History of the Nikita Botanical Gardens

      Today’s Southern Crimea with its orchards, vineyards, parks largely owes its scenic beauty to the Nikita Botanical Gardens. The establishment of the Gardens at the beginning of the last century was connected with the intensive development of the southern lands. Both viticulture and horticulture were becoming the staple branches of farming in the Southern Crimea. It was necessary to establish a standard state botanical garden which could guide the development of southern horticulture and keep it supplied with new high-yield and ornamental planting stock.

     On June 10, 1811 a decree was issued in St.Petersburg on the establishment in the Crimea of the Imperial Botanical Gardens. Christian Steven, a young scientist devoted heart and soul to science serving, was invited to fill the position of its director. Land plots were allotted for the Gardens in the centre of the Southern Coast of the Crimea, near the village of Nikita, founded several centuries before by the Greek settlers.

     The first plantings were made in September, 1812. This date actually marked the birth of the Nikita Botanical Gardens. Three years later the Gardens claimed its successes: the first catalogue of the plants available from its nurseries was published. In 1817 the first Russia collection of fruit trees was laid in the Gardens. From the very first years essential oil rose, tobacco, dye plants, medical plants have been cultivated. One cannot but appreciate the great effort in achieving it made by the founder and the first director of the Nikitsky Botanical Gardens, an outstanding scientist, researcher of the Crimean flora, great expert in agriculture. He founded a scientific library and a museum. His collection of ornamental plants contained 450 species.

     In 1824 Steven invited to service the gardener N. Gartvis. Very shortly he showed his worth as a gifted plant grower and excellent organizer. In 1826 he became the director of the Nikitsky Botanical Gardens. Ornamental horticulture and fruit growing made a steady progress under his management. Over twenty years the collection of tree species more than doubled. N. Gartvis contributed much to the rapid development of viticulture and wine-making on the Southern Coast of the Crimea. The first vineyard was laid and the first special school of viticulture and wine-making was organized on the base of the Gardens. N. Gartvis remained the Garden’s director till the end of his life (1860).

     After the Socialist Revolution and termination of the Civil War the Gardens began to develop as a scientific research institution. Departments, laboratories were organized and a staff of scientific workers was created. The strengthening of links with an agricultural practice has become a prominent feature of the Gardens’ works.

Towards the fifties the long-term testing of new varieties of fruits and industrial plants grown in the pre- and post-war years was completed and they were recommended for industrial cultivation. In 1952 a group of leading scientists of the Gardens (N. K. Arendt, A. S. Koverga, K. F. Kostina, I. N. Ryabov, A. A. Richter) were awarded the USSR State Prizes for breeding new varieties of plants.

     In 1962 the Nikita Botanical Gardens was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labor for its many-years fruitful work in the field of southern horticulture and in connection with its 150-th anniversary. The main trend of the Garden’s work is expressed by the words inscribed on the memorial jubilee medal:”The strength of science lies in its connection with practical work, with life.”

     Today the Nikita Botanical Gardens and its experimental branches take up an area of about 1000 hectares. The Gardens’ scientists study world plant resources in order to use them in national economy, carry on introduction and selection of fruits (peach, cherry, plum, apricot, nectarine, figs, pear, quince, persimmon, pomegranate, nuts, almond, olive, Chinese date ), essential oil-bearing and ornamental plants, flowers, work out the methods of their mass reproduction, protection from pests and diseases. In the past years the researchers’ attention is ever more attracted by the most urgent problems of protecting nature, the beautiful landscapes of the Crimea as a resort area of national importance.

Today the Nikita Botanical Gardens possesses a total of more than 28000 plant species, hybrids and cultivars. New ornamental and arboreal plant species tested in the Nikitsky Botanical Gardens are introduced into landscape gardening practice  on a wild scale: hundreds of thousands of saplings, seedlings and deep-rooted cuttings are sold to various organizations to be planted in cities, towns, settlements and villages.

