Education, research, play and recreation are all on offer here. There’s a place for everyone in the park that the University of Gothenburg has created together with Mariestad Municipality.
“Welcome to the University Park,” says Evalena Öman, and she opens the gate to the garden centre.
We walk slowly along the gravel path that meanders between cultivation beds brilliant with colour and large flowerpots. Students from the Department of Conservation have nurtured and planted the seedlings themselves.
“We now have the opportunity to work on the basis of an associated management plan and test our craft skills in a natural way. This is where we can test everything we’ve learnt during the year in the form of practical work,” says Evalena Öman, a teacher at the Department of Conservation.
The flowerpots are one metre high. One of them is filled with busy lizzies, begonias and dahlias. Another has hops winding round creeping jenny and purple sage. The students have worked in groups of three on the basis of different colour themes.
“It is first-year students who have worked on combining shape and colour in a harmonious way,” says Evalena Öman.
The University Park in Mariestad has something to offer for everyone. With its newly built garden centre, walled greenhouse, picnic park and eight garden rooms, it appeals to a broad public. Everywhere is a riot of colour. In one flower bed yellow Rudbeckia and sunflowers jostle for position with dahlias in hues of red. Nearby are utility plants bursting with health. There is a faint smell of spices in the air, a butterfly flits by, and in the distance is the sound of babbling from the Tidan River.
“It’s wonderful to have this as one’s work,” Linda Hallström says. She pushes aside a few leaves and shows how the brussels sprouts are growing in tight bunches in one of the cultivation beds.
Linda is studying a course on crafts that specialises in gardening. During the summer she, together with several other students, has been looking after the park’s plants. It was hot in June and July, and much of the time was spent on watering. Later on it was time for weeding and harvesting.
“The brassicas are often affected by pests, so they have needed extra attention. I love utility plants of course, and they’re beautiful too. Look at the kale here, it’s fantastic! The sweetcorn is looking grand and I love purple cabbage. It’s fantastic to work here, and we get such positive feedback from the visitors. It’s almost as though we’ve given birth to the plants ourselves,” Linda says with a laugh.
The University Park is intended to serve as a meeting place for students, teachers, researchers, Mariestad residents and tourists. Teachers and researchers at the Department of Conservation in Mariestad see the Park as a major asset in their work. The Park is intended for people of all ages, including the very young. The preschool lying next to the Park has therefore got its own cultivation plots.
“Everyone should be made to feel welcome here. For instance, the apple trees in the planned apple grove will be pruned so that children can climb on them,” says Evalena Öman.
One of the eight different rooms in the Park is the Marieholm Residence on the shores of Lake Vänern. The design of the garden is the result of a collaboration between the conservationists and the National Property Board of Sweden.
“We have redesigned the beds so that the layout is reminiscent of garden design at the end of the 19th century. The students sowed the flowers and utility plants directly in the beds at the beginning of the summer, and the result is this vivid sea of flowers,” says Evalena Öman.