Short history of VU Botanical Garden – four locations and almost 160 years of activity.
Since its foundation in 1781, Vilnius University Botanical Garden (VU BG) has changed its location four times, the first two being – Pilies str. 22 (1781-1799), and Sereikiškės (1799-1842), where it prospered. Unfortunately, the life of the BG from 1842 to 1919 was completely discontinued. The thread of history of the BG, which was re-established together with Steponas Batoras University, has not been interrupted since: In Vingis – since 1919 (since 1974 as a department), in Kairėnai – since 1974. The relocations of the BG from Pilies str. 22 yard to Sereikiškės and from Vingis to Kairėnai was driven by the needs of the BG’s development. During those more than 160 years, there have been all sorts of happenings: the loss of the first two places, and the activity has been in a flurry of booms and busts.
Ist place – the yard in the Old Town (Pilies str. 22) (1781-1799). In Pilies street, across the St. Johns’ church, located in Vilnius, there is a house marked with the number 22. The house is simple, however its yard is very spacious, in the middle there is a patch of lawn surrounded by yews and a few other trees. Symbolically – on the house wall there is a memorial plate dedicated to prof. Joannes Emmanuel Gilibert (unveiled in 1999 during the European Cultural Heritage Days), and the first place of VU BG is marked with those plants in the yard.
Ex. Memorial board on Plies str. 22 house, and the yard of this house.
The abolition of the Jesuit Order in all countries in 1773 by the papal brief of Pope Clement XIV and the subsequent establishment of the Educational Commission, which took charge of education, created favorable conditions for the development of medicine and the natural sciences at Vilnius University, which was in reform at the time. Rector Marcin Poczobutt-Odlancki was choosing the candidates for the professorship. He suggested the Department of Natural History to Grodno’s Medical School professor Ž. E. Žilibertas who during his working time in Grodno, alongside other activities, has been researching flora of Grodno’s and further local areas, established and cared for the BG. The department in VU started its activity in 1781, and in the spring of 1782 Grodno’s BG plants were transferred to Vilnius, Collegium Medicum yard. The greenhouse was built as soon as possible for exigent plants, other plants were planted in plant beds, in approximately 200m2 plot. Surviving archival documents suggest that around 500-600 named plants, mostly trees and bushes, were moved from Grodno to Vilnius. However, in the autumn of 1783 Ž. E. Žilibertas left.
Ex. Ž. E. Žilibertas, his book “Flora of Lithuania” (volume released in Vilnius, 1781), and the exposition located in VU – St. Johns’ Church’s bell tower – dedicated to Ž. E. Žilibertas, titled “University and the World – naturalists”
In the autumn of 1784, Johann Georg Adam Forster, a renowned naturalist and explorer, a participant in James Cook’s second trip around the globe (1772-1775), became the head of the Department of Natural History and the BG. By bringing back to Vilnius a seed collection of about 650 named plants, he considerably supplemented, or rather doubled, the VU BG plant and seed collection. G. Forster was disappointed with the very small BG, so he worked hard to get the Educational Commission to allocate funds to buy a new plot in 1787. In the same year, the first plot of land in Sereikiškės was purchased under his care. Unfortunately, in 1787, G. Forster left Vilnius.
Ex. G. Forster, and the image of Sereikiškės around 1877
The search for a new professor was long, the BG was temporarily taken care of by professors of medicine, until prof. Ferdinand Spicnagel, who started his work in 1792, and who was also a medical doctor, started to work on the concrete work of relocating the BG to Sereikiškės.
Further information: G. Jurkevičienė, A. Skridaila, S. Žilinskaitė, K. Balnytė. Vilniaus universiteto Botanikos sodas. VU, 2008, 87 pp.
S. Žilinskaitė. Vilniaus universiteto Botanikos sodas Pilies gatvėje // Sodo spalvos, 2012, Nr. 3 (183), pp. 76-79.
A. Skridaila, S. Žilinskaitė, N. Shiyan. Joannes Emmanuel Gilibert and Vilnius University Botanical Garden: results of current studies of archive material from Vilnius Archives, Göttingen University and National Herbarium of Ukraine (KW). // Kwartalnik Historii Nauki i Techniki (Poland), R.60: 2015, Nr. 1, pp. 95-116.
IInd place – Sereikiškės (1799-1842). The former site of VU BG is now part of Bernardinai Garden, to the left of the main avenue after entering through the central gate, as well as the foothills of the Bekes and Bald (Three Crosses) hills. A small symbolic exhibition is dedicated to the BG in Bernardinai Garden, which opened in 2013 after reconstruction.
Ex. An exhibition in Bernardinai Garden, opened after reconstruction to commemorate the BG.
Interestingly enough, between the 18th and 19th centuries, the appearance of this area was quite different – it resembled an island, which was surrounded by the old and new Vilnia riverbeds and King Mindaugas’ Mill Canal. The BG territory expanded slowly, constantly adding some land (1787, 1801, 1808 and later), until the garden holdings reached 4,4ha. The garden was accentuated by three classical buildings – the large orangery (on the site of Barbora Radvilaitė str. 8 house) with greenhouses in the front, the house of the Department of Natural History (at Barbora Radvilaitė str. 6), and the house on the right shore of the river Vilnelė (at Barbora Radvilaitė str. 10).
While creating the garden, the principles of Swedish botanist Carl Linnaei were kept in mind: the purpose of the garden – educational, the map – “geometrical”, i. e. divided into rectangular plots, planted with hedges. Plants are grown in beds according to the classes established by K. Linnaei. Trees have a protective function. Inspectors are required, and plants from warmer climates are grown in three types of greenhouses. There has to be a museum, where the exhibitions are not only botanical, but also zoological and mineralogical.
The first plan of the garden in Sereikiškės was presented by Prof. F. Spicnagel in the programme for the academic year of 1792-1793. An architect was called in, a project was drawn up, and some concrete work was undertaken (some plants were planted), but the plans were prevented from being implemented by the country's misfortunes, as no money was available for the upkeep of the garden.
Ex. F. Spicnagel and his plan for BG in Sereikiškės (upper right), and BG garden plan, created by S. B. Jundzilł (around 1807-1808) (bottom).
In 1797, Stanisław Bonifacy Jundzilł returned to Vilnius after an internship abroad, and in the autumn of the same year he was appointed vice-professor of the Department of Natural History, also becoming in charge of the BG. After criticizing F. Spicnagel’s plan, S. B. Jundzilł suggested his own, and in 1799 he started work on the area. In the spring of 1806, the cornerstone of the orangery was laid, and the foundations and walls were built from the bricks of the demolished Lower Castle. The construction ended in 1808, later 2-3 rows of greenhouses were added. Various plants, which were transferred from the Pilies str. greenhouse or gifted by various noblemen, were planted in orangeries. This collection was constantly growing, and it became the biggest collection of the BG (still the biggest to this day). The collection of the BG orangeries and outdoor plants grew: in the year 1800 – 474, 1804 – 1605, 1824 – 6565 named plants. For the purposes of trading seeds or plants with other gardens, plant or seed trade catalogs were being released (the first one was released in 1802). Because of the clever way that the garden was kept, it was thriving, and became known outside of Lithuania. This garden was one of the richest botanical gardens in Eastern Europe. In 1814, S. B. Jundzilł’s assistant Jozef Jundzilł continued to take care of the garden, following the traditions of his namesake, up until the closing of the university in 1832.
Ex. S. B. Jundzilł, and the image of the botanical garden (K. Raczynski, 1835)
In the spring of 1828, Karl Witzel came to work from Kremenets Lyceum (now Ukraine) as the head gardener. He presented his plans to the VU Council, proposing more advanced principles for the management of the garden: replacing the geometric layout of the garden with a landscaped one, arranging plants in accordance with the system of A. Jussieu, and opening the garden to visitors. K. Witzel would have achieved a lot, but in 1830 he suddenly passed away. Stanisław Batys Gorski, who was appointed head of the garden, continued the work of planting according to Antoine Laurent de Jussieu's system, which had been started by K. Witzel. In terms of plant systematics, the garden became one of the most advanced botanical gardens in Europe at the time. It was only because of the political events that soon followed that these progressive reforms could no longer bring the benefits that they have brought to the development of botanical science in Lithuania.
