My husband is Swedish. I went to visit his homeland for the first time in 1999, the year we were married. I met the extended family, saw the tourist attractions and went to the family summer cottage (sommar stuga) on the Bothnic Sea. It was a great trip.
We’ve been back many times since and there are a few things we do every time. One is a visit Skansen which is an outdoor museum meant to capture pre-industrial Sweden. Imagine Colonial Williamsburg on steroids and speaking with an accent and that’s it. There’s a lot of stuff to see but my favorite attraction, if you can call it that, are two tiny garden houses called “kolonilotter” – translation “colony of lots” or, more simply, allotments.
Each of these tiny houses is about 15′ by 8′ and surrounded by a garden. They both have one large room with a couch and a small table and a smaller room with a dry sink and garden storage. They are essentially a combo of a garden shed and a micro cabin where people can take a nap or have a cup of coffee in the midst of their gardening activities. One of the little houses has a teeny tiny pot bellied stove that you can see behind Peter. The little porch also has seats which you can see in the picture above.
Seeing these little garden houses the first time threw me into a happy tailspin. We were living in a condo at the time with no gardening space and I was jonesing to grow things. Plus they were so damn cute! And I was a new bride learning about my husband’s culture – seeing the KLs made me think they were highly civilized indeed!
Three trips later – and three corresponding Skansen visits later – Peter finally told me about the kolonilotter in Stockholm. What? I had thought they were just a relic of the past and something for Skansen. Oh no… there are virtual cities of these kolonilotter. One of which, Tantolunden, is walking distance from where my mother-in-law, Ulla, lives.
Screeching halt. Why hadn’t I been told earlier? – volume maybe a bit too loud – Had he not put two and two together? Or had he just kept the information from me until we had a digital camera so the film development costs wouldn’t bankrupt us? In either case, after a serious long hard stare with the fish eye, we went for a walk…
Anyway, ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to introduce you to the coolest, most civilized gardening communities ever. The Kolonilotter of Tanolunden.
Many of the KLs are “Dalarna Red” – the traditional color of Swedish country houses. They are also set among park-like settings with old, established trees and city-like infrastructures. Each house has it’s own surrounding plot of land. Some are flower gardens, some vegetable/flower garden combos. We’ll show you more of what we saw growing in later posts.
When we were wandering around slack jawed (ok, I was the only one slack jawed) we could tell that the residents shared resources and were very neighborly which is good because some of the places are very close together.
You can see from this picture how close they are to modern Stockholm…smack dab in the middle. Many of them also sport Swedish flags which is kind of odd because Swedes usually only display the flag on Flag Day, June 6.
There’s too much to say about the KLs in one post. Next time we’ll talk about the infrastructure of these garden cities… you can see a bit of it here with the path. Suffice it to say we’ve added another item to the must-see attractions list when we visit Stockholm…