Tähkäpuisto – Tähkä Park

The history of the park currently known as Tähkäpuisto dates back to the 1530s when Gustav I of Sweden gave an order that the area should be made a recreation area for the middle class. The oldest trees in the area are from the collections of the Swedish gardening school, which operated in the area until 1968. After the school ceased operations the area was left as wasteland, until the construction of the current park was started in the 1980s. Tähkäpuisto was inaugurated on Turku Day in 1982.

The planned area of Tähkäpuisto is about 7.7 hectares, out of which slightly more than half is built park area. The rest of the area is intended to be maintained as a natural landscape meadow and a recreational forest. The park has a rich collection of conifers and deciduous trees (37) and bushes (110), as well as almost 90 varieties of perennials and spices. Perennials and herbs are equipped with labels, from which you can learn the Finnish and Latin names of the plants.

There is a children’s playground and a dog park in Tähkäpuisto. The recreational forest has duckboards.

St Henry’s Church, which was consecrated in 1980, is located on the edge of the park. The congregation organizes events in the park, for example a winter event and a Rose Church in August. It is possible to get married in Tähkäpuisto; the priests of the congregation join couples in marriage in the middle of the rose bushes on the Wedding Night in August.

The pride of the park is the rose garden, or Rosarium, which was inaugurated in 1995 and is the largest rose garden of historical roses in Finland. The main celebration event of the Rose Year in 2002 was organized in Tähkäpuisto.


Approximately 1,600 rose shrubs grow in the Rosarium. There are 400 different varieties and some of them are very rare. Toini Grönqvist, the “Madam of Roses” and the mother of the Rosarium idea, donated roses to Turku City Garden in 1991 and promised to collect more historical rose varieties from abroad, if possible. Rose varieties recognized before 1867 are numbered among historical roses. Historical roses are more fragrant, durable, and manageable than their later relatives. The first roses that came to Finland came through monasticism to be used as medicinal plants.

Toini Grönqvist planned a rosarium consisting of 2,000 roses in Tähkäpuisto. Originally the idea was to test how different rose varieties would thrive in different climates and types of soil (Sagalund in Kemiö, cold bogland in Tähkäpuisto, clayey soil in Turku University Botanical Garden in Ruissalo). It turned out that some of the rose varieties thrive in much colder climates than what was previously believed.

Madam of Roses Toini Grönqvist has followed the principle started by Roman emperors and has named individual roses after different communities and people. Roses have been named after several humanitarian communities, such as Doctors Without Borders. Royal family members of the nearby kingdoms (Sweden, Norway and Denmark) have gotten roses named after them. Diana, Princess of Wales, and her two sons have also had roses named after them, as Great Britain is a country well known for roses. In honour of Finland’s 80th year of independence the students of Vasaramäki school planted a Poppius rose for each Finnish president.

The Rosarium of Tähkäpuisto has received smaller donations from, for example, Turku Court of Appeal, Turku Entrepreneurs, Mannerheim League for Child Welfare, and the Turku branch of the Martha Organisation.

Roses in the Rosarium

Wild roses are behind all rose varieties in one way or another. The group includes crossbreeds of burnet rose (pimpinellifolia), sweetbriar rose (rubiginosa), rugosa rose (rugosa), and Persian yellow rose (foetida) species. Tähkäpuisto has wild roses from Europe, America, Asia, and the Middle East. In particular one could mention Rosa Sancta (R. x richardii) which was found in archaeological excavations in Egypt and proves that roses were grown already during the classical period.

The history of cultivation of French rose (Rosa gallica), which is one of the old western garden roses, reaches back to 1100-1200 B.C. In the Middle Ages the rose was an important medicinal plant, just as the name ‘Officinalis’ of apothecary’s rose indicates. An important ingredient in rose water and oil were the petals of Damask rose (Rosa damascena) which were extremely fragrant. The species is divided into Summer Damasks (Rosa x damascena) and Autumn Damasks (Rosa x damascena bifera). Summer Damasks bloom only once per summer, while Autumn Damasks bloom again in autumn. Very old Damask rose varieties are, for example, ‘Triginti-petala’ and ‘Rose de Rescht’. Portland roses (Rosa portlandica) are often classified as a subclass of Damask roses.

One of the most popular old-time rose varieties is Portland rose ‘Jacques Cartier’. The ‘Maiden’s Blush’ variety of alba rose (Rosa alba), on the other hand, is one of the oldest cultivated rose varieties in the world. Provence roses (Rosa centifolia) used to be very popular. A “basic” variety of Provence rose could be said to be ‘Major’. Special characteristics of the species are rich, double-flowered blossoms with well over 100 petals.

Moss roses (Rosa centifolia muscosa) are special offspring of Provence roses. Their shoots and calyxes are covered in moss-like growth. The “moss” of ’Eugénie Guinoisseau’  variety is beautifully dark green, which highlights the colour of the crimson red flowers. The Chinese have a long tradition of rose cultivating. Although many wild roses grow in China, only cultivated varieties were brought to Europe at the turn of the 1800s and interbred or were interbred with European roses. One such “crossbreed of East and West” is Bourbon rose (Rosa bourboniana) which has flowers as exalted as Chinese hibiscus, only larger. One of the varieties worth mentioning is ‘Zigeunerknabe’ which has genes of rambling roses in its genotype.

Another group of roses that has been influenced by eastern varieties is remontant roses (Rosa hybrida bifera) which repeat their flowering later in summer. One pink coloured variety is ‘Archiduchesse Elisabet d’Autriche’. It is also possible to see variety crossbreeds of China rose (chinensis, noisette-, noisettiana) and musk rose (moschata) that have eastern wild roses as their ancestors, as well as modern group roses that have been found hearty.


Petreliuksenpolku (between Uudenmaantie and Peltolantie, next to St. Henry’s Church)