During the suppression of the 1831 Uprising, a second category fortress was ordered to be built in Vilnius. In the summer of 1831, a letter from the Governor General was received to give part of the territory (about 2000m2) for the construction of the fortress. Almost all the plants in the area were killed. The house of the Department of Natural History was also incorporated into the Citadel and turned into a three-story fort. After the University was closed, the remaining garden was given to the Medicine-Chemistry Academy and survived for another decade. After closing the Academy, the greenhouse plants and seeds were given to Kyiv and Dorpat (Tartu) botanical gardens. Outside plants were left to their fate and slowly declined. The territory of the garden at first was given to the Governor General’s summer residency, later it was adapted for public recreation and entertainment as a park. The garden, which was recently thriving, was gone. Another botanical garden in Vilnius appeared only after almost 70 years.
Further information: G. Jurkevičienė, A. Skridaila, S. Žilinskaitė, K. Balnytė. Vilniaus universiteto Botanikos sodas. VU, 2008, 87 pp.
S. Žilinskaitė. Vilniaus universiteto Botanikos sodas Sereikiškėse // Sodo spalvos, 2012, Nr. 4 (184), pp. 78-80.
S. Žilinskaitė, A.Skridaila. Станислав Бонифаций Юндзил и Ботанический сад Вильнюсского университета // Материалы 3-ей Международной конференции, посвященной 110-летию со дня рождения акад. Н.В. Смольского (2015-10-7/9, Минск, Беларусь), В двух частях, Часть 1, стр. 356-361.
IIIrd place – Vingis Manor Farmhouses (since 1919, now M. K. Čiurlionis str. 110). The political mosaic built itself in such a way that the BG was restored and established in a new place – Vingis – by the naturalists of Steponas Batoras University: prof. Piotr Wiśniewski (Head of the BG in 1919-1923), prof. Jozef Trzebinski (director of the BG in 1924-1937), prof. Franciszek Xawery Skupenski (Head of the BG 1937-1939), inspector Konstantin Proszynski (working in the BG 1919-1936), Senior Assistant Andrzej Michalski (working in the BG 1936-1939), Jakub Mowczowicz (working in the BG 1929-1939) and others.
The old site of the BG in Sereikiškės was returned to the university, but it was in such a state that the restoration of the BG on this site could not even be considered. Another site was chosen – in Vingis, on the lower terrace of Neris, on a 2ha plot enclosed by a brick fence, reserving the slopes rising towards Vingis Park for the development of the garden. The adaptation of this area to the BG included the installation of an irrigation system, inspectors and two greenhouses.
In the spring of 1920 several plots were laid out, the first plants were planted, and seeds, which were given by Warsaw University botanical garden, were sown. In 1922, the Departments of Native Plants and General Systematics were established, an artificial dune was built and planted with sand plants, a collection of cultivated plants was planted in 1925, the Department of Plant Ecology was established in 1926, a water pool was dug up, the collection of trees and shrubs was expanded in 1927, a small artificial bog was created, and the collection of alpine plants began. In 1928, another pool for water plants was created, hills, etc., were added. In 1931, the garden was devastated by a severe flood. Herbaceous plants dominated the BG, e.g. in 1935 the collections contained about 2000 species of open ground plants, about 300 greenhouse plants, and about 180 open ground woody plants. The seed exchange catalog, published from 1923 onwards, was very popular because of the reliability of the seeds, and because K. Proszynski was very responsible in supervising all stages of the work. Only a small number of trees have survived to the present day. The greenhouse plants can only be admired by looking at K. Proszynski’s drawings, which are preserved in the VU GMF Herbarium.
Ex. Today, the SBU BG era is commemorated by an orangery house and two pools
Ex. SBU BG’s plants, drawn by K. Proszynski
When Vilnius and the Vilnius region was returned to Lithuania in 1939, the BG in Vingis was transferred to VU. In 1940 it was decided to move the VU MGF from Kaunas to Vilnius, and the BG in Vingis was entrusted to Antanas Minkevičius to take care of it. However, the war (1941-1944) interrupted the work. In 1941-1943, the BG barely suffered, plant maintenance was carried out, and the Germans provided fuel to heat the greenhouses. They also set up some beds to grow vegetables for the military hospital. The BG suffered a lot during the battles for Vilnius in July 1944, when the German army forded Neris river in Vingis park and pushed towards Kaunas. After the war, things were slowly getting back on track, however, the BG survived difficulties of changes for a long time, with the following botany department staff serving as the head: prof. Antanas Minkevičius (1945-1949), senior lecturer Petras Bluzmanas (1949-1951), and assistant Pranas Pūkelis (1951-1954). T. D. Lysenko and I. V. Michurin’s work (from 1948) had greatly complicated the situation of scientists and changed the work. The structure of the BG was soon reorganized with the establishment of new departments: the Michurin department for fruit trees, medical plants, fodder plants, agricultural, etc.
In 1954, when Dr. Aldona Lučinskienė took over the management of the garden, a new qualitative phase began. The mission of the BG was formulated as follows: educational – providing material for students’ lectures and practical work; research – carrying out various experiments; popular science – lectures and dissemination of knowledge about plants, as well as support with planting material for schools, plant enthusiasts, etc. Thanks to the great efforts, the facilities were improved (water supply in 1961, the area increased to 7,35ha in 1962, three new greenhouses were built, and the old greenhouses were renovated in 1964, the extension to the orangery was completed in 1967, etc.), and the collections were growing – in the years 1959-1960 about 3000 named plants, in the years 1965-1968 about 3800 named plants, and about 4600 named plants in the period between the years 1972-1974. Around 7000 people a year visited the BG. A. Lučinskaitė wrote more than 200 articles on science popularization, together with her colleagues she wrote several books, actively represented the BG at republican and USSR exhibitions in Moscow, where she was awarded diplomas and medals, and in Lithuania, together with her colleagues, she was awarded the Republican Prize of Lithuanian SSR in 1973.
Ex. A. Lučinskienė, the BG plan and the rock garden from a postcard set released in 1968.
As the number of specialties in the VU GMF departments grew, and as science developed (departmental staff at the BG had plots of land for scientific experiments), the BG territory and the greenhouses could no longer meet the ever-growing needs, and a new plot of land was sought. When in 1974 the BG obtained a plot in Kairėnai, the BG in Vingis became a department (Plant Systematics and Geography, and since 2011 simply Vingis).
Vingis section (like the BG in Kairėnai) is over 40 years old. During these years it has been headed by Kristina Balnytė (1974-1992), Dr. Romualdas Šimkūnas (1992-1994), Dr. Evaldas Vylius Navys (1994-2002), and Dr. Regina Juodkaitė (since 2002). The infrastructure required huge sums of money, and the biggest problems were fixed by their own hands, e.g. in 2011 the Soviet-era extensions were removed from the wooden villa, the electricity network was repaired by laying an underground transmission line; in 2014 the staircase of the main building (the former Manor House Officine) were fixed, the roof and 7 chimneys were repaired, the White Room was renovated, etc. The roof of the conservatory house was also renovated, and the chimney was reconstructed. However, the condition of the greenhouses had deteriorated over the decades, so in 2006 the collection was moved to Kairėnai, where a production greenhouse was built. After renovations in 2013-2014, the orangeries’ “tower” became a stage and continues to serve visitors.
