Palm Trees Planted in Reykjavík: Reykjavík Officially Tropical - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Palm Trees Planted in Reykjavík: Reykjavík Officially Tropical

Published August 14, 2019

During the first week of the summer 2019, we were nobody’s fool, carrying around our coats, mumbling skepticism under our breath. Then came the sun, and subsequently the anger that we had to go into work instead of barbecue, followed by the bargaining that climate change surely is a real bother, but those new shorts just fit too well. Now here we are—at the end of the summer cycle grieving the loss of our warmth.

What to do? Obviously plant some palm trees!

Yes, five palm trees now call Laugardalur home, the reason being that horticulturalists Guðlaug Guðjónsdóttir and Hannes Þór Hafsteinsson want to experiment to see how these plants thrive in Icelandic weather conditions. The city of Reykjavik reports that the purpose of the project is to experiment with increasing the diversity of vegetation in the city.  And as this plant variety originates from the Himalayas, the city also assured the public that the trees would be well cared for when the cold comes.

There has been some speculation that the palm tree experiment derived from a winning proposal by German artist Karin Sander.  Karin was awarded first place in the competition for outdoor art in Vogabyggð, which was presented at the Reykjavík Art Museum in Kjarvalsstadir earlier this year. The art proposal consisted of palm trees housed in two cylindrical, towering greenhouses located in the central square on the banks of Ketilbjörn Sík. The greenhouse towers would emit warmth and light, and would cost the city up to 150 million ISK.

“This is not a 150 million ISK project,” Guðlaug said in reference to her own experiment. “It is just a few thousand.”  Guðlaug assured Frettablaðið that the two projects are completely coincidental with no relation at all, explaining, “Hannes saw these plants for sale in Blómavalí, and asked me if I was willing to buy this and try it out.” 

As the temperatures in Reykjavík starts to cool again and you find yourself spiralling back into denial, treat yourself to a walk among the palms on Sunnuvegur street and hold onto that sunshine just a little while longer.

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