The place in Prospect Mira (Russian: Проспект Мира, meaning Avenue of Peace) between the Museum of the Silver Age and the N.V. Sklifosovsky Research Institute of Emergency Care harbours the Apothecary Garden (Russian: Aptekarsky Ogorod or Аптекарский огород), the first botanical garden in Russia. Although it is affiliated with the Lomonosov Moscow University, it has changed its role over the years, transforming from a scientific institution for doctors and biology students to a garden. The Apothecary Garden is now a public leisure and educational area. If you are keen to learn about rare plants or just want to unwind from the city’s hustle and bustle, while remaining close to the city centre, the Apothecary Garden might be of interest. It is not a big park, but the plant diversity as well as several glass-houses will attract lovers of botanical science.
A LOOK BACK IN TIME
The Garden was opened in 1706 by the order of Peter the Great in what used to be the outskirts of the city. Medical plants for different medical institutions were grown in the garden, hence its name. Over its nearly 300 years, the Apothecary Garden has become a botanical research centre in Russia. Collections of plants from different parts of the country were brought here and grown. Later, it conceded the leading role of plant research to the Moscow Botanical Garden of Academy of Sciences in Ostankinsky District and the Botanical Garden of Moscow State University in Vorobyovy Gory (Russian: Воробьевы горы meaning Sparrow Hills) and has instead morphed into a popular recreational area. This part of the city has a rather flamboyant character. A stone’s throw from the vibrant Prospect Mira and the Garden Ring (Sadovoe Koltso), this is a place where you can enjoy the sight of a blossoming sakura, Alpine flowers or carnivorous plants of the Amazonian forests in peace and quiet. A glasshouse dating back to the late 19th century as well as an 18th century pond remain intact in the garden. Legend has it that there is a larch there which was planted by Peter the Great himself.
THE BEST TIME TO VISIT
Spring and early summer are the best times to visit the Apothecary Garden as many plants are in bloom and mandarin ducks quack in the pond. During the warm season, visitors are riveted by the reservoirs with exotic Asian fish and the “turtle” fountain. A small plot of land containing medicinal plants that mirror those grown there in the 18th century has been kept as a reminder of the original role of the Apothecary Garden.
IN A NUTSHELL
A walk in the garden is a pleasure for everyone – you can enjoy both plants in the open air and the creations of nature grown in the green-houses. The Apothecary Garden comprises a living collection of trees and bushes (arboretum), young trees, bushes and lianas of the hydrangea bloodline (of which jasmine is the most familiar), stunning examples of the olive family, and various maples. There is a heather hill and a collection of lianas, ferns, water plants and conifers in the Apothecary Garden. This list is not exhaustive – you will also find green-houses with palm trees, subtropical, succulent, and other varieties of plants. One visit is not enough to see everything, and many people come back again. It is better to come here on week days, as many walkers gather in the Apothecary Garden on holidays and at weekends and you will run the risk of missing the peace and quiet that is normally found here.
Nevertheless, the Apothecary Garden staff attempt to guard guests from excess noise – scooters, rollerblades and skate boards are not permitted in the park. Visitors can buy various potted plants and seedlings in the garden shop. In the garden there is also a cafe with a terrace opening up onto the garden. Everyone is welcome in the Apothecary Garden, although the setup is not ideal for those who do not speak Russian. Yet, one does not need a guide to appreciate the plants; judging by the positive customer reviews left by foreigners, the Apothecary Garden brings them just as much pleasure as it does to Russian-speaking visitors.
© 2016-2018 moscovery.com