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Arboretum of M. M.Grishko National Botanical Garden, NAS, Ukraine

Volume 4 Number 1 - December 2003
T.M. Cherevchenko

The Arboretum of the M M Grishko National Botanical Garden (NBG) is a very important component of the Garden. It is 30 ha and was laid out in 1948 by L.I. Rubtsov, an eminent Ukrainian dendrologist and landscape designer. The Botanical Garden and Arboretum are set on the high right bank of the Dnipro (Dnieper), with hills 100 m above the river level. This means there are diverse ecological conditions which satisfy the biological requirements of different groups of plants.

The aim of the Arboretum was to display the collections not only in taxonomic groups but also to give an overall picturesque effect.

At present there are 674 species in the Arboretum with 22 varieties, 34 hybrids and 274 cultivars, represented by 139 genera and 40 families. There are 157 gymnosperms and 848 angiosperms. The Arboretum contains plants from east Asia, the circumboreal region, the North American Atlantic, the Mediterranean and other floristic zones. Most of the collection (80%) is from the first three regions. As for life forms shrubs prevail (522 taxa) and tree plantations consist of 482 taxa. The families Cupressaceae, Pinaceae, Aceraceae, Betulaceae, Fabaceae, Fagaceae, Hydrangeaceae, Magnoliaceae, Salicaceae, Oleaceae are extensively represented in the arboretum. The unique Garden of Lilacs with its well-known collection is also part of it. All plots are complete and simultaneously separate groups, which create special compositions.

The third part of the Arboretum is the Gymnosperm area. It has a total of about 10 ha with 20 genera, 79 species, 3 varieties, 6 hybrids and 69 forms. One can see here a mute witness to remote geological epochs, for instance: Ginkgo biloba, Taxus baccata, Metasequoia glyptostroboides, Taxodium distichum, Tsuga canadensis, Abies concolor.

In the twentieth century, the coniferous plants Abies holophylla, Microbiota decussata and Picea montigena were introduced into the Ukraine through the Arboretum as well as Cryptomeria japonica and Cunninghamia lanceolata which are now grown extensively.

The systematic as well as the landscape principle is the basis for the use of conifers in the Arboretum. For instance, the soil cover shrub Juniperus sabina was used for creating a background for other plants and making paths. Particular use has been made of species with bluish, silver and grey tints of needles.

The Birch Grove plot is a mixed plantation, as is the majority of other plots. There are 45 species, 5 varieties, 4 hybrids and garden forms of the genus Betula with Berberis (49 species and forms), Lonicera (56), Symphoricarpus (10), Corylus (9) and others. This is an example of the collection being planted on a taxonomic basis but considering the landscape. Almost in the centre of the plot a wide lawn opens to a distant vista of the Kyiv-Pecherska Lavra, which is extremely picturesque. Introduced plants are represented by such species as Betula lenta with dark-brown bark, B. davurica which has a dark-grey cortex which peels off in rags and B. schmidtii with a greyish-brown bark.

The Rosaceae plot is the most taxonomically complete in the Arboretum with 237 species and forms. The most numerous generic complexes are Crataegus (41 species and forms), Malus (25), Pyrus (13) and Sorbus (12). The plot also has vistas of the Dnipro and the Vydubytskyi Monastery. This monastic complex includes the Mikhailivska Tserkva (St Michael’s Church) built of brick and stone in the XI century.

There is also an area in the Arboretum for the family Salicaceae. It has the largest collection of Salix in Ukraine (41 species and forms) and also 6 species and forms of Populus. Members of this family are widely used in landscape design, forestry and medicine. The group of hybrids is extensive and includes specimens developed by Academician V.M. Sukachov and plant breeders at NBG. These plants noted for their ornamental characters and fast growth are the best material for weaving. Another interesting plant is that of Liquidambar styraciflua which is grown in around the narrow gorge to the Vydubytskyi Monastery.

Magnolia Garden

The Magnolia Garden was laid out in 1966 by L.I. Rubtsov. It covers one hectare and has 63 species and forms, but the main focus is the 23 taxa of the genus Magnolia (10 species, 10 cultivars and 3 varieties). The introduction of Magnolia into the Ukraine has been very important and it is one of the most popular ornamental flowering trees and shrubs. Particularly spectacular are M. stellata, M. obovata, M. x loebneri, M. x soulangiana and their garden forms. This garden also includes Styrax obassia, Pterostyrax hispida, Liriodendron tulipifera, and Abelia corymbosa.

Lilac Garden

The Lilac Garden is the most popular area of the Garden. It was started in 1948 on a beautiful hill on banks of the Dnipro. This part of the Arboretum was planned by Professor Rubtsov in a symmetrical style as a parterre with a view of the golden tips of the Vydubytskyi Monastery and the Dnipro in the distance. At present it occupies 2.4 ha with 21 species, 2 varieties and 3 hybrids of Syringa. The collection also includes 75 varieties and 60 prospective ornamental forms which have been developed by NBG.

The collection includes four cultivars which were bred at the Garden: ‘Taras Bulba’, Bogdan Khmelnitskyi’, ‘Ogni Donbassu’ and ‘Lesya Ukrainka. In total, 1,400 specimens of Lilac grow in this plot. Other introduced species from the Oleaceae family such as Chionanthus virginia and Fontanesia fortunei are also grown in this plot. As Forsythia is taxonomically related to the Oleaceae, a plot of this species is adjacent to the Lilac Garden. It has a gentle
slope with a north-east aspect and is known as Gold Valley as it is very beautiful during the flowering season.