Autumn Sonata: Höst in Sweden

photo of autumn trees with blue sky by Susan Wellington
Autumn (höst) in Stockholm, Sweden. Dazzling silhouettes of colour against the sky.

photo of large autumn tree towering over a red cottage by Susan Wellington
I'd give up sweeping if I lived in that house.

photo of autumn trees in Linköping botanical gardens, sweden by Susan Wellington
An explosion of pink in the Lynköping Botanical Gardens. Linköping's south of Stockholm in the province of Östergötland.
photo of autumn trees with red flowers in close up by Susan Wellington
Brilliant autumn flowers await you on your daily walk.

Nowhere to hide.

This is my first autumn in Stockholm or höst as they call it in Sweden and it's absolutely stunning. While in Australia we have a scattering of big, old elms and oaks and birches, especially in Melbourne and Tasmania, it's not like it is here obviously. They blanket the countryside along with the pines. Everywhere you look trees are turning golden yellow and red. The wind gushes and you get caught up in a rain of leaves. It's already pretty cold here so soon we'll be dressed up like the abominable snowman. Actually it's not like that at all it's super fashionable in Sweden in winter.

photo of Linköping botanical gardens tropical plant hothouse by Susan Wellington
Tropical plant hothouse in the Linköping Botanical Gardens.

photo of old town of Linköping, sweden at dusk by Susan Wellington
Linköping at dusk.

photo of large elm trees by Susan Wellington
Magnificent elm pathway in Linköping botanical gardens.

Meanwhile we've been visiting various towns around Sweden by the ever reliable train system. I love those trains. Hiie had to go to a conference in Linköping so I went along to see what it was like. It's a picture book swedish town, quiet and well behaved and full of art nouveau and art deco apartments and buildings which was a surprise. They, like everything else in Sweden, are beautifully maintained. The whole town is so clean. No graffiti. How do they do it?  The high taxes at work I guess. Even McDonalds, not that I make a habit of going there but sometimes it's the only thing open late for a hot drink, was relatively clean. Most people clean up after themselves in Sweden, even teenagers! Everything is so well maintained and orderly. I think this is why the Swedes love heavy metal music. And all those dark, murderous novels like Stieg Larsson's. It's the contrast.

Lynköping has a strong studenty vibe and  there are lots of people riding their bicycles everywhere. Watch out crossing the road. You can basically walk around the whole town in a couple of hours.

photo of Van Heemskerck  painting in Linköping cathedral by Susan Wellington
Dutch painter Van Heemskerck in the Linköping cathedral.

On one of my walking trips I stopped off at the Linköping cathedral which was founded in the 13th century and contains some beautiful medieval stone carvings alongside contemporary photography. The carvings make stone seem soft, like they're carved into mud.

Though I really went to see the huge renaissance painting by Dutch painter Van Heemskerck. It's in mint condition and hard to believe it wasn't painted yesterday, the colour is so brilliant. It details the usual torture and suffering of the end of Jesus' life. It didn't move me in the slightest. For me this style is the equivalent of  the violent storytelling in the movies today obviously nowhere near as bad. It just glamourises violence.

photo of stone carving in Linköping cathedral sweden by Susan Wellington
Medieval stone carving.

I find swedish churches in general have a really good vibe in them. Very light and uplifting. Supposedly not many people go to church in Sweden. But those that do must have good vibes I reckon because it's in the churches. And the Church of Sweden is very progressive. It even has gay marraige services. They're absolutely not religiously overt here though. You barely see anyone with religious symbols on. Interesting. Except for the new muslim immigrants.

Also on my walking tour was the botanical garden which is beautiful but small. The Swedes are great gardeners judging by the extent of gardening that goes on. Really imaginative arrangements of plants featuring vegetables amongst the flowers. They have a great sense of design and sensitivity to colour too. Flower arranging is really big here too. I noticed that a Swede, Ulf Nordfyell, won a gold medal at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2007 and he also designed the entrance to the botanical gardens.

close up photo cabbages and plants by Susan Wellington
Cabbages amongst the flowers.

Another walk was to the Östergötland museum and on the way there's a small garden dedicated to the assasinated Prime Minister Olaf Palme. He's still a very significant figure in Sweden. It's next to the museum, which needs a serious building upgrade. It houses Swedish art from the medieval period to 20th century local painters. It's pretty ramshackle but it's reasonably interesting. There's a great painting called 'The Fall of Man' by Lucas Cranach behind glass. It would want to be because you could just walk out with anything in there as there's no guards or cameras at all. But that's also a nice thing about the museum. And about Linköping in general.

We also visited my favourite town in Sweden, Uppsala, this time to see Linnaeus' baroque style garden. Carl von Linne or Linnaeus was the 18th century botanist who gave the world the system of classifying plants. He lived and taught in Uppsala and his house and garden is a great place to visit if you're interested in ecology or botany, or just history in general. All his experiments on plants were done on the plants in this garden. An extremely knowledgeable botanist, who was related to one of the botanist's on Captain Cook's voyage to Australia, charmingly showed us around.

photo of Linnaeus garden in Uppsala Sweden by Susan Wellington
Linnaeus' garden, Uppsala.

Sweden Info:
Linköping Cathedral  Sankt Persgatan, Linköping.
Östergötlands Länsmuseum Raoul Wallengbergs Plats, Linköping.

Linköping Botanical Gardens  Entrance at Drottningatan, Linköping.

The Linnaeus Garden Svartbäcksgatan 27, Uppsala.

If you want to read more about Linnaeus' garden click here.


  1. It looks like you are really making the most of Autumn. It is a slightly different view I have of this time of year, but excellent non-the-less.

  2. Thanks for that. I'll check out your blog.

  3. Thank you for the interesting tour.

  4. That's ok Anji glad you enjoyed it.


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