Hungary’s richest botanical collection set to reopen with a program series full of adventures and science from May. The ELKH Ecological Research Center is organizing new thematic walks in the National Botanic Garden Vácrátót, where visitors relax and have fun while gaining knowledge of nature and the connections between various species of wildlife through their experiences in the garden.
The garden, which features more than 12,000 species and varieties, presents an inexhaustibly diverse number of themes and offers countless possibilities for different adventure walks. On the Tulip Mania Walk, which takes place when the tulips are flowering, visitors can enjoy this popular flower and its exciting cultural history, as well as an illustration of the transformations of some wild species can undergo through human breeding activities. In addition to experimenting with colors, the Color Walk also draws attention to how important is the color of flowers to pollinators as they become increasingly endangered. The Bamboo Walk introduces a plant with special properties and also warns gardeners of the potential dangers of flood weeds. The Plants of the Bible Walk takes us to an age when man lived in more or less harmony with the nature around him and obtained his local, fresh food from a natural source. The Garden History Walks present a magnificent place in cultural history and gardening, the romantic landscape garden of Vácrátót, which also enjoys the protection of monuments, paying tribute to the generous, patriotic thinking of the creator and donor of the garden, Count Sándor Vigyázó.
Exploring a variety of topics, the 2-2.5-hour adventure walks are led by curators from the National Botanical Garden, who are passionate about their profession, the garden and the plants, and therefore want to share the joy of discovery with others. They profess what the great Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus stated in 1767: botany is a “lovable science” (scientia amabilis). They hope that participants will return with knowledge and experience to look forward to another visit to the National Botanic Garden.
“Anyone who has ever walked through a museum exhibition with a qualified art historian, or taken a sightseeing tour led by a dedicated architect, knows how much more one sees when the subject is ‘illuminated’”, says Erzsébet Fráter, curator of the National Botanic Garden and one of the leaders of the adventure walks. “It often happens on a walk like this that I learn something new about a building or industrial monument, or just a painting, a sculpture or an activity, that I thought I already knew well. It is not surprising that these city walks have become so popular, because learning through experience, wondering about the world, immersing oneself in stories from which human destinies unfold is a memory that lasts a lifetime. ”
“In addition to providing excellent recreation for all ages, the experience walks with us are extremely important,” adds Erzsébet Fráter. “The attitude of society to the living environment significantly impacts the effectiveness of nature conservation measures. It is extremely important to make people fall in love with plants, preferably at a younger age, because we protect what we know and love. The stakes are higher than we might think, as individual responses to the Earth’s ecological situation and their behavior based on it are critical to the future.”
About the National Botanical Garden
One of the most important Hungarian workshops for the study of flora and the natural environment is the Institute of Ecology and Botany of the ELKH Centre for Ecological Research and the National Botanical Garden. At Vácrátót, the arboretum, which is located in a 19th-century castle garden, hosts the richest collection of scientific living plants in Hungary, providing an excellent opportunity for experiential learning: it brings people moving farther and farther away from living nature closer by presenting the stunning diversity of flora.
The National Botanical Garden is a floral theme park, with all the stunning richness that entails. Plants accompany us in our daily lives, without them there would be no human life on Earth, as they alone are able to produce organic matter from inorganic materials by utilizing sunlight while sequestering carbon dioxide. They play an essential role in civilization: they nourish us, they flavor and add aroma to our food as herbs and spices and they beautify and heal us, can be fashioned into countless objects as wood and cane, their fibers dress us, and they decorate our gardens and homes with their beauty.
National parks and botanical gardens are widely used, activity-stimulating mediums for the transmission of environmental and sustainability messages around the world, and their role in gene conservation and environmental education has become highly valued today. While botanical gardens used to for the display of herbs and exotic specialties, they are now used more for the rescue and display of species. There are many species that are now extinct in their natural habitats and can only be found in some botanical gardens. Together, this dual role of research and dissemination of information, as well as attracting tourists, offers excellent opportunities to promote an ecological approach to the environment, to educate the general public, to raise environmental awareness and to awaken a sense of responsibility for the environment.