MISSION OF THE BOTANIC GARDEN TEPLICE
Botanic gardens are cultural institutions aimed at creating and preserving scientifically documented collections of plants. Teplice is a spa town and the Botanic Garden is at its heart. An ordinary visitor can find not only invaluable information but also respite from the hectic, harsh and technically obsessive outside world in a natural, more tranquil and aesthetically pleasing environment. It also provides constant inspiration for all sorts of gardeners, those who love outdoor plants, those who love indoor plants and those who work with all types of plants, such as florists. At the Botanic Garden Teplice gardeners and florists can have the joy of discovering new and attractive and little known plants.
Botanic Garden Teplice
Foundation and brief history of the Botanic Garden Teplice
Teplice’s Botanic Garden is the only one in the region of Ústí nad Labem. It was inaugurated on 1st January 2002 by order of the town council in an area that had been used for horticultural purposes for about one hundred years. Not much is known about the exact use of the garden in the 19th century but it is rumoured that the Count of Clary-Aldringen played an important part in its early establishment. We do know that the building plans from 1904 show various houses designated as Stadtgärtnerei indicating that they were to be used for city horticulture. The original glasshouses provided both fresh flowers and the over-wintering of palm trees and various other hot house pot plants for the spas of the town. Thanks to Mrs Marie Sternthalová these glasshouses were reconstructed at the beginning of the 1970s and opened to the public in March 1975. At that time, as part of the Municipal services, it was this institution’s job to provide plants for the town’s various municipal parks.
At its official inauguration, the Garden ‘inherited’ about 2000 species. In about one hectare less than a half were planted out in the open air, by far the larger part of the inherited plants were the tropical and sub-tropical species exhibited in the glasshouses. By our standard today these exhibitions were quite modest but even then due to our various activities and the work of our dedicated staff the Botanic Garden was well worth a visit. The unique and very old plants which can still be found amongst our collection are: the African conifer Afrocarpus (Podocarpus) gracilior (Fern Pine) or a cycad coming from the same area Encephalartos villosus(Poor Man´s Cycad),, a beautiful Mexican Sandpaper SotolDasylirion serratifolium or fifty-year-old cacti and other succulents from the collections of Prof. F. Eck and especially Teplice’s cacti planter V. Pulec. We must also mention two seventy-year-old and richly yielding examples of Kentucky Koffeetree Gymnocladus canadensis.
New building in 2002-2006
The Year 2002
In the first year of its existence, the Botanic Garden Teplice was equipped with basic technical necessities, the staff adjusted to their new administrative offices and we purchased the necessary furniture, phones and printers, rented a copy machine and got ourselves connected to the Internet.
We had to overcome a series of major difficulties, such as having only one lavatory for 20,000 visitors, as this was up a flight of steps it made access impossible for handicapped people. We built a children’s playground. This is a constant source of joy and happiness when used not only by our young visitors but also by the children living in the houses close to the Botanic Garden. And, by judiciously alternating our office space, we have been able to renovate and successfully repair our shabby administration building.
Before changing our grounds we decided it was necessary to view the garden through various seasons in order to assess the general context and individual features. This is why, although it was our original intention to clear various trees, we delayed doing it. Subsequently we only removed old and sick roses. These were replaced with 260 species as well as cultivars of summer annuals.
For some time the glasshouses remained practically untouched. It was decided that if we embarked on any changes to the glasshouses before we were properly ready it might result in the endangering of plants and wasting both money and labour. Instead we spent two years preparing the garden for planting and replanting various trees and bushes by thickening broken roots and trenching and peat filling. However, the most important work was carried out in areas not accessible to the public. Here a great quantity of rubble was removed and we changed and planted a fresh assortment, plus new varieties, of exotic plants.
This meant we had to find a number of species from which we could propagate and also create collections for exhibiting which had to be geographically and time defined: collections of epiphytes and herbaceous plants as well as a collection of plants associated with the origins of ‘brown coal’. In one year we obtained more than 1200 new categories of species. Some of these were purchased, some we acquired by way of free exchange with other botanic gardens most especially the Botanic Garden Prague in Troja and the ZOO and the Botanic Garden of the City of Pilsen, this more than doubled our number of planted species.
Botanic gardens do not view each other as competitors, or rivals but work together in a spirit of co-operation. We know full well that due to human or technological failure or even an Act of God something unique could easily be wiped out of existence. This is why we have free exchange of various materials, mainly seeds, between various botanic gardens. The Botanic Garden Teplice issued its own Index Seminum (the list of available seeds) in 2002 and contacted more than two hundred of the world’s most important botanic gardens in Europe, Asia, North and South America and Australia..
Glasshouses in 2002 (all pictures in this section were taken by Š. Zeithammerová)
Tropical exhibition, in 2002 .
The Year 2003
In this year our main activity was to continue enlarging our plant collection. Divided between hardy and outdoor species and the more exotic and glasshouse species, we sowed and planted more than 1400 plants. The number of exhibited species and varieties in the summer annuals flowerbed grew to 450. The cleared and empty areas were planted with new herbaceous plants, especially magnolias and cornels.
