As a small town kid, living in the city has been pretty different for me, not least because I’m used to being surrounded by trees and grass all the time. I was excited when I heard that Moscow State University has its own botanicheskii sad or botanical garden. (MSU also has another botanical garden farther out from campus, which I’ve seen on a map, but the one I visited is right across the street from my dorm.)
I’ve walked through only part of the botanic garden, since I didn’t figure out where it was until last week, but it’s clear from their map that there’s a lot to see.
I had a little trouble getting to the garden in the first place. The entrance on Mendeleev Street looked closed at first, but I realized that the bolt was easy to slide open. As far as I could tell, the sign said that people associated with MSU were allowed, and besides it was a Monday afternoon, so I felt all right about slipping in. What I thought was a coat in the yellow guard’s hut turned out to be an actual security guard, though, and he wasn’t particularly happy that I’d just walked in without showing him a student ID. But once I showed him the ID, he let me enter for free, so it all worked out after all.
I immediately felt a rush of happiness on being surrounded by leafy trees. The first garden I came out into was the ornamental garden, which had a good view of our dorm in the background.
Many plants by the path have labels beneath them, for educational purposes. There’s even a garden with medicinal and herbal plants. (I heard a rumor that they make tea from some of these plants, but I can’t say for certain.)
I spent the most time in the forest part of the garden. It’s a wonderful microcosm of all the northern latitudes, containing plants from Europe, North America, and Siberia, as well as European Russia. But I particularly wanted to walk around the “Trees and shrubs of Siberian and Altai forests” area, because our group will be going so soon to Siberia. (The Altai is a region of southern Siberia that borders Kazakhstan and Mongolia.) I’ll be interested to compare my memory of this taste of the Siberian forest with the real thing in a couple of weeks. The trees’ names were foreign even when I translated a few of them: Tibetan barberry, whole-leaf fir, Siberian linden.
Below are a few pictures of the Siberian-forest part of the garden.
I guess this speaks to the preconceptions I have about Siberia, but I was surprised how few evergreens were in the “Siberian” woods. As the above photos show, the trees were mainly deciduous, some with extravagant flowers at this time of year. Maybe this woods is modeled after southern Siberia more than northern regions. If so, the forests near Baikal may be more deciduous than I expected. I’m really looking forward to making the comparison.