This evening, I did my favorite ride around the perimeter of the island I live on. Though it was cool, the day was sunny and I rode straight downhill to the water to take the path that circles around Södermalm. This ride never fails to make me feel happy with where I live as I pass by picturesque canals, small harbors that are beginning to fill up with boats again, bridges, other islands, waterside parks and funky cafes. The mix is really intriguing and today I got yet another reminder of the unique parts of Söder as my usual path was blocked and I had to take a detour. I was a bit grumpy at first as the blocked area is one of the more picturesque parts of the path and the detour featured an exceptionally steep uphill climb. But as I got to the top of the hill, the detour veered off into one of the hillside garden colonies of Södra Tantolunden — small plots of land complete with charming mini houses and gardens for city dwellers. They are fantastic.
Many of these garden plots date back almost 100 years and are difficult if not impossible to buy into — one colony that I checked out had 450 people on the “interested” list. Most allotments have play-house sized cottages of one room and a porch. But there the similarities end as each plot takes on the personality of its owner: a garden of Japanese-style minimalist design might sit next to one that’s jam-packed with flowers and garden ornaments. In the summer, there are a profusion of
blooms, some plots with just vegetables, many with both: gardens of roses, azaleas, zinnias, sunflowers and snapdragons sharing space next to strawberries, carrots, artichokes, potatoes, carrots, apples and grapes. Just now, people are starting to clean up the winter debris and large piles of branches lined the path. Some crocus are blooming and the grass is only just starting to get green. It’s all a promise of what’s to come. And it’s a slice of paradise in the center of the city.