Debrecen has a great tradition of science education and botany. Péter Méliusz Juhász wrote the first Hungarian botanical book here, while Sámuel Diószegi and Mihály Fazekas, the writer of the famous Hungarian Herb Book (1807) created the first Herb Garden.
The predecessor of the current garden was a garden established on the site of the Déri Museum – formerly known as Pap Lake – the area of which was designated in 1807 by the then council of the city of Debrecen. The garden was under the supervision of the Reformed College and served for science education from 1844 to 1922.
In the meantime, the university was established in the College, and later it moved to the Great Forest when its building was completed. With this, the herb garden of the College also lost its significance, and then it ceased to exist with the reconstruction of the Déri Museum.
The New Herb Garden behind the University of Debrecen
After the university spun off from the College, the city of Debrecen donated 17 hectares (30 cadastral acres) behind the university in the Great Forest for the purpose of the botanical garden.
The new herb garden was founded in 1928. The founders included Rezső Soó, Pál Gregus, Béla Rerrich and József Schneider. Scientific and aesthetic tasks were set for the garden. In the following years, Professor Rezső Soó took care of the garden. Between 1933 and 1935, the plants, the demonstration area, and the roads were systematized. In 1935, the rock garden was completed, followed by the construction of aqueduct networks, which led to a rapid increase in the number of plant species that could be presented. The planting of phytogeographical groups (lake, swamp, saline, sand mound) was also started. The first greenhouse, the wintering area, and the lake with a concrete bottom were also being built.
The Regional Plants Exhibition Displays Plants from the Different Regions of Hungary.
In 1940, the Diószegi – Fazekas monument of the sculptor Ede Kallós was erected on the shores of the existing lake, which was donated to the botanical garden by the Minister of Religion and Public Education.
Reconstruction after the War and the Declaration as Nature Reserve
In 1944, Imre Máté was appointed head of the department of botany and the botanical garden. The construction of the greenhouse was planned, but the II. World war prevented it. The fast-growing garden was neglected during the war. It was rebuilt in 1947 under the leadership of Rezső Soó and a result of the work, as many as 1,400 plant species and 285 seeds of plant species were listed in the autumn of 1949.
The renovation of the open-air area was completed by 1950, then the first greenhouse was built in 1950-51, followed by 2 more greenhouses in the late 1950s, as a result of which the number of tropical plant species increased greatly.
In 1952, Lajos Dobos, a horticultural engineer, was given the task of managing the garden. With his appointment, the university also created 4-5 gardeners jobs, and so it became possible to build a botanical garden, create a rich winter house collection, and establish a succulent and cactus collection.
In 1972, Lajos Nemes took over the management of the garden. The new palm house with ground heating was handed over in 1975. The sprinkler system was a bespoke creation, “homemade” in the spring of the following year. Its structure made it possible to create a very rich tropical collection in which even bananas ripen their fruit.
In 1976, the built-in 13.7-hectare botanical garden was declared a nature reserve, making it possible to perpetuate and protect the area. The official task of nature conservation is performed by the city, while the professional supervision is exercised by the head of the current botanical department and the director of the garden.
The greenhouses were further expanded in 1986 when the cactus collection received a 3-aisle greenhouse block. Under the direction and devotional care of Lajos Nemes, the collection of cacti had become widely known, not just locally but Europe-wide by this time as the collection’s number of species reached 1,200.
The arboretum collection also grew year by year. Evergreens, pines, planted in the early 1980s, were one of the most beautiful sights and beauty during the arboretum walk, created by climatic and pedological conditions that were not ideal for them at all.
In 1996, Lajos Nemes retired, and the gardening engineer Mária Szabó was entrusted with the management of the garden. From 2005, biologist László Papp was appointed director of the garden. Currently, the number of plant species exceeds 5,000, this includes
- 1500 free terrestrial species,
- 2,000 tropical species
- 1,000 other succulent species
- 1,300 cactus species.
October 21 – March 20: 8 AM -. 4 PM (Monday to Sunday)
March 21 – October 20: 8 AM -. 6 PM (Monday to Sunday)
Palm House and Plant Geographical House
9 AM -. 3 PM (Monday to Sunday)
The Botanical Garden can be visited by university students free of charge during opening hours. (UNIPASS Card, student card required)
Photo credit: www.civishir.hu