The exoticism of trees
If you are feeling down, a nice warm hug from our good friend Douglas will cheer you up right away.
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At Arboretum Mustila, a sign wrapped around a Douglas fir urges you to hug the tree, but you won’t be able to get your arms around it.
The tree, planted by State Councillor A.F. Tigerstedt in 1908, rises to a height of almost 40 m although, at a little over a hundred years old, it is just a youngster. Such fir trees can live more than 1,000 years and rise to a height of 80 m. We don’t yet know whether the tree here will grow as big as it would have back home in North America. Not even the next few generations will find that out.
Not only rhododendrons
Arboretum Mustila is best known for its rhododendrons. When they bloom in late May-early June, the car park is full and Mustila is packed with people.
Rhododendron Valley is, however, only a small part of the 120-hectare forest park, which is largely covered in evergreen conifers. While wandering through groves of hemlock, giant thuya and Pacific silver fir, you might think you are far from Finland.
The domestic forest serves as the body of the forest park. Mustila has a spruce grove 130 years old and a pine grove that is 170. There are more than 250 species of tree growing in the park and new species are being tried all the time.
Benefit and beauty
The park’s founder, A.F. Tigerstedt, was an orologist, geologist and an enthusiast of dendrology. In the early 1900s, he and his family settled at Mustila and dedicated the rest of their lives to experimenting with species of trees.
Tigerstedt studied the cultivation of foreign conifers with a view to forestry, but he was also interested in trees from an aesthetic perspective.
Later he broadened his experiments to include deciduous trees and ornamental shrubs. Mustila’s concept emphasised enrichment of the cultural landscape. Finland is one of the regions on Earth with fewer different species of trees, even though it has a mild semi-maritime climate.
Over the decades, hundreds of very successful species have established themselves through plantings. Several of these have even proven to be too lively. Perennials and shrubs – for example European red elders and Japanese roses – are spreading rapidly.
Mustila is growing new species, but it is not yet known whether they will survive in Finland. The number of trees is not the most important factor. The purpose is to find species that people like and are beneficial to them.
Take your own seedling from the shop
Mustila’s good results have also inspired forest-owners to experiment with planting groves. In Finland, the 1930s were the golden age of dendrology, but during the war, the people had other things on their mind.
Nowadays, most of the seeds for exotic trees are sold in Finland through Mustila. Interest goes in cycles. Demand for Douglas firs is currently increasing. Larches are also gaining in popularity as they are immune to harm by engraver beetles.
The seed and plant shop at Mustila sells conifers that cannot be bought in many other places. Some people want to collect a diverse selection of trees for their forest or garden. It is therefore also possible to gain experience about species and their seeds at places other than Mustila.