Saturday, September 6, 2008

Bergen, Norway: Mount Floyen, the Bergenhaus Festning and Lille Lungegardsvan

We've spent the morning waiting for Tropical Storm Hanna. And speaking of depressions:

School has started. Summer is (all but) over. Time in the garden is hard to come by.

So by way of repressing the depressing (and because Hanna is dropping some much needed rain and keeping me inside), I'm going to return to Norway for a little while.

The best view of Bergen (the city we visited, the second largest in Norway) is from the top of Mount Floyen. It's about a 45 minute hike to the summit (at 1050 feet)--but to save energy for the trails at top, I took the Floibanen, a funicular railway with huge windows and a glass roof that affords spectacular views of the city center. This is a view of Vagen Harbor.

View of Vagen Harbor through the clouds

The harbor opens onto the Byfjorden. You can see a cruise ship moored on the north side of the harbor (top right); the Fisketorget (fish market) is at the end, and our hotel is the red building on the south side (to the left). Here's a closer view of the hotel, above the trees in the foreground.

The view of the harbor coming down the Floibanen

The slopes of Mt. Floyen are typical of the forest in the fjords--lots of spruce, pine, aspen, oak, birch, and mountain ash (or rowan). The rowan trees thrive in incredibly rocky conditions; this time of year, they are covered with red berries.

Mountain shrub at top of Mt. Floyen

At the summit of the mountain is a restaurant surrounded by balconies with spectacular views and beautifully landscaped lookout points.

Art outside the cafe

Art on the summit

Potentilla seems to flourish in Bergen's climate--besides roses, it was the most common perennial I saw in the cultivated gardens. In this border alongside the restaurant, it's nestled alongside a sedum and an adorable little yellow flower that I haven't been able to identify--maybe some kind of impatiens? Does anyone recognize it? I love it--and though I haven't had much luck with potentilla, sedum does well here--maybe this yellow flower would grow in Virginia?

Potentilla, sedum, and another small flower

Here's more potentilla in a larger, more sprawling border . . .

Potentilla in the restaurant border

. . . with primula and heathers (mostly erica purpurea, which grows both in the wild and in cultivation) . . .


and coreopsis very like my "Moonbeam."

Some kind of coreopsis

This border led to the hiking trails through the forest, which were bordered by ferns and wildflowers--I think this is delphinium:

Ferns and native flowers on Mt. Floyen

The forest was gorgeous on its own, especially in the late morning--it was hard to stay on the trail.

Forest on Mt. Floyen

But I still had a lot of Bergen to explore, so after a lovely morning in the woods, I headed back down to the city. This shot is from the top of the funicular and shows where I'm headed:

View from Mount Floyen

The body of water to the right (north) is Vagen Harbor; the lake to the left with the fountain in the center is Lille Lungegardsvan, which is surrounded by gardens and art museums; between them is the theater district and Ole Bulls Plass.

At the north end of the harbor--where the cruise ship was moored--is the Bryggen, which is the site of the first settlement. The facades of these warehouses--some dating from medieval times--make up THE iconic image of Bergen--so wouldn't you know it, I never took a photograph! No flowers, I guess. Anyway, I've provided a link. It's also the most touristy and the most expensive part of Bergen, and a cruise ship had just landed, so we didn't stay there long. But we did visit the Bergenhaus Festning, a (reconstructed) fortress just beyond the Bryggen at the mouth of the harbor, now used as a park.

Nykirk and the Bergenhus Festning courtyard

This courtyard in front of the Rosenkrantztarnet looks out over the harbor--the church tower of the Nykirke is actually on the other side of a very large harbor (as I tell my film students, telephoto lenses collapse distance).

Here's a shot I took a couple of days later of the Nykirke from the other side of the harbor, looking over at the Rosenkrantztarnet (the big building with the turquoise roof):

Nykirke, from the Nordnes peninsula

The other side of the Bergenhaus Festning courtyard opens out to another yard alongside the old officers' quarters.

View into the courtyard

From the harbor, we headed inland a bit. This is Bergen's cathedral, Domkirke. The guidebooks regard it as dull, but I fell in love with this tree in the churchyard.

Tree at Domkirken

More potentilla surrounding tombs from the 17th century:

Potentilla around tomb, Domkirke

And on the street leading away from the Domkirke, maybe the world's smallest buddleia?

World's smallest butterfly bush?

From the Domkirke, we walked over to Lille Lungegardsvan, a lake at the city center. It's flanked by five art museums and a concert hall, as well as some lovely gardens. Here's a rose garden, with Salix and the art museums in the background:

Roses and Salix at Lille Lungegardsvann

And maybe my favorite garden in Bergen--a cosmos garden! (Cosmos grow on the interstate medians in Virginia--but not 10 miles away in my garden--perhaps they need more exhaust? Anyway, I loved these).