     The Nikita Botanical Gardens has for many years been a participant of the USSR Exhibition of Economic Achievements. It has been awarded many diplomas and medals for the successful research work and introduction of the scientific achievements into farming. The Gardens’ achievements have been displayed to a great advantage at international exhibitions in Hungary, Germany, Italy, Japan and Czechoslovakia. The Gardens maintains scientific contacts with 550 establishments in 60 countries of the world.

     The Nikita Botanical Gardens is also well-known and very popular for its magnificent and picturesque parks. Its four parks are virtual open-air museum, their plant collections being continuously replenished with new exhibits. A visit to it both an instructive and exciting experience.


                         Directors of the Nikita  Botanical Gardens


Surname                                               years of work                                      speciality

1.     Steven Christian                     1812-1827 (15 years)                      entomologist,

Christianovich                                                                                          botanist

2.     Gartvis  Nikolay                      1827-1860 (33 years)                      viticulturist,

Andreevich                                                                                          horticulturist

3.     Keller Vasiliy                           1860-1865 (5 years)                    botanist, historian

Fedorovich                                                                                          geographer  

4.     Pavlo-Shvytkovsky                 1865-1866 (1 year)                         no information

5.     Tsabel Nikolay                        1866-1880 (14 years)                      physiologist,

Egorovich                                                                                    viticulturist, botanist

6.     Danilevsky  Nikolay                1880-1880 (0,5 year )             biologist, geographer,

Yakovlevich                                                                             sociologist, philosopher

7.     Salomon Alexander                1880-1881 (1 year)                          viticulturist


8.     Bazarov Alexander                 1881-1891 (10 years)                      biochemist,

Ivanovich                                                                                       plant specialist

9.     Antsiferov Pavel                      1891-1897 (6 years)                        biochemist,

Grigoryevich                                                                                        viticulturist

10.           Tarkhov Konstantin              1898-1902 (4 years)                         viticulturist


11.           Lagermark German               1902-1905 (5 years)            viticulturist, biochemist


12.           Pilenko Yuriy                          1905-1906 (1 year)                      no information


13.           Lomakin Vladimir                  1906-1907 (1 year)                      no information


14.           Shcherbakov Mikhail            1907-1915 (8 years)                    biochemist,

Fedorovich                                                                                      viticulturist

15.           Kuznetsov Nikolay                 1915-1919 (4 years)                   botanist,

Ivanivich                                                                                          phytogeographer

16.           Palladin Vladimir                   1919-1920 (1 year)                     biochemist,

Ivanovich                                                                                        physiologist

17.           Kalayda Feofil                        1920-1927 (7 years)                   horticulturist,

Klementyevich                                                                              dendrologist

18.           Kovalev Nikolay                     1927-1930 (3 years)                  horticulturist


19.           Voevodin Vasiliy                    1930-1933 (3 years)                  botanist,

Ivanivich                                                                                         horticulturist

20.           Shabadakh Nikolay                1933-1934 (1 year)                   no information


21.           Abaev Vladimir                       1934-1937 (3 years)                botanist,

Davidovich                                                                                   plant specialist

22.           Verbenko Georgy                   1938-1939 (1 year)                 no information


23.           Koverga Anatoly                     1939-1958 (20 years)       physiologist, biochemist,

Sofronovich                                                                                      botanist

24.           Kochkin Mikhail                      1958-1977 (19 years)          soil specialist, ecologist

Andreevich                                                                                       climatologist

25.           Kalutsky Konstantin               1977-1979 (2 years)             dendrologist, botanist,

Konstantinovich                                                                                silviculturist

26.           Molchanov Evgeny                 1979-1988 (9 years)           soil specialist, ecologist

Fedorovich                                                                                         agrochemist

27.           Chebotar Alexander               1988-1992 (2 years)           cytologist, geneticist


28.           Lishchuk Adolf                         1992-1999 (7 years)           physiologist,

Ivanovich                                                                                      biochemist

29.           Ezhov Valery                         since  1999                                  biotechnologist,

Nikitovich                                                                        biochemist, viticulturist