Mystical Magical Morning

I was driving today my usual route from Porvoo towards Saari manor in Mäntsälä in the morning. While sitting there behind the wheel I couldn't help but wonder the beauty of that early morning moment in autumn. It was about 07:10am and the sight was breathtaking. I just had to stop, open the window and breath that clean and crispy air for a moment.

There is something mystical with autumn haze as it hangs there above the fields - surrounding those islands of trees and bushes and floating slowly without any defined destination. The ground, the pale haze, the dark forest and the sky colored by rising sun and morning clouds create phenomenal layers to the landscape. This landscape is an embodiment of pure beauty of nature.

And as if this wasn't enough to make one feel amazed there are also these autumn colors. First it only looks like a mixture of yellow and brown in different shades but as the sun rises higher the truth is gradually revealed. Tree tops blaze like fire with all those tones of red and orange. The forest which at first seems just dark in color is actually full of greens, blues, browns and yellows. The shoulders of the road landing from the forest towards the ditch are like patch works of lichens, mosses and twigs. Silvery grey, velvety green and spicy brown - sophisticated yet wild. If looked carefully one can even spot some brightly colored mushroom caps here and there. One of them red with white dots. The fields are striped after harvest and morning sun makes them shine like gold and silver as the beans touch the dew which have landed on them during the very early hours of dawn. White sheep stand quietly on a meadow and black crows sit on electric lines above them observing every move.

The air is bright and getting brighter every second. This is a short moment and then it is gone. Morning has broken and it is time for the first steps of a new day. There is taste of autumn on my lips and scent of purity around in the air. And my journey continues.

Morning has broken, like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for the springing fresh from the word

Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall, on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where his feet pass

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God's recreation of the new day
(lyrics by Eleanor Farjeon)

- Mika -


A view

Today I give you
A view
Should I say
The view
Through an arch
From a side terrace
To the garden
There at Saari manor

- Mika -



And today
Ladies and gentlemen
I give you
The beautiful
The hypnotic
Our white beauty
The ultimate flower
(Flora Ultimatum / my own definition)

- Mika -


Hibiscus rosa-sinensis

Ladies and gentlemen
Just because it is Monday
And I feel good
I give you
The marvelous
The magical
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis
In burning red bloom

She spent the summer
In our garden
And now she came back in
To entertain us

- Mika -



Here is the list of those annual plants I need to learn at college for the first exam. In the test we are shown 30 plants - either a live plant or a picture. One should be able to identify them by Finnish names and to pass the test one should get 75% correct.

I have highlighted plants with pink color if I have had the plant in my own garden here at Villa Hattarala and green if I want to try growing one. I also added a link to each plant - just click the running number in front of the name to check the link. In some cases the link shows a nearby species or cultivated variety of the plant.

Composing this list was a good exercise for Tuesday's test. Wish me luck, please.

