland and he usually had so many that he gave them away. He was happy to find out if they would grow in many different parts of Finland. So it was possible to get rhodies from him. Then he got to the age where he couldn’t do this project alone and he handed it over to the U. of Helsinki, where this project fleurishes! There is a private home in Niirala that has some, but I suppose they might be from the Ukkokoti? When I get to Helsinki, I hope my friends will take me to the gardens there.Thank you for your lovely page.

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    1. Hi Carol! Thank you for visiting and commenting 🥰 What a fascinating story, I have never thought how the plants made they way here. Here in the Helsinki area, there are many rhodies to be seen in private gardens. We had them in our home as well when I was a child but I haven’t planted any in my garden. They look so lovely when in bloom ❤️ Take care!

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  2. I would love this place. All my favorite places in the world are home to rhododendrons, an interesting connection from the U.S. Appalachians to Nepal! I didn’t know they were so prolific in Finland also.

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  3. Truly magnificent. It’s funny that you call them Rhodos, like the Greek island. 😀 Well, you’d surely love it around here – the road from here, south of Tuscany, to Roma is lined with a wide colourful variety of Rhodos! We have them around our home too, but bestia does not like walking on the dropped blossoms which can make quite a carpet. I was thinking possibly because they are poisonous and afterwards he could taste it on his paws? Don’t know… just speculating. Or maybe they sting his paws?

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    1. Hi Sangita! In Finland many people have these growing in their gardens. Although I have never seen anyone have such grand ones as these 😎

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    1. Sounds like Portland’s rhododendron season is much earlier than in Finland. Although this year they were early, so who knows in the future!

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  4. What a lovely park and beautiful photos 🙂 Haven’t been there but maybe someday. I think we had Rhododendrons on our yard when I was child but can’t remember clearly. However I love the beauty of them. 🙂

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    1. Thank you Neidotta! I actually had rhododendrons at our old house but I never managed to get them to look anything like this 🙄😊

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  5. What a gorgeous park! I must look for it next time I am in Helsinki. I love rhododendrons. We have some growing at Casa Debbio, but the wild goats like them and they chewed off all the new leaves last spring. We fenced them this year and they might survive to grow as big a these lovely plants.

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    1. Oh no with the wild goats! I never realized they’d be particular to rhodos 😉 Good idea with the fence, your garden at Casa Debbio looks spectacular and I would imagine the rhodos would thrive there 💕

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