Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Gardening Strategies for People Forced to Live in Socialist housing Projects

What your average Swede considers as Paradise when it comes to Housing Projects
Image - www.jm.se
In many ways the new cleaner looking designs keeps much of the areas former industrial character alive and well.  What a shame.

Göteborg Industrial Shipping District - Hissingen

This is the common modern day industrial styled housing offered to folks who want to live in Göteborg Sweden. The modern Scandinavian design is not exactly known for it's artistic beauty, warmth or old world charm. Those days are long gone. In fact as quick as they can they tear down many buildings with old world charm and erect a horribly generic rectangular cracker box to replcae it. And it's not like they don't have the room here. These homes in the top illustration and at the right here are on the former industrial water front of Göteborg's Harbour district in the area known as Hissingen. It's almost a secular socialist sin to design any building with a design which is not approved by the State. Former days where beautiful artwork and character ruled are now gone and such incorporating of such attractive aesthetics would get your architectural design disapproved and force you to go back to the drawing board.

Communal Style Soviet Era Housing
Although I must say some upgrades are an ever so slight improvement over the Soviet Era style housing projects here from the 60s & 70s. This era was called the million housing programme. Most of the Landscape design here is also sterile, but I have seen some areas where they are trying to desperately turn that around by improving older Housing Projects. Most residents ability to enjoy anything outdoors usually consists of Government mandated and created Parks. Although there are some cases where you just may be fortunate enough to have a tree planted in front of your house. And to help make you understand just how lucky you are compared to the outside world, the Swedish media here will play all of the ever recorded and produced Michael Moore Documentaries *cough - cough* Socialist Ideology Indoctrination films. Seriously, since I arrived here almost 7 years ago, these state approved Kool-Aid religious  are run continuously throughout every year. You know the films, "Bowling For Columbine" , "Fahrenheit 911" , "Sicko" and so forth. I have had Swedish friends here actually asking me "Is America really like that ?" I don't want to even go there, but country on Earth has it's own dirt if you really want to shed a glaring spotlight on it bad enough to push an agenda. This includes Sweden. 

Some of the really lucky folks may even get a 12 X 12 square foot excuse of a yard courtesy of the municipal instructions which mandate that  everyone will equally have the same species of hedge, square of grass/lawn and to help you to feel really apart of the program, you get a personal utility shed to store all of your workers party maintenance tools. Okay, Okay, there's more to this story and I'll leave it there. Not everyone here accepts this lifestyle. There are those with monet who live on the fringes of the city who live in rich neighbourhoods with huge houses and large front and backyards, but you get this in any society. Then there are many other folks here and elsewhere in Scandinavia who have creative ways of escaping this Socialist Utopia. Take a look now below.

Photo: Mine
Me and my wife's daughter visiting friends who were fortunate enough to build a small quaint dwelling in a gardening community called an Koloni-område-Trädgård (Garden Area Colony)
Photo: Mine
You can't help but walk by these small garden Cottage pathways and not admired some Gardeners hard work. 

Photo: Mine
These quaint little charming houses here are so Gingerbread Storybook looking. The rules don't allow for building monstrosities which helps keep to the pleasant peaceful character of such communal garden villages.

Photo: Mine
Of course a big part of these peaceful garden settings is to get away with friends and enjoy a good meal and great company. The man in the back with the glasses is our dear friend Roger Persson who performed our wedding ceremony. He died less than a year later from cancer. But we have the great memories of him and hope for a better future.
Previously in July, I wrote about our Trip to Silkeborg Dänemark. Here is the account where I wrote about this lovely city and it's unique authentic Mexican Restaurant called La Casita. 

Silkeborg Dänemark & a Mexican Restaurant
But I didn't reveal everything about this Danish city. They also have unique areas where folks not fortunate enough to have a house with yard and garden can get away to a small hideaway usually on the edges of forested areas like Sweden. It's their own version of Koloni-Område Trädgård. Take a look.
Photo: Mine
This was our bed and breakfast house in Silkeborg. But in front of it was one of these unique community gardens.
Photo: Mine
Most of these small properties were separated by Hedges. But you could definitely tell who the regulars were by the well manicured plots of their gardening habitats.

