Category: Millesgården

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Glowing autumn foliage at Millesgården, Stockholm, Sweden

Autumn has never looked more stunning than at Millesgården. The vibrant colors of the garden are simply breathtaking, and that Lensbaby Velvet 85 lens creates the most delicious blur and bokeh. Can you believe this is a real place?

I usually use my Canon RF50mm F1.2 L USM lens at Millesgården or the Canon RF100mm F2.8 L MACRO IS USM one, but this time, I wanted to test my new toy, the Velvet 85. I bought it for flowers and still-life photos, but I was curious about other images.

All Lensbaby lenses use only manual focus, so it’s best to take lots of photos to make sure you nail the focus – especially when shooting at large apertures, as I do. I love to shoot for the blur, and I usually love F/1.8 to F/2.8, but I noticed that F/2.8 to f/4 works best for me when using a Lensbaby – for flowers.

It turned out that F/2.8 is the only aperture I love for this type of photo. F/1.8 is wonderful; the blur is insanely soft, but it only suits some photos, and getting the focus is really tricky. F/4 and up is fine; it’s pretty easy to focus, but as more of the background comes into focus, some of the magic disappears. Hence, F/2.8.

St. Martin fountain by Carl Milles at Millesgården, Stockholm, Sweden

Another shot from Millesgården. It is such a magical place in the autumn! This is the statue of St. Martin on the lower terrace.

Millesgården was the home of Swedish sculptor Carl Milles (1875 – 1955); he designed and built it, and it is now a museum with Milles’ antique collection, sculpture garden, and art gallery. The garden is inspired by Italy’s Mediterranean gardens, and it’s a work of art in itself. Carl Milles and his Austrian wife Olga, an artist herself, spent the winters in Italy that both loved.

A red squirrel atop a pumpkin

Squirrels! As soon as there are fewer squirrel photos on my Instagram or Facebook accounts, someone will wonder where the squirrels are. Somehow, I became the squirrel whisperer. Not a bad thing when it comes to social media.

This is a photo from last year that I hadn’t processed. I thought it would make a nice Halloween card and processed it accordingly. You can see the card here.

A red squirrel eating a hazelnut atop a pumpkin

Just squirrel-ing around and finding its inner peace, ha, ha!


I had a few pumpkins out in the garden to get some photos for a squirrel Halloween card, but I wasn’t pleased with the images. They were fine, like this one, but didn’t work for a card, so I gave up in the end and used that photo from last year.

Eurasian nuthatch (Sitta europaea)

I love photographing wood nuthatches (Sitta europaea); they usually strike a pose when landing and again before taking off, checking their surroundings. I can always count on them to sit still long enough for me to get a decent photo.


Did you know that nuthatches can forage when descending trees head first? Inveterate hoarders, they store the food in the bark of the trees, then conceal it with moss or small pieces of bark.


I hope you enjoyed these photos; there are more to come next month.


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Autumn at Millesgården

Autumn foliage at Millesgården, Stockholm (Sweden)

Glowing autumn foliage at Millesgården, Stockholm (Sweden). Millesgården is one of my favorite places to both stroll in and photograph; it’s beautiful and peaceful. 

It was the home of Swedish sculptor Carl Milles (1875 – 1955); he designed and built it, and it is now a museum with Milles’ antique collection, sculpture garden, and art gallery. The garden is inspired by Italy’s Mediterranean gardens, and it’s a work of art in itself. Carl Milles and his Austrian wife Olga, an artist herself, spent the winters in Italy that both loved.

The photo was taken with Canon R5 and Lensbaby Velvet 85 mm at F/2.8, 1/125 seconds, ISO 100. I applied basic adjustments in Lightroom, processed it in Photoshop using Nic Color Effex 6, and finally added Photoshop warming filter 81.


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Christmas Decorations at Millesgården

White Helleborus or Christmas Rose. Photo by Mihaela Limberea
Christmas roses in full bloom in the sculpture garden.
Christmas wreath. Photo by Mihaela Limberea

Time for a quick visit to Millesgården to see the Christmas decorations, something we do every year; it’s become a tradition.

A collection of Christmas flowers at Millesgården. Photo by Mihaela Limberea

They usually have lovely decorations and often a smaller exhibition in the artist’s home. The flowers were gorgeous as ever, but understandably, no exhibition this year. It’s a wonder they’re still open.

Being a sculpture park helps to keep the distance, of course. I wonder whether any future readers would know what this distancing is about. Or would this be the new normal?

Green plant in a white pot. Photo by Mihaela Limberea

The exquisite pot designed by Carl Milles in the 1920s is available in the museum shop. It’s a bit pricey, though—it would make a good Christmas gift.

Close up of a white Christmas rose. Photo by Mihaela Limberea

Christmas roses (Helleborus)

Close up of a Christmas wreath with red ribbon. Photo by Mihaela Limberea

The simple is beautiful.