- Mika -


1 Tarhasinisarja (Agapanthus praecox)
2 Sinitähtönen (Ageratum houstonianum)
3 Tarhasalkoruusu (Alcea rosea)
4 Punarevonhäntä (Amaranthus caudatus)
5 Ryhmäleijonankita (Antirrhinum majus Nanum -ryhmä)
6 Marketta, pensaspäivänkakkara (Argyranthenum frutescens)
7 Kesäsypressi (Bassia scoparia (Kochia scoparia))
8 Pauliinabegonia (Begonia Elatior-ryhmä)
9 Mukulabegonia (Begonia Tuberhybrida -ryhmä)
10 Neitobegonia (karjalanneito) (Begonia Tuberhybrida -Pendula-ryhmä)
11 Kesäbegonia (Begonia Semperflorens -ryhmä)
12 Pitsikaulus (Brachycome multifida)
13 Koristekaali (Brassica oleracea Sabellica-ryhmä)
14 Kanna (Canna x generalis)
15 Pikkupetunia (Calibrachoa)
16 Kiinanasteri (Callistephus chinensis)
17 Kukontöyhtö (Celosia argentea Plumosa-ryhmä)
18 Hämähäkkikukka (Cleome hassleriana)
19 Punakosmos(kukka) (Cosmos bipinnatus)
20 Tarhadaalia (Dahlia x hortensis)
21 Kesäneilikka, kiinanneilikka (Dianthus chinensis)
22 Hopeavitja, hopeaputous (Dichondra argentea)
23 (Pallero)verenpisara (Fuchsia Hybrida-ryhmä)
24 Kyynelverenpisara (Fuchsia Triphylla-ryhmä)
25 Kirjomaahumala (Glechoma hederacea 'Variegata')
26 Muratti (Hedera helix)
27 Heliotrooppi (Heliotropium arborescens)
28 Hopeakäpälä (Helichrysum petiolare)
29 Peikonkakkara (Mauranthemum paludosum)
30 Sateenkaaribalsami, uudenguineanliisa (Impatiens hawkeri (ja New Guinea-hybr.))
31 Ahkeraliisa (Impatiens walleriana)
32 Kirjotulikruunu (Lantana camara)
33 Sinilobelia (Lobelia erinus Compacta-ryhmä)
34 Riippalobelia (Lobelia erinus Pendula-ryhmä)
35 Koristetupakka (Nicotiana Sanderae-ryhmä)
36 Narsissitupakka (Nicotiana sylvestris)
37 Riippapelargoni (Pelargonium peltatum)
38 (Koti)pelargoni (Pelargonium Zonale-ryhmä)
39 Tarhapetunia (Petunia x hybrida)
40 Riippapetunia (Petunia pendula-ryhmä esim. Surfinia-lajikkeet)
41 Kesäleimu (Phlox drummondii)
42 Risiini (Ricinus communis)
43 Kesäpäivänhattu (Rudbeckia hirta var.pulcherrima)
44 Härmesalvia (Salvia farinacea)
45 Tulisalvia (Salvia splendens)
46 Nyhähopeayrtti (Santolina chamaecyparissus)
47 Siniviuhka (Scaevola aemula)
48 Hopeavillakko (Senecio cineraria, 'Silberzweig'-liuskalehtinen, 'New Look'-ehytlehtinen)
49 Isokirjopeippi (Solenostemon scutellarioides)
50 Lumihiutale (Sutera cordata 'Coba')
51 Isosamettikukka (Tagetes erecta)
52 Ryhmäsamettikukka (Tagetes patula)
53 Kääpiösamettikukka (Tagetes tenuifolia)
54 Torenia (Torenia fournieri)
55 Pensaskrassi (Tropaeolum majus nanum)
56 Tarhaverbena (Verbena x hybrida)
57 Tarhaorvokki (Viola wittrockiana -hybr)
58 Oppineittenkukka, Tsinnia (Zinnia)


59 Isopantaheinä (Setaria macrostachys)
60 Hentohöyhenheinä (Stipa tenuissima)


61 Kelloköynnös (Cobaea scandens)
62 Koristekurpitsa (Cucurbita pepo)
63 Koruköynnös (Eccremocarpus scaber)
64 Japaninhumala (Humulus japonicus)
65 Päivänsini (Ipomoea tricolor)
66 Tuoksuherne (Lathyrus odoratus)
67 Ruusupapu (Phaseolus coccineus)
68 Keijunmekko (Rhodochiton atrosanguineus)
69 Mustasilmäsusanna (Thunbergia alata)
70 Köynnöskrassi (Tropaeolum majus)


71 Kehäkukka (Calendula officinalis)
72 Isosilkkikukka (Clarkia amoena)
73 Ruiskaunokki (Centaurea cyanus)
74 Kirjosuvikakkara (Glebionis carinatum)
75 Isoauringonkukka (Helianthus annuus)
76 Kaliforniantuliunikko (Escholzia californica)
77 Kesämalvikki (Lavatera trimestris)
78 Punapellava (Linum grandiflorum)
79 Kuitupellava (Linum usitatissimum)
80 Maloppi (Malope trifida)
81 Tarhaneito (Nigella damascena)
82 Unikko (Papaver)


83 Isoräpelö (Briza maxima)
84 Partaohra (Hordeum jubatum)
85 Jänönhäntä (Lagurus ovatus)

Saari Manor

Thursday September 1st was the day.  Instead of driving to Helsinki to start a normal workday as a window dresser I turned my face northwest from Porvoo and drove to Saari Manor in Mäntsälä. It was time to start my study leave - I will spend next two years of my life studying gardening. That Thursday I felt excited, confused and a bit scared. This was going to be the biggest change in my life ever. After all, the truth is that 25 years had past since I last was a student and couldn't really imagine how it will be nowadays. At the age of 45 this kind of changes are not so obvious any more. One has his "secure life" with a nice job and regular incomes. One has a family and home to take care of. One has house loan to be paid... But I wasn't so scared I would back off and miss this chance. It was now or never!

