UU : Linnaeus Garden : History
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The Linnaeus Garden


The Linnaeus Garden is a reconstruction of Uppsala University Botanical Garden the way it looked during Linnaeus´ days.

The Uppsala University Botanical Garden is the oldest botanical garden in Sweden. It was first laid out in 1655 by Olof Rudbeck the elder, professor of medicine. The picture to the right is from the book "Atlantica" written by Olof Rudbeck in 1679. At the end of the century the garden housed more than 1 800 species, many of which were cultivated for the first time in Sweden. A huge fire in 1702 destroyed large parts of the garden and it was left unattended for a period of 40 years.

In 1741, Carl Linnaeus´ was appointed professor of medicine and became responsible for the garden. The cultivated area was increased and a new and larger orangery was built. The designs were drawn by the architect Carl Hårlemann, but it was through the influence of Linnaeus that the garden developed into one of the foremost of its time.

The garden played an essential role for Linnaeus as scientist and teacher. This is where he made scientific observations and taught his students. Each part of the garden reflects his ideas and each plant was carefully chosen to serve an educational purpose. Throughout the garden, the Linnaeus´ sexual system is illustrated as well as his interest in phenology (the seasonal and daily changes in nature), the use of indigenous and exotic plants in medicine and dietics. The garden is a living complement to his writings.

The Linnaeus Garden is located close to the river Fyrisån. In Linnaeus´ days the area was swampy and not very well suited for a garden. In addition, by the end of the 17th century the garden had become to small for its purpose. In 1787, Carl Peter Thunberg, Linnaeus´ disciple and successor, persuaded King Gustaf III to donate the Uppsala castle garden to the university so that it could be used as a botanical garden. In 1807, all plants and animals had been moved to the new location and the new botanical garden was inaugurated on May 21th, 100 years after the birth of Linnaeus.

The old garden was in a state of neglect for more than 100 years, until 1917, when the Swedish Linnaeus Society began reconstructing Linnaeus´ garden. This was possible thanks to Linnaeus´ detailed plant lists and garden maps. The old residence has been turned into a museum and is still managed by the Linnaeus Society. The responsibility for the garden has been handed over to Uppsala University.