Located just outside Helsingborg with a stunning view of the ocean and Denmark, is Soferio Castle … built in 1866 by our then crown prince Oscar (later King Oscar II) for is his wife, Sofia, as their summer residence. Soferio was used by his son king Gustaf V and grandson king Gustaf Adolf VI, but our king Karl XVI decided to use the family summer residence where he spent his summers as a young prince on island Öland, Solliden Castle.
Even if I only live 40 min away from Soferio with public transport, train to Helsingborg and then bus 8, have I never been there. Not even on a school trip. This year has Soferio a 150 year celebration year, and had a royal visit on our National Day, 6th of June by our King and Queen. Yesterday we had blue sky, the sunshine and a breeze … so my friend Bärbel and I decided to spend the afternoon at the castle grounds. We didn’t visit any of the exhibitions and the show rooms because we wanted to enjoy the sunshine so much as possible.
But we got a bit more than we were asking for … it became extremely warm to walk around in the beautiful garden. I visit Monet’s Garden in Giverny in the late 70’s and I absolute loved it, but Sofiero’s gardens beat it with miles. Never seen anything like when it comes to floral splendor – never seen anything like that anywhere in the world. Not true … I have visit Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island.
I wasn’t able to take a photo of the castle because they had built up the stage for the concert in the evening; Benny Andersson (ABBA) and his orchestra. And the stage was huge its cover nearly the whole castle. So the top image isn’t mine.
We started off with a coffee and a wrap at the cafe .. they also have a restaurant with excellent reviews, but we weren’t in a mood for a big lunch. We also enjoyed Soferio’s own mineral water, a bit saltier than others. Which was good in the heat.
The castle grounds are 15 hectares = 37 acres.
Soferio is most famous from it’s Rhododendron Ravines. On either side of the castle are two ravines running in west-east directions. Here the climate is ideal for rhododendrons. There are shelter and a comfortable, perfect shade from the canopy. The soil is slightly acidic and there is access to running water.
This is what king Gustaf VI Adolf realized in the 30’s when he really started collecting this species. He planted most of his plants in the northern ravine. Because he liked the pure species the most, this is what you will find the most of in the northern ravine. Today the castle holds 10.000 of Rhododendron and azaleas, 300 different species.
There many different gardens at the castle; The Jubilee Garden, The wall flowerbed, Crown Princess Margareta’s Flower Walk, The Orangery, The Rose Walk, Queen Silvia’s Flower Jewel, The Dahlia Area, The Kitchen Garden, The Pleasure Garden, Queen Ingrid’s Scented Garden, The Winery and The Melon House.
There is art all over the grounds given by international artists from around the world. The children play areas was adorable with a small fairy-tale cottage that can be rented for children birthday parties and there was also a small herb garden on connection with the children area.
A castle nursery and shop …. and of course the gift shop inside the castle that we didn’t visit. The gardens are generous with benches to catch the breath on and enjoy all the flower glory. The big trees give a well-needed shade on a hot day, like yesterday.
The Orangery, that had got some royal pieces of furnishing and rugs to increase the beauty. A tropical oasis with the most breathtaking wall piece of living flowers.
Of course on the grounds, there is plenty water; fountains, ponds, stream and a birdbath.
The castle ground is not for the faint-hearted, because it’s up and down, stairs and steap paths. There are wider paths where the gardeners can drive their carts, but it’s not a handicap friendly park. The stairs nearly killed us two in the heat. To enjoy all the different gardens there are proper paths suitable for wheelchairs and prams.
We had a truly delightful hot day with a colors and splendor.
Yesterday was a happy day for all the bees, bumblebees, and butterflies, they had a field day … they were everywhere, only me that was too slow with Oscar. Oscar was struggling a bit with the bright sunshine, but he did his best. I’m sure.
I have to go back in a near future and have a look at the castle inside and the exhibitions. Now looking in the little brochure over the castle and it’s grounds we still have quite a lot to enjoy outside too. We missed quite a bit.
Soferio Castle has a flower festival in the August over 2 days, I guess it will be crowded with people, but maybe visit the day after the event. The flower displays have to be still there or ???!!!!!
I would love to know how many people are involved in keeping the gardens going, we saw a couple in the caring mood. Have contacted the castles garden team for an answer. And I got an answer – during the spring and summer are they 12 in total, including the chief gardener and designer.
“Gardens are not made by sitting in the shade.”