Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Gunnebo House (Castle) & Gardens

This for me started out for me as one of those journeys where, "Oh man, not another boring trip to Göteborg and viewing the sites of some ancient historical rich European Aristocrat" ? For me, once you've seen one castle you've seen them all and I don't care what country it is located. I learned this the hard way back in 1976 when a friend of mine and I came to Europe and hit almost every famous Castle Landmark to be found on a tourist map. Besides , I hate going to town (Göteborg) or any other city on the planet for that matter. So I would have prefered staying home, but I'm glad I went. Besides we were going with some good friends we haven't seen in a long while.

For a further read on the actual estate, when built, who built it and so forth, please visit this website. I won't be going into those particulars much here.


Okay, let's get through some of the formal gardens and buildings settings first. This first picture is of an Oak Tree native to Sweden called Quercus robur. It's the most common found all over Europe and goes by many common names. What intrigued me about this one is the many wildlife features like holes and other cavities for various birds and small animals to live. Something that I find rather lacking in most Swedish woods I see. This oak was on the pathway walking up to the Estate.

Then just below this tree was this nature sign explaining a bit of what I already figured out by just looking at the tree.

Ek (Oak)

' For a few thousand years, the oak was the most common tree in the western Swedish deciduous forest. An oak can be very old, at least 1,000 years.

In the dense oak forests oak tree growth habit is a straight trunk and narrow crown. Stand alone out in the open oaks, have a short, rough trunk and very broad crown, with a typical large round appearance.

The oak harbors very rich insect life. In England it has about 600 species of insects associated with this oak. There are many endangered insects in Sweden, especially beetles living on these ancient oaks. Several common insects are also available in oak, such as
'Ekvecklaren' (oak folding holder = don't ask, just name of insect). It is a small moth whose larvae can almost overwhelm the  trees in some years. The oak trees survives them though to form new leaves anyway. '

Okay, now for more of the main estate building and formal gardens.

Yeah, yeah yeah. Let's move this along and get it over with. This first shot is of our friends and their young boy.

The vegetable & Spice/herb garden above is where I was roped into an interview questionaire by a young girl there whose job it was to find out what visitor impression are of the Estate Park. She asked what I thought about these gardens and I replied that I'd have to wait a bit for most of the woodlands to first emerge totally from it's winter slumber. Believe it or not total Spring bloom was still beginning for many things.

Below you can see where they actually cut down and utilized some of the wood itself from this Estate and milled their own lumber from the trees for some of their building projects like the shelter in the photo here below.

Well, they've got to have something for the kids. Kids will only take so much of the hiking trails. This wooden cow was located just behind the horse barn. (BTW, Barn is the Swedish word for Child - don't ask, it just is)

Now let's take that walk in the woods. Whay excited me about this part of the adventure, was that it was like going back in time to what Swedish forests use to look like. Most of southern and western Swedish forests were generally mostly dominated by old growth Oak Forests with a widely varied mixture of other old growth Alder, Aspen, European Mountain Ash, Norway Maple, Willows, etc. But oak was the most prominent.

With this type of biodiverse forest like we visted this day the forest is alive with the sounds of animals and multiple species of birdlife, something saldy lacking in most all Swedish forests which are industrially managed with failed out-dated science-based technology which replaces the already perfected wild original program. Most Swedish forests have been horribly clear cut and replaced by tree planting with monoculture of pines or firs for lumber or mostly pulp wood production for paper. This will be discussed in a link at the end of this post.

The picture above is an example of what a closed forest environment will do to any tree in shaping it throughout it's life for later valuable usage by mankind. Unlike the oak found in or on the edge of a meadow which will have a stout truck and multibranched round large crown pattern.

Take a look at these Norway Maple trees. Here's the parent tree followed by hundreds of seedling trees most likely to never make it through the canopy unless they get lucky by various environmental circumstances. Trees like these need a nurse tree. Maples won't amount to much out in the open. Mostly I've seen them stunted and shrubby looking, same with oaks trees. Very rarely do you find them volunteering out in the open.

Okay this photo above is an Oak tree with a tiny hole in it where a branch was at one time but has since rotted out. This tiny hole provides nesting for a slender dainty little forest bird, but I don't know the name. I'll get back with it, but I've seen this small bird utilize just about any small crevice in a rock wall or under a bridge beam.

These following shots are of a train that past over head, and I love trains, so had to take this shot. Also some shots of my wife and our friends walking through the meadow and some shots of forest floor thinning and then finally the old growth oak forests view at the end in all it's wild glory as we left.

