Monday, November 13, 2017

Suomenlinna - Castle of Finland

It was grey November day when I decided to visit the Suomenlinna fortress. The ferry from Helsinki fast arrived to the pier, cold waves of Baltic sea beat on a shore and large stones. Suomenlinna (known as Sveaborg or Viapori) is one of the most popular insular tourist attractions in Helsinki, Finland. Its name means in English 'Castle of Finland'. Despite weather the ferries to Suomenlinna can always get quite crowded.
I want to tell you about this place. When Sweden started building the fortress on islands it was to be just the sea fortress with additional landside fortifications, according to the needs of the Swedish archipelago fleet.

 Entrance to the fortress from a ferry pier

Later the next stage in the arming of Suomenlinna was when it became part of "Peter the Great's naval fortification" designed to safeguard the Russian capital, Saint Petersburg. 
Strolling in the fortress I saw granite fortifications from those years, they struck me with their shape and height. I walked over and touched the hewn granite blocks. They were warm to the touch!

The naval fortifications from  local granite stones and earth-covered barracks

During extensive earthworks barracks and the dockyards were built at the western and southern islands. On the island's square, I was surprised to see the low green hills. Getting accustomed I realized that they were barracks, buried in the stony ground. Their green grassy roofs were apparently disguises. For me it was strange to see such buildings. I've never seen so strange disguise before, probably the living in these barracks was damp and uncomfortable.

Fenced earth-covered fortifications

The fortress became part of the Independent Finland in 1917. Nowadays Suomenlinna is served by ferries all year, and a service tunnel supplying heating, water and electricity was built in 1982. Several buildings have been converted into artists' studios. During the summer there is an art school for children. I believe that the beautiful combination of old fortifications and the harsh northern nature of the islands inspires young artists.

 Fortress walls topped with earth and grass
Suomenlinna was recognized as a world heritage and the most popular tourist destination in Finland. Therefore I hardly found the time when no one disturbed me to take a photo of the chain sea gates to the fortress. Tourists are constantly taking pictures there.

The central entrance to the Suomenlinna fortress, chain gates.

Saying farewell to the 'Castle of Finland' I've taken the photo from the fortress high wall. The low grey clouds there were, in a distance above the sea the clear sky was seen.

Have you been to any fortress before? What was it like? Was it in touch with nature?

Saturday, November 4, 2017

It's Already November

It's already November, in my zone 5a it means the beginning of winter. Climate is changing, winter or late autumn may be in November. These days sun does not rise high above the horizon and its rays break through the branches of trees, thuja and Aronia melanocarpa bush.

Yesterday in cold sunny afternoon I came to my summer cottage and saw small drops of frozen moisture on the branches of thuja Globo.

A thin layer of snow lay on the lawn and stones, the puddle between the bushes was frozen.

Faded flowers of Solidago were fluffy and looked like pieces of cotton. When I finished my work in the greenhouse  -  I dug pots with tulips into the ground - the sun was already setting. I liked the last sun rays through the rosa rugosa leaves.

Potentilla with its small bright yellow flowers bravely bloomed on background of the snowy lawn.

It was enough cold, I took a photo of nice sky and went home. Thanks for reading my post!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

October Comes to an End

Many trees and plants are preparing for winter. Night temperatures are about 0 C (35 F) and the leaves become yellow and fall off. On the way to my summer cottage I saw a small Amelanchier (shadbush), such a multitude of yellow and red shades!

Maple leaves redden and fall, in the garden all the paths are covered with maple leaves. I collect them and make maple leaf roses. I showed you how I made roses here. 
Along the road spiraea also turned red. 
Many rowan berries ripened deep in the forest. I like how the red rowan berries look at the background of white trunks of birches.

I walked down the path and saw the ripening Aronia (chokeberry) berries and rosa rugosa hips. This crop will get to the birds. Already flocks of waxwings visit gardens and forests before winter.

The autumnal sky...Alexander Pushkin, the Russian poet (1799-1837) wrote: 

"The sky has already breathed autumn"

"It's a dull time of eye charm"

What is October in your place? Do you believe autumn is a 'dull time'?
Thanks for reading my blog!