In Helsinki, the first summer month starts with blooming rhododendrons. All the people that are aware of the hidden gem of the city head to the rhododendron park. It is situated in the Haaga district. You can get there by bus 43 and 40 from the city center; it will take around 40 minutes, just get out at the "Thalianaukio" bus stop. You shall walk back in the direction where you came from and take the first turn to the right. Just walk straight until you reach some red houses, and the hidden gem is right behind them. A faster way to get to Haaga Rhododendron Park is to take any train that stops at Huopalahti station; this requires more walking but will take you only 20 minutes altogether.
What I like about this park is that it is actually a forest. While the lower part is full of rhododendron bushes, the upper one is full of forest trees: it makes a good contrast and keeps it "wild." Also, keep an eye on squirrels or even bring some nuts with you; they are used to people feeding them and will likely meet you for a tasty reward.
Haaga Rhododendron Park is a nice place to walk even outside of the blooming season. Still, as the blossom begins, it gathers many people and boasts different colors and a tasteful smell of coffee. The blooming takes place in the second and third weeks of June, but if the weather in May is warm enough, it can start a week earlier. Since this magical period is so short, you should feel lucky to catch it! Visiting the rhododendron park during the blooming time, you can count on a coffee and ice-cream served nearby.
Every year someone is trying to stay over for a picnic, but honestly, there is not much space for that. And yet, every year I see people desperately trying to fit near the walking road. I, instead, like to wander through the charming wooden paths leading to less popular corners where you can be alone even in the crowdest days. Two viewing platforms take you upper the flowering level to admire the park in its entirety. I like to walk in peace, find a few squirrels, and count how many colors of flowers there are around. For me, this is a place to take your time.
The flowers here are slightly different species and multiple colors. The whole rhododendron park started with an idea to investigate different species that can bloom in Finnish weather conditions. The project was successful, and few new species that were discovered here ended up in the other parts of the world. The person who started this project was Peter Tigerstedt, and you can admire a beautiful rhododendron species named after him: its flowers are white with small brownish dots.
It is not possible to find a day when absolutely all of the flowers would be blossoming, since even flowers of the same bush bloom at a slightly different time. Besides that, the area is divided on a northern and northern part, and the always green rhododendrons are in the southern part. The Azalea species are in the southern part too: these bright colored smaller plants start blooming earlier and finish to bloom later, but then their leaves might fall off for the winter season.
So, if you are in Helsinki in the first part of June and are looking for some hidden gems, head to the beautiful Haaga Rhododendron Park, cause you are in the right time to see the magical blossom.
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