White cosmos

Cosmos at Lille Lungegardsvann

A reminder of how close the Atlantic is--seagulls flying over the lake:

Seagulls on the Lille Lungegardsvann

At the northwest end of the garden (heading back to the harbor) is the Design Museum, whose external "exhibitions" are arguably as lovely as the ones inside:

The grounds in front of the West Norway Decorative Art Museum

Here's the facade and another view of the sculpture in front.

Facade of the Vestlandske Kunstindustrimuseum

Immediately to the east of the Design Museum is Ole Bulls Plass, leading through the theater district. A gazebo marks the boundary between it and the lake.

The gazebo at Ole Bull Plass

One of my favorite roses in the bed around the gazebo:

Yellow roses at Ole Bull Plass

And one of Salix's:

Flower girl

And this is Ole Bull, a 19th-century violinist who was Bergen's Frank Sinatra--local history says women would swoon at his concerts. The only disappointment during our trip was that I didn't get to visit his home at Lysoen, where he laid out footpaths through his woods.
Ole Bulls Plass

So these were the sights we (were) meant to see--we caught a couple of others along the way.

These guys are actually pumping beer into a hotel--we would love to have seen what was at the other end of the hose (a pool? a pond? a fraternity?). Here's a picture of the truck, just in case you think we mistranslated:

And we caught this picture on our walk through the theater district, just beyond Ole Bulls Plass. This was some kind of publicity for a play--but I'm not sure this is exactly the kind of photo op they had in mind. Maybe she's smelling the roses?

That's it for now. Hanna's been benevolent--about 24 hours of relatively gentle rain with no loss of power. But I think I'll knock wood and publish just in case.


Les, Zone 8a said...

I loved your tour of Bergen, thanks for sharing it. The weather looked great, so clear crisp and sunny I could smell the conifers on your hike. I covet potentillas everytime I see them in catalogs, yet I know they will not do here. I get that way over lupines and hebe too. That beer truck might have interesting possibilities.

Cosmo said...

Les, the weather was unbelievably nice. We'd read forecasts of rain, but besides a light sprinkle the first night we were there, we had lots of sun. And add delphinium to the list (though hebe, hebe--I'd almost considering moving to have it in my yard . . .)

tina said...

VERY lovely trip you had and you learned so much in your short time there! I have potentillas in my garden and they don't do well. Not sure of the problem at all. Is this area of Norway humid? I don't think so, so perhaps that is our problem with them. That yellow flower looks like primrose or perhaps some kind of sundrops (which might be primrose-not sure) or a rose of some kind?

Cosmo said...

Hi, Tina--I think Les can prabably answer better than I can, but I think potentilla needs both a drier and a cooler climate than Virginia offers. The plants I took the pictures of are the shrubby ones, like roses--they're hardy only as far south as zone 7, and we're 7b, Les is 8--and NOT dry at all. I think the rock plant versions are more tolerant of different conditions--what kind do you have? Thanks for the clues about the little mystery plant--Norway seemed to be primrose central, so maybe that's what it is.

In other news--are you starting back to school soon?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for taking us along on your trip. Everything was so beautiful, lots of great blooms. What a nice way to spend a rainy day. :)

tina said...

Hi again Cosmo,
I have a yellow and pink potentilla. I do have the varieties on my other computer and not with me today. The yellow bloomed-a wee bit this year. The pink one, no. I think too humid. I am in Zone 6/7-on the line.

My teenager started school about one month ago. I started back two weeks ago. I am in Intro to Social Work (online) and Landscape Construction (in class). I am actually enjoying them both and hoping to learn good stuff. I love to learn but it is a commitment to do the work when sometimes I just want to relax. I keep hoping it will all rub on my ninth grade son. So far it hasn't worked. Most all garden classes I can coast thru, it it is the other subjects I have to work at. What do you teach? University professor in academia? That is a whole other world. I hope to get a job at a college here, but not as a professor as I only have a masters and won't go into a Phd program at this point in life. Though I wish I could do a research paper on blogs. They are such an interesting concept and community and there is no research out there that I have seen. Anyhow, as most who talk with me on here know, I can talk and I've talked enough today. Fall is a time of transition and I hope your back to school days are going great.

Sarah Laurence said...

What a beautiful country! You capture it so well. I'd love to go to Norway but the next best thing is reading this post. Good thing Hanna was benevolent. We are experiencing the rains of Gustav which had geared down by the time it hit the USA. The Caribbean was not so lucky.

Eve said...

That lake with the Seagulls, that photo was spectacular!..I also like the chruch and the gazebo. Great pictures. I don't travel much but that sure does seem like a place more than worth a visit. I liked those interesting pants too. LOL
Those roses are lovely.

