A stop on top of the University of Warsaw Library to pick some grapes in autumn or a quest for daffodils in April, especially near the Heroes of the Ghetto Memorial. Carefully groomed gardens and flower meadows. My home city is a dream destination for gardeners and green urbanscape enthusiasts. The spectacle of nature has just started!
In Warsaw you may find green areas styled according to the formal Baroque aesthetic and large romantic English parks. You may find splendid examples of Modernist garden creations combining nature with carefully designed garden architecture. There is even a park planted on the mounds and hills of debris – as during WWII the city was almost completely destroyed. Last but not least, we have a few rooftop gardens open to the public. Sounds nice, does it?
Let’s start with the numbers. There are more than 79 city parks and gardens in Warsaw. They are taken care by the city council. However, there are few more places of interest for any green fingered person. For example: we have two gardens belong to the University of Warsaw (the Library complex and the Botanical Garden), while two Royal residences: Łazienki and Wilanów are state museums.
The parks and gardens are not the only place to look for signs of the seasonal changes. Now, we are looking for spring flowers and vegetables on the markets and in the grocery shops while the city gardeners are busy with new plants on the streets. And some of the flower beds have a special meaning!
Magnolias are the first ones: in the yard of the University of Warsaw or at the old entrance to the Wilanów Palace. You can find them blossoming in March and April. In May, all the horse-chestnut trees are in bloom! They are not edible, but fun in autumn when you can make a toy figurine out of their nut-like seeds and a few matches. In spring the trees are a nice view for adults and visitors, but an omen of uncertain future for high school students – the final exams are scheduled for the first weeks of May.
During a city walk, you can find Irena Sendler red tulips named after a nurse and a social worker, who saved 2500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto. That variety was created by Jan Ligthart, a bulbgrower from Breezand in the Netherlands. He has been growing and creating new flower bulbs all his life since he was 13 years old. There are other Jan Ligthart tulips bearing Polish names, such as violet the Chopin’s Prelude, which can be found in the Royal Łazienki.
In April, you are going to see a lot of yellow daffodils. They are very popular spring flowers, but some of them are planted in memory of the Warsaw ghetto fighters and their commander – Marek Edelman. He used to leave a bunch of the spring flowers on the Rapaport Memorial to the Heroes of the Ghetto every April, on the anniversary of the outbreak of the 1943 Ghetto Rising.
Last but not least, there are some more flowers named after Frederic Chopin. There are at least two kinds of tulips: the violet one created by Jan Ligthart and the another lemon-yellow, lily-shaped variety called simply the Chopin tulip. What is more, there is a rose named after the pianist as well. The nicest flower bed with the Chopin roses is located at the back entrance to the composer’s birth place in Żelazowa Wola. The rose was created in 1980 by an important Polish breeder Stanisław Żyła and it is quite a tall bush. Actually, the mature Chopin rose is taller than the composer himself, as he was 170 cm while the flower can grow up to 2 meters. It starts blossoming in June.
Where to go next? Let’s start with the city’s finest: the Royal Łazienki Park and Wilanów. Then you may chose gardens in the countryside like Żelazowa Wola or Arkadia, you will find my itinerary for a day trip here. If you are looking for some unusual garden experiences check the Warsaw University Library or the Chinese Garden in the Royal Łazienki Park.