Welcome to Villa Emilia (My Woodland Garden), a photography blog with a slant towards gardening and nature. An amateur gardener and photographer, I hope to share beautiful moments with you through pictures. Let me know if you like them!

Thank you for your visit.


Kevätpuutarha - Spring Garden 2015, part 1

The annual Spring Fair was held at the Messukeskus Exhibition & Convention Centre in Helsinki from Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th. I was able to visit the Fair only on Saturday, which was probably the most crowded day. It would have been lovely to have more time at disposal, because there were many interesting displays and booths. (I did miss some, unfortunately...)

As you all know, taking photos in crowded locations is not easy. I will share the best shots I got without invading anyone's privacy.  In this post, there are photos of the four display gardens, planned for different kinds of families and locations by the garden designer and horticulturist Eva Wuite.

1. A little bit surprisingly, "the modern garden" was also my favourite, as it was of many others. It could be the garden of an urban couple that appreciates minimalist design.

A Quercus palustris, swamp Spanish oak, grown as espalier. It's said to be one of the most commonly used landscaping oaks due to its ease of transplant, relatively fast growth, and pollution tolerance. The word espalier brought to my mind the Italian word spalliera and the vine training. This image makes me remember some interesting views in Southern Italy, where the practice of training vines a tendone  is used.

2. In a garden for a family with small children, there are flower beds and a safe playground. There were indeed kids enjoying the playing area of this garden...

There were cheerful splashes of colour:

3. A garden is beautiful when it is in harmony with its surroundings and the architecture of the house. One of the gardens was for a country house, perhaps a log cabin, surrounded by coniferous woodland. Reflecting the busy lifestyle of its owners, this garden is very easy to maintain.

4. The fourth garden could belong to a DIY family that lives in a traditional, wooden house, loves the romantic atmosphere of a cottage garden and enjoys growing herbs and vegetables:

That's all for now. In the next post there will be... more flowers!

March in photos

March is soon over and it's time to create a month collage 
and link it up to Susanna's March collages.

I decided to participate with this post also in this week's Mosaic Monday,
even though there is a small (frosty) collage also in my previous post.

Thank you, Judith, for hosting Mosaic Monday!

Happy new week to everybody!


Happy weekend!

When I woke up this morning, the temperature was -18 °C (-0.4 °F).

I went out to take some fun photos of these blocks of snow, removed from the lawn next to the house...

... when I noticed there were also other interesting things to see.

Seeing our spring views, you can understand why this weekend's garden show is held indoors  - even though Helsinki is located in southern Finland, on the shore of the Baltic See. :)

This is the final week of Sunlit Sunday

Thank you so much, Karen, for hosting this lovely link party!

I will catch up with your posts as soon as I can!

Happy Sunday!

Happy spring!


Lisää haastevastauksia - Five on Friday

Hello to all! Today I'm joining


and sharing with you five things, again mainly about gardening.  Hello, Sametti Hortensia at Pikkuinen puutarhani! Here are my answers to your questions. :)

Sametti Hortensialla oli Pikkuinen puutarhani -blogissaan mukavia puutarhakysymyksiä, joihin vihdoinkin ehdin vastaamaan.

1. Minkä kasvin tahtoisit hankkia ensi kesäksi puutarhaasi/parvekkeellesi?

Olenkin jo kertonut, että tänä keväänä kylvettiin muun muassa laventelia. Kylvöohjeiden perusteella arvelin, että itäminen saattaisi viedä aikaa, mutta nämä itivätkin muutamassa päivässä. Toivottavasti taimista voi pian ottaa hienoja kuvia  -  ja toivottavasti tulevina kesinä on paljon kukkia kuivattavaksi tuoksupusseja varten... (Siemenet: Exotic Garden)

1. New plants for the summer 2015? Perhaps the most exciting one is the lavender.
I adore it - who wouldn't? My babies are 3 - 4 cm tall now. ♥

2. Lempipuusi? Kevyet perustelut?

Tietysti rakastan kuusia ja koivuja, mutta vaahterat ovat aina kiehtoneet kauniiden lehtiensä ja upeiden syysväriensä ansiosta. Minulla ei ollut kuvia puista, joten kuvitukseksi pääsi nyt japaninvaahtera kahden muun lempipensaani kanssa.