Rose said...

Thanks for taking us on this tour, Cosmo! There are so many places in the world I would like visit, and Scandinavia is one of them, but I wonder whether I ever will. I spent my first two years at a college founded by Norwegians and was exposed to some of their heritage--very interesting.

The cosmos are beautiful; no wonder you love this flower!

Back home and back to work so soon? Hope you get a chance to get rested. Glad that Hanna has brought you only some rain.

Cosmo said...

Hi, everyone--thanks for sharing my trip--Norway is really beautiful (but REALLY expensive--expensive even for Europeans--and when you factor in the weak dollar, well, we were spending $12 for a glass of beer and $30 for a salad!)

PGL--I was surpised by how much was in bloom, though I'd assumed a colder climate--

Tina--Wow, back for two weeks already! Not much happens here until after Labor Day. I am at a university, and I teach American Lit and Film--it's a great job, but I get spoiled by my unscheduled time in the summer. What's your Masters in? I think it won't be long until there's a lot of research being done on the Internet and blogging--you should get in on the ground floor (you probably know more than most people!--you could start with something on Knol (or maybe you've already done that?) Anyway, my love of school NEVER rubbed off on my now-22-year-old son, who hasn't been to college--but he's doing fine.

Sarah, Eve, and Rose--Thanks so much for your kind words to a VERY amateur photographer. I've fallen in love with travel--I didn't leave the States until I was 45, but once I saw England (my first trip), I vowed to go every time I had the chance. I just hope the dollar gets a little stronger--it's almost prohibitively expensive in Europe right now.

Anyway, I have two more posts lined up about the trip, and then back to MY garden--I wish I had that lovely Norwegian gardener to help me!

tina said...

Cosmo, American lit and film would be interesting. Mine degree is in Management. I know, the boring field. I've learned alot but now am venturing into other realms. I might give literature a try if I can ever get off the computer and read a book! lol Blogging is interesting and growing, even my son likes it for his things. That is funny about yours too. Sigh. I am sure our kids know knowledge is important but show it in their own ways. (I hope)

Blackswamp_Girl said...

I'm fascinated by your wonderful blog, Cosmo... thanks so much for stopping by and leaving me a comment so I could "find" you!

Looks like you had a wonderful trip. :)

Phillip said...

This was wonderful - the view of the city is spectacular. Your photos are great. I can't wait until I can travel one day. I want to see the great gardens of England first and then on to other countries.

Northern Shade said...

You have some good shots of your trip to Bergen. I love visiting gardens in other areas, seeing the differences and noting the similarities.
Potentilla is also common here in my zone 3 area, probably a similar zone to Bergen.

Gail said...


What a beautiful country! Thank you for sharing it with us! The cooler less humid climates can grow the beauties we can't! No way is delphinium happy here! Primula likewise!

Potentilla is a member of the rose family, so it might like the same or similar growing conditions. We have our own little potentilla, Shrubby cinquefoil..if anyone wants a native!

My dear husband's goal is to have over seas consultations! I hope it happens!

Good news about Hanna.


Roses and Lilacs said...

What a beautiful place. That first photo looks like Brigadoon, rising out of the mist;)

I would love to visit and see it all in person

Sue Swift said...

Bergen looks wonderful - it's gone on my "to visit" list. Used to live in Finland, but have never been to Norway.

Came in from Blotanical. Wanted to leave you a welcome message there, but the site is taking so long to load I gave up. Hope this is just as good!

And hope Hanna behaves well.

Charlotte said...

Nice photos of Bergen! You were lucky to bee there, when it did`t rain.. wich is not so often. Ha-ha!
The purple flowers are not delphinium. They are a terrible weed here. In norwegian they are called Geitrams. copy and paste the link.

The actors in the photo are comedians. Very funny.

Susie said...

What a beautiful place and what gorgeous photos! Thanks for sharing your tour.

The Organic Gardener said...

BEAUTIFUL! I want to go to Norway now! Beautiful, blog! I saw you from Blotanical, and am glad that I did! Those roses were beautiful, I think if I was there, I might just try and sneak up on the rose with a shovel; and pray to God that no one would catch me, and that customs would let me through with it!


Charlotte said...

Hey, thanks for stopping by. FYI, I try to summen up the content in english in the end of each post, so i hope you stop by again. :-)

Viooltje said...

What a great blog this is! I can't really say what has intrigued me more, extraordinary photos, great posts, beautiful travelogues, your wonderful writing style. I'm really glad you joined Blotanical and showed me the way to your secret piece of heaven. Keep up the great work.

Greetings from the Mediterranean,


Bek said...

Great post! I love reading about other people's travel stories. I hope there are more to come, even if they are from many years ago:)