The Kumpula Botanical Garden is one of Helsinki’s best kept secrets. The premises seem smaller from the outside than they actually are. Once inside, you will find that its collections include domestic species and exotic plants from around the world. There is a nice little café on the grounds. A manor house has stood on the site since before the city was founded. The current one – a stylish building worth a visit for its architecture alone – houses a geological collection that includes rocks and meteorites placed in formidable custom shelves. Walking around the garden in the middle of summer, you have to wonder why it is not teeming with visitors.
We visited only once this summer, but there is still some time for another visit. For next summer, I am seriously considering a season ticket. It is one of those locations in Helsinki that would merit daily visits, if you had the time. Green spaces and gardens are said to be good for your overall health, so you should probably make time to stroll among its trees and bushes transported to Finland from places like Japan and North America. In another world, doctors might even prescribe tickets for stressed out city workers.
There are many parks in Helsinki. You can find serious woodlands not far from town. Still, there is something mesmerizing about this particular garden. The Kumpula Botanical Garden opened in 2009, but it seems like it has been there for much longer. The location and architecture make you think it has been there for centuries. The manor house and some of the trees are fairly old, but that is not the point. The garden induces in idle flaneurs a state of mind where time becomes a present, tangible thing. Somehow, you are simultaneously transported out of time in strange mind-bending ways that are hard to describe. I suppose the effect is what the Romantic poets called the Sublime. A ticket is a small investment for such bliss.