Probably everyone had once sensed the quiet and joy that flowers give Man. A stroll in a blooming garden rouses hopes, gives rise to dreams and cleanses the soul. Indeed, Jacques de Lille worded this beautifully  in his famous poem “Gardens”:

The Garden will share with you both joys and sorrows,
  Will help the artist find the proper colors,
  Will quell the grief of one befallen to gloom  or love,
  Will offer the poet the right words, flight and inspiration,
  The sage will find rest in its shadow,
  The happy will recollect days of rapture and love,
  And the unhappy sob out his sufferings
    The collection and exposition plots of the Laboratory for Introduction and Selection of Flowers and Decorative Plants are located in the central part of the Botanical Garden-Institute and are most frequently visited from early spring to late fall, when you can always find blooming plants there.
    In late April, blooming crocuses appear on the southern hill over thawed patches, followed by flourishing small-bulbous plants: the Scilla and the “mouse hyacinth”. And even though they are not too striking, the very fact alone that they are harbingers of spring, warmth and sunshine fills your heart with joy and hope.
    Then the hill delights us with its carpet of multicolor awl-shaped phlox and numerous low iris varieties.
    The collection of tulips greets the visitor with motley of colors. Here you can admire white, yellow, dark-red, orange and violet flowers from eleven different classes, ranging from early simple to fimbriate and parrot-like. Fimbriate tulips are particularly interesting; varieties of this class, e.g. “Blue Heaven”, are distinguished by presence of a fringe along petal edges. It may be needle-shaped, crystalline, ciliate and/or serrated. Sometimes these tulips are called “orchid”. Unlike the common varieties, fimbriate tulips almost invariably have tough, thickened petals, which are not afraid of rain, wind and bright sunshine.
    In the morning hours, visitors are attracted by the pleasant light smell of graceful narcissuses, snow white and golden, with split crowns and small flowers, all subtly poetic.
    In June, iris hybrid varieties, more commonly known as bearded iris for the presence of a band of dense hairs, the so-called “tuft” on the central vein of the perianth external lobes (var. «Margarita», «Kilt Lilt», «Christmas Time» , etc.).
 The ancient Greek word iris denotes rainbow, and you realize this when you see huge flowers with all sorts of colors and hear the poetic sound of tint groups: plicate, blend, amena.
    The achievements of botanists in selecting new varieties are indeed magnificent: they obtained varieties with fringed, corrugated petals with horned outgrowths on tuft ends, with secondary autumnal blooming. Plant-breeders have failed to obtain purely red iris alone, for which the top iris award, the Dikes gold medal, has been promised.
    Peonies succeed irises. The luxurious clusters of peonies with smart leaves and bright magnificent flowers—white, rosy, red, dark-cherry and almost black—look very impressive. A total of 4.5 thousand varieties have been registered worldwide, most of them conventionally subdivided into three groups: Chinese, medicinal and hybrid.
    The milk-flower peony, mostly growing in the wild in Primorye, is the ancestor of Chinese varieties. This group is most numerous in our collection.
    Medicinal peonies were obtained through selection of the most promising forms of medicinal peonies; in our collection this group is represented by single specimens because they are not sufficiently winter-hardy in local conditions.
    The third rapidly replenishing group, interspecific hybrids, includes forms obtained in interspecific cross-pollination.
    Over the past fifty years, highly complex cross-pollination yielded a new group of preferentially American selection, namely hybrid peonies, e.g. var. «Early Daybreak»), obtained in cross pollination wild species with varieties of above-listed groups. They are favorably distinguished by earlier blossoming and by scarlet, coral, orange, lavender, and dark red petal color, totally unusual for the peony.  In our collection, varieties from this group amount to over ten percent.
    Germans call Hemerocallis the plant of “intellectual idlers”. Indeed, among other similarly ornamental plants, one can hardly find one equally undemanding to growth conditions.
    Hemerocallises are often called one-day flowers , because they bloom just one day; yet, the raceme structure is such that the flowers open one after the other, so that the flowers’ short life remains inconspicuous.
    In recent hybrids, as many as sixteen hues have been described. The flowers of some varieties twinkle in the sun and incidentally distinguish “diamond dust” (silvery color) and “gold dust”. Regrettably, this property is not reflected in photographs.
    Due to the presence of varieties with early, medium and late blossoming times, in favorable years you can admire blossoming Hemerocallis until September.
    July, the peak of summer, is distinguished by abundance of blossoming plants—delphiniums, lupines, the original garden montbrecia and the peacock tigridia; most of the flowers are efflorescent annuals, such as the Portulaca, Aescholtsia, etc.
    The proud beautiful lilies also start blooming in July. Over half of all lilies have a fine pleasant aroma. Single lily flowers or those gathered in racemes astonish people with both richness of color and subtle forms reminiscent of now a high goblet, then a
bell, wide cup, or turban.
    Represented in the Garden collection are lily species, including those of Far Eastern flora, various hybrid lily varieties, and promising Botanical Garden seedlings.
    The collection is based on Asian hybrid varieties originating from East Asian species. Asian hybrids are the hardiest and most frost-resistant, with high multiplication factor and resistant to sicknesses and pests.
    Visitors are highly impressed by the large snow-white flowers of the royal lily, more similar to exotic trumpets.
    The last to bloom is one of the most magnificent lilies, the fine lily, whose crystalline crimson-sprayed turban-like flowers spread the fascinating smell of vanilla.
     In July, Japanese irises (including Japanese iris variety selected at “Primorye” Botanical Garden, Japanese iris var.  “Akatsuