Micael Bindefeld Takes GC Inside His Personal Garden in Stockholm
Micael Bindefeld is a Swedish publicist and event planner revered for his excellent taste in flowers and his unique ability to incorporate thoughtful garden experiences into his impressive, bespoke events. Garden Collage first became aware of Micael’s creative projects when we started following him on his Instagram, @micaelbindefeld. We were smitten from the start: everything from the homemade flower crowns he used for his Swedish Midsummer greenhouse party to the magnificent vegetables he regularly grows in his garden, his photos and thoughtful relationship with plants left us wanting to know more about the man behind the flowers. Below, Garden Collage interviews Micael about his gorgeous home in Sweden, his forthcoming garden-focused television show, and the role that flowers continue to play in his personal and professional life.
GC: Your Instagram is very aesthetically inspiring, and we just saw pictures from the Swedish Midsummer event in your greenhouse. What do you grow in your greenhouse? How did you get involved in gardening?
MB: I believe it all started around the age of four. My granddad (my mother’s father) had a passion for gardening. He was an aesthetically-skilled person who loved gardening and cooking. He passed away when I was quite young, but I think that he influenced me in many ways. I have fond memories of building a primitive greenhouse with him where we grew tomatoes and corn. I loved the summers I spent alongside my grandfather while he worked and I played in that greenhouse… A lot of people love gardening, but I’m obsessed, like really obsessed.
My first apartment had a little balcony that I used as a garden. When I got a bigger flat with a rooftop terrace, it was completely covered with plants and bushes and apple trees. Then 15 years ago, I bought this amazing piece of property just outside of Stockholm. There was no garden when I bought it: it was totally overgrown, but it had the bones of a garden from the late 30’s/ early 40’s. I worked tirelessly for almost 15 years to make my dream garden come true. What I love about this place is that the garden is more like a park: 7,600 square meters, with wilder areas accented with a private beach, a dock and tiny buildings. The house was built in 1937 by the legendary Swedish architect Ragnar Ostberg, who did the city hall of Stockholm, which gives the place a deep sense of Swedish history.
GC: So the green house that you now have—was that something you added?
MB: Yes. The greenhouse has different functions during different parts of the year. It is quite cold here, so in the wintertime, my geraniums and fuchsias live inside the greenhouse until late May when I move them outside. In early spring, I choose varieties and plant seeds for what I want to grow in the summer. My usual go-to’s are tomatoes, watermelon, peppers, eggplant, chili fruits and a favorite the Mexican cucamelons.
MB: Cucamelons are cute little things: they resemble a watermelon but they don’t taste like watermelon. They have a sort-of lime flavor, but beautiful and munchy. They also work really well in salads and you can pickle them.
GC: Interesting! We will have to try them. Does anyone help you with your garden?
MB: Yes. I get some help with leaf-blowing and taking care of the weeds. I have 26 huge oak trees that are really old, so when they drop leaves it’s a lot of work. But everything else I get great pleasure out of taking care of myself, even though it is a lot of work!
GC: Can you tell me more about your book?
MB: Last year I did a book about my garden, and in English it was called My Garden is a Party, or Min Trädgård är en Fest. It’s a very personal book about my perspective on gardening and how I reflect on my garden, including a mix of 50-60 recipes for garden-grown items that we use in Swedish cooking. As a result of the book’s success, all summer long I have been taping a TV show “Fest hos Bindefeld” in my garden, which is about gardening and cooking. It will be aired in October.
GC: Whether you have a beautiful floral arrangement or just the aesthetic of nature, how does gardening factor into some of the more structured events that you organize? How does the garden factor into your life?
MB: I think the garden is not only an inspiration, but also a necessity. I need the peace of gardening. It inspires me in many ways, and it gives me not only ideas for floral arrangements or nature in itself, but it also gives me– and this sounds like a cliché– but a place to reload and recharge. My cats love to hang around there, and I doubt that I would have been able to work as much as I have in the last 15 years without having a garden to escape to.
GC: What is your favorite flower?
MB: I would say the peonies, of course: how can you not be obsessed with peonies?? But I also collect geraniums from all over the world– from Spain, Israel, Morocco, everywhere. They’re part of my family, they’re really easy to tend to, and they give me great happiness. Also, I love finding and ordering weird tulip bulbs.
GC: If you could have one type of garden, what would it be?
MB: I would love a Mediterranean garden. It would be amazing to have a garden that’s green the entire year! I’m not really that fond of the snow and the darkness of Swedish winters…
A Note from our Founder, Daisy Helman
This past week I visited Micael at his home in Stockholm, and as someone who has visited many beautiful gardens over the years I can say that Micael’s was really something special. His passion for his garden is incredible and authentic: out of an overgrown piece of land he built his dream garden piece by piece, exposing the shape of his land and opening up a view to the sea, and now he won’t leave the garden for more than a few weeks at a time.
As you can see in the photos below, nothing about Micael’s garden is overdone; it’s all personal. Micael can speak to every flower and tree on the property. He has extremely old begonias, wildflowers meadows, a wonderful kitchen garden full of vegetables and (most notably,) an impressive variety currants, gooseberries, orchard fruit, plus bees and the aforementioned greenhouse, which is well kept and elegant, with a robust, impressive collection of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and more. The list goes on and on, but what most captivated me was the passion with which Micael talks about the evolution of his garden, the collecting of his geraniums, the way he designed the greenhouse so that the doors line up to maximize the view to the water, how the yellow musk rose has now taken over his most beloved (and sadly, now dead) oak tree. His passion is effusive and contagious, and his garden a delight to behold. He even had two automatic lawn mowers traveling around the lawn, trimming the grass like a herd of cows! (The devices, a Swedish invention by Husqvarna, make no noise, are totally self-sufficient, and return home to their charging stations whenever they need charging.)
Not only is Micael a true gardener, but he’s also a lovely host. He baked us a gooseberry tart and served it with homemade strawberry ice cream and apple cider (all of it sourced from his garden, of course)– all this after a full day and night of filming his TV show! GC is very excited that we had the opportunity to see Micael’s garden in action, and now we know that his Instagram pictures don’t lie: this garden is as beautiful as it looks on camera.
Stay tuned for the latest Garden Collage insider profiles by following @gardencollage on Instagram, and remember to stop by the GC Pop Up Shop in New York City this Fall– we will have autographed copies of Micael’s book, Min Trädgård är en Fest, and we can’t wait to share them with you.