Directors and head gardners

A botanic garden is a place for both botany and horticulture, developed and maintained through the collaboration of botanists and gardeners. The Directorship of the Botanical Garden  was initially included in one of the University’s professorships; as the number of professors increased over the years, and their subject areas became more narrowly specialised, the Directorship was associated in turn to the professorships of medicine, botany and systematic botany. Since 1977 the garden has been a separate institution with its own Director. In 1983 the Director’s remit was expanded to include responsibility for the Linnaeus Garden and Linnaeus’ Hammarby.

Directors of Hortus Botanicus 1653-1783, before the relocation

The dates indicate the years during which the directors were active.

Olof Rudbeck the elder, 1653-1701

Olof Rudbeck was professor of medicine, a subject that also included botany and zoology. In 1653 he founded the first botanic garden in the country and filled it with plants, many purchased in Holland. Together with his son he worked on a gigantic multi-volume flora, Campus Elysii, which was to contain all known plants of the world. The plant genus Rudbeckia is named after Olof Rudbeck.

Olof Rudbeck the younger, 1701-1740

Olof Rudbeck the younger was at first very interested in botany, and an excellent botanical illustrator. After the botanic garden had been badly damaged by the fire of 1702, his interest waned and he devoted himself to other areas of research.

Carl Linnaeus, 1741-1778

Learn more about Carl Linnaeus on Linnaeus Online.

Carl von Linné (Linnaeus) the younger, 1778-1783

Succeeded his father as professor of medicine. He died young and was only active as director of the Botanic Garden for a few years. During this period he carried out research on ferns and mosses, and described new vascular plants from South Africa and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) which he had cultivated in the botanic garden.

Prefect during the relocation of the Garden

Carl Peter Thunberg, 1783-1828

Illustration of Thunbergia alata, black-eyed Susan, has its botanical name after Carl Peter Thunberg.During the 1770s Carl Peter Thunberg undertook a long expedition to South Africa and Japan. He was an enormously productive researcher and wrote, among other things, the first floras for Japan and South Africa. His scientific collections form the foundation of the Herbarium and the Museum of Zoology (now part of the Museum of Evolution). It was thanks to Carl Peter Thunberg that king Gustav III donated Uppsala Castle garden to the University, along with a large sum of money for the construction of a new department building incorporating an orangery. He is commemorated by the genus Thunbergia (picture), to which the popular garden climber Black-eyed Susan belongs.

Directors in the Botanical Garden 1819-

The dates indicate the years during which the directors were active.

Göran Wahlenberg, 1829-1851

Göran Wahlenberg is most famous as a plant geographer; he botanised, for example, in Lapland, Pomerania (an area now divided between Germany and Poland), Switzerland and Austria. With age, Wahlenberg became a trifle eccentric and dismissed the head gardener, amongst others, so that he could look after the Botanic Garden in his own way. The bell-flower genus Wahlenbergia is named after Wahlenberg.

Elias Fries, 1851-1863

Elias Fries was a successful mycologist and is regarded as the father of fungal research.  As director of the Garden he was a prolific correspondent with botanic gardens throughout the world. He started the official exchange of seeds between botanic gardens by publishing the first printed seed catalogue in 1853.

Thore Magnus Fries, 1877-1899

Thore Magnus, son of Elias Fries,  is most famous for his discoveries within lichenology. He was also interested in the history of science, particularly Carl Linnaeus, and became the first Inspector Hammarbyensis after the State took on responsibility for Linnaeus’ Hammarby. The botanic garden expanded under his leadership, the funding was increased, and new accommodation was built for the garden staff and director. In the orangery there is a bay tree grown from a twig of Thore Magnus Fries’ doctoral laurel wreath, given to him when he received his doctorate in 1857.

Oscar Juel, 1907-1928

Oscar was a multifaceted botanist, best known for his contributions to cytology and mycology. He was one of the founders of the Swedish Linnaeus Society and the Swedish Botanical Association. The genus Juelia (Balanophoraceae) from Bolivia is named after him.

Nils Svedelius, 1928-1938

A phycologist (researcher on algae) who studied the systematics and distribution of Nordic and tropical algae, as well as their generation cycles. Nils Svedelius was deeply engaged in the restoration of the Linnaeus Garden and was appointed as the first Director Hortus Linneanus.

Some head gardeners in Hortus Upsaliensis before the relocation

Olof Carlsson Falck, 1697-1716

Very little is known about the first head gardener of the botanic garden. According to the minutes of the Konsistorium (the University’s governing body), Olof Falck was ”essential for the garden”. In 1707 he petitioned the Konsistorium that something must be done for the dromedary that was living in the garden.

Dietrich Nietzel, 1739-1756

Very little is known about the first head gardener of the botanic garden. According to the minutes of the Konsistorium (the University’s governing body), Olof Falck was ”essential for the garden”. In 1707 he petitioned the Konsistorium that something must be done for the dromedary that was living in the garden.

Head gardener during the relocation

Lars Broberg, 1764-1795

Lars Broberg was a very skilled head gardener who was greatly appreciated by the Konsistorium. He not only looked after the plants of the garden but also its animals, which included marmosets, cranes, peacocks, parrots, an ostrich and a cassowary. He was succeeded by his son, Gustaf Adolf Broberg, active during the years 1795-1813.

Head gardeners in the new botanic garden

Daniel Müller, 1851-1857

Legendary head gardener, originally from Germany, with a background as head of the Swedish Gardening Association’s garden. Author of several important gardening books. Together with Frederik Bremer among others he also wrote a collection of verse and prose fiction. Sadly, Daniel Müller was only active in the garden for a few years. He died in the cholera epidemic that raged in Uppsala during the 1850s because of the appalling sanitation, the twelfth member of garden staff to do so.

Fredrik Pettersson, 1862-1902

Never has the botanic garden been so free of weeds as during Fredrik Petterson’s time as head gardener. He was known as an exceptionally conscientious man. In the Baroque Garden can be seen Petterson’s Roundel, the oldest surviving rockery in Sweden, created by Fredrik Petterson in around 1870.

J. Th. Hedlund, 1903

Hedlund was an expert on the genus Sorbus, that is rowans and whitebeams. He founded the extensive Sorbus collection of the botanic garden.

Ivan Örtendahl, 1904-1934

Black and white photo of Ivan Örtendahl dresser in dark suit and surrounded by plants..
Ivan Örtendahl,
head gardener 1904-1934

Ivan Örtendahl (picture) received a solid horticultural education in Britain and Germany before moving to Uppsala. During his time the botanic garden expanded considerably, for example with creation of the water plant quarter. He is commemorated by the scientific name of the potplant Brazilian coleus, Plectranthus oertendahlii.

Last modified: 2022-03-08