If you are in Frederiksberg and would like a break from the hustle and bustle of the city in beautiful, quiet surroundings, go to Haveselskabet's, the Gardening Society's garden. It is located next to its more famous neighbour - Frederiksberg Garden. Separated from Pile Allé by a high yew hedge, you will find a green and quiet gem in the middle of the city.
Until 30 years ago, there was only access for the garden society members, but today everyone can visit the garden from sunrise to sunset. Here you can sit and just be in the garden's two pavilions, explore the garden's space or greet the peacocks who strut around in the corridors, sit on a wall or show off their impressive tails. Here you get a little bit of the garden's cultural history and character. I hope it can serve as an appetizer as it is an even greater experience to visit it yourself.
The Gardening Society
The Gardening Society was created at a time when the citizens of Copenhagen met in companies and associations from all over the world. In 1830, Colonel and Commander Frederik Julius d’Origny and eight other plant enthusiasts joined forces to form The company for the promotion of flower culture. It is to this day the world's second oldest Gardening Society, surpassed only by the British from 1804. Prior to this, expeditions and colonial trade had introduced alien and exotic plants to castle and manor gardens in Europe. Plants became a fashion phenomenon and new varieties were added through crossbreeding and breeding.
During the company's first decade, membership increased significantly and although interest in flowers was already present, it was stimulated by the company's activities. Among other things, the company took the initiative to print plant catalogs and in 1832 it was responsible for the opening of Denmark's first flower exhibition in the Botanical Garden. After the war in 1864, the mantra was "What is lost outwards must be gained inwards". The popular enlightenment had good conditions at this time. Horticulture spread throughout Denmark and the Garden Society stood, with support from the state, to distribute fruit trees to people from small backgrounds.
The company has had different names over the years and got its current name at its 50th anniversary - Det Kongelige Danske Haveselskab, The Royal Danish Gardening Society, commonly known as Haveselskabet. It was no longer only about flowers and potted plants, but also about quality kitchen herbs and fruits.
Over the years, more Danes have got their own gardens and you just have to turn on the television to see that garden programs still are a big hit. In the 00s, there was a merger of Denmark’s four garden companies, including the Royal Danish Gardening Society. Now it is simply called Haveselskabet and has local associations around the country.
The garden company is today an association with about 30,000 members. It is a membership that, among other things, provides an opportunity to ask questions to Haven's advice. You can also be registered for one of the 82 allotment gardens that the garden company has at its disposal. However, members need to arm themselves with patience - there is about a 15 year wait.
As a natural development of the society, the desire of growing plants yourself and having a specific place to stroll and exchange experiences arose. There was a will to find the best varieties for Denmark's climate and spread it to the rest of the country. After being housed at the Sortedam Dossering, the garden moved to Frederiksberg Allé at Skt. Thomas Plads. In 1882, the garden got its current location on a plot of land that had previously functioned as a nursery, fruit and vegetable garden for the former royal summer residence, Frederiksberg Castle. It was designed by landscape architect H.A. Flindt, who was also vice chairman of the society. In 1992, the garden was expanded to the 20.500 square meters it is today.
On the way through the garden you come across garden rooms of different sizes and expressions. With every step on the garden's lawns and gravel paths there is something new to discover, whether it be the plant selection, the old, rare trees and bushes or one of the garden's statues. The garden has been renovated several times and today appears as a beautiful mix of past and present garden design. The garden's original ground plan was in a romantic garden style with winding paths and landscape elements. Since then, several different landscape architects have had a say. In the 1900s, as fashion changes, the garden is cut through by a straight line through the entire garden, with several square rooms to each side.
Brøndsalen, the Well Hall
When stepping under the curved, white entrance sign, you quickly spot the garden's most recognizable building on the other side of the large lawn. The Well Hall, Brøndsalen, with its beautiful yellow colour and large windows, was built in 1885 and designed by P.C. Bønecke, who also designed the Palm House, Palmehuset, in the Botanical Garden.
The name comes from its previous use as a health resort. All decent Copenhageners with respect for their health used to visit the hall in the morning to drink particularly healthy spring water from Maglekilden in Roskilde and then exercise by strolling through the garden. The unique building was listed in 1978. It no longer serves well water. However, it is used for exhibitions and private individuals can rent the building for weddings, among other things.
