Monday, 22 October 2012

Mikkeli: a stroll at Tertti Manor

The lawn is still green at Tertti Manor at Mikkeli, in the South Savo region of Finland. Whoever mowed the lawn must have been enjoying himself or herself; it would never cross my mind to make patterns on the grass! If you are standing on the driveway, you may notice that the arrowhead is pointing towards the walled garden...
However, the Secret Garden, surrounded by the thick granite walls (there used to be a large cow-house) is closed for the winter. No wonder - the more than 200 different flowers inside the walls must be weary already, having been at their best in July when there are guided tours to the garden on Sunday afternoons. At other times you can only visit the garden by prior arrangement.
You can take a peek into the garden through the closed gate but there is hardly anything to see now. October isn't the best time to visit a garden in Finland...
However, not all is lost: Virginia creeper makes my day as it is covering a large part of the stone wall in flaming red colour.
Not everything looks as happy as Virginia creepers. Poor common hops have lost their colour and turned dry and brown already in their poles.
I return to the pink wooden manor house along a short alleyway lined with tall, old spruces. These days, the old Tertti Manor building serves visitors as a restaurant. Behind it there is another old style building with a couple of guest rooms. The open verandah resembles a gazebo. It would be a lovely place for a cup of tea when the pink Tertti rose is in bloom.
The front garden of the manor house slopes gently towards the nearby lake Säkälampi. There are quite a few apple trees, among others, but the greatest tree of all is the 140 years old white willow. How about sitting down on the bench with a book, under the protecting arms of the aged willow tree?
I follow the soft, somewhat muddy path to the shore of lake Säkälampi. We are not in the middle of nowhere; you can hear the sounds of the road nearby. However, the view over the fields is relaxing - this is the countryside, after all. I take a path to the right and walk through the small forest to another small field. A narrow brook is waiting for me.
There is a tiny wooden bridge over the brook. This is not just any bridge: it has a name, Ponte Hoh Hoijaa. (Hoh hoijaa can be roughly translated as a big sigh after the day's work is done...) The bridge was opened in 2001. I guess I'm now at the edge of Tertti arboretum.
A good guess... There are quite a few colourful leaves on the ground that have fallen from trees that don't grow in a regular Finnish forest. Rhododendron is also something that you need to plant there, but once you've done it it may well survive the winters at least in the southern part of Finland.
Wish I knew more about the different tree species! What on earth are these tall, slim fir trees called? They have been planted in such straight rows...
To my surprise, I spot a granite post in the middle of the arboretum - typically used to tell the distance to the nearest towns by the side of the road a couple of decades ago but now history - which has a lots of numbers on it. What do the x and y mean? What does number 10 refer to? At least I can guess that P stands for longitude, L stands for latitude.
What a great sunny day. I can imagine not just sitting down to read by the tall willow I met earlier but also here...
The stone fence is not extremely long but it is a rare sight these days, having taken days and hours to build. You can't build one with a machine. You can tell this is a pretty new fence because if it were an old one, it would already be covered with moss.
I leave the arboretum and start walking back towards the Tertti Manor house, following the narrow road that leads me past the last flowers of the summer by the side of the field.
Members of cabbage family can take many colours, not just the typical green. Wow!
The square garden close to the manor includes lots of different herbs, salads and whatever you can think of. This must be the secret behind Tertti manor's restaurant: their own herb garden. The sign promises that Lemon balm can turn old women to young maidens...
The patio in the middle of the garden has been carefully decorated. In the summer time, you can sit here and sip tea or coffee, served from the Dairy Café next door, and smell the herbs and plants around you.
The sun is close to setting. I take a last look at the garden that is so close to falling asleep for the winter, with the last bits and pieces waiting to be picked up, dried or used fresh in the kitchen. I wonder who gets to enjoy these lovely artichokes?

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