garden tales from a Brit abroad
Today I am delighted to introduce a guest post on the landscapes of the Faroe Islands, the archipelago that lies roughly midway between Iceland, Norway and Scotland. Its author, Jacqui Compton, was on board Cunard’s Queen Victoria when the ship made her maiden call into Torshavn, the islands’ capital.
After a week in the lush Norwegian fjords, we spent four days in Iceland, where the only indigenous tree is Betula pubescens (northern birch), an unprepossessing, scruffy, low-growing little specimen. Our first sight of the Faroe Islands showed the same dramatic scenery Iceland provided. But nothing to tempt those looking for lush plantings and, with the Faroese willow and juniper offering much the same characteristics as the maligned northern birch, it didn’t bode well.
But the capital Torshavn immediately appeals: the main trade is fishing, hence the two commercial harbours. Both retain a charm and historic appeal, and the new developments blend in well.
A short walk takes you to Tinganes, where 19th century classical fishermen’s houses are to be found: wood-built and tarred brown or black with white painted windows under a heavy grass roof. Many now have green painted corrugated iron roofs, not good a substitute for the traditional turf. Most modern homes are more spacious, with larger windows and ordinary roof tiles.
A walk through the town, glimpsing gardens, commercial properties and government buildings, gives a clue as to the islanders’ love of sculpture and lush planting.
At the entrance to the park of Vidalundin are two completely different works of art. Personally, I thought the two so distracted from one another, that I would have happily removed George and the Dragon. It seemed so at odds with the park, and the rest of the sculpture inside.
We followed a narrow path through the park, alongside a small stream, populated with mallard families. It was very peaceful and, save for a few tourists, empty.
And who wouldn’t want to live here?
Many thanks to Jacqui for her descriptions and photographs of a land even its own tourist board describes as “a place undiscovered.”