“A foggy and misty day in November, 1905 I headed west from the nice little seaside resort by Laholmsbukten. The visibility was so poor and everything so grey that I had no idea of the character of the landscape I was walking in. After another gust of wind the sun broke out from shreds of rain clouds, shining on a landscape so very similar to the dear old land I was about to leave that I immediately said to myself: This is it. You have found what you have been looking for.”
Rudolf Abelin (1864-1961) was a gardener, landscape gardener and pomologist. When he finds Norrviken it is love at first sight. Here he discovers a landscape that can be merged with his ideas of gardening, slopes that are an invitation to exciting perspectives and soil that has a full range of possibilities.
Rudolf Abelin creates a Norrviken that is still today on the map of Swedish gardens – a Norrviken that we have the privilege of maintaining and developing. Mr Abelin’s curiosity, ideas and garden dreams are our lodestar on this journey.
Villa Abelin, the lawn, the pond, the boxwood hedges and the frame of greenery all symbolize Norrviken. The step ridge and the natural landscape on the other side that seem to embrace the whole park are an essential part of the garden experience. Rudolf Abelin was greatly inspired by Baroque gardens in Italy, where gardens shaped by human hands interacted with their surroundings. In the Baroque Garden he let the grass reach a certain height, adding a special, natural touch to the garden when the wind made wave patterns in the grass.
The Water Garden is the last period garden at Norrviken designed by Rudolf Abelin. The little white water temple perched on the slope offers a magnificent view. The sound and sight of water running from the ridge through a series of ponds may remind you of the water gardens of the Italian Renaissance. In the middle of all the greenery a red maple creates a colourful contrast. Late in spring rhododendron flowers envelope and in summer hydrangeas follow suit.
Standing next to the giant Japanese weeping beeches, looking at the sun through the leaves of the red maples or breathing in the scent of biscuits from the katsuras in the autumn, it is almost impossible to imagine that this once was a sterile gravel pit. Rudolf Abelin’s decision to create a Japanese garden there, was followed by hard and difficult work reshaping the ravine. Here the brook and the paved garden paths wind their way through the sloping area. The intriguing local dwarf beeches grow together with exotic plants, often to Japanese origin.
On this side of Villa Abelin lies the Renaissance Garden, framed by clipped hornbeam hedges. Within this garden 30 000 boxwood plants – about 1 km of boxwood – constitute the embroidery-like parterre, modelled after late Renaissance textiles. This garden is followed by the North German Garden and the mirror pond. Annually the flower beds are a colourful display of flowers, in accordance with 19th-century North German garden ideals.
Set in a lush corner the Oriental Terrace is an invitation to enjoy the stillness and the marvellous view. The architecture of the small, Oriental temple creates an eastern atmosphere in this garden room. It was a popular playhouse when Rudolf Abelin’s daughters were children! In front of the temple a flower bed, shaped as a Persian prayer rug, is often filled with sedum varieties. These days the huge trees in the Japanese Garden make an impressive background. Next to the temple a glimmering mosaic pond is found, also an echo of eastern-style gardens.
The Romantic Garden at Norrviken was modelled on English, romantic garden ideals. Here the lines of the plants are soft, the lawn is undulated and the shape of the pond is organic. The rhododendrons are really high, high enough for Norrvikens visitors to actually enter the tunnel-like interior of the plants. The flowering season is, to put it mildly, overwhelming.