Copenhagen garden houses

I have recently been to two parties at “koloni-haver” here in Copenhagen. This is my account of the local colour these visits provided. Also, this is where I try to describe the Scandinavian idea of tending a garden in a club.

A koloni-have (“colony garden”, a garden lot with a wee house, organized in a sort of garden club, or association) is golden in these parts. The house on it can be made into a little summer house, with bed and bathroom, and they seem a little less restricted than the Swedish ones I have seen.

[Bonus link]( with historical photos. And Danish text. Should you like to buy a Copenhagen garden lot like this, you need to shell out something like 400000-900000 DKK ($65000-$150000!) for a fully developed garden plot (aka modernized to madness, with “all mod cons”).

These lots are bunched up in huge clusters, each lot a little garden unto its own. Most lots are walled in by high vegetation, for increased privacy. Some of these garden associations — they are organized structures, you need membership — are very orderly, while others are more rustic.

Me and Luisa were invited down to our friend Mads’s “done with studies party” in his home in the garden-association-like area called Nokken, which in Luisa’s words is “kind of like Klondyke.” And it is: gold-rush look.

Mads got his hands on a small parcel of land with multiple houses on it. All of these buildings and out-buildings were jam-packed with junk. First he tried to sell off some of the junk, but as time wore him down he has become more inclined to throw it out, and get some space. The junk came in all forms: fire-fighting equipment, all kinds of wood-working tools, house-building details, old tools, rusty enamel signs, assorted nautica, garden implements, general misc materials for building… stuff. The works. And a good selection of uniform hats.

During the year, Mads invites his friends to come to a work-day out at the house. All work done at his place improves the place enormously. There was no toilet installed when he arrived, and now there is both kitchen, bread-making corner, and an indoor toilet. The most recent victory was the existence of a lawn: the ground had been made flat, the soil had been tilled, and the grass had carefully been planted and watered. Very homely.

The evening of the party, the garden contained some 40 revelers, and a coal grill was spreading barbecue smells, while a raging fire (courtesy of yours truly) spread warmth. Mads ripped open a small sack of onions and threw them into the fire. “They’ll be done in twenty minutes. Should be black on the outside. The skins keep the water compartmentalized, and the core’ll be sweet!”

I met Peter, a philosopher friend of Mads’s, who told stories of Finland, and of philosophy. (Mads, like me, is quite the theory-geek, and we’ve made a pact about reading [Bruno Latour](, some French sociology of science guy.) Peter was a great chap.

Today, me and Luisa congratulated Fiona, now 2 years old. We had been to a toy store, and bought little wooden vegetables. They came in a wooden crate, and at the store I saw a bag, which looked crotcheted. “Could you make one of those?” I asked, and Luisa caught that idea, and was done with a finished product in 2 hours. She has super-powers of execution.

The garden with the party was spacious, and held throngs of kids, and their parents. Barbecue, salad with potatoes, lager: the Scandinavian idea of summer food. I was especially proud of Fiona’s saying “Hej, Olle!”, remembering my name like that.

There was also some ruminations on an upcoming Copenhagen roleplaying game about James Ellroy’s *American Tabloid* world. Hoover’s FBI, Bay of Pigs, nasty media, and so forth. The concept of a roleplaying series as an HBO production was discussed, and liked. Fun was had.

Hm. It seems my initial notes on getting to the soul of gardening-in-a-club won’t be forthcoming in this post. ‘Til next time.

Published by olleolleolle

Olle is a programmer, enjoying sunny Malmö in Sweden.

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  1. I in on the reading Latour thing. He is the boom in sociology of science! Him and Susan L. Star

    and Pasteur rocks!

    Just look at a titel like “We have never been modern”. I love it!
    – and it’s a good text too. Wrong but good…
    Its Latour for you.

  2. Sure, you could get in; I could vouch for you. I guess I’d be responsible for you, for your actions, for your every move (with regards to Our Latour Thing). But I’d be OK with that. You are a solid theory man, Johs. Or, at least, a voracious reader. That’s good too.

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