July 2018 (Last updated May 2022)
We’re not usually ones for clichés, but sometimes, there’s just no getting around them: Helgøya Island, in the middle of Lake Mjøsa, is a true postcard idyll. We visited the heart-shaped island on a sunny day in July and were charmed right from the very first moment.
Hovelsrud Farm was our first stop of the day. The farm garden is brimming with flowers, herbs, lettuce and fruit trees. Yet nothing is left to chance. Everything is planted exactly as it was in 1840. Strict symmetry, sharp lines, and chess patterns were probably all the rage at that time. And it still looks great today. It is peaceful, harmonious, and beautiful—simply put, idyllic. No wonder that the historic garden at Hovelsrud has won prizes both nationally and internationally!
Scattered around the extensive garden are benches and seating areas inviting you to enjoy a few moments of peace. However, it is not entirely quiet. An army of winged insects is working hard to move pollen around the garden. Luckily, the chubby, humming bumblebees don’t need to fly too far—there is an abundance of flowers all calling out to them with their vibrant colors. We sit down and take in the sights and sounds of summer.
A visit to Hovelsrud is a feast for the senses. After a while, however, our stomachs start demanding to be fed as well. We somewhat reluctantly return to our car, but fortunately, our next stop is close by. A little further along the road is Skafferiet at Hovinsholm. This café with its beautiful garden is another reason why Helgøya draws tourists in numbers.
Update from May 2022: Skafferiet at Hovinsholm is now permanently closed.
We order food from a smiling and very friendly girl behind the counter inside the café and take a seat in the shade of a cherry tree in the spacious garden. The food arrives shortly afterwards, served by another kind employee.
We thoroughly enjoy some bread with brie and blackberry jam, a crunchy crispy summer salad, and a moist carrot cake. The accompanying homemade raspberry lemonade is the perfect thirst-quencher on this warm summer day.
We overhear yet another very hospitable staff member explaining that most of what is served at Skafferiet is produced at the farm. The bread is freshly baked every day, and they grow the herbs themselves. She further explains that every sandwich and salad is made to order. In other words, the food is fresher than fresh. With such a philosophy, it is no wonder that guests come again and again to the lush garden at Skafferiet.
The blooming garden is probably what attracts many visitors, but a visit here would be enjoyable during all seasons. Inside, the café is beautifully decorated in country style with wildflowers on the tables. We will be more than happy to sit there next time!
Opening hours in 2022 for the historic garden at Hovelsrud Farm:
- June: The garden opens Sunday June 4th. It is open the rest of June each Saturday and Sunday from 12 p.m. –3 p.m.
- July: Thursdays to Sundays from 12 p.m. –3 p.m.
- August: Saturdays and Sundays 12 p.m. –3 p.m.
- On Sundays there are guided tours at 2 p.m.
Unless you sleep the morning away, it is possible to visit Helgøya on a day trip from Oslo. The drive takes approximately 2 hours each way.
If you have more time at your disposal, there are multiple places offering accommodation in the area.