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Under The Midnight Sun And Northern Lights

Written by Susanna Rosen

Susanna Rosen_72[1]  I had the pleasure of meeting Susanna last April on the International Bulb Centre’s journalists trip to Holland. When I learned about her background and the work she’s presently doing, I thought that she would be a perfect match for Gardening Gone Wild.  And how right I was! Susanna is a prolific author, an excellent photographer and on top of that, a kind, gentle and unassuming person. We’re lucky to have her as a Guest Contributor.

A brief bio on Susanna: She is a Swedish biologist, journalist, writer and photographer. Before Susanna became a freelancer, she held a position at the Swedish Museum of Natural History. She is a zoologist who once did her doctoral research on Australian frogs but her interests eventually turned towards botany. Today she is the author of 13 books on gardening and house plants and two books on cats. She specializes in natural gardening, working according to nature, not against it. Learn more about Susanna and see more of her photos on her website.  Fran Sorin

Swedish Lapland is a place of contrast with vivid colours and vast areas of wilderness. In summer you have the midnight sun with sunshine 24 hours a day, and in winter the northern lights. Most people believe that gardening at the Arctic Circle is more than a challenge, that it’s impossible. The fact is that many perennials grow higher and get brighter colours than in the South, and you don’t have the same problems with pests.

Of course you can’t grow every plant you see in garden magazines. But why copy when you can make something different? If you make some adjustment when it comes to the soil and the choice of plants, you can create the most beautiful gardens at this latitude. There is always a “look alike” for every cultivated plant, so you can still create that same general feeling but not with the same plants.

Most of Europe is densely populated with shrinking areas of wild nature but Lapland still has extensive areas of wild forests. While many gardens in England and Holland create woodlands and prairie like borders, the gardens in Lapland do the opposite. They are more controlled to point out the contrast between the garden and the deep forest. The gardens are open with no fences or hedges. The well trimmed lawn clearly points out where the garden begins and nature starts. I believe it’s a way to control nature, to keep it at a distance, rather than bringing it in to your back yard.

Lapland_1 A dormant large flowering bird cherry (Prunus padus ‘Laila’) outside my kitchen window in February. When you choose hardy trees and bushes the its place of origin is important. A tree from Northern Sweden starts preparing itself for the winter earlier than the same species from the South. If you choose a tree of a Southern provenance, it will still have green leaves when the first snow falls in Autumn.

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