The Estate’s Heritage Garden

The Life of the Garden

The estate’s garden was included in the national heritage registry; however, that did not protect it from devastation. Most of the large trees, including the ash tree alley going from the upper (now county) road to the lower (now municipal) road, were cut down and the wood was sold — how pragmatically — for floorings. Other trees, which had felt Aleksandra Sczaniecka’s gentle touch as she planted them, met a similar fate. Fortunately, the garden was saved from complete destruction, which allowed us to immediately take steps to ensure a higher level of protection and to raise awareness of what natural heritage sites are and what they can be.

We invited the children from the Kwiatonowice primary school to take part in two educational projects: the proclamation of nine trees as natural monuments (2003) and creating an educational trail within the garden, which was described in the publication The Parks and Gardens of the Lesser Poland Voivodeship (2007) Nine trees received the status of natural monuments: a small-leaved lime, a catalpa, a European ash (Pendula cultivar) and six hornbeams comprising a natural gazebo (called a chłodnik, a typical element of estate garden architecture). Currently there are ten natural monuments within our garden (one of them, the European ash “Marcin”, was there prior to our arrival), which — ironically, considering the great estate parks in the region! — is the largest cluster of monument trees in the Gorlice county.

Since 2011 we’ve taken part in the garden festival “Święto Ogrodów”, a cooperative initiative by the Botanic Garden of the Jagiellonian University, the “Art Gardens” association and the Contemporary Music Club “Malwa”. The opening of the garden to the public is accompanied by concerts, exhibitions, multimedia presentations, bazaars and plant swaps. Many people, including from outside the Gorlice county, come to visit. In 2015 we had visitors from such places as Tarnów, Kraków, Narol, Katowice, Lublin, Poznań. In 2017, the next edition of the festival is scheduled for Saturday 10 June.

Since 2008 in the summer (15 May – 15 September) our garden can be visited after scheduling the visit via phone call. We encourage you to come!


The Tree Is a Slow, Enduring Force

Trees as Gods

To understand the surrounding world and its cosmic forces, to tame it, gain its approval, become its friend — this has been humanity’s eternal dream. By the world we mean the stars, and the mountains, and the rivers. And the trees, too.

Do they have souls and feelings, do they feel pain? — those questions may have been asked by ancient Greeks and Romans, Slavs, Celts. We can find faith in the magical powers of trees and their connection to human life in religion, literature and art from all over the world. Take the majestic oak tree, this king of kings, that protects so many households hiding in its shadow, that perhaps is a descendant of oak trees dedicated to Zeus, the god of gods. Take the sweet and soothing lime tree, the joy of bees and bumblebees. The delicious lime honey was so well-loved in mediaeval times that it was completely forbidden to cut down lime trees. Consider the ash tree, too — one of the holy trees. Dangerous, as it attracts lightning, but still valued for its medicinal properties and tough, elastic wood.

Today we still like to believe in the power of trees and we make use of their medicinal properties, of their wood, flowers and fruits, but we no longer revere them. Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz wrote: Quite the opposite, everyone would love to cut it down: it’s such a pleasure for a Pole to cut down an old tree.

Trees as Witnesses

There isn’t really a park around the estate in Kwiatonowice, and there didn’t used to be a garden, even though it is included in the national heritage registry. However, as Izabela Czartoryska wrote 200 years ago, any place can become a garden, any village, any farm, even the smallest corner — it was enough for the memory of it to survive. There were some remnants, too — a number of old trees, including an exotic catalpa, ash trees, larches, birches, hornbeams, a lime tree. Then there were old, robust lilacs, hazels, a large walnut, huge apple trees. Thanks to them this garden is not a metaphor — more of a task that consumes completely, like the earth that makes use of everything.

