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The Garden
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Stjepan Spevec Antun Heinz Bohuslav Jirus Viteslav Durchanek
 
The need to found a botanical garden in Zagreb was mooted in 1876 by the then rector of the University, Professor S. Spevec, giving at the same time enormous support to Professor B. Jirus, who attempted to put this idea into practice.  Jirus carried out many of the preliminary operations, but in 1886 he had to return to Prague.  Professor A. Heinz succeeded him in the chair of botany, and in 1889 the Royal National Government assigned him the task of drawing up a plan and laying out the botanical garden (for at that time Croatia was a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire).  He completed the plan in collaboration with the Head Gardener, V. Durchanek.  The year 1889, when the plan was drawn, is held to be the year in which the Botanical Garden was founded, and Professor Heinz is always considered its founder.
 
Works laying out the garden started in 1890.  It was then that the gardener's lodge (today the director's building) was put up, and the Garden was enclosed with a wooden fence that was after replaced with a decorative wrought iron railing.  The first works on the land started in 1891, and the first planting was done in 1892.

The garden was designed and constructed in the landscape style, with free-standing clumps of trees and winding paths, with only the flower beds having strictly symmetrical lines.
In 1911 a marine aquarium was installed in the Botanical Garden; however, this is no longer in existence.
 

 

Original plan of the Garden from 1889

 
As well as the glasshouses, the garden has the following buildings: the director's or administrative building, in Art Nouveau style, the one-time gardener's lodge; the building of the Botanical Institute (the one-time Physiological Laboratory); the old exhibition pavilion (a valuable and authentic item of pavilion architecture of 1891); a public lavatory (an example of a small municipal structure from the end of the 19th  century); the building of the Botanical Institute, begun but never completed; the old storeroom (also from the end of the 19th century); the Water Company boiler room building (built in the 1930s); the drinking water fountain; a porch for students; and a small gazebo, acquired as a gift to mark the first centenary.
 

''Klila'' (seed beds), near 1900.

Glasshouses, near 1900.

 

In 1927 the Croatian Plant Geography Group was set up – later called the Karstic Group. The plan for this was designed by the celebrated Croatian botanist Professor Ivo Horvat.   It is planted with indigenous species from various regions of Croatia.  By 1985, sub-Mediterranean, Mediterranean, Alpine and West European rock gardens had been established.

 

At the time of its foundation, the Botanical Garden, in company with the Botanical and Physiological Institute, belonged to the Mathematics and Natural Sciences Department of the Faculty of Philosophy; however, since 1946, together with the Botanical Institute, part of the Biological Department, it has been a part of the  Faculty of Science, which was founded that very same year.  Just a few years after its foundation, the Botanical Garden was in possession of a very rich collection of plants. But in the course of time, because of a number of circumstances, it was much reduced. It was most impoverished in the post-World War II period; however, with the arrival of a warden with great expertise, Dr Sala Ungar, within a period of a few years it was once again enriched and in terms of numbers achieved practically the maximum possible when the area of the garden is considered.

 

As for some of the major projects of the Garden in the second half of the last century, it is worth mentioning the construction of a new glasshouse in 1985; the restoration of the iron railings and the toilet in 1986; the construction of a new boiler room for the heating of the glasshouses (1989); the construction of the domed glasshouse west of the parterre (1995); and the new glasshouse for the overwintering of plants (1996).
Large projects from 2000 incloode renovation of the old glasshouses, fountains, wrought iron railing, and especially the old exhibition pavilion (completed in 2007)

 

Pavilion in the Garden, arround 1900.

Decaying at the end of the 20th century

After the restauration (2004-2007)

 

From the very outset, the fact that the Garden belonged to the University meant that its first and basic purpose was to be at the service of university teaching and scientific work, although even long ago it was also used as a city park.  Indeed, that was one of the conditions under which the municipal authorities granted the land.

Because of its great educational, cultural, historical and tourist values, as well as its overall importance for the city of Zagreb and the Republic of Croatia, the Botanical Garden of the Faculty of Science has been since 1971 statutorily protected as a monument of nature and culture (as monument of horticultural architecture).

 

 


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