“Feel and smell”
Plant exposition for blind and low vision people has been installed in 1997. Wouter Goumas, a Dutch consultant created a project for equipment and our VMU Kaunas Botanical Garden architect G. Prakapaite – for plant exposure. You can find this exposition in the territory of Medicinal and Aromatic plants.
It has been renovated in 2009, now it has 50 plant species (16 families): aromatic-medicinal, forest-wetland, vegetable and decorative. Among them there are also some of the rarest and highly protected Lithuanian plants (Gypsophila paniculata L., Allium ursinum L., Salvia pratensis L., Arctostaphylos uva–ursi (L.) Spreng.).
The names of medicinal, spice (aromatic), decorative plants are written in Braille tables for blind people and also in rather large print for those with a low vision. The whole exposition is 1,5 meter above the ground, so it is easier to touch and smell the plants.
Compiled by prof. dr. (HP) Ona Ragažinskienė
Birute Galdikas oak grove
The oak tree grove planting campaign is a part of the Žaliasis Aleksotas (The Green Aleksotas) project.
On the 14th of May, 2011 a unique oak tree grove of special oak tree seedlings that were grafted with exceptionally long-lived Lithuanian oaks – Stelmužė, Daukša, Šventybrastis and other grand ones were planted.
A famous environmentalist and anthropologist Professor Birute Galdikas dreamed to plant oak grove in Lithuania as a symbolic backdrop of the global deforestation. Galdikas is one of the most outstanding scientists of Lithuanian descent. Her life is an example of responsible approach to the environment. She dedicated her life to protect highly endangered great apes, “forest people” – Orangutans. Birute initiates oak trees planting in the forests of the Indonesian island of Borneo, so that the orangutans have more of their favourite food – acorns.
However, planting oaks in Lithuania has another, deeper meaning. In ancient times, Lithuania was the land of oaks. A powerful, slow-growing oak is unique in our ethno culture. Holy oaks and oak groves were in the most powerful spiritual rituals and places of worship of the gods. In 1420 it was forbidden to cut the old oak trees. In the XVI century oaks could have constituted a 15-20 percent of the forest area, but in 1937 the number dropped to 1.3 percent, now stands at about 1.5% of Lithuanian forest space.
In the unique Birute Galdikas oak grove grows 50 seedlings that are clones of 31 Lithuanian long-lived oaks. In 2012 50 more were planted.
Insect homes or hotels in many countries are installed in botanical gardens, parks or private estates. Their goal is to protect the biological diversity that is fast disappearing due to human activities. All plants, animals, fungi and micro-organisms are necessary to ensure the continuous circle of life. Urban and industrial activity disturbs the natural occurrence, thus reducing biological diversity.
People domesticated only one insect – bee. Insect hotel helps to learn more about other insects, and the functions of ecosystems, because it sort of gives a reduced portrait of insect life in nature.
Who lives in the insect hotels?
Singly living bees, bumble bees and parasitic wasps, butterflies, a wide variety of predators and wood living beetles, centipedes. Along with insects, here can live fungi, algae, molluscs, crustaceans, spiders. You can sometimes locate a mouse or hedgehog. While wood rots, some insects leave the house, but others move in, and hotel residents constantly change.
In the spring of 2012, our hornbeam hedge was trimmed to form a giant caterpillar. The officials of Kaunas Metrology centre measured and “Factum” agency accepted it as the biggest caterpillar-formed hedge in Lithuania.
Kids named the hedge – track centipede, and measured it themselves. Our hedge is “180 kids and 25 teachers” long.
Green class “Riešutėlis (Nutlet)”
Green class “Riešutėlis” works in the botanical garden since 1960. It is an educational tool for VMU Kaunas botanical garden, sector of medicinal plants. From an early spring until late autumn here you can observe flowers and their blooms.
In our green class we share our scientific knowledge with children, students, specialists and community. We talk about medicinal plants and their rational use and conservation.
Compiled by prof. dr. (HP) Ona Ragažinskienė
Green class “Berry”
VMU Kaunas Botanical Garden with the initiative of Dr. D. Budriūnienė, in 1993 launched a non-traditional berry plant collection. These collections are accrued in the Pomology sector, were our green class “Uoga” is established. Here, visitors are introduced to the little known but very valuable berries: cranberries, snowballs, actinidias, blueberries, unwashed raisins, hazels, honeysuckles and other interesting plants.
Throughout the summer in our Pomology collections we can see a variety of berries – green, blue, red, even yellow and white, and garden visitors, schoolchildren and students can observe berry bushes, walk along the green corridors constructed out of actinidia lianas. People still call actinidia berries “the little kiwi”. Scientists, biologists and agronomists can tell a lot of interesting information about plant biology, cultivation characteristics of the berry value and use, and for the youngest – tales or legends.