The dendrological collection is the oldest in the BG, some of the trees are from the SBU BG or the post-war times, and the twelve most valuable trees were granted the status of Lithuanian National Genetic Resources in 2009. In 2007, with the support of Vilnius City Municipality, a dendrological trail was created. Systematic plant beds were started in 1994 in a new location (the criteria for this collection are unique morphological, systematic, and decorative characteristics) and now includes more than 700 named plants. The bulb collection has been intensively built up since 1997 and now contains over 400 named plants, including over 300 species and varieties of tulips. This is the most impressive spring collection in Vingis section, which is why thousands of people go to the Tulip Festival. The new rose garden was started in 2000 and over 150 species and varieties of roses are grown. Over 200 representatives of Lithuanian flora from 58 families grow in natural and semi-natural communities.
Many people who come for a walk in Vingis park visit Vingis section of VU BG to admire the tulip or sakura blossoms, to admire the tall trees, and to learn about the curiosities of the systematic plant beds. Artists also like it here, two kilns burn the works of ceramists, lovers of the “Poetry Spring” gather to listen to poems, and the music is often heard. The section is open to visitors during the summer season.
Ex. Systematic plant beds, tulip “Red Shine”, and a honey locust.
Further information: G. Jurkevičienė, A. Skridaila, S. Žilinskaitė, K. Balnytė. Vilniaus universiteto Botanikos sodas. VU, 2008, 87 pp.
S. Žilinskaitė. Vilniaus universiteto Botanikos sodas Vingyje // Sodo spalvos, 2012, Nr. 5 (185), pp. 78-81.
IVth place – Kairėnai (Kairėnų str. 43). May 14th, 1974, on the basis of a decree of the Council of Ministers of the LSSR, the BG was allocated a 148ha plot in Kairėnai. VU BG received not only the beautiful Kairėnai field place, but also the very dilapidated Kairėnai manor house with its inhabitants. For many years, the VU GMF Dean’s Office and the Department of Botany and Genetics have been discussing, deliberating and hotly debating the vision, design, and development work of the BG. The project was prepared by a group of employees of the then Monument Conservation Institute: chief architect Dainora Juchevičiūtė, park designer Kęstutis Labanauskas, dendrologist Leonas Čibiras and others. Specific economic and engineering objects were designed by custom-built teams. The general design and the design of the engineering networks (about 40 volumes) were completed in 1982. The garden is divided into exhibition, experimental fields, and farm areas. The new dendropark is to be designed on a geo-ecological basis. The existing spatial layout of the old park has been retained and plant displays have been designed along the edges of the park. A circular path connects all the exhibition areas. The scientific and economic zones are located along the Antakalnis-Naujoji Vilnia road.
Thanks to the efforts of VU BG directors Juozapas Meidus (1975-1990), Dr. Evaldas-Vylius Navys (1990-2002), and Dr. Audrius Skridaila (since 2002), the appearance of Kairėnai has been changing every year. Looking at the old photographs now, it is hard to believe how buildings and the area looked at the beginning. The first works (reconstruction of the ponds, the water supply line, the irrigation routes, the construction of two pumping stations, the construction of the ring road and the farm roads, etc.) were financed by the respective ministries (Water Management and Reclamation, Road Transport and Highways). Later, with additional investment from the government, in 1991-1994 the garden area was fenced, the pond system was developed, and about 3km of farm roads were built, etc. A few years later, with the financial support of the then Department for the Protection of Cultural Property, major renovation works were started on the garden’s buildings, which are architectural monuments. In 2004, a project financed by the State Investment Programme was launched (reconstruction of the garden’s electricity network, construction of a modern production greenhouse, workshop and garage, new stables, completion of the administrative laboratory building, etc.). Much of the work has been carried out with funding from the Department of Cultural Heritage and Vilnius City Municipality. In 2007-2008, another major investment project was implemented with the financial support of the EU Structural Funds and the Republic of Lithuania, adapting the BG infrastructure to the needs of tourism (reconstruction of three manor buildings, etc.). In 2013-2014, a project to upgrade the technical base was implemented, etc. Over more than four decades, the territory and area of the garden has also evolved, increasing from 148ha to 191,5ha. The area is now a large, well-functioning farm and the infrastructure continues to be developed steadily.
