Lviv’s Botanical Treasure

  • Lviv’s Botanical Treasure
Issue 58, June 2013.

Lviv’s Botanical Treasure

The Botanical Garden is one of the oldest educational and scientific research institutions of the Lviv National Ivan Franko University in Ukraine. The main task of the garden was to offer students lessons on morphology and the systematic teaching of plants at the University. Today the Botanical Garden is located in Lviv in two different areas, 44 Cheremshiny St. (which covers an area of 16.5 ha) and at 4 Cyril and Methodius St. (occuping 2 hectares).
The idea of creating a botanical garden in Lviv first appeared in 1784, when Professor Shivereck founded a small botanical garden at the former Dominican Monastery on Kopernika St., which unfortunately did not exist very long. Later in 1823, it was Professor Vittman who made another attempt and created a botanical garden in the city’s suburbs, which also didn’t last long.
Professor Lobazhevski founded the present Botanical Gardens in 1852, on the northeastern slope of Kalicha hill in the old Trinitarians Garden (the Cyril & Methodius St.). Nowadays, greenhouses and a little dendropark can be found at this location. Since its creation till present day, the garden has seen ongoing work on compiling exotic plant collections in hothouses and special areas. Today the garden is famous for its collection of orchids and their hybrids. One can admire these beautiful flowers in the period of their blossoming.
A new garden, which is currently located at Cheremshyna Street was founded in 1911 by Karl Bauer, also the creator of the project at the Lychakiv cemetery and Ivan Franko park, who was also a gardener in Lviv in the second half of 19th c. Thanks to his efforts and practices, the Botanical Gardens of the Lviv National University became well-known even beyond the borders of Ukraine.
To enlarge the Botanical Garden territory in 1911 the University purchased an additional 4,5 ha of land in Tsetnerivka from the owner, who also was a huge fan of decorative gardening. Since 1787, on the newly purchased grounds, grew American Pine trees, Acacias, Red leaf Beeches, Ash trees, different Maple trees, as well as a variety of lawns and flowerbeds. Many of those trees, some of which are several hundred years old, have been well preserved until today.
Thanks to the advantageous landscape—the presence of a pond, half-bog valley, slopes of different exposition, a dry heightened plateau with a plot created by artificial fragments of natural plantings, storage lakes, bogs, meadows, a meadow-steppe, a wooded-steppe, different kinds of forests, plains and forest, subalpine and alpine belts of the Carpathians in the garden.
Under Professor Kulchynskyi’s direction in 1924 it was planned to create a museum-garden of local flora. From 1924-1939, numerous special expeditions were conducted in order to gather a variety of rare seeds and plants from across Ukraine, which were brought back to the garden and planted, recreating artificial landscapes. Before World War II about 2 thousand species of natural flora were gathered and were used to create natural plant communities within the garden.
During WW II, the garden suffered great damage: sensitive greenhouse plants perished as well as collections of ornamental plants, the amount of steppe plants decreased and the alpine and subalpine plants almost completely disappeared. Immediately after the end of WW II, renovation work began in the Botanical Gardens.
Over time, the territory of the garden at 44 Cheremshyny St. increased to 104 ha, which were covered with forests from the territory of Armenian bishops as well as the territory that used to belong to former owner Bohdanowych. There were sandy slopes, partly covered with grass plants and bushes, partly with a beech forest, mixed with hornbeam and local oaks.
Since 1998, the garden has 5 scientific sections: a section of tropical and subtropical flora, a section of dendrology, that of herbaceous flora and cultural flora and a section for the physiology and biochemistry of plants. During the last 50 years the garden’s collections were greatly enhanced by various species of plants and today the total number is over 5000 items.
The garden takes special pride in its collections of heritage plants (those aged over 100 years old), among which are the Rhododendron collection, which is today the biggest attraction at the Lviv Botanic Garden.
Each month, the Lviv Botanical Garden organizes an ‘Open Doors” day, during which Leopolitans and guests of the city can visit the gardens free of charge, admire the beautiful flora and enjoy a variety of entertainment programs.