Iridarium (Iris Garden)
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Thematic exposition - Iridarium – was set up in 1963. There are different genera of the family Iridaceae (Gladiolus, Crocus etc.) in the lot, therefore, it is called Iridarium. Special attention is attached to the typical genus Iris. The idea of creation of the Iridarium belonged to Georgy I. Rodionenko, DrSc in Biological Sciences. 120 species from 37 genera have been tested in the Iridarium. Collection of plants in situ represents special value. Nowadays the collection includes more than 100 species and forms of wild flora, more than 450 cultivars of the genus Iris and species of 11 genera of the family Iridaceae. Blossoming occurs from April to October. The first exposition has become a center of scientific research on the basis of the unique collection of irises and a favourite rest location of the garden visitors. In the period of irises blossoming the Iridarium is visited by up to 70 thousand people.
Layout of Iridarium
Exposition of the Botanical Garden (Iridarium)
A large collection of representatives of the family Iridaceae is located in the Iridarium (Iris Garden) of the Botanical Garden of V.L.Komarov’s Botanical Institute (Russian Academy of Sciences). Special value is attached to the collection of species growing in Russia. It is separated in 3 geographical units: Irises of Siberia, Irises of Primoye krai and Irises of the European part of Russia and Northern Caucasus.
Special attention is attached to the genus Iris. Sorts and species of Bearded Irises are in the central place of the exposition. Tracking evolution form wild forms to the cultured plant the following species are shown: (I. aphylla), (I. germanica), (I. pallida), (I. variegata) as well as sorts of old and modern selection of the garden group – Bearded Irises.
Expositions of Beardless Irises are very popular. Firstly it refers to the collection of the garden group of Siberian Irises - I. sibirica and I. sanguinea including about 70 sorts. The collection was started in 1970s and now it has considerably extended and replenished by new cultivars. This group of irises is very decorative. It includes some more species – close relatives of I. sibirica – for example, I. bulleyana and I. chrisographes.
Exposition with a small pool includes a group of Irises for Water Garden: I. pseudacorus represented by more than 10 forms and cultivars, I. laevigata of more than 5 forms and cultivars. I. setosa has perfect decorative features and is characterized by frost-resistance.
There is a lot of Japanese design for the garden group of Japanese Irises. The botanical name of forefather of numerous sorts of this group is I. ensata. There is lack of warmth in St. Petersburg and autumn is excessively humid for Japanese Irises however G. I. Rodionenko and L.N.Mironova created a series of winter-proof sorts of irises that allowed to organize a separate exposition.
Exposition of the garden group of Spuria Irises has been created. This name has been attached to the group in special gardening literature due to the most widespread species from the subgenus Xyridion — Iris spuria. The plants occupy a small part of the second sector of the Bearded Irises exposition.
Exposition of sorts of domestic selection consisting, first and foremost, of irises of G. I. Rodionenko’s selection has been organized. 12 sorts of his selection are bred in a separate lot in the Iridarium.
Thank to exposition of bulbous and bulbotuber plants of the family Iridaceae the period of the Iridarium blossoming extends from early spring to late autumn.
Georgy R. Rodionenko – Founder of the Iridarium
Georgy R. Rodionenko is the most high-profile expert on irises well-known throughout the world. He has published more than 120 papers and 10 books, many of them have been translated into English, French and Italian. He has selected more than 20 sorts of irises. His achievements were marked in Great Britain by M.Foster’s medal and in the USA by Varburton’s medal. Georgy was awarded by 2 orders of “Red Star” and “Honour Sign”, medals and honorary diploma. Mr.Rodionenko is a courageous and devoted man.
Georgy Rodionenko was born on March, 28, 1913 in the family of the emperor army officer in a small town of Ardebil in Northern Persia (Iran) where the Russian army was located. His childhood passed in Sukhumi where he also finished school and graduated from the Institute of Subtropical Planting. In 1939 Mr.Rodionenko left for Leningrad to continue studies. He was employed in the Botanical garden. The Second World War broke out when Mr.Rodionenko was in far expedition in Lake of Balkhash. In August 1944 he graduated from Kharkov Artillery School in Fergana and asked for recruitment in Leningrad front. Later Mr.Rodionenko was heavily wounded in leg during a battle near Riga. After leaving hospital in 1945 he returned to the Botanical garden. In first post-war years Mr.Rodionenko organized 2 expeditions to the Black Sea coast in the Caucasus and delivered 9 railway cars of large-size subtropical plants for the garden greenhouses.
Georgy Rodionenko defended PhD and DrSc theses. Mr.Rodionenko is the only monograph of the genus of Iris in Russia. He has been working with irises for 60. In 1963 the Iridarium (Iris garden) was founded, Georgy worked out scientific grounds for layout of collections. Picking plants in situ was the most valuable acquisition of the collection. He carried out about 15 expeditions in total, actively participated in expeditions to difficult to reach districts of the country although he had become disabled with artificial leg. The Iridarium is still showing one of the best collections of irises in the country. It is annually visited by hundreds of St. Petersburg residents, tens of experts from Russia and from abroad.
March 28, 2013 at the Komarov Botanical Institute celebrated the 100th anniversary of George Rodionenko. Congratulated colleagues, members of iris societies, as well as the governor of our city George Poltavchenko.