2. My favourite tree? I love them all, but I have always found maples
(not native to these areas) fascinating because 
of their beautiful leaves and the stunning autumn foliage.
I noticed I don't have good photos of  maple trees:
Here a Japanese maple poses with two other favourite shrubs of mine.

3. Onko sinulla jokin unelma joka on mahdollista toteuttaa?

Pihapiirissämme on paljon tällaista metsikköä, johon pikkuhiljaa istuttelen erilaisia alppiruusuja, saniaisia, kurjenpolvia, ketunleipiä...  Siitä tulee vielä joskus metsäpuutarha.

3. My dream... is to transform a part of the surrounding woodland
into a woodland garden with rhododendrons, ferns, geraniums, oxalis, etc.

4. Lempiherkkusi?

Pidän melkein kaikesta! :) On ihanaa herkutella tummalla suklaalla tai itsetehdyllä jäätelöllä, mutta kaikkein paras olo ja mieli tulee vihannesten ja hedelmien syönnistä.

4. My favourite dish/treat? You already know I love dark chocolate 
and Italian ice cream, but the biggest happiness comes from eating fruit and vegetables.

5. Suosikkipuutarhakirjasi? Ja suosikkipuutarhalehtesi?

Jos kaikkien ihanien puutarhakirjojen joukosta pitäisi valita vain yksi, se varmaan olisi RHS:n kaikenkattava tietopaketti.

Puutarhalehdistä on suosikkini edelleen italialainen "Gardenia", jossa on hyödyllistä käytännön tietoa, kaunis layout ja artikkeleita todellisista unelmien puutarhoista. Viimeisimmät numerot eivät ole kuitenkaan mielestäni olleet enää yhtä hienoja kuin aiemmin...  Olen esitellyt lehteä hieman tässä postauksessa. Muistan lehdessä ilmestyneen ainakin yhden Suomea koskevan artikkelin; täytyykin koettaa etsiä se.

Kuvan numero on vuodelta 2007. Anglofiilinä olin innoissani kansikuvajutusta, vaikka sen tehtävänä lieneekin ollut (myös) edistää HKK:n kirjan The Elements of Organic Gardening myyntiä.  Kirja on muuten kaunis ja mielenkiintoinen. :)

5. My favourite gardening book... doesn't need presentations.
My favourite horticultural magazine remains to this day the Italian "Gardenia",

 even though in my opinion it's no longer quite what it used to be. 
The cover story of the April 2007 issue, above, was very interesting.
I confess - I do agree with HRH about many things! :)

Thank you for reading!
Have a good weekend!

Oikein mukavaa viikonloppua kaikille!


Taking photos

Now the temperatures are what they should be in March, clearly below zero centigrade at night and pleasantly warm during the day.  The days are very bright, and photographywise the lighting is almost too harsh, at least to my taste. I love mornings and evenings, and yes, summer nights, too. In late winter, I find evenings especially magical. Do you know how the snow smells when its surface is melting during the day and refreezing at night?

In the morning photo below, the blue background is unfocused snow, not the sky:

Pussy willows grow close to the water.

"Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur..."

Since my recent, daylight photos are a little bit boring, I edited them for my mosaic. :) You can see I have already found some snowless spots near our home, especially under the trees!

The "mosaic tiles" are rather small, and that's why I wanted to add two of my favourite ones a little bit bigger:

Linking up with Judith


Have a lovely week!

PS Two weeks from today, I probably will not be able to participate in Mosaic Monday. The days start to be more hectic, when spring advances, and during the weekend I will visit our capital city.

The annual Spring Fair will be held at the Messukeskus Exhibition & Convention Centre in Helsinki from Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th March. What interests me most is of course the Spring Garden Fair, but there will be areas dedicated also to home-building and renovating, second homes, interior decoration, as well as organic and locally produced food.  The displays are, unfortunately, arranged indoors (the climate!), but I will try to take as good pictures as I possibly can and to prepare some nice posts in the following week.