Close up of a Christmas tree with traditional Swedish straw decorations. Photo by Mihaela Limberea

Traditional Swedish straw decorations.

Close up of a Yule goat. Photo by Mihaela Limberea

The Yule goat.

St. Francis statue at Millesgården. Photo by Mihaela Limberea

St. Francis statue in the sculpture park. The Christmases roses are in full bloom, which is unusual. Usually we have a lot of snow this time of the year.


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Fragmentary Blue

Man and Pegasus statue by Carl Milles, at Millesgården, Sweden. Photo © Mihaela Limberea www.limberea.com
Man and Pegasus by Carl Milles, Millesgården, Sweden. Photo © Mihaela Limberea

Why make so much of fragmentary blue

In here and there a bird, or butterfly,

Or flower, or wearing-stone, or open eye,

When heaven presents in sheets the solid hue?

Since earth is earth, perhaps, not heaven (as yet)—

Though some savants make earth include the sky;

And blue so far above us comes so high,

It only gives our wish for blue a whet.

by Robert Frost (1874–1963)



Back at Millesgården

The stairway from Little Austria/Olga's Terrace to the Upper Terrace, Millesgården sculpture park, Lidingö, Sweden. Photo by Mihaela Limberea. www.limberea.com
The stairway from Little Austria/Olga’s Terrace to the Upper Terrace, Millesgården. All photos © Mihaela Limberea.

One of the joys in otherwise a pretty bleak summer (hey, COVID-19!) has been the re-opening of Millesgården. Not only for me but apparently for a large number of other people. I’ve been there several times since the re-opening at the end of April, and there were many people every time. Mostly Swedish tourists, though, usually there are busloads of foreign tourists. In any case, it’s good to see Millesgården open again, and so many people enjoying it.

Millesgården sculpture park, Lidingö, Sweden. Photo by Mihaela Limberea. www.limberea.com
The Venus Fountain at Millesgården sculpture park, Lidingö, Sweden. Photo by Mihaela Limberea. www.limberea.com

The Venus Fountain (1917) showing the godess’ birth from the sea.

The Middle Terrace, Millesgården sculpture park, Lidingö, Sweden. Photo by Mihaela Limberea. www.limberea.com

The Middle Terrace with its’ row of lemon trees.

The Middle Terrace, Millesgården sculpture park, Lidingö, Sweden. Photo by Mihaela Limberea. www.limberea.com

Middle Terrace – on the right hand you can see The Genius (1940).

The Genius at Millesgården sculpture park, Lidingö, Sweden. Photo by Mihaela Limberea. www.limberea.com

The statue is a replica of a grave monument to the Swedish actor Gösta Ekman.

Cymbalaria muralis grows on the steps of  Olga's Terrace, Millesgården sculpture park, Lidingö, Sweden. Photo by Mihaela Limberea. www.limberea.com

Cymbalaria muralis grows on the steps of Olga’s Terrace.

Olgas Terrace, Millesgården sculpture park, Lidingö, Sweden. Photo by Mihaela Limberea. www.limberea.com

Olga’s Terrace, Carl Milles tribute to his Austrian-born wife. Olgas was an artist, too; she was a painter.

Olga's Terrace, Millesgården sculpture park, Lidingö, Sweden. Photo by Mihaela Limberea. www.limberea.com
The Aganippe Fountain at Millesgården sculpture park, Lidingö, Sweden. Photo by Mihaela Limberea. www.limberea.com

The Aganippe Fountain (1955). The indoor fountain was created for the Metropolitan Museum but has later been moved to Brookgreen Gardens (South Carolina). I like how Milles re-interpreted the Greek myth and changed the muses, typically portraited as women, to young boys.

The Water Nymph at Millesgården sculpture park, Lidingö, Sweden. Photo by Mihaela Limberea. www.limberea.com

The Water Nymph, part of the The Aganippe Fountain.

The Aganippe Fountain at Millesgården sculpture park, Lidingö, Sweden. Photo by Mihaela Limberea. www.limberea.com
The Aganippe Fountain: the musicians (and in the background, the painter). Millesgården sculpture park, Lidingö, Sweden. Photo by Mihaela Limberea. www.limberea.com

The Aganippe Fountain: the musicians (and in the background, the painter).

Roses at Millesgården sculpture park, Lidingö, Sweden. Photo by Mihaela Limberea. www.limberea.com

Rose is a is a rose is a rose. (Gertrude Stein)

Clematis at Millesgården sculpture park, Lidingö, Sweden. Photo by Mihaela Limberea. www.limberea.com

Small flowered clematis on the upper terrace.