Kavalerfløjen, the Cavalry Wing
If you stand in the same place and look towards the mound instead, it is the Cavaliers' Wing, Kavalerfløjen, your eyes rest on. This building was formerly part of the Prince's Farm, Prinsens Gård, built by Queen Sophie Amalie around 1670 and thus the oldest part of Frederiksberg Palace.
It is now home to the Michelin-starred restaurant Mielcke and Hurtigkarl. The restaurant is known for its innovative use of exotic ingredients. When the garden's current pavilions were inaugurated, they provided the food. All buildings and walls in the garden are kept in the same warm yellow color - a testament to the area's past as a kitchen garden for Frederiksberg Castle. It helps to create good cohesion in the garden and creates a nice contrast to all the green.
When the society celebrated its 150th anniversary in 1980, a number of commemorative gardens were created, of which only the Garden of the Blind remains. The beds were raised to a height that makes it easier for blind people to sense the plants and the space through the sense of touch and smell. It has changed very little since then and is now referred to as the Herb Garden, Urtehaven. Plants such as sage, lavender and radishes grow here.
Although the garden is now an old lady, she doesn't stand still. Today it is a mixture of old garden areas and new garden designs. This makes perfect sense, as the garden, then as now, is intended to serve as inspiration for visitors to the garden.
The Old Rose Garden
In the center of the garden, close to Pile Allé, you will find the garden's oldest garden room. Here are the beds with the historic roses. Surrounded by the original boxwood hedges from 1882, the beds still form the same pattern as when the garden was laid out. However, the roses have been replaced several times. With a beautiful central axis of wisteria, the adjacent garden space is also dedicated to roses, albeit the more modern ones. This is also reflected in the design, which is laid out in small square beds rather than a more curved pattern.
The Lake with One Pavilion of the Garden
One of my personal favorite places in the garden is the area around the lake, which has a slightly more wild and idyllic look. You can sit in one of the garden's pavilions and watch the sun reflecting on the surface of the water and think your thoughts. You can follow the path around to the small boulder ravine and on the way you can admire the exotic swamp cypress and its characteristic roots (developed only when the tree grows in a humid environment).
If you continue along the path, past an impressively large dawn redwood and an old temple tree, you will reach the mound. Here you can sit on a bench and listen to the water trickling from the small fountain. Or enjoy the view of the Town Hall tower on one side and the perennial garden created by landscape architect and former President Jane Schul on the other. Here, surrounded by trees, you can clearly sense the straight axis of the garden.
The Perennial Garden
In the perennial garden, mainly drought tolerant perennials have been chosen in selected colors and leaf shapes. Here you will find Christmas roses, cranesbill, globe thistle and many others, combined in a way that the perennials compliment each other in shape and flowering time. While the giant saxifrage is just about to finish flowering, Russian sage, among others, is on its way and will be in full blue-purple bloom throughout the summer.
There is much more to tell about the glories of the garden and its lovely peaceful atmosphere. I could talk about the newer grass garden, the lush water garden with rippling water stepping stones and narrow canals. Not to mention the Japanese-inspired Rock Garden, the Gravel Garden and the Parade House Garden, where a blue pod grows, also known commonly as "Dead Man's Finger".
The Reflecting Pool
The axis through the perennial garden ends at the old reflecting pool surrounded by mainly yellow azaleas and a female sculpture by Henrik Starcke at one end. At this far end of the garden you will also find a small cozy grove of birch trees. For a few seconds it gives the illusion of walking on a forest path rather than a garden path.
There is Much to Discover
There's plenty to discover and whatever time of year you choose, you'll get something out of your visit. In May the cherry tree is in full bloom and on the eve of June the azaleas are in bloom. The beautiful blue-violet empress tree in the water garden has unfolded its blue-violet flower clusters. Autumn brings the berries and the beautiful fall colors, while in winter the pools will freeze over and the snow will beautifully cover the statues, trees and plants.
Should you be interested in a guided tour through the garden, I am ready.
We are happy to say visit Haveselskabet's garden with Guideservice Denmark and our garden guide Jette.
The Well Hall with the entrance gate in the foreground. Photo: Jette.
Herbal Garden. Photo: Jette.
The Rose Garden. Photo: Jette.
The lake with one of the garden pavilions on the right. Photo: Jette.
The swamp cypress and its roots. Photo: Jette.
The Perennial Garden. Photo: Jette.
The Reflecting Pool. Photo: Jette.