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The Dendrological Garden of the Arkhangelsk Forest and Forest Chemistry Institute

Volume 2 Number 6 - June 1996

Natalia A. Demidova

The dendrological garden of the Arkhangelsk Forest and Forest Chemistry Institute was established in 1961 by the Academician I.S. Melekhov as an institutional base for scientific research into the introduction of woody plants.

The garden is situated in the northern taiga sub-is covered with natural pine and spruce.

Soils of the Garden include podsolised and sandy loams. The soil character is acid, with low nitrogen, variable phosporus and potassium content and base-deficient.

The arboretum consists of systematic and geographical areas represented by plots with flora from Europe, Central Asia, Manchuria and North America. It consists of 668 species of 83 genera from 29 families represented by 1,523 specimens. It is a most valuable collection for such high latitudes.

Initial research indicated that members of the family Pinaceae had the most economic potential for introduction. About 300 species of tree and shrub recommended for amenity planting in northern urban areas were selected. Methods of propagation and cultivation for this region were established. The North American lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta var. latifolia S. Wats.) has been tested since 1979. The experimental results showed sufficient resistance and fast growth in the early stages for experimental pine plantations with different ecological conditions to be laid out in the Arkhangelsk and Volgoda regions and in the Komi Republic. Plantations from seed of 30 Canadian provenances were created in these regions in 1993.

We are working on the introduction of the high vitamin berry shrub sea buckthorn (Hippophae) and wild rose. The rich genepool of Hippophae in the dendrological garden represents germplasm from different parts of its natural range and different regions of cultivation, hybridization, polyploidy and chemical mutations. Forms of wild rose have been selected on their fruit size and biologically-active constituents. Successful sea buckthorn introductions in the north is impossible without improved forms with higher climatic tolerance. We have selected the most worthwhile forms for north-west Russia.

The scientists who are working in the laboratory are undertaking a collaborative programme with the Council of the Botanical Gardens which coordinates all introduction work in Russia. They also have contact with the Departments of Northern Horticulture and Horticultural Plant Breeding, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.

Unfortunately, the institute has had financial difficulties recently, due to the changes in the Russian economy. The government funding for scientific research and garden maintenance has been reduced. Thus, the plant collection is not monitored regularly, seed is not collected, nor is a seed list published or distributed. Essential plant maintenance has been discontinued. Soil quality has been reduced because of lack of dressing and aggressive cereal weeds form a dense organic mat amongst the collections. Frost damaged plants are not pruned which has caused the spread of parasitic and fungal infections. It is obvious that without special funding our garden will disintegrate.