More nature explanations about the local birdlife and while they are not so visable in the pictures, there is a rather large Swedish forest pigeon which is similar to the ones up in the forests of Idyllwild California where I use to live. Like the California pigeons, these are extremely shy as well and hard to get near for taking a photograph, unless you have the right powerful lense. These birds are nothing like their pesky nusiance domestic city dewelling cousins. They group together scratching around on the ground looking for food and look very much like a large covey of quail foraging the ground with one male as lookout. 

And finally the old growth Oak Woodland beauty at the end of our hike.

Now down below all that old growth Oak Woodland habitat is an area around the parking lot down in a river valley with a lake where there are a lot of natural boggy conditions. This environment for the most part is where the pure stands of Björk (Birch) and other wet habitat loving plants also prefer to reside.

This concludes this part, but previously I have written about the irresponsible way industrial forestry has been the mismanagement order of the day throughout Europe, not just Scandinavia. Follow the link below and be ready for a shocking contrast from what you've just viewed above.




  1. I love your posts and I do apologize for not getting back to you sooner. It has been quite crazy here and I really enjoy your views and comments. There are several bloggers, which include yourself, that require time that I gladly spend on your very excellent reporting. BUT I have to sit in a quiet area to read and concentrate. A lot of time, research and writing goes into your work and it's important to "hear" what's going on in your area. I also do the same with "Robin" in England. She has done some excellent historical work on her area. But anyhoo, I find all of this fascinating......in Tucson, we are told to place native species into the area....and we as responsible people, homeowners....do. It's for the wildlife and to maintain our natural environment. However, Phoenix FAILS in several areas to deal with this. The city does excellent work landscaping, but the homeowners are so careless with our desert and get a HUGE thumbs down for their landscaping. I have several posts coming up in several weeks for both you and David of the Desert Edge. It makes me angry that these industrial areas just put in one type of tree instead of restoring areas with vegetation native to the lands. Without all these native plants, the wildlife in the area will all but disappear. Obviously the hardier critters will survive....but the biodiversity!!!! One species missing affects the entire chain! But with that said, the castle and area you are visiting is quite lovely and looks like a great way to spend with family and friends. Again thank you for the education and background! Chris

    1. Your welcome Chris

      Actually, my posts are a collection of years of experience. I have so many drafts on hold in the back office (on both sites). There are so many subjects to speak about, but that needs to be done in an interesting yet coherent manner. Science/Scientists/Researchers normally tend speak above the heads and down to what they consider nothing more than layman folks they are supposedly trying to reach. The Clergyman have been doing this for years and it's a total failure.

      I've got so much in my head, that when something comes into view no matter where I am I'll write it down on a note. It could be something I read, observe or experience by accident, but I find a way to burn it into my memory. Years ago I spent time picking the brains of older folks who had opportunity to explain in detail what life and nature use to be. Even if they weren't plant experts, if you ask the correct questions you can trigger something that they saw or experience, though they may not appreciate it's value and worth. I did that when I first moved to Anza California. Back in 1981, there were still Ranch Families living on the same homestead their family created back in the late 1800s. Most all of these old timers were in their 90s. They are gone now of course, but I learned alot about specific areas of those mountains where certain forests existed at one time. One of the fascinating things was their planting fruit trees by the edge of the Chaparral or among other trees and not having to irrigate them. That really triggered an enormous amount of thinking and reasonings that to this day I've never forgotten. When you find or hike to almost inacessable old homesteads in a wilderness area one of the striking things will often be the fruit trees that may still exist there. Why? Why is an important question to be delved into.

      Reading books by John Muir and the Dairy from Juan Bautista de Anza as he went from your Tucson to San Francisco helped me out as those early explorers actually took detailed notes of the natural world they witnessed as they traveled even if they never knew the actual value of what they were experiencing and writing about at the time or it's impact on triggering the mind's wheels of someone else way in the future.

      Stay tuned, I've got alot more on both sites. Oddly enough it was also my fascination with anomalous properties of water which drove me to research plant's underground networks and how water molecules function under the proper specific structure of pure unadulterated water.

      Thanks again for reading.