It is a task and a challenge — trying to recreate the original plan, which, frankly, was never much of a plan. The estate was too poor, and the surrounding nature too rich and generous. In pictures from the 1920 you can see a large cluster of robust trees, a well-maintained decorative garden and a large orchard. Fortunately some of the trees survived. It was truly a blessing for the house — there are few sights more pathetic than an old estate (or its much less attractive modern version) standing over fallow land and without any natural protection. It’s easier to rebuild using shrubs, fruit trees and herbs, with the core of the garden — old trees — already there. It’s also easier to see the fruit of one’s work this way. Still, it is said that everyone should plant an old tree, under whose shadow they won’t have a chance to sit. We too felt the urge to plant a tree of our own as soon as we started tidying up the land. Tidying up? It was a great cleaning effort. Over the years the merciful earth accepted glass and metal, concrete and plastic. It endured. We fared worse — to quote Boy, we uttered the worst kind of words over and over… But as always, perhaps as a reward, there were surprises awaiting us — some of the estate’s secrets. The earth revealed to us the remains of beautiful tile stoves that had been crushed into tiny pieces and used for hardening the road, and a thoroughly corroded bayonet, a memento from when the Russian army stood on top of the hill during the battle of Gorlice in 1915. Did the soldier who owned it remain here alongside his bayonet? The good, patient earth yielded hundreds of broken shells of crude, surely post-war faience, but also fragments of porcelain dishes bearing the marks of well-known European manufacturers. We thank God that the mason jars containing mysterious slime that we found among half-wild shrubs did not break in our hands — we’re still glad we never found out what was inside them.

What Is More Beautiful Than Tall Trees

After the great cleaning the time came for emotional moments. We planted an oak, a plane, a katsura, a ginkgo, a dozen lime trees. An enthusiast and expert from Gorlice gave us two more trees as a gift — a tulip tree and an ailanthus. We already had one natural monument in our garden, a European ash tree named Marcin by the children from the Kwiatonowice school. We began to try to have more trees declared as natural monuments, not realising that it would go against generally accepted behaviour. A lengthy procedure, visits from a nature conservation officer, measurements, expert opinions, applications to high-ranking officials, photographs, finally — finishing the process — the voivode’s statement. Our trees reacted to the sudden attention with characteristic patience and indifference. At last the day came — a warm, sunny September day. Placards with the image of an eagle hung from four trees, including three individual specimens — a small-leaved lime, a catalpa and a weeping ash; the fourth “eagle” was awarded to a group of six hornbeams, a “hornbeam office” which makes up a natural gazebo, called a chłodnik in Polish, alternatively called ciennik or chłodnica. Zygmunt Gloger wrote about them in the “Old Polish Encyclopaedia”: It was from limes, from hornbeams or climbing plants, such as hop, morning glory and grape vine, that a chłodnik was made. This garden composition was brought to Poland in the 12th century by monks, perhaps, Cistercians. A lime chłodnik was immortalised in Jan Kochanowski’s poetry. Our garden’s memory goes far back, even though the garden itself was only created in the 18th century.

Such Silence in the Garden That No Murmur Can Resist It, Readily Melting and Dying There…

We are reminded of these beautiful lines from Leśmian during Sunday afternoons, when, deep in our deck chairs, we read or nap on the patio. Ah, the patio! The part of the garden that may have undergone the greatest metamorphosis. It’s hard to believe that until recently it was gloomy and covered with concrete, with a bathroom inside a lean-to and with giant cesspits. A leftover from the school and the cooperative. After we managed to find in archival photographs the place where a birch used to be before the Second World War, we planted it once more, a weeping cultivar this time. Its long branches hug the patio from the east side. Then we started work on the flowerbeds that would surround the patio. In June 2008 among a group of friends we revealed an Art Nouveau sculpture by Karol Homolacs (thank you for the sculpture, Matylda!), from the Hungarian family of Homolacs, former owners of Zakopane, who were responsible for the popularity of Adolf Tetmajer, born in the Kwiatonowice estate, in the Polish Highlands, as he defended the Gorals in their lawsuit against this affluent family. To add extra spice to this story, Adolf bought his own estate in Ludźmierz from… Klementyna Homolacs. That’s how pieces of history come together.

Rooted Down

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote, The gardener’s death doesn’t endanger the tree in any way. However, should the tree be in danger, the gardener dies twice. A little dramatic perhaps, but we hope that the people who climbed the hill in Kwiatonowice to visit the estate garden are some of the chosen ones who perfectly understand this message. They also understand that we’ve found something we have in common with our trees — they have for ages, and we since recently, felt deeply attached to this ground, we’ve rooted ourselves and do not want to be ripped out.