Ex. VU BG in Kairėnai plans in 1982, and in 2012.
The BG team was established in 1974, in 1975 two departments were founded – Plant Genetics and Experimental Pomology, a year later – the Department of Dendrology, and in 1977 – the Department of Plant Physiological Research. For several years, young specialists, VU students, were employed here. To coordinate the work of the departments and to assist the young specialists, the scientific heads of the departments were appointed – VU GMF employees (Prof. Vytautas Rančelis, Assoc. Prof. Vytautas Raškauskas, Dr. Romualdas Šimkūnas). In 1991, the Laboratory of Isolated Tissue and Cell Cultures was established in the BG (with the assistance of Dr. Ramunė Bandžiulienė), the Maintenance and Repair of Buildings and Equipment Team was formed, and in 1992 the Floriculture and Farming Departments were established.
International relations have also gradually developed, first with BGs of the republics of the USSR, and after 1990, with European BGs, when the borders were opened. Since 1992 the BG has become a member of many organizations: since 1992 – the Baltic (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) BG Association, since 2003 – the International BG Organization BGCI, since 2004 – the EU BG Consortium, since 2005 – The Lithuanian University BG Association LUBSA, since 2008 – the BG Association of the Baltic Sea Countries, etc. In recent years, the BG has been expanding its cooperation with BGs and related research institutes in other countries based on bilateral agreements. Another aspect of the BG cooperation is seed exchange, with contacts with 400 respondents from 50 countries.
On March 17th, 2011, by the resolution of the VU Senate, the BG was granted the status of a non-academic stem unit, and the organizational structure of the garden was substantially reorganized. Active departments in Kairėnai are the Plant Collections Division, which includes the Dendrology, Lithuanian Flora, Natural and Induced Mutants, Pomology, Indoor Plants, and Herbaceous Decorative Plants groups; the Science Programme Service and Coordination Division, which includes the Plant Biodiversity and Taxonomy group, and the Biotechnology and Genetics Laboratory; the Public Relations Division, which includes the Information Center and the Museum, and the Administration and the Economics Division, which also includes the Technical Group. The BG currently employs 86 staff members: one habilitated doctor, 10 PhDs, 15 curators of collections, 9 service and technical staff, 48 workers, and 3 administrative staff.
The BG’s greatest asset is its plant collections. The BG is the richest in Lithuania, and one of the richest in the Baltic States, with over 10,000 named plants (decorative, fruit, bell, etc.). The first trees were planted in the Kairėnai exhibition fields in 1975. At first “plant bed farms” were planted, because at the time the most important task was to expand the collections. Since the opening of the BG to visitors, the adaptation of the collection plots to the public and the creation of new ones (the Rhododendron and Japanese Garden, the Lilac Hill, the Great Valley of Flowers, the Educational Garden, etc.) have been intensified.
Ex. Contrasts (Museum and the Old Park)
The dendrological collections, which started in 1976 in two places (the Dendrology Department and the 60ha Arboretum), are now spread throughout the garden in separate exhibitions (the Rose Garden, The Lilac Hill, the Rhododendron and Japanese Garden, the Hill of Decorative Apple Trees, and others). Over 3000 names of introduced plants are grown here, both native plants from different geographical regions, and cultivated decorative plants.
The herbaceous decorative plants collections (the Great Valley of Flowers) have been collected since 1992, when the Floriculture Department was established (the first head was Dr. Danutė Dainauskaitė). Now there are over 300 species and varieties of plants. Particular attention is paid to the collection, research and conservation of varieties developed by Lithuanian flower breeders.
Pomological collections were started in 1975. In addition to the traditional Lithuanian berry plants – gooseberries and currants, there are also rarer plants – honeysuckles, cranberries, orchard vacciniums and lingonberries, rowans, grapevines – more than 900 species and varieties of plants. The originator of the currant and gooseberry collection was breeder Dr. Antanas Ryliškis, who worked at the department from 1975 to 1990, and developed 12 varieties of currants and gooseberries during that period.
The natural and induced mutants’ collections were started in 1975 on the initiative of Prof. Vytautas Rančelis of the Department of Botany and Genetics, VU GMF. These collections are very distinctive and important for plant genetics research… and some are very decorative. The richest barley collection – more than 600 named mutants, hybrids, genetic lines, varieties, etc. The Herb Garden, a collection of medicinal, herbal, and aromatic plants founded and maintained by members of VU BG Friends Club, was also originally housed here. The Garden is now in a different location – in the Great Valley of Flowers.
Ex. Contrasts (Herbaceous decorative plant collections and Rhododendron)
The indoor plants collection arrived from the Vingis department in 2006 and was housed in a production greenhouse (polytunnel). The collection currently contains over 800 named plants. Future plans are very ambitious – building spacious exhibition greenhouses with specialized climatic conditions.
The phytoremediation (plants that promote soil self-cleaning processes) exhibition was launched in 2011 with the support of the Public Enterprise “Soil Cleaning Technologies”. In 2013, 58 species of Lithuanian natural flora were present in the beds, and since 2014, another group of cultivated plants has been presented.
“The Lithuanian Flora Trail” is a unique opportunity to showcase the flora of our region in natural habitats. The native flora of the BG inventoried by Dr. Jūratė Tupčiauskaitė of the Department of Botany and Genetics of VU GMF and 483 species were identified. In 2008, an information system was created (indexes, stands with descriptions of 6 habitats). During the season about 150 plant species are labeled.
VU BG collections are an excellent base for research, which since 2011 has been concentrated in the Research Programme Service and Coordination Unit. Initially, the BG staff conducted research together with the VU GMF departments, and it was not until 1995 that the first independent BG research topic emerged. Since 1994, the BG scientists have been involved in research on plant genetic resources in Lithuania, since 2002 the BG has been the coordinator of research on ornamental plant genetic resources in Lithuania, and since 2004 the BG has been administering the European Central Database for Ribes L. Rubus L. plant genera.
The BG was officially closed to the general public until 2000, but the dissemination of information started from the very beginning of the garden’s establishment, with the staff of the then operating departments acting as both guides and consultants to visitors. Outside the BG, information about the BG was also disseminated by VU BG Friends Club, a social organization founded in 1997, and a group of like-minded people gathered by L. Musanja. It took 26 years of effort (collections and infrastructure development) to officially open the BG in Kairėnai to visitors. Visitor services are now the focus of the Public Relations Department, which was set up in 2011. The BG organizes many events every year, some of which have become traditional, and became the business card of the garden: the celebration of the International Day for Biodiversity (since 2002), the Earth Art Exhibition (since 2003), and the art exhibitions in the Museum (since 2008). The garden hosts the annual fair “Lithuanian Blossoms'' (since autumn 2009), concerts of the “Christopher Summer” and “Flora Jazz” festivals (since 2011), and the “Bard Summer” festival (since 2013). In 2015, over 73,000 visitors visited the BG Kairėnai. For the other category of visitors – virtual visitors – there has been a website www.botanikos-sodas.vu.lt since 2001, Facebook since 2009, Twitter since 2012, and Google+ since 2013. Since 2010, the garden‘s staff has been uploading photographs of the garden to Panoramio.com and, since 2014, to Instagram.
To conclude, the BG is a beautiful blend of the past and the present, a harmonious blend of science and art, a wonderful sound of bird trumpets and music... This is the peculiar VU BG – created by the staff, waiting for guests...
Ex. A concert in the Big Meadow, and visitors in the Japanese Garden.
S. Žilinskaitė. Vilniaus universiteto Botanikos sodas Kairėnuose // Sodo spalvos, 2012, Nr. 6 (186), pp. 77-81.
Dr. S. Žilinskaitė