Finnish Museum of Natural History
Kumpula Botanic Garden - around the world in 80 minutes
The garden of cultivated plants
The age of the current-day manor buildings has been taken into account in planning the ornamental plants section. The collection mainly comprises flora typical of manor surroundings in the 1800s. It includes ornamental plants which had found their way to Finland earlier, such as common lilac and hawthorn, but mostly consists of species that spread throughout Finland during the era of Russian rule. The sturdy poplar on the west side of the main building is a typical example of such a plant.
The Kumpula bush rose collection is a sort of live gene bank, because it includes numerous species and varieties which have traditionally been grown in Finland, but of which some have become rare. Old varieties can endure the erratic weather conditions in Finland, even though they blossom for a considerably shorter time than new, bred varieties.
One end of the manor park is a rock garden. Rock gardens became fashionable in Europe approximately 200 years ago. According to current information, Finland’s first rock garden was established in Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden in 1884. This trend soon began to spread to manors of Finland.
The manor park
As far as is known, Kumpula manor never actually had a park before the time of Johan Gabriel von Bonsdorff (1840-72) Maps depicting the northwest side of the main building between 1891 and 1912 show a smallish English style manor park. The oldest trees in the area have survived from the 1900s; most of the trees, however, are from the beginning of 20th century.
The medicinal garden
The medicinal garden is where the Botanic Garden goes back to its roots. In Kumpula garden, the plants are arranged traditionally according to their purposes of use. There are separate sections for plants which improve immune response and general health, reduce respiratory problems, are used for skin care, alleviate pain, nurture mucous membranes, help to get rid of parasites, cure women’s diseases, affect moods, are used for cardiovascular diseases, improve stomach functions and digestion, or affect the urinary tract and urine excretion. Centuries of research have nonetheless proven many belief-based plant usages ineffective. Consequently, the usage-based grouping has also been changed.
The food plants - that can produce harvest in open land in Finland - have been grouped according to the part of world where they were first domesticated. Growing in straight patches, they give this section of the garden a traditional kitchen garden feel. The selection includes agricultural field plants and many species that cannot be cost-effectively cultivated on a large scale in Finland. There are vegetables, legumes, root crops and various aromatic herbs all over the world.
The fruit and berry garden
Surprisingly, many fruit trees manage to endure the climate in the southernmost parts of Finland. When planted on a favourable warm hillside, such as in Kumpula garden, many varieties of apple produce a harvest, as do plum, damson, pear, sour cherry, and wild cherry trees.
You can also find different kinds of berries in Kumpula garden. The black, red and white currants and the gooseberry are familiar to Finns, but Finland also offers suitable conditions for growing green currant, the hybrid jostaberry, the chokeberry, the highbush blueberry and so on.
The geobotanical garden
Traditionally, botanic garden collections are grouped according to plant relatedness. A more modern method is to display the flora of a particular region by planting the plants originating from there side by side. This is the model in the Kumpula geobotanical collection. Garden has been divided into sections according to the climatic counterparts of Finland. There are sections from Europe; eastern North America; Western North America; the Far East; and Japan.
None of the plants in the geobotanical collections have been acquired from plantations. They have been collected directly from their natural habitats. This makes our collection unique on a worldwide scale and renders it extremely valuable from the viewpoints of research and conservation of endangered species.
Plants of the Europe section have been planted in miniature sceneries. A cluster of Central European deciduous trees leads the way to a dry bank descending towards a moor. The trail then passes a patch of pine woodland and a dry meadow with junipers, and continues on to a burn-beaten area of birch-trees.
Kumpula botanists and gardeners are also planning and building a new section to exhibit all Finnish plant species. The first part of it, a Finnish bog is going to be ready in 2010.
Eastern and western North America
Climatic counterparts for Finland’s climate in North America situates in eastern and western parts of the continent. During the last two million years several ice ages have shaped North America’s flora. There are also differences in eastern and western flora due to historical separation by mountain ranges from north to south.
Eastern North America section with several oak and ash species, walnut trees, hophornbeams, and dogwood as well as groups of hickories and maples is especially beautiful in blazing autumn colours. Western North America section displays not only many conifers, such as firs, spruces, Douglas firs, pines and hemlocks, but also American species of alder, rose and Rubus.
Japan and the Continental Far East
The relatively unknown Far East is still a treasure box when it comes to collecting plants. One can find climatic counterparts for Finland’s climate in Japan’s Hokkaido and Honshu mountains, Amur region in Russia and northwest China’s and Korea’s mountain areas. The biodiversity of the flora in these areas is richer than in any other Finland’s climatic counterpart area. That is probably due the mild effects of the latest ice ages especially in East Asia.
In Japan section you will see for example the Japanese rose, bamboos and white mulberry, the food plant of the silk worm. In continental Far East section there are silvergrass, barberry, Siberian cypress and Amur cherry.