    2. Hello there!!!! It's weird to think it's Tuesday in your part of the world:) We're sitting in the Phoenix airport right now waiting for our flight. You and I think along the same lines about blogging. I have a queue of writes and drafts which give me time to research and evaluate my work. I usually end up with more questions than answers. I was listening to NPR the other day and the topic was that.....any good scientist will end up with more questions than answers on their various research.....and I think that's what I love the most about this process. My specialty is the Spanish language and that's where I'm trained and I have zero formal training on plants and animals etc other than the conferences and lectures I've been to.....and in the professional world none of it counts. I am very organic in my approach to everything out in the wild....and I have studied more material than I would have at a college or university PLUS I have lots of amazing life experiences. The best part is the personal life changing experiences all of this has brought me. And I've been given balance again...:) Hope you are well. Chris

    3. Well not all of this is true...I do hold a docent certification for desert plants and educate people on gardening here:)

    4. Chris:
      " . . any good scientist will end up with more questions than answers on their various research . . "

      That's an interesting quote, and I have an answer for it. Well it's actually in a behind the curtain backoffice Draft post on this particular blog. Perhaps I should title it "What Makes a Good Scientists". Hmmmmm?

      Actually it will be "Do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth ?"

      Don't worry about any lack of flattering titles before your name or those ambition driven acquiring of initials to attach behind your name for which to impress others. If your heart is wholesouled devoted to your love of the natural world and all that it tells us, then you are far more ahead of the game than those who are proud of flashing their credentials under everyone's nose they come in contact with.

      Do you realize that most of our planet's sad state of health has been caused by people obsessed with academic achievement and recognition ? This isn't strictly a intellectual scientific flaw as other leadership role models such as politicians, religious leaders and big business & Financial Wizards fall right in there as well. The average Joe/Jane world citizen has been trained by these leadership wannabes to follow and obey without question. It's an unconscious act really. People will generally accept and follow whoever OR whatever tickles their ears. Look at your country's up coming elections. No one will base their personal voter descision based on the facts or the truth. It starts from early childhood and grows from there. Yes of course Scientists are not totally responsible for this sad state of affairs as every humanbeing on earth bares a measure of responsibility. But they are the ones obsessed with leading the way and for that attained role they bare a heavier bloodgulit for some of the misery brought onto our world.

      The best thing you can do is offer heartfelt appreciation for what you know and come to hold dear. It also helps to continually update yourself and keep abreast of the latest research findings and how these compare to what you actually observe in the natural world. Practical applications or hands-on experience has always been my way of burning information into my memory banks and keeping it there. Judge Judy has a saying to some of the suspects in her court room. "If it really happened then you don't have to remember it". What she means is that she can detect when someone is lying because they have had to memorise some scripted text they've played over and over in their brain. The problem is the text is not a copyright of their own memory, it's been plagerized from somewhere else. If the situation actually happened as they said, they wouldn't be having so much difficulty trying to remember. If the experience was real, it would be like instantaneous Google searching where the live information was present and always available because it actually was experienced can be recalled with total clarity because nothing can erase those real life experiences that have been trult burned into memory banks.

      I've always been a hands on learner. It has never been enough for me just to read a book, research paper or journal. I have to actually experience it or at least make practical applications to test it out or it's never going to stick in my mind. Personal experience as your mind records it never goes away.

      continued below . . . "

    5. continued . . "

      Most of this world leadership including it's own Clergy have very little respect for their own Holy Book the Bible anymore, but there is one scriptural reference by wise King Solomon I've never forgotten.

      Proverbs 14:15

      "Anyone inexperienced puts faith in every word, but the shrewd one considers his steps."

      Whatever you read, including here on this blog, by all means test it out to see if it's so. And if you're trying to reach the hearts of your own readers with things dear to you about nature, do so with words of simplicity and illustrative examples common to everyday life of the average human being. Generally this is where most all Scientists are the biggest failures in their out of touch with the reality of the common folk by their use of intellectual speak which was never meant for anyone else but their own biased Peer Groups.