Source: Messukeskus Mediabank



Wednesday evening the sun came finally out and, so happy, I ran outside to enjoy its warm rays and to try to take some photos. Here are five of them:

You may have noticed that I enjoy taking photos of lingonberries. They look so sprightly throughout the year:

Our blueberries (bilberries) have deciduous leaves. In these photos you can see some spruce-cone debris scattered by the squirrels.

The sun is already going down...

I love taking counter-light photos:

Joining Amy


for Friday Greens

Sunlit Sunday


Karen's My Little Home and Garden

Happy Sunday!



'Mount Tacoma', the first of our own tulips this year... 

Most pelargoniums have wintered well. Often the most beautiful and special cultivars are the most difficult to overwinter successfully. This one looks rather happy... in fact its label says "BR", which stands for a "Boring Red". :)

You wouldn't believe me if I tried to count how many grey, snowy, sleety, rainy, slushy days we have had in the past weeks and months!

The catkins of the pussy willows look like wet cats...

... and probably this squirrel was wet, too.

Not much light in these days, and so I have been adjusting lighting curves also for this mosaic... :)

Thank you, Judith, for hosting MM!

This week joining also Susanna


This week's theme: March
Next week: Evening


Haastevastauksia - Thoughts on gardening

A dear blogger friend, Laura, has forwarded me a challenge. It consists of five questions concerning gardening. Below you can find my answers, both in Finnish and English, to Laura's questions.

Laura vastasi viime perjantain postauksessaan viiteen haastekysymykseen ja kutsui haasteeseen mukaan uusia puutarhabloggaajia.  Puutarhamme rakentaminen on vasta alussa, mutta koetin löytää jotain kiinnostavaa kerrottavaa.

1. Millä vyöhykkeellä puutarhasi sijaitsee, ja mitä haasteita ja iloja maantieteellinen sijainti aiheuttaa puutarhasi hoidossa?

Puutarhamme sijaitsee Itä-Suomessa vyöhykkeiden 4 ja 5 rajamailla. Täällä voidaan vain haaveilla monien ihanien puutarhakasvien kasvattamisesta. Varsinkin köynnöskasveissa on paljon sellaisia, joiden menestymisvyöhykkeet ovat harmillisen eteläisiä.  Luonnonkasvilajejakin on täällä vähemmän. Toisaalta meillä ei sitten ole (ainakaan vielä) joitakin tuholaisia ja kasvitauteja, joita lämpimämmillä alueilla on. Ja paljon kaunista löytyy täältäkin...

Geranium sylvaticum

What is your plant hardiness zone and how does it affect your gardening?

Following the Finnish classification, our plant hardiness zone is Zone 4. Our areas, in the inland, are characterized by warm summers and freezing winters. In summer, the temperature usually rises to +20 °C (68 °F) or more and occasionally gets above +30°C (86 °F). In midsummer we have more than 20 hours of daylight.  In winter, this part of the country is covered by snow, usually, from December to March.  My "personal low-temperature record" is -37 °C (-34.6 °F). It happened years ago; I'm actually rather proud... I went to the nearest grocery shop on foot that day to buy food for the small garden birds.

In the more southern parts of the country, gardeners can of course cultivate successfully a much wider and more interesting assortment of plants. On the plus side, we have fewer pests and diseases as well.

If you click on the map of Finland on the sidebar of this blog, you will be directed to a list of Finnish gardening blogs. They are grouped according to the climate zone (the warmest are the zones 1A and 1B), and you can notice how drastically the number of garden blogs drops going from the south towards the north.

2. Minkä haaveen toivoisit toteutuvan puutarhassasi?

Minulle mieluisin viherympäristö on hoidettu, mutta melko luonnonmukainen. Koetan lisätä kasvivalikoimaa ottaen mallia ympäröivästä luonnosta. Aivan talomme vierellä on sekametsää ja isojakin havupuita, joiden suojaan istutan alppiruusuja ja muita happaman maan kasveja. Pidän myös paljon esimerkiksi saniaisista. Haaveilen joidenkin jalopuiden istuttamisesta.

