On the grounds of the former Meilahti Manor, between the Johannesbergintie and Meilahdentie streets and in a valley between three rocky outcrops lies Meilahti Arboretum. Covering more than three hectares, this peaceful and lush park presents over 300 varieties of trees and shrubs.
The arboretum was founded by the Park Unit of the Public Works Department in 1967 as an educational park for everyone interested in plants. Accordingly, the trees and shrubs are identified by nameplates. There are two other arboreta in Helsinki, one in Niskala and the other in Viikki.
The word arboretum comes from the Latin word for tree, arbor. The word first appeared in literature in 1833 and was used to refer to the part of a garden that nurtured and presented exotic trees. Today the term refers more generally to a botanical garden containing living collections of trees and shrubs. In Finnish the term used is “puulajipuisto”.
Arboreta play an important role in research and education, as well as for plant breeding. For the general public they are pleasant and interesting attractions thanks to the rich variety of plant species, which give the impression of being abroad.
Meilahti Arboretum also features a Rosarium presenting a collection of shrub roses. The Rosarium was started in 1991 and underwent a major renovation along with the park furniture, entrances and gates to the north and south in 2006–2007. Most of the rose varieties were switched during the renovation.
All the roses in the Rosarium are shrub roses. The renovated grounds also include perennials and a pergola for climbing roses and clematis. The shrub roses were selected together with the Finnish Rose Society. The nameplates include the name of the variety in question as well as the year in which it was created (if known).
The Rosarium specialises in European historic roses and Finnish varieties. The plants are grouped according to their historical or botanical background. In addition to familiar and traditional varieties, such as the Valamo Rose and Mustiala Rose, the collection includes many old and unidentified varieties that have been found in different parts of Finland. European historic roses include the French Rose, the Damascus Rose, cabbage roses and moss roses.
The Helsinki chapter of the Finnish Rose Society has helped maintain the Rosarium over the years. The Finnish Rose Society was founded in 1989 to bring together rose enthusiasts, researchers and cultivators. The organisation promotes the cultivation of old and hardy roses, experimenting and using roses, and historical research into roses.
The best time to enjoy a rose scented picnic in the park is summertime between mid-June and mid-August.