Roses at Millesgården sculpture park, Lidingö, Sweden. Photo by Mihaela Limberea. www.limberea.com
The Lower Terrace with St. Martin at Millesgården sculpture park, Lidingö, Sweden. Photo by Mihaela Limberea. www.limberea.com

The wonderful flower beds on the Lower Terrace with St. Martin sharing his mantle with a beggar in the background. St. Martin’s statue is part of the St. Martin Fountain from 1955, Carl Milles’ last completed work of art.

The Lower Terrace at Millesgården sculpture park, Lidingö, Sweden. Photo by Mihaela Limberea. www.limberea.com

The flowerbed has been created by Ulf Nordfjell, a well-known Swedish garden designer. The theme this year is Bumblebees and bees go pink.

Millesgården sculpture park, Lidingö, Sweden. Photo by Mihaela Limberea. www.limberea.com
Angel's trumpets at Millesgården sculpture park, Lidingö, Sweden. Photo by Mihaela Limberea. www.limberea.com

You have no idea how hard it was to take this photo. This is a small service area, and water hoses, buckets, wheelbarrows, or other garden tools are very often strewn about. This time there were two wheelbarrows and one huge waste bag (the kind of bag that has to get picked up by a truck due to its weight).

It is a quite pleasant spot when not encumbered with wheelbarrows and the like, and I really wanted to capture it. I know that many people would just retouch the photo and remove the stuff, but that’s not me. I like a challenge and making the most of what there is, not create an illusion. I also think that creating those composite photos, adding bits and pieces to create one fantastic image, is not what photography is about. As all artists know, creativity thrives on constraints.

Angel's trumpets at Millesgården sculpture park, Lidingö, Sweden. Photo by Mihaela Limberea. www.limberea.com

The large flowers of angel’s trumpets Brugmansia suaveolens. All Brugmansia species are amongst the most toxic of ornamental plants!

Lemon trees at Anne's house, Millesgården sculpture park, Lidingö, Sweden. Photo by Mihaela Limberea. www.limberea.com

Lemon trees in front of Anne’s house, a two-room house built by Carl Milles for his secretary.

Millesgården sculpture park, Lidingö, Sweden. Photo by Mihaela Limberea. www.limberea.com
Millesgården sculpture park, Lidingö, Sweden. Photo by Mihaela Limberea. www.limberea.com

I’ll stop here for now (congratulations if you’ve made this far!), but you can be sure there’ll be more Millesgården posts on this blog.

 In the meantime, stay safe, stay healthy, and soldier on. And don’t forget to laugh. 


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The Fairest Thing We Can Experience Is The Mysterious

Angel Musicians by Carl Milles at Millesgården, Stockholm. Photo © Mihaela Limberea

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. He who does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer feel amazement, is as good as dead, a sniffed-out candle. – Albert Einstein



A Brief Visit: Millesgården

Angel Musicians by Carl Milles. Photo © Mihaela Limberea

While other countries in Europe are under a lockdown or the freedom of movement has been much limited, Sweden goes its’ own way. The elementary schools, kindergarten, and shops are still open, the limit for permissible meetings is 500 people* and there is no mandatory curfew. However, more restrictions apply almost every day, so it’s likely we’ll see more movement constraints eventually.

* A few hours after writing this, the limit has been set at 50 people.

Some of the museums and theaters have already closed on their own, though, so my husband and I went to Millesgården last week in case it would close too. And right it was because Millesgården closed as well – the day after. We saw the announcement when we returned home.

Angel Musicians by Carl Milles. Photo © Mihaela Limberea

Carl Milles (1875 – 1955) was a Swedish sculptor. Millesgården, which he designed and built in 1908, was his home and is now a museum with Milles’ antique collection, sculpture garden, and art gallery.

The Hand of God by Carl Milles. Photo © Mihaela Limberea

This is my favorite sculpture of Carl Milles. I probably have hundreds of pictures of it, I never tire of photographing it.

Angel Musicians at sunset. Photo © Mihaela Limberea
Millesgården – the Lower Terrace. Photo © Mihaela Limberea

The garden is inspired by Italy’s Mediterranean gardens, and it’s a work of art in itself. Carl Milles and his Austrian wife Olga, an artist herself, spent the winters in Italy that both loved.

Angel Musicians by Carl Milles. Photo © Mihaela Limberea

My husband and I both love Millesgården. We used to visit it very often as we’re annual cardholders and it lies 10 only minutes from our home. During our seven years in Switzerland, these visits were one of the things we missed most, and we were looking forward to them when moving back to Sweden. Unfortunately, the corona pandemic put many things on hold, Millesgården visits included.

The Hand of God by Carl Milles. Photo © Mihaela Limberea

But life goes on, and even the coronavirus will eventually be contained. When Millesgården opens again, you can be sure we’ll back in a heartbeat.

In the meantime: stay healthy, stay safe, stay calm and wash your hands. And don’t forget to laugh.


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