New director of Botan prepares for two anniversaries

Wandering among the amaryllises and other seasonal blooms of the “Christmas in the orangery” exhibition in Lund’s Botanical Garden is one very satisfied director. Bente Eriksen came from Gothenburg University to her new job in Lund a couple of months ago and has now learnt that the municipality of Lund will support the garden to the tune of SEK 2 million per year.

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The new director of the Botanical Gardens Bente Eriksen among the amaryllis in the “Christmas in the orangery” exhibition.

“It feels great”, she says. “This means that we can reinforce our tours for schoolchildren with an educator. We can also invest in some more gardening staff to cultivate interesting plants and keep the garden clean in the springtime when people come with their picnic blankets and baskets”.

Her accent reveals Danish roots; indeed Bente Eriksen began her academic career at Aarhus University. She started working at Gothenburg University in 1987, most recently as a senior lecturer in systematic botany. She has been active in both research and teaching, as well as working on a major book project of 1200 pages about useful plants, which was finalised and printed last year.

“It took my colleagues and me twelve years to complete”, she says, showing the beautiful book which is available for sale at the Botanical Garden’s shop.

The shop, selling plants, seeds, small gardening tools, books, postcards and more, was created by her predecessor Marie Widén. Investment in the shop will continue, together with more exhibitions over the coming year. The botanical garden turns 150 in 2015, an event to be marked by a birthday party and an exhibition tracing the garden’s history.

Bente Eriksen and her staff also have major plans for the University’s 350th anniversary celebrations which kick off in 2016. They want to set up an outdoor stage with a roof in the southern part of the garden, to offer theatre performances, lectures and concerts in cooperation with other parts of the University involved in artistic and outreach activities.

News that the Botanical Garden now has a Danish director has reached across the Öresund strait. Requests for tours of the greenhouses and the garden in Danish have been coming in, which Bente Eriksen thinks is fun.

“The question is how we will find time for it all,” she says.

The “Christmas in the orangery” exhibition, displaying many different hellebores, amaryllises, Christmas spices and nuts, will go on until 6 January. The next exhibition, “What’s in your muesli?”, is scheduled for March. An exhibition folder with all the major events of 2015 has already been produced and is a source of pride.

“It feels a bit luxurious to be able to hand it over to visitors wondering what will be happening next at the garden,” says Bente Eriksen, who feels she has now got her dream job as the head of a botanical garden.

Her childhood spent close to forests and beaches led her to develop a love of nature.

Text: Maria Lindh

Photo: Gunnar Menander


MORE ABOUT Bente Eriksen

BORN: in 1960 in Grenå, Jylland, in Denmark

BACKGROUND: Systematic botanist with extensive teaching experience, who has worked in the tropics as well as in the Arctic. She became director of studies at Gothenburg University’s Department of Biology and Environmental Sciences in 2004.

LIVES: weekdays in a flat in Lund, weekends in Småland

FAMILY: 25-year-old son. Partner in Småland (who joins her on weekends from Stockholm)

INTERESTS: Cooking, exercise, sewing and knitting.

WHAT MAKES HER HAPPY: The sun and warm weather in May when the garden bursts into bloom

WHAT MAKES HER ANGRY: People who don’t keep their promises