At the Botanical Gardens in Copenhagen

Dear Readers, congratulations to all of you who guessed that we were off to Copenhagen in Denmark for a few days! I visited the city some twenty-five years ago for work, and was most intrigued to see how much it has changed in the meantime. But first, some coffee. The Danes take their coffee very seriously, and if you find yourself in Norreport, close to the Rosenborg Castle and the Botanical Gardens, I can very much recommend this spot.

We sat outside next to two young women having a most animated discussion in Danish, interspersed with phrases in perfect American English, and the occasional universal swearword. How I admire people who can speak more than one language! That will surely be my next challenge.

You have probably heard that Copenhagen is a city of cyclists, and it absolutely is. MAMILs (Middle-Aged Men in Lycra) are relatively rare – you see people of all ages, some with their children in little carts, some with their dogs in baskets, one lady peddling a disabled relative who was sitting comfortably in a chair at the front of the bike. The cyclists are largely separated from pedestrians (so there’s little need to jump out of the way), and pretty much everybody obeys the stop signs at intersections, so it’s all extremely civilised.

Copenhagen also has a very good public transport network, which we will be investigating later in the week.

Anyhow, as you might expect from Bugwoman our first port of call was not one of the splendid art museums, or indeed the Little Mermaid, but the Botanical Gardens. It is a lovely time of year to visit, and although we’re expecting rain on and off for the whole of our stay, it was dry this morning.

The Colchicums are in bloom. I love these bulbs! They have a florid, blousy quality that I admire, as they put forth their enormous flowers and then collapse with exhaustion.

I rather liked this shrub, which has leaves that go pink from the tips. No doubt some clever person will tell me what it is. Could it possibly be an Actinidia? Feel free to put me right…

The lake is very lovely, and very full of koi carp, some of them very beefy indeed. One fish tentatively nibbled at the feet of a passing mallard and was roundly pecked on the head for its trouble. I fear for very new ducklings and coot/moorhen chicks though – these fish are easily big enough to gobble one up as an hors d’oeuvre. Let’s hope that the parents are wise to the ways of carp.

It was sad to see that the horse chestnuts are plagued with leaf miners just as the ones in the UK are, though the damage seems less substantial. I’m not sure if Denmark has also had drought conditions this year.

I was a bit surprised to see stands of Equisetum (mare’s tail) beside one of the smaller ponds – in my experience, once this plant gets a foothold it’s very invasive, though it does have a kind of primeval spikey charm. No doubt the gardeners know what they’re doing.

We decided to save the palm house for a rainy day, and very splendid it looks too – it dates back to 1874 and is surrounded by a complex of other smaller greenhouses. The heat and shelter will be most welcome later in the week if the forecast is to be believed.

And then, I spot a streak of copper crossing the lawn, and cannot contain myself.

“Red squirrel!” I shout, and a number of other folk from the UK turn round to look.

How lovely to see an animal that is so rare in the Uk these days! The squirrel looked around and then crossed the lawn in a series of perfect bounds, before disappearing into the colchicums. Let’s hope that he doesn’t like the bulbs as much as the grey squirrels in my garden like the crocus bulbs.

There is a group of sequoias and other conifers just next to the Alpine garden. It always cheers me to see these trees growing outside of the Pacific Northwest, where fire and logging have impacted them severely. I wonder if there are more sequoias outside of North America than in it?

Coastal Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens)

The Alpine garden was a joy – there were lots of plants still in flower in spite of the lateness of the season, and paths wandered this way and that.

I rather liked the Carthusian pink (Dianthus carthusianorum) below – it reminded me of a catchfly, and indeed a hoverfly was making the most of the nectar.

And how about this delicate bellflower (Campanula cochleariifolia), also known as fairy’s thimble? It’s native to the Pyrenees, and I love its pale colour and the way that it seems to be hunkered down amongst the rocks.

Well, this was a very fine start to the holiday, and next up is a walk down towards Nyhavn, the 17th century waterfront and scene of many a drunken carry-on (not by me, I hasten to add). I am intrigued to see how the harbour front has changed in twenty-five years. I think I am in for something of a surprise.

5 thoughts on “At the Botanical Gardens in Copenhagen

  1. sllgatsby

    What a wonderful travelogue entry! I know nothing about Copenhagen or indeed, any of the Nordic countries, so I am anxious to hear all about it.

    I am glad to learn the name Colchicums, as I have some in my garden and I always thought they were some kind of autumn crocus, but wondered why no leaves!

    I am from the PNW and yes, have felt a lot of anxiety about our majestic Sequoias. The lack of small fires over the last 150 years has meant that when there is a big fire, it burns more intensely. Fire is actually good for redwoods though, and the more dire problem is drought.

    That said, currently we have only lost an estimated 20% of the trees, and as we better understand how to manage these forests, my hope if that we can keep losses low. Given the area that Sequoias occupy, I think it unlikely that more exist outside the PNW than in it. Sequoia habitat is approximately 30,000 square km. More info here:

    Enjoy your trip! I look forward to hearing more.

  2. Alittlebitoutoffocus

    I was nearly packed off to Copenhagen, until another opening arrived in Vevey… My blog would probably never have got off the ground if I’d gone there.
    Nice to see the carthusian pinks though, one of my favourites. šŸ˜Š


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