If the city is usually perceived as a space hostile to nature, Stockholm is a real exception with its teeming parks, enchanting gardens and natural areas which cover 40% of its area. In many parks of the Swedish capital, the Stockholmers cultivate their little corner of happiness thanks to the existence of allotments of gardens whose origins go back to the last century. This is the case for most of the southwest of the island of Södermalm, covered with charming allotments and small patches of green land. Head to Tantolunden Park for a bucolic and unusual stroll on this hill overlooking Lake Mâlaren!
Tantolunden and its allotment gardens: an ancient tradition
The love of nature runs deep with the Swedes, so it's no surprise that the capital ranks among the top cities in the world in terms of green space.
The huge Tantolunden Park in the southwest of the island of Södermalm, near Zinkensdamm and Hornstul, is a perfect example of the harmony between city life and abundant nature in Stockholm. During an exotic walk, this park dominated by large rocks plunges us into the heart of a very Swedish tradition: garden subdivisions, known as workers' or family gardens, and their adorable little wooden cottages. A real pleasure to stroll between the paths to admire these small constructions nestled between the trees and the superb vegetable gardens. Hobbit Villages are not just creations of the imagination of Tolkien or Peter Jackson!
Tanto Park, as the locals call it, was designed in 1885 by Swedish landscape architect Alfred Medin (1841-1910). From 1910, around 100 allotment gardens flourished along the slopes of the park's hill as part of an urban policy attributed to Swedish social democrat and feminist Anna Lindhagen. Based on the Danish model of Copenhagen, this initiative responds to several urban issues: public health imperatives and the desire to meet food shortages.
These shared gardens then emerged all over the city: the first allotment of allotments, the Söderbrunn allotment in the Norra Djurgården district in the Östermalm district, dates from 1905 and still exists today. The concept is popular and more and more gardens are appearing, allowing workers with modest incomes who do not have the means to own a house with a garden, to take advantage of a corner of greenery to relax in an atmosphere idyllic. They also participate in the development of informal agriculture that supplies communities with vegetables.
Indeed, urbanization and the increase in population density in Stockholm are at the origin of the movement of shared gardens, initially created to provide food resources, first for the poorest, then for the middle class, before transforming into places of relaxation and recreation towards the end of the 20th century. The city of Stockholm and its surroundings now has around 10,000 allotment gardens.
In Tantolunden, the “Tanto Norra” subdivision was established in 1919 and consists of 93 gardens, glued to each other, protected by fences and surveyed by small paths. Even today, these havens of peace allow the inhabitants of Stockholm to escape into nature, to cultivate a piece of land and to meet around the small houses for convivial moments.
Small corners of paradise surrounded by nature
Far from the urban bustle, Tantolunden is a real invitation to stroll for all and remains open access all year round. Its steep relief, lush vegetation and the various leisure activities to be practiced make Tantolunden the favorite park of the inhabitants of Södermalm. In summer, swimmers, sunbathing, stand-up-paddle or kayaking enthusiasts flock to its beach which has pontoons, a jumping tower and a beach volleyball court. The park is also equipped with other fun facilities such as a minigolf course, a playground, an outdoor gymnasium and even a dog park! It is the essential meeting place for Stockholmers who meet there to have a good time. In winter, Tantolunden becomes an adventure playground for toboggan enthusiasts who hurtle down the slopes of the snow-covered park.
Tantolunden dog park
A haven of greenery and biodiversity
An insect hotel on the trail
In any season, Tantolunden is a remarkable place in terms of landscape, architectural and cultural heritage. In spring, the blossoming of flowers creates a true symphony of shapes, colors and scents. The happy tenants of these gardens are sometimes true artists and botanists. In summer, strolling through these gardens is a delight. The vegetation modulates the space in marvelous volumes, perspectives and play of light, between the beds of multicolored flowers and the vegetable gardens full of vegetables. The variety of plants and fruit trees is amazing! In autumn, visitors discover a splendid palette of flamboyant colors.
Rules to follow
These gardens are however subject to certain rules. First of all, allotment gardens cannot be bought between individuals. To become an owner, you must become a member of the association "The Swedish Federation of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners" which has 26,000 members. To avoid speculation and soaring garden prices, this organization is solely responsible for the sale, according to certain criteria. These gardens “like no other” are also governed by certain rules of community life: the height of the hedges is regulated, the plots must be very well maintained and promote the biodiversity of plants and insects.
For the curious, nature lovers and visitors to Stockholm, this park is worth a detour! Knowing how to observe, watch, admire, seize the present moment, be silent… We would almost forget that we are indeed in the heart of a European capital!