Photo: Mine
These truly are real life escapes for folks who are fortunate enough to obtain one of these places. Of course there are rules that go along with owning one of these. You cannot live in these places all year long. I believe it's only 9 months out of the year. But you can tell by the gardens who take full advantage and who haven't.

Photo: Mine

This older gentleman in the photo at right was a real funny character. I wanted to take a photograph of  his abundant Coral Bells which were huge. But he wouldn't let me photograph them unless I agreed to take his picture so that folks would know who the gardener was. At least he had some currants for harvest this year, though not as abundant and plump as in times past. Here in Göteborg our summer has been so bad there are really no fruits at all this season. But it's sadly not just in folk's gardens, but even out in the wild in Nature. I have not found any currants, blueberries or any other fruit for even the wildlife use. The foliage of forest understory plants is also badly damaged this year and I'm suspecting it is some type of acid rain from Germany and Poland's industrial infrastructure which is usually the source of the pollution here.

Photo: Mine
This is yet another favourite of most all Northern and Central European Gardeners, the European Forest Elderberry which grows in the gardens as well as the wild. People are crazy here about the Elderberry wine, juice and jams or jellies they can create from this shrub-like tree's flowers and excessive fruit production. But oddly enough you won't get hardly a single modern day person in the southwestern United States to give the local native Mexican Elderberry which grows abundantly in the wild a second look. It is a part of the native Chaparral Plant Community which is quite often looked down on by locals there. Native Americans and early white pioneers used it extensively. But somewhere along the way as modern food production and convenience took over, people gave up on these kinds of foods.

Photo: Mine
We ended up taking a long forest walk beyond the Community Gardens which in it's own way had many interesting scenes and surprises. 
Photo: Mine
We have these similar large Dandelion looking plants up in Anza California around the fringes of the woods.  Like the springtime ones, these larger summer seed balls are fun to watch the little parachutes do their flight to elsewhere when blown.
Photo: Mine
Someone erected this pine pole with a dozen or so Bird Houses along the forest pathway. Didn't see any birds, but did find nesting material indicating they had been used.

Photo: Mine
Up above the pathway we heard all this noise and so found some short stairs leading up to this sports field. Kids playing Socker (Fußball) - Oh well, they may not be interested in gardening as the adults, but at least they aren't stuck inside connected to all manner of electronic devices. Even in lousy weather these kids over here will be out playing this game. What is it about kids and their immunity to bad weather ?

Tripadvisor - Lillehammer Ski-jump
Well, I don't live in any Soviet Era Housing Project. We live in a different type of colony of sorts with rules and regulations. That only makes sense to a degree as it keeps the places nice, neat looking and orderly. Every few months or so we all have community yard duties to clean up and repair the places on the outside. Often several large Freight Cargo Container Bins are brought for people to get rid of large objects they no longer wish to have and other throwaways. This colony and it's buildings may look familiar to some folks if you've watched the Winter Olympics a couple of decades ago. These particular houses we live in now were purchased after the Winter Olympics as they were used as housing for the Skiers and other  Athletes. The location was in Lilehammer Norway back in 1994 when that country hosted the winter games. Now we live in them and here is what our housing & neighbourhood looks like.

Photo: Mine
This is what our Ginger Bread House neighborhood looks like. Notice the charm, character and quaint gardens ? Basically these are all duplexes, but very roomy and with good size yards. Each one has it's own storage shade at the frony entrance. All are two story.

Photo: Mine
Gardening here is okay I guess. Although you are incredibly limited as to what you can grow as far as fruits and vegtables. Climate is mainly cold or cool nd very often continuously wet like Britain. Most of these things have to be imported. Sometimes things can get a bit weedy , overgrown and out of control. But of course massive amounts of constant on and off rain will do that to a yard. I suppose that's why I miss a Mediterranean Styled Native Gardening so much more. Everything can be engineered to be as neat as a pin. But I supposed every situation can be that way if you put forth a little effort.


  1. Don't know how I missed this one but I like the personal touches and stories. It's nice to hear about your family and personal experiences with people of your past....and especially the quircky gardener. Touching that you mention your friend who passed from cancer. The pic of you all in that garden looks quite lovely. Have a good weekend. I'm ready to get out into some more of those grasslands tomorrow....I'm just going to try and avoid the chigger bites!


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