And today, after these couple of first weeks as a gardening student I need to say I made the right choice. I think I even used the word "jackpot" describing my feelings after the first day at Saari.

Saari Manor in Mäntsälä is part of Keuda Vocational College. Agriculture, Horticulture and Floristry units of the college are all located at Saari. The history of the Manor goes all the way to 16th century. The main building was built in 1930 and was drawn by architect Jarl Eklund. This white, classic style building with some Italian influences is one of the most remarkable manors of it's era. The formal garden surrounding the main building was designed by Paul Olsson and has typical formal garden elements such as fountain and symmetric layout. Not bad at all as a place to carry out studies!

Gardening training is part of college's natural resources and the environment program . The group in which I am studying is especially for adults who (for different reasons) want to learn a new profession or complete their earlier studies / skills. Studies in this adult group are based on multiform learning. This means the studies consist different periods; theory and practice studies with the group at the college (contact teaching), individual remote studies at home including theory and special assignments (distance learning) and finally work practice in a company representing gardening branch. All these three forms of studies prepare students for competence tests where each student is evaluated based on his/hers professional skills. All this will take 2 years after which we can call ourselves gardeners - well, only in theory as it will take several years to really learn the profession and gain enough experience to become an expert as a gardener.

There is 9 people in our group at Saari. Six women and three men. Our age varies between 25 to 50 and our backgrounds are rather different. It seems we are all really excited about the studies and this makes our team spirit very good. I like the whole college a lot and I am also extremely happy for my new "family" (if any of you is reading this: 'Thank you for being my fellow student').

So far we have had some basic education (math, Finnish...), park and green area maintenance practices, botany and growth factor education. Next Tuesday is our first botany exam. We've been learning to identify about 85 annual (seasonal) plants with their Finnish names and if one wants to take a step further also the scientific names. Officially these scientific names are tested next autumn. In botany we also started to learn how to identify woody plants (trees, bushes etc) and this I find more challenging as one should be able to name them with scientific names.

Should I put my nose on the botany book now and learn some annual plants? Maybe I should.

Until next time!

- Mika -


Autumn time

My life has been really busy lately and as you probably have noticed I haven't had time to share anything with you. And I'm sorry for this. But this is the only thing I'm sorry for. You know, I have had the best autumn ever! I feel happy, I feel strong, I have visions of a bright future and I have this strong feeling I'm on the right track.

So what has caused all these feelings and thoughts (no, I didn't take any happiness pills)?

First came the time for harvest. Our "famous" plum jam with ginger and lemon. Juices with berries and fruits from the garden of Villa Hattarala. Mushrooms from the green, relaxing forests of Porvoo region. Apple jam. Apple pie... The cellar is well equipped for the winter. And who knows, maybe there is also something to take as a present when visiting friends.

Red juice in old wine bottles
Did you go to forest this year? OMG! If you didn't, please, but on your boots and do it now! It's not too late to do so. I must have been a baby when my father took me with him for the very first time to pick up mushrooms. Since then - for the last 45 years - picking up mushrooms have been a tradition in my life during autumn season. And what a season it has been this year. The forest is full of them. These delicious wonders of nature. And you can even choose what to pick up. The whole range is there. Porcinis, black chanterelles, funnel chanterelles, northern milk-caps... You just name it and the forest will deliver it.

Black chantarelles
Do not pick up these - though they look lovely
I have mainly dried the ones I found and the milk-caps I salted. Antti already made a creamy porcini pasta one day last week and it was SO good. And I would like to make porcini soup soon by the recipe of my grandmother.
The strong aroma of dried porcinis remind me of my childhood and my father. I remember how he dried porcinis in our sauna and how the aroma filled our house. If I close my eyes I can still see how porcini slices were wired on a thread and hanged there in a dark sauna. I need to thank him for teaching me how to pick and prepare mushrooms. Thank you dad! And tomorrow, if there is not too much rain, I will take Miss E and Mr P with me and drive to a forest nearby to get some funnels - there should be loads of them.

Salted milk-caps and dried porcinis
But this is not all... After all this harvest came the school and studies to become a gardener. How has it been you might ask. I'll get back to it tomorrow. But I can give you a hint - fatally totally SUPER!

- Mika -