Ja sitten on köynnöskasvihaaveita. Italiasta tuoduista siemenistä on kylvetty liilakukkaista sinisadetta. Kasvien versot kasvavat melkein pari metriä kesän aikana, mutta leikkaan niitä aika voimakkaasti tässä vaiheessa.  Pian nähdään onko talvehtiminen (siirrettävässä astiassa sisätiloissa) onnistunut tänä vuonna. Eihän sinisade kuulu itäsuomalaiseen maalaismaisemaan, mutta kyllä olisi ihanaa koristaa sen kukilla kuistin säleikköä. Siemenistä lisättyjen sinisateiden sanotaan kukkivan vasta kymmenvuotiaina, joten kukkia täytyy vielä odottaa monta vuotta, mutta itsekasvatetulla on tunnearvoakin.

Wisteria floribunda

Garden dreams?

If I try to imagine my ideal garden, many images come to my mind: a beautiful, shady lawn, surrounded by open woodland, "orderly but natural"...  it looks less as if it had been planned and constructed than as if it might have come naturally.  My garden of delight should certainly have four basic elements: trees, grass, water... and slopes. And winding paths and benches and a lamp post. :)

Thus, I try to plant trees, shrubs and perennials that are native to this area, but I will try to introduce some not native "valuable broad-leaved trees" as well, especially different species of maples. It's because I love them but also because with the warming of the planet, trees planted now may live in a  substantially warmer climate later. Among the other crazy dreams of mine, there are wisterias and lavenders... and lemon trees in a small greenhouse...

3. Mikä haave puutarhassasi on jo toteutunut?

Olen pyrkinyt lisäämään kasveja, jotka näyttävät menestyvän hyvin.  Alla olevat juhannusruusut ovat muutaman vuoden ikäisiä siirrettyjä sivuversoja. Viime kesänä ne kukkivat ihanasti.

Rosa pimpinellifolia  'Plena'

A dream already fulfilled?

I have tried to propagate plants that seem to do well in our garden. These pretty burnet roses have grown from suckers transplanted three or four years ago.  Last summer they bloomed profusely with their fragrant, double flowers.

4. Mikä paikka puutarhassasi on paras rentoutumiseen ja haaveiluun?

Varmaankin alue järven rannassa, vaikkei se ole oikeastaan puutarhaa.  (Ehkä sinne istutetaan vielä pieniä puita, pensaita ja perennoja.)  Lämmin auringonpaiste, vihreä ruohikko, liplattavat laineet ja tuulessa kahisevat koivunlehdet... tai tyyni kesäilta... mikä voisi olla ihanampaa?

What is your favourite spot for relaxing and dreaming away?

I think for many Finns it's especially easy to relax at the lakeside, listening birch leaves swaying in the gentle breeze and waves lapping against each other.  In addition to the lake view, I enjoy very much grassy lawns. In the evening photo above, you can see a tiny part of the one near the lake shore. Did you know that already Albertus Magnus (1193-1280) gave instructions for making a lawn? "Nothing refreshes the sight so much as fine short grass." I so agree with him! (NB Of course ours are clover lawns, not watered nor treated with chemicals.)

5. Mikä on puutarhastelussa parasta?

Parasta on nähdä kasvien uskomaton kauneus ja saada olla omalta pieneltä osaltaan tekemässä työtä sen hyväksi.

Gertrude Jekyll kirjoitti vuonna 1899 suunnilleen näin:

Älköön ajatus siitä, miten paljon on opittavaa, saako ketään menettämään rohkeuttaan. Muistellessani omia kolmeakymmentä vuottani puutarhanhoidon parissa (niistä ensimmäiset tietämättömänä haparoiden ja niukan avun varassa) en muista hetkeä, joka ei olisi ollut täynnä iloa ja innostusta. Ovathan ensimmäiset askeleet askelia kohti ihastuttavaa Tuntematonta, ja ensimmäiset onnistumiset odottamattomia ja siksi niin riemullisia. Kertyvän kokemuksen myötä näkemys laajenee ja arvostelukyky jatkuvasti kehittyy. Jokainen uusi askel on edellistä hiukan varmempi ja jokainen uusi tehtävä hieman päättäväisemmin suoritettu, kunnes vähitellen kokonaisuuden kaikki osat löytävät paikkansa ja olemme niin lähellä luomisen ihmettä kuin ihmiselle on mahdollista.

