UKRAINIAN GARDENS OF BABYLON
The Count Ksawery Branicki gave his spouse’s name to the Alexandria Park, which he began to build in the 19th century. This tremendous monument of landscape art stretches out over 406 hectares of Belaya Tserkov outskirts in Kiev Oblast; it rightly holds the official title of the oldest and largest Ukrainian dendro park.
As soon as you enter the arboretum, you face a choice which trail to follow. A fan of small paths forks there as if someone gathered them together, then interweaved with each other, and left for storage in the malachite jewellery box. And, following any path you are sure to come across various architectural treasures. They are real historical monuments, many of them date back to 18th century, such as the charming Chinese Bridge or marvellous Rotonda Pavilion. It seems that the count's family still lives here and carries on their house holding. You feel like a special guest invited by the Branickis personally. Who, if not they, tell you in the ear the words whispered by your partner standing on another, the far end of the colonnade. These are real miracles! Walking past all these old buildings, constructions and sculptures, and feeling like a park wrapping you into green silk garments and aroma of trees and flowers, at the exit you are looking for your cane, your hand fan and try to grab a monocle inside your pocket, since the counts used to invite aristocrats only to the Alexandria Park.
Now imagine that you make a declaration of love to the most beautiful woman in the world. If you visit the Sofievskii Park in Uman city, Cherkasy Oblast, you will see embodiment of such declaration. If you believe the legends intertwined with the history, the park was founded by tycoon count Stanisław Szczęsny Potocki in 1796, due to the desire to please his adoring wife Sophia Witt, and almost barren land divided by gullies and canyons turned into a gem of the most romantic nooks. The park fascinates by the fact how successfully then architects used the existing natural resources and literally with their own hands managed to tame them and create an unquestioned masterpiece of the garden art.
Green velvet moss envelops all local giant boulders, thus explaining that everything here is valuable and therefor a priori fragile. All herbs, trees and bushes carefully protect porcelain pieces keeping ponds with pure spring water filled by non-stop flow of dozens of marvellous waterfalls. Hidden in the jewellery boxes of fairy-tale grottoes, full figure sculpture of Paris, Euripides, Apollo, Venus are also protected in winter by icy garments, as well as the fine busts of Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Homer... By the way, Sofievka alludes to Homer’s "The Odyssey" and "The Iliad", as the creators of the park conceived to illustrate these epic poems. So visitors move through the park slipping along the paths, and with careful seam-like steps permeating all these protective green velvet covers.
The park paths, wherever they lead you to, call you to forget troubles and make a wish in the Calypso grotto, to hug a thick oak tree which has been forming its body for more than 400 years, in addition, you may be able to glance little imps when they pass the Devil Bridge. If you are not afraid, turn off the trail and get to the underground path - go boating on the Acheron River used by Charon to transports souls of dead ones to the underworld of Hades.
The Chernovtsy Park is not as spacious as above giants, it is located directly in the city of Chernovtsy and modestly takes only 5 hectares of land in honourable place opposite the residence of the former Bukovinian high priests. Nevertheless, it is size to which park owes its perfection. This Baroque garden was created if not by a jeweller, then by some mathematician obsessed with geometry. Perfectly laboured lines reflect each other, the sun's rays pass through adjacent buildings and like bisectors divide all right angles in halves. Planting plan of trees and flowers looks to be drawn by compasses, and of course, the place features a couple of ideal mirror-like pools with fountains in the middle.
Garden benches with swirls have settled here since the foundation, they look as if certain senior ladies who want people not to notice their age. So, they are hiding somewhere in the lush greenery hoping for magnolia or linden trees to bloom nearby so that their rather heady scents would make wrinkles less visible. Perhaps these aromas drive the local gardeners out of their senses, as they calculate equality of bushes up to each millimetre. Their work is quietly watched with bronze eye of Austrian architect Josef Hlávka, it was he who designed the ensemble of the Residence with park as a star attraction. And yet, you can play a guessing about handmade stone grotto, which for decades have been tormenting researchers with purpose of its usage.
The Trostianetskii Park in Sumy occupies almost 207 hectares. It is hard to imagine that once there was just flat land interspersed with ponds. Today, it is a forest kernel shrouded with mountains, vaguely reminiscent of the Alps. To put it straight, back in 1834 they inspired the creator of the park hetman Ivan Skoropadskii, who bestowed this land with 50 years of his life and, without exaggeration, all his love and soul. Every plant brought there from different parts of the world got accustomed willingly and easily. Despite the fact that human hands erected the park, it vividly shows all the perfection of architecture created by original nature: Chimeras on the trees, columns supporting the arches of succulent verdure crowns, shrub balustrades and leafy attics enliven by singing of their feathered hosts. Thus, nature still shows its privilege over the works of man, and each visitor feels like staying here forever and growing roots deep down into the soil.
Photo: uafacts.com, sbmtour.com.ua, travelbooking.com.ua, www.foalex.artphoto.pro