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Experience Tranquility at St Petersburg's Botanical Garden

Founded by order of Peter the Great in 1714, St Petersburg's Botanical Garden started out as an apothecary's garden, filled with a variety of medicinal herbs. Over subsequent years the gardens expanded to include a huge collection of rare and exotic plants, and today is one of the city's most popular attractions for nature enthusiasts. Visitors to the Botanic Gardens of the Komarov Botanical Institute, as it is officially known, will find twenty-five greenhouses recreating different habitats in which the huge collection of plants flourishes.

During the time that Eduard August von Regel was associated with the Botanical Gardens (1875-1892) he directed the collection of plants in Russia's Far East region, focusing on the genus Allium which he documented and named, with up to 60 species bearing his name. Many of these can be seen in the garden's northern yard. German-born von Regel was responsible for describing and naming up to 3,000 newly discovered species sent to the gardens from around the world. Moreover, later botanists named some of their discoveries in his honor.

One of the more unusual plants at the St Petersburg Botanical Gardens is the night blossom cactus (Selenicereus grandiflorus) which has been cultivated in the gardens since 1857. Also referred to as the 'queen of the night', this cacti species only blooms on one night of the year, dying within a few hours of first opening. The flowering of the night blossom cactus is a special occasion at the Botanical Gardens, which stays open on the night to allow members of the public to witness this unusual spectacle.

Other collections at the gardens include azaleas, ferns, cacti, succulents, palms, conifers, orchids and the magnificent Victoria amazonica water lily which can reach up to two meters in diameter and support a weight of up to 60kg.

Just as the entire city suffered during the Siege of Leningrad in 1941-1944, so did the Botanical Garden collection, with only 861 of the 6,367 species surviving. Nevertheless, the gardens were restored to an extent, and remain an important resource for research and an interesting place to visit when exploring St Petersburg.


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