Puutarha on suurenmoinen opettaja. Se opettaa kärsivällisyyttä ja valppautta, se opettaa toimeliaisuutta ja tarkkuutta, ja ennen kaikkea se opettaa lujaa luottamusta. ”Paavali on istuttanut, Apollo on kastanut, mutta Jumala on kasvun antanut.” Kunnon puutarhuri luottaa ehdottoman varmasti siihen, että kun hän tekee oman osuutensa ja omistaa puutarhalle uurastuksensa, rakkautensa, taitonsa, tietämyksensä ja harkintakykynsä, että niin varmasti kuin hän tämän ahkerasti ja uskollisesti tekee, yhtä varmasti Herra antaa kasvun. Rehellisesti ansaitun onnistumisen myötä puutarhuri rohkaistuu jatkamaan työtään ja melkeinpä kuulee korvissaan lempeät sanat: ”Hyvin tehty, sinä hyvä ja uskollinen palvelija.”

Lupinus x regalis

What is the best thing in gardening?

The beauty. The deep joy and sense of gratitude of being able to witness and work for it.

My favourite garden writer has already answered to this question, better than I ever could:

Let no one be discouraged by the thought of how much there is to learn. Looking back upon nearly thirty years of gardening (the earlier part of it in groping ignorance with scant means of help), I can remember no part of it that was not full of pleasure and encouragement. For the first steps are steps into a delightful Unknown, the first successes are victories all the happier for being scarcely expected, and with the growing knowledge comes the widening outlook, and the comforting sense of an ever-increasing gain of critical appreciation. Each new step becomes a little surer, and each new grasp a little firmer, till, little by little, comes the power of intelligent combination, the nearest thing we can know to the mighty force of creation.

And a garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry

and thrift; above all, it teaches entire trust. "Paul planteth and Apollos watereth, but God giveth the increase." The good gardener knows with absolute certainty that if he does his part, if he gives the
labour, the love, and every aid that his knowledge of his craft, experience of the conditions of his place, and exercise of his personal wit can work together to suggest, that so surely as he does this diligently and faithfully, so surely will God give the increase. Then with the honestly-earned success comes the consciousness of encouragement to renewed effort, and, as it were, an echo of the gracious words, "Well done, good and faithful servant." 

(Gertrude Jekyll: Wood and Garden)

Viime aikoina tällaisia haasteita on tainnut kiertää niin paljon, etten jatka tätä enää kellekään erityisesti, mutta olen iloinen, jos joku inspiroituu kirjoittamaan omasta puutarhaharrastuksestaan. Mainitsethan siitä kommentissasi!

This challenge has been going around (here in Finland) for a while, so I am not passing this on to anyone specifically, but if you would like to answer to these questions or otherwise write a related post, please let me know in the comments. See you soon!

Joining Amy for the new "Five on Friday"!

Have a lovely weekend!


Last hot chocolates

When we were living in Italy, our year was divided in two parts, the ice cream season and the hot chocolate season. In Italy, of course, you can taste the best ice creams in the world, and also very nice hot chocolate is served there. La cioccolata calda is thick and not very sweet.

Since the hot choc season is coming to an end soon, it's time to dedicate some photos to this lovely beverage that contains flavonoids, antioxidants and pure happiness.

This is my favourite cup for hot chocolate. I like love its colour and the material that feels lovely to touch. Perhaps the set could be called breakfast ware, there are also saucers, bowls, mugs, a sugar bowl, and a small creamer, which I find especially cute (see the mosaic at the bottom of this post).

Dark or extra dark chocolate, milk or cream, sugar. Adjust the amounts according to your taste:

The cinnamon roll and the biscuits are just for the photo. In my opinion, the chocolate with whipped cream is so delectable and rich it doesn't need anything to accompany it. I have sprinkled cinnamon over the cream; powdered chilli or ground black pepper would be our other favourites.

Participating in

Mosaic Monday
at Lavender Cottage Gardening
(unfortunately this site doesn't exist any more)

 Roses of Inspiration, on Tuesday,
as well as 

Have a lovely week ahead!