  2. You are absolutely right. I have felt this way since I have begun my own education. Who teaches one Spanish? An institution? No. I left the country and did my studies abroad for a long time. People in my program would do their training for 2 weeks and get their degree saying they spoke "Spanish". But if you would have those people speak a conversation....yikes! I've also done the non trad learning when it came to education....created all my own courses and chose my teachers....paid more for it....but got a lot more out of it all instead of a piece of paper. I hate the titles, but sometimes, that's all that it matters these days. In my own courses, I don't claim to know it all because things are constantly changing. Language is always changing...and every Spanish speaking country is different. Much like natural world. Because of Spanish and my studies, I have been to some of the most incredible places on this planet....but the money is tightly budgeted:) so we can do these trips to the Amazon or the Andes mountains....bla bla....but it has been an incredible ride. The best part of it all? Today I'm in cold Wisconsin searching for a hummingbird that DOESN'T come to Arizona....watching the people here vote or possibly recalling their Governor Scott Walker(highly charged event) and several other things. But there is universal truth out there about our environment....and I see it and hear it in the various countries. Some do better than others. Sometimes I am left hopeful. Sometimes I get angry like this past April when a Mexican woman threw a plastic bag into the ocean near a bird sanctuary!!! There are so many people like this....but in my own work on gardening/landscaping in Tucson(where I can make a difference), I am noticing more effort and interest with younger people about caring for our desert. Now granted this is just Tucson....but I see my city is making a difference. No lawns. Plants that will thrive here, etc etc. We fired our landscaping company when we bought our place. They didn't know what they were doing and people were spending LARGE amounts of money on.....nothing! Today I have taken control of that money and it's looking great. To be honest....it's exciting. By placing native plants back into our garden, we have seen a huge increase in the desert wildlife(which included a kingsnake) in Midtown!!! We literally have become a sanctuary for birds and other things. Of course there is a lot more work to do. More money needed...but I have a plan, and I can't wait until it's all put together. Sorry for the long write. I need my coffee. Today promises to be an exciting one with a visit to Governer Dodge State Park. And the weather is wonderful. Just the vacation we need:) Time to wake up my other half and get the day going. All my best. Chris

    1. Speaking of learning a new landuage. I've actually dropped out of my Swedish Government sponsored "Swedish For Imigrants" (SFI) classes. The hardest thing for me is from the very start they speak only Swedish and you basically are forced to guess what is meant. The problem I have with that is that it slows the process down alot. I had German in high school and all the basic fundamental were explained in my own language. Once I undertood those it was easier later on in conversation.

      I'd go months not totally understanding something and when it was finally explained to me in english or by some other student, then it clicked, but couldn't help thinking what a waste of valuable time it was not knowing something specific and causing me to be held back for so long.

      As time goes on and you advance, they start interweaving the swedish Socialist Cutlural mindset into the program. Sweden of course is held up to the poster child standard to be followed in all the is successfully Socialist. I hate politics and don't exactly care for much political ideologies from any country. I find them all failing and inept at accomplishibg anything they truly claim they stand for.

      They have a modernistic Secular Progressive outlook on live for which the promote as the most enlightened on the planet. Most of my fellow imigrant students are from Somalia and other areas of the Mideast and Africa. These folks come from close families with traditional values. I don't agree with most things Muslim, but I respect their close family ties and values, though not all. But that's up to them. Sweden hates these values. Almost from the start we have been subliminally indoctrinated into accepting various forms of what a normal family consists of. For example Swedish has an actual word/term for folks who choose to shack up together without the benefits of marriage. It's called 'Sambo'. It is not uncommon here for an average unmarried couple to have children and never ever get married and it's called a family. The subject of homosexuality is forced into the mix and Sweden supprts Gay marriage and adoption of children by them for another type of family. Whaever, i have no hatred towards Homosexual, but they shove this subject and others into the class lessons and I'm tired of it.

      One way they attempt to destroy all Muslim or other religious family values point of views is by showing films on Wednesdays of an imigrant family with the traditional parents and conflicts of their children who want to reject traditional family values. The scenes in the films contain a fair amount of pornographic material of unmarried sex scenes or other types of juvenile dilinquent behavior, which is extremely common here with no respect. The porno scenes though are uncalled for and in the internet access rooms young people everywhere will often be seen viewing non filtered porno as it is considered freedom of information rights. Complain about it and it's nothing more than water off a duck's back.

      I have met many other imigrants from other countries who have actually quit the classes for the same exact reasons of the forced porno viewing. So not only is their method an attempt to dehumanize those with traditional viewpoints, but in accord with learning Swedish they want the class to pair off into groups and discuss it all in the Swedish language. At that point i was so burnout that I could or would particpate. So I left.


      Glad that you have noticed the differences in urban wildlife diversity when planting the natives. Interestingly, these critters must always be passing or lurking through but only stop when they see familar surrounding. Most human city type habitats unknowingly encourage the type of animals which take advantage of our mistakes and succeeed. Often out in the wild their numbers are kept more in check.



  3. A lovely day with your friends, the trees and gardens look beautiful. One of my hubby favorite things to do is to see an old growth forest. I enjoyed this post and your photos. Have a wonderful day.

    1. Actually I am already kinda wanting to go back already.


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