green tree in your heart and,
perhaps, the singing birds will come"
Old Chinese saying
Can the usual citizen of Irkutsk visit a green
tropical forest and inhale the smells of exotic plants during the long Siberian winter? Or
it is the privilege for "New Russians" who can travel to exotic places.
We answer, "Yes, there is such a unique place in Irkutsk, where huge 4-meter cacti,
palms, bananas, agaves, bromelias, eucalyptuses, poinsettias, "deer's horn"
ferns, citrus trees and vines grow green year-round". All this is created and
supported by the work of dedicated enthusiasts - the staff of the Botanic Garden of
Irkutsk State University (BG ISU).
From the very beginning of the 80-year history of the University, there was the idea to
arrange a special botanic garden for scientific work of the students and teachers, and
also for the education and pleasure of local citizens. This idea managed to be realized in
the spring of 1941 only, on the eve of World War II. For 40-50 years it has been a
difficult time in the development of the Garden as a department of the University and, for
a long time, it remained closed to free visitation. But the need for an open Botanic
Garden is great, bolstered by numerous requests from Irkutsk citizens.
The Botanic Garden of ISU is the only botanic garden in the region, having a collection of
more than 1700 species and varieties of plants, representing the flora of Irkutsk Oblast
and different biomes of the world. The Garden's staff can provide year-round thematic
excursions and guided tours in the open collections and the educational greenhouses by
prearranged group application. The Garden has become, for many gardeners and dacha owners,
an exclusive source of high quality nursery-stock of fruit and ornamental trees,
shrubs, exotic herbaceous plants, and perennials. The employees of the Garden are always
ready to provide free-of-charge advice and consultation about growing, protection, and use
of favourite plants. The Botanic Garden attracts and involves Irkutsk citizens -
especially youth - in an atmosphere of freshness, and with an appreciation of nature, in
all the seasons of the year. Students from the University, the Youth Educational Centre,
special children's homes (orpahangees), and secondary public schools participate in
Supported by the administration of the University, the TACIS program of of the European
Community, and Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, our staff is developing a conceptual and
strategic plan of development of the Botanic Garden as an object of special environmental,
scientific, cultural, aesthetic, and recreational importance for Irkutsk residents. It is
necessary to transform the Garden into a unique sight for Irkutsk - a subject of citizen
pride. In the nearest future it will also be necessary to make a part of the collections
of the Garden accessible for free admission by the inhabitants of, and visitors to,
Irkutsk. It now being required by the new law of the Russian Federation "On Strictly
Protected Natural Territories".
As a museum of living nature and, first of all - a cultural, educational, and
environmental institution - it is necessary to organize the Garden in order to demonstrate
the beauty of plants for the pleasure and education of visitors and students. Landscapes
and the collections will attract and involve visitors, tourists, and the local population.
During this troubled time of transition in Russia, it is necessary to save this such green
island of nature for our children and grand-children. In this pursuit of preservation of
the Garden, your support is necessary.