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From greenhouse to flower garden

More than 80,000 flowers, including > 300 varieties, being grown in the park’s hothouse. Read more to learn about the rarest and showiest of the plants.

Gorky Park is one of the popular recreation areas with both Muscovites and guests of the city, especially in the warm season, when the vast site blooms with gorgeous flowerbeds. Plants come here straight from a greenhouse in Neskuchny Garden. The facility in fact is a restricted access area; the team were granted an exception though. Vladimir Prazdnikov, an agronomist of the Gorky Park Landscaping Department, took us around the greenhouse to show the plants to soon appear in the flowerbeds and tell us more about the greenhouse.

Local traditions

Flowers have been grown in Neskuchny Garden for a long time. The greenhouse cultivating flowers for Gorky Park is located next to the historical 18 th century conservatory, which is now closed for reconstruction. Long ago, in addition to flowers, it used to grow fruits and berries, such as strawberries, pineapples, dates and grapes, by the order of industrialist Procopius Demidov.

The contemporary greenhouse boasts professional equipment, including automatic watering and hydroponic systems. The latter means that plants grow in a nutrient solution and are situated in trays on the tables, while pendant flowers are watered with droppers.

More than 80,000 flowers, including over 300 annual and perennial varieties, are grown in the greenhouse every year; those that can be barely found outside Gorky Park are truly special.

Photo by Yulia Ivanko.

Inimitable Coleus and honey-scented Alyssum

Indeed, the most suitable spring plant is Viola with delicate multi-colored petals, commonly known as pansy. Many pansy varieties have recently started blooming in the greenhouse and very soon they will be brought to flower beds in the park. The flower range is generally discussed by the greenhouse staff together with landscape designers.

Another spring plant is wallflower (Erysimum cheiri), which will debut in the flowerbeds in Gorky Park to alternate with our usual pansies, daisies, forget-me-nots, and geraniums. Variegated agave with bright wide curved up leaves will certainly be the highlight of the season to add some southern flair, Vladimir Prazdnikov says.

The greenhouse also engages in plant breeding. For example, originating from hot Africa, Coleus has got an amazing sport with large show stopping red patterns.

Coleus varieties account for 30 per cent of the flowers grown in the greenhouse as they come in many different shades of yellow, orange, red, purple, and green and with their richly colored leaves, they can even take the place of blossoming plants to grow in spades.

A separate smaller greenery will soon have Alyssum (Lobularia) coming into bloom with a nice honey-like fragrance; when it is warm, the smell coming from the flower garden can be felt even a few meters away. There is only one snow-white bloom flower so far, but a little later the foamy white blossoms will be floating over the green foliage.

The plants are taken outside to harden them off so that they can get used and adapt to the external environment; this is absolutely necessary, and they will not be planted in the flower beds without this. Spring, in fact, is a very good time for the toughening up process as the sun is already hot enough during the day and it is still cold at nights; the plants rest under the cover in the nighttime.

There is a special place designated for hardening off next to the greenhouse, which will remain charming even after the flowers are taken away. To date, the greenhouse staff have planted there some echinacea, peonies, clematis, phlox, ornamental grasses and other plants to enjoy throughout the warm season.