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  • Photographer: Monika Manowska

Gardens tour along the shores of lake Vänern

Imagine a whole day filled with inspiring gardens and charming delights. Skaraborg boasts an abundance of beautiful gardens. Head out on a road trip through this summer landscape. We’ll guide you around an array of horticultural gems – from resplendent garden cafés and garden centres to kitchen gardens and magnificent parks.

Mariestad – Kinnekulle – Lidköping 

From grand 19th-century gardens to charming, little nurseries

We begin our road trip in central Mariestad by the River Tidan. Extending across both sides of the river is University Park with Marieholm island residence >>. The island is home to the grand residence where the county governor used to live. Here you will find planting inspired by late 19th-century flower gardens. Stroll around this extensive park with its picturesque setting frequented by tourists, garden enthusiasts, pre-school children and students studying landscape architecture and traditional building and garden crafts. A great location where everyone is welcome. 

 

We travel on and eventually come to a small glade in the forest, several kilometres south of Mariestad. Here you will find Lisas trädgård (Lisa’s Garden) >>. A little nursery with a big range, most of it grown on site. Always using KRAV-labelled compost and no spraying of pesticides. Here you will find everything from vegetables and herbs to flowering edible perennials and a huge variety of different tomato plants (around 90!). A babbling brook flows through the beds of perennials, guiding the way to the large greenhouse that takes pride of place in the garden. You can take a seat in the greenhouse to enjoy your picnic or view occasional displays of local handicrafts. 

Gorgeous gardens on the flowering mountain

We approach the flowering mountain of Kinnekulle and our next stop on this gardens tour , Christians trädgård (Christian’s Garden) >>. At Hönsätersvägen 13 in Hällekis you will find a private show garden that stands out from the crowd. You will be greeted by an imaginative and rural locale that is constantly changing character. The garden is divided into three: a plot for growing vegetables, a wild area and an area with formal flower beds. You can sit and enjoy a delicious cup of coffee, purchase handicraft items and, of course, plants. 


From the small community of Hällekis, it’s a mere stone’s throw to our next stop, Hellekis Manor >>. The historic gardens at Hellekis Manor were mentioned by Carl Linnaeus on his Wästgötaresa (expedition to Västergötland) in 1746. You can stroll in the elegant park among unusual broad-leaved trees and magnificent flower beds. Admire the borders of perennials and the manor’s incredibly beautiful rose garden, which was established back in 1936, and then take a well-earned break in the garden café. Hellekis Trädgårdscafé och Kök (Hellekis Garden Café & Restaurant) >> is located in the manor’s old orangery. Take a seat under the old grape vines in the orangery or summerhouse, or choose a table out in the beautiful, well-tended garden. 

From Hällekis, we continue along the winding little roads to the western side of Kinnekulle. In a picturesque and charming old stone building you will find the seasonal (summer) handicraft store Handens Hus >>, also offering sales of antiques and a farm café. The store focuses on textile handicrafts, with rugs, blankets, tablecloths, linen products and towels from the on-site weaving studio alongside products from selected other Swedish producers.

You can enjoy delicious coffee and home-made cakes in their outdoor dining area with panoramic views of the deep-blue waters of Lake Vänern. Handens Hus also offers sales of antiques, rustic items and a range of garden pots and metalwork products in a garden setting to provide inspiration for your own garden. 

We now leave Kinnekulle and head for central Lidköping. It’s time to call at Vänerblommor >>. This lifestyle store, housed in stylish premises, offers chance to browse a hand-picked range of vintage and interior design items, cut flowers, plants and garden products. In the spring and summer season, Vänerblommor partners with local growers. 

Travelling on, we will shortly be making our way out to beautiful Kållandsö island, but before that we make a short detour to a spot well worth the trip. Along road 44, just west of Lidköping, is a popular stop among berry-loving summer visitors. Råda Bär >> offers PYO strawberries. The little farm shop, the strawberry fields and the play area make Råda Bär a popular escape from the summer traffic that you won’t want to miss. 

 

On an 18th-century farm at the heart of Kållandsö island, just a stone’s throw from Läckö Castle, you will find Ekebo Gård >>. It is home to Sara and Niklas and their children, and together they run an organic farm and cottage rental business. The farm has an apple orchard with 120 trees and you can enjoy a unique experience as part of the west Swedish “Meet the locals” concept, basically allowing visitors to gain a fun and slightly different insight into a location through the eyes of locals.

If you like gardens, history, growing and agriculture, animals and life in the country, then you are sure to enjoy a visit to Sara and Niklas’ family farm. If visiting the farm in summer, you can enjoy fika and a friendly chat in the garden, while anyone visiting around harvest time in September-October will have the chance to help with making apple juice in the old wagon shed. And, of course, you get to take some apple juice home with you.

Not far from Ekebo Gård is our next stop on Kållandsö island. In a waterside setting, just a few kilometres south of Läckö Castle, is Läckö Strand >>. In a shady and tranquil setting, overlooking the water and backed by forest, you will find cottage accommodation, camping, a lifestyle store and a cosy café. You can savour home-made coffee and cakes with a focus on local produce and discover some real gems to enhance your home from a range including garden items, homewares, children’s clothing and great stuff for children’s rooms.

 

We explore these idyllic surroundings further as we head for the white gem of Kållandsö island: the 13th-century baroque-style Läckö Castle. This historic setting offers a café, restaurant, accommodation, guided castle tours, opera performances and much more. Framed by high, white stone walls, the Walled Castle Garden >> extends over several levels to the right of the castle. It’s an oasis where you can forget both time and space. Stroll among the organic crops, all harvested and taken direct to be used by the on-site catering team. You surely can’t get more locally grown than that? You may perhaps also meet one of the expert gardening team, under the guidance of Simon Irvine, involved with digging, planting, composting, nurturing and growing. Nothing is left to chance in this garden.  

On the castle embankment stands Café Stallet >>, listed in Sweden’s White Guide. This small outer building between the castle and the beach opens every season for visitors to enjoy everything from home-made bread and wonderfully delicious cakes and pastries to light meals, ice creams and freshly brewed coffee. 

You will find many wonderful places to visit on this Gardens Tour – Along the Shores of Lake Vänern. Why not set aside a full day for some garden inspiration and visit all of these locations in one day? Or really make the most of each location on individual outings. See you in the garden!

Map to the garden tour