And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
fact, every botanical garden should strive to be a sort of a paradise
on earth. In numerous religious paintings and icons the paradise looks
like a garden with all kinds of plants from all parts of the world, with
palms and fir trees growing side by side. It seems to be a natural thing
for artists to do how else could they show unity and harmony of
the Universe before the Fall? Since then man has done a lot of damage
to the green world. Luckily enough, the idea of an earthly paradise lives
on. Gardens continue to be planted, and who knows, may be someday, distant
descendants of Adam and Eve will find a way of growing the Tree of Life
with fruit that will give them eternal life. Botanical garden is an attempt
to recreate the Garden of Eden. There are hundreds of botanical gardens
in many parts of the world now. Each of them shows indigenous plants and
plants from distant lands as well. It is also a groomed place, demonstrating
what our environment could look like if we took enough care of it.
are collections of herbaceous plants as well. There are specimens from the
cold lands, like the dwarf birch, for example; plants from the tropical
lands are grown in greenhouses. The garden spreads over a wonderful place,
wonderful not only because of its natural beauty but also because two monasteries
used to share this place. One may say that even the grounds of the garden
have been sanctified. The garden is well cared for and tended by the descendants
of many generations of Ukrainians who have always been known as skilful
tillers and lovers of nature. All of these things put together make the
garden a remarkable place. Even the size of it is outstanding - it is one
of the bigger botanical gardens of the world ranking high on the worlds
list of such gardens. The garden sits on several hills in the southern outskirts
In the medieval times, the whole area was forested and was a hunting preserve of Kyiv princes. In the valley between the hills one can get an idea what kind of woods stood around there in the time of old. On one of the hills, where now one finds an excellent syringarium (a garden of lilacs; from the word syringa, which is a clever word for lilac), there stood once an out-of-town palace of Kyiv rulers. In the tenth century it was Prince Volodymyr (later made saint, the one who baptised the inhabitants of the land of Kyiv), who came to stay at the palace; later, the mighty princes Yaroslav the Wise, Volodymyr the Monomach and Yury the Long Arm, the founder of Moscow, spent lengths of time there. Nothing has survived of the palace, there are no bears, boars, or lynxes to hunt, but the place continues to be visited. By tourists and nature lovers. Hundreds of thousands of people have visited the garden since it was founded more than fifty years ago. At the foot of one of the garden hills - the one with lilacs on top - there stands an ancient monastery. The Vydubetsky Monastery sprang up in the 11th century and its central church, the Mykhaylivsky (St Michaels) Cathedral dates from 1070. Some frescoes of the 12th and 18th centuries have been preserved on the interior walls of the church. Some of the graffiti on the walls are almost as old as the church itself. The monastery had its own orchard and though there are no trees in our land that can live a thousand years, one can get a very good idea what the place might have looked like in the early times, since both the monastery and the orchard are still there. Another church of the monastery, the Heorhiyivsky (St Georges), is of later times, dating from the year 1696. Historians of architecture call the style it was built in Ukrainian Cossack Baroque. Some of the buildings of the monastery were erected thanks to the donations of Colonel of Myklashevsky from the town of Starodub. Now the town, because of the changes in the line of the borders, is in Russia, and there seem to be no colonels left in Ukraine who could donate enough money to have a monastery built.
Panoramic view of Kyiv from the Garden.
back to the Vydubetsky Monastery, one can safely claim that there is hardly
another architectural complex in the whole of Ukraine that looks so well
harmonized with its natural surroundings. The domes of Ukrainian churches
were of three colours: gold, to symbolize the sun and Gods glory;
blue, with stars, to symbolize the heavens, or grassy green, to symbolize
Climbing the hill, one comes to another monastery, the Ionivsky (Prophet Jonas) with a magnolia grove on the way. The botanical garden of Kyiv is the easternmost point in Europe where magnolia still can live. The magnolias in this grove are among the first to announce spring by bursting into white and pink blossoms at the time when other trees have not yet put out their first leaves. The sweet smell of the blossoms of these subtropical plants hover above the place, attracting young lovers and old people alike. The cells of the Ionivsky Monastery (founded at the end of the 19th century) are situated close by and the monks may show the visitors the Zvirynetski Caves - an underground system of corridors connecting caves, both natural and man-made, dating from very early times.
underground church there, for example, is believed to have been founded
in the 10th century. Massive invasions of the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries
of the Polovtsi, Mongols, and other non-Christian nomads eventually led
to the abandonment of the underground monastery. It was rediscovered only
in the eighties of the 19th century.
Going down is like travelling in time: you see some of the things - or rather their fragments - that have survived from a thousand years back, left behind there by the last inhabitants of the cave monastery, you see skeletons, mute witnesses of the ancient tragedy, and if you have enough imagination it is easy to feel transported a millennium back in time.
One section of the botanical garden is given to the Steppes of Ukraine, with many wild flowers and grasses typical of the steppe growing there. One can even see there several extremely rare purple wild tulips among other wild flowers of many colours. On a mound in the middle of the garden steppe stands a baba - a pagan idol that once dotted the countryside of southern Ukraine in thousands. Some of the surviving ones have found their way into museums and public gardens.
Walking through the garden you can visit many parts of the planet. There are sections in the garden made to look, with appropriate plants growing there, like the Crimea, Caucasus, Siberia, and other distant lands. In one of the smaller greenhouses, not open to the public, ginseng, known for its medicinal properties, is grown. Rosarium, that is a rose garden, is notable for its vast collection of roses, displayed with a great taste. The pond in the centre of the rose garden enhances the beauty of the place.
collections of other flowers are extensive enough to satisfy the aesthetic
and taxonomic requirements.