Wrought iron swing, mini apiary and chiselled gazebos: What has changed in the big rose garden in Sokolniki?

Wrought iron swing, mini apiary and chiselled gazebos: What has changed in the big rose garden in Sokolniki?
The improved rose garden now has a mini apiary, decorative sculptures and fountains, comfortable benches and chiselled gazebos, plus 36 new rose varieties.

The big rose garden will reopen in Sokolniki Park on 1 August after a comprehensive improvement that began in April 2019. It was conceived as a continuously flowering garden by theatre artist Anna Shukshina in the 1950s.

The renewed rose garden now has a mini apiary, comfortable benches and walking paths, decorative sculptures and 36 new types of rose. Now there are 130 rose varieties in the garden.  For instance, guests will be able to enjoy the Vivaldi and Queen Elizabeth tea roses, and others. Overall, 4,000 shrubs have been planted during the renovation.

In late August, the roses will bloom for a second time this year. The rose garden also has themed sections featuring seasonal plants, such as hydrangeas, purple Joe-Pye weed, maiden silvergrass and others.

The garden covers an area of 3.6 hectares and is located between the 1st and 2nd Luchevaya clearings of the park (beyond the Big Circle). Tickets can be purchased in the terminals at the entrance to the big rose garden. To book a themed guided tour, go to the administration building.

The big rose garden in Sokolniki Park was unveiled in 1957 to mark the 6th World Festival of Youth and Students, and had over 100 rose varieties. The plants for the garden were brought from North America, Siberia, China, Japan, the Altai Territory, the Caucasus, Crimea and the Far East. For instance, there were hydrangeas, phloxes, tulips and peonies. In the 1990s, several sculptures from the big rose garden were lost.

Young Woman with a Pitcher and wedding pavilion

On 1 August, two fountains will be turned on at the garden. The central fountain on the main alley has been renovated. Architects have also recreated the Young Woman a with Pitcher fountain sculpture that adorned the garden from 1960 onwards, but then was lost. The bronze fountain was found in the museum of Losiny Ostrov Park. A replica of it now stands in the big rose garden, to the right of the wedding pavilion.

The wedding pavilion with an area of 60 square metres has also been renovated and modernised. Its wooden floor has been repaired and a sliding roof installed. Now weddings can be held here whatever the weather. The pavilion is open from May to September.

Visitors’ comfort and safety

Visitors can walk along the main path in the rose garden which has been paved with red cobblestone. The numerous pedestrian paths have been covered in gravel of a similar colour. White benches with armrests have been installed all over the garden, and wrought iron gazebos have been provided so that visitors can relax in quiet, secluded surroundings. The garden is also adorned with white decorative arches and trellises for climbing plants. A swing has also been placed in a corner of the garden.

There are also three drinking fountains, and a comfortable baby care room for families with small children, located in the central part of the garden (on the right). For the safety of visitors, the lighting system has been repaired and all the street lamps have been replaced with new ones.

Lucky Chimera and scent garden

The renovated garden now has the Childhood sculpture, featuring three small figures, a bronze boy with a violin and two girls holding hands. The sculptures are installed on separate marble pedestals in the form of a Greek Doric column. Visitors can see them in the scent garden, to the right of the wedding pavilion.

An unusual creature resembling a Chimera can be seen in an area on the left of the garden where there are coniferous shrubs. The head and arms of the half-human, half-animal creature are bronze, and the pedestal below is hand-carved in stone. It is wearing an earring in one ear. The sculpture was brought from Poland in 2006. It has been cleaned and put back on its place in the garden.

Mini apiary and vases with tropical plants

In the shady garden to the right of the entrance, experts have repaired the artificial fog systems which maintain the climate suitable for the plants. Landscape architects have also created arborvitae topiaries. These include, for instance, Lady with a Dog, Gentleman on a Bench, Jumping Dolphins and others. Tropical palms grow near the baby care room and the Fairies sculptures. In addition, the garden has been adorned with exotic plants in vases. In the winter, they will be moved into a warm-house.

In the central part of the garden, there is a mini apiary with four beehives. It can be visited by appointment with the tour guide. Information about guided tours will appear on the park website in the near future.

In the 16th-17th centuries, tsars and grand dukes practiced falconry in the 516 hectares now occupied by Sokolniki Park, hence its name (falcon is sokol in Russian). Today there are large and small rose gardens, as well as a lilac garden and a plant nursery.