Places in Czech Republic

Weekend of open gardens – Part 1 – Luft’s Garden

Some time ago I noticed a poster in a street inviting those passing by to visit a garden belonging to a Dominican monastery within an event called “Weekend of open gardens”. As I had never heard of such an event, that invitation caught my attention and I thought about finding more pieces of information on the Internet when I get home. But you know what, soon I had other things on my mind and if it wasn’t for my colleague who reminded me of that event when the weekend was close, I would have missed that.

The “Weekend of open gardens” is inspired by the English “Open Garden & Squares Weekend” tradition and started its own tradition in 2010 with just three Prague gardens registered. In this 6th year there were 162 gardens registered throughout the Czech Republic and I’m sure that every year new gardens will join the project. Every garden which can offer an interesting piece of history, unusual design, environmental attitude, interesting collection of trees and bushes or attractive story is welcome to be registered and participate.

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It’s helpful that you can have a look at the event’s website and choose exactly the gardens you are interested in based on what they offer as the registered gardens cover a wide spectrum of variety and include kindergarten gardens, community gardens, arboreta, cemeteries, castle gardens and small private gardens, to name some of them. Some of the gardens look spectacular, others offer ideas and inspiration. Some of the gardens are open throughout the whole year, some just from spring to autumn and the rest only on special occasions. During the event most of the gardens offer not only open gates and free (but not necessarily for free) access but also commented tours, exhibitions, musical or theatrical performance.

This year the event took place last weekend and I visited with my husband three gardens in Pilsen (Plzeň) which caught our attention in the list of the local registered gardens. I’d like to introduce all three of them to you in this and the following two posts.

Let’s start with LUFT’S GARDEN.

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For the moment Luft’s Garden belongs to those gardens which don’t look spectacular – and that’s why I didn’t take many photos there which I regret now as I should have documented more parts of the garden – but it can offer an interesting story and moreover, it obviously has a potential.

The garden was built in the years 1886 – 1909 and included two ponds used for fish breeding. The ponds are still part of the garden and especially one of them adds significantly to the feel of the garden. In 1912 the garden was bequeathed to Mr. Luft who started to remodel it into a private residential garden and planted exotic wood species there. He wanted to build a villa in the garden premises but he was never granted permission by the building office. Thus nowadays the garden is funnily enough characterised as a unique residential garden without a residence.

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When Mr. Luft died, the garden stayed in the family ownership until 1959 when state officials made its owner sell the garden to the state under the threat of expropriation so that a public park was established there. Nevertheless, the garden’s future didn’t develop as it was planned and though it was used, proper care wasn’t taken of it and it started to deteriorate. They say that the good side of that development was that the concept of the garden was preserved and the garden can be restored now.

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Since 1991 Luft’s garden has belonged to the property of the city Pilsen which started its regeneration in 1996. In 2010 the garden was open to public and nowadays it’s open for free every first Wednesday of a month. The garden is listed as a “significant landscape element” and is included in a regional bio corridor of the territorial system of environmental stability. If there were spare finances in the city budget, it might become a beautiful place…

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