The development of lawns and gardens
Brinkhall manor lies on the island of Kakskerta in Turku, between the island’s northern shore and lake Kakskerranjärvi. Its domains, extending today to 34 hectares, include one of Finland’s oldest English parks and a historic orchard. Although Kakskerta’s granite church is relatively new – dating back only to the 18th century – this is one of Finland’s oldest cultural landscapes, as may clearly be inferred from the vegetation and landscape.
In the late 18th century, the English garden of Brinkhall, as indeed its sisters in Raadelma in Piikkiö near Turku and Monrepos in Viipuri (Vyborg, today in Russia), were the first of their kind in Finland. Designed by a German master gardener very much in the latest fashion of that day, the Brinkhall garden was created by its owner Gabriel von Bonsdorff. Before Bonsdorff’s park, there was a symmetrical garden on the spot from the days of Hans Eriksson, who founded the estate in the mid 16th century.
The present orchard lies on the same spot and in the same square pattern as the gardens created in the days of Gabriel von Bonsdorff and his predecessors. The cultivated areas created during the Ramberg family era (1926-68) – including over 5,000 apple trees – have later been reduced substantially. In the fields where the apple trees once grew, other crops are now harvested, and the garden is approximately as large as it was in the 18th century. Today, there around fifty old apple trees on the estate.
Bonsdorff was also one of the founders of Finska hushållningssällskapet agricultural society. Thus, it was natural that he also maintained important areas of cultivation on his own domains. A central function in the garden was the cultivation of seeds for domestic herbs. Bonsdorff also wrote a domestic-garden handbook to be given to people who bought seeds from his garden. The 32-page opus recommends the cultivation of various beneficial plants and the use of them in cooking and medicine. The handbook clearly reflects Bonsdorff’s background as a natural scientist and doctor – as indeed his fascination with the utilitarian ideas of the Enlightenment.
Since 2003, the Finnish Cultural Heritage Foundation has been in charge of the park and garden of the estate and its surrounding woods, fields and meadows. While parts of the forest land are kept as park woods, others will be left in a natural state. Old cultural infrastructures, such as overgrown paved paths and stone fences, have been cleared.
Brinkhall’s park is open to the public all year round. Those visiting it are, however, kindly requested to pay regard both to wildlife and to other visitors possibly having a meeting on the premises – and to avoid walking off the garden paths and trails. The fruits of trees and bushes on Brinkhall – as indeed the herbs and plants in the area – are the property of the estate only.