The Herb Garden

Everything from medicinal plants, spices and ornamental plants to plants rich in folklore and used for dyeing textiles can be found growing in Skansen’s Herb Garden.

  • As early as 1892, the year after Skansen opened, founder Artur Hazelius established a small herb garden that eventually became a garden behind the Laxbro House. Here, Skansen’s early visitors could learn from 17th century cultivation and find out about herbs associated with folk beliefs and customs. Hazelius positioned grains and forage plants next to Vaktstugan, the site of today’s Herb Garden.

    In 1914, Alarik Behm – the head of Skansen’s natural history department from 1907 to 1937 – transformed the site into a new herb garden, which quickly became a very popular feature at Skansen. It also served as a model for other herb gardens in Sweden and similar features of open-air museums around the world. On request, Skansen began sending seeds, root shoots and other plant material to anyone who expressed an interest in them.

    The Herb Garden in modern times

    Half a century later, in 1964–65, landscape gardener Walter Bauer made sweeping – and much-needed – changes to the Herb Garden. This is when the garden gained its now familiar characteristics of old monastic gardens, with its cross-walkways and blocks, and he introduced hundreds of herbs, medicinal plants and ornamental plants. He also added plants used for dyeing textiles and other natural materials.

  • The Herb Garden at Skansen

    The Herb Garden at Skansen

  • Bauer was also inspired by the ornamental gardens of the late 19th century, creating a roundel at the centre framed by flowers and flower beds, and a well at the centre of the courtyard, in accordance with the symbolism of the past. A small tree, a statue or a sundial could be positioned at the centre of such a roundel. It could also be crowned with a mirrored ball, as is the case at Skansen.

    Restoration of the garden began in 2015, and since 2017 the Herb Garden has looked like Walter Bauer’s 1965 herb garden, after having undergone various changes over the years. In accordance with Bauer’s efforts, and following the pattern of botanical gardens, all the plants have been given signs showing their Swedish and Latin names.

Find The Herb Garden