In the summer of 2003 we announced the building of the storage glasshouses covering an area of 1750 m2. They were inspected and approved by December. Then we prepared the plants for moving, gently digging around the rootballs and cutting back bushes and trees.
The Year 2004
The year 2004 can be described as rather demanding mainly because we started building the new exhibition glasshouses with all its attendant set backs and difficulties. During the winter we had a trial run with the storage glasshouses and fixed various minor defects. We had calculated moving the first cold-requiring plants in February but the weather did not allow us to do it. This meant we had to postpone moving various materials until the end of
March and we had to continue during April. After 2nd May when the garden was closed to the public we began moving plants from the old exhibition glasshouses. Although our original plan was delayed we managed to successfully empty the old glasshouses by mid-June. After an agreement with the investor and the builders from the NAO company the work was done in stages: the disassembly of the old glasshouses during the moving of the materials and the plants.
Old glasshouses in spring 2004
Demolition of the exhibition glasshouses, new storage glasshouses in the background
Although we estimated the loss of up to 20% of all plants due to the move (according to the experience of our colleagues from other gardens), in fact our loss was far less. Except for a few trees and bushes which simply could not be replanted due to the sensitivity of roots to breaking – papayas, myrtles, old and past their best pandanuses as well as various well known plants we did not want to use in the new exhibition, the total loss during the move was 15-20 pieces; a truly marginal number not exceeding one per mille of all our cultivated species.
We sowed more than 2000 species of tropical, sub-tropical and exterior plants. The number of our planted species grew five times in three years compared to our initial situation, and most important of all the quality of the plants went up.
In the spring we began our planned felling and clearing of tired and worn out trees and bushes and replaced them with 62 new ones. We also created a new moorland area and installed a watering system for the flowerbeds for our summer annuals.
As part of the overall alterations, the northwest part of the garden (close to Janáček Orchard) was fenced in with a wooden wall and the former soil storage part was rebuilt as a garage.
The Year 2005
For the Botanic Garden Teplice the year of 2005 can only be described as hectic. There was the building of a new and large exhibition glasshouse, this was controlled and supervised by the Town Council of the city of Teplice, plus the roofs of the outhouses and the boiler house were repaired. The broken asphalt of the round paths was replaced by paths with granite kerbs, the main path was paved with granite paving which came from the reconstruction of Beneš Square, also the old and dilapidated pergola was replaced by a new one made of larch wood.
Building of new paths with granite kerbs
Building of the tropical glasshouse
For the gardeners of the Botanic Garden Teplice the year 2005 was very demanding: it was necessary to keep the assortment of both exterior and interior species in the storage glasshouses; these are substantially smaller than the intended exhibition ones. The plants were grown in very “dense” conditions; this meant neither the light nor the air was satisfactory. Moreover, the ‘dense’ planting made the movement of our staff and the chemical treatment against pests very difficult. In spite of all these disadvantages we succeeded in keeping our collections in good condition with only a few losses. The situation in the storage tropical glasshouses was made worse due to damage caused by a summer windstorm and a fallen tree from Janáček Orchard broke the roof of one section of the glasshouse and the supplier was unable to repair it until October.
The new glasshouse of the area of 2400 m2 was completed and inspected in December. The Botanic Garden Teplice became a member of the Union of Botanic Gardens of the Czech Republic.
The Year 2006
This year proved to be far more difficult for the glasshouse gardeners than the previous ones had been. The moving of our large and heavy species of plants began in January and February. It must be admitted that our impatience made us start early. It was absolutely necessary to wrap these plants most carefully and in a proper manner in order to protect them from the cold at that time of the year. From March onwards with the rise in temperature the transportation of the plants was accelerated.
We would like to point out that all the work in one glasshouse was done by only one gardener –from sowing and chemical protection to physically covering the soil with stones and gravel. The cultivations are so specific and mutually different that such intense specialisation is necessary.
In the open air part of the garden the main work was the reconstruction of the central lawn and the completion of the watering systems for the whole garden.
After the two-year close down, we felt the growing curiosity and sense of anticipation from Teplice’s inhabitants. This is why, although the work was far from finished, we organised an ‘Open Week’ in the days between 14th and 22nd October. We thought it necessary to present our ‘work in progress’ to the members of public and fourteen and half thousand visitors took this opportunity to view our new glasshouses. Of course, after such a short time it did not look, as it will in future years, when the various plants reach their correct height and maturity.
Prior to the above-mentioned October opening we managed to complete the final bigger structures in the garden, mainly the entrance. Together with this the areas around the administrative building and the café were paved and a small fountain and granite tables and benches were placed.
This was also the year that we took part in IV. Congress of the European Botanic Gardens and became a full member of BGCI and we began to be interested in joining the IPEN (International Plant Exchange Network). We also prepared the new issue of our Index Seminum, which we planned to send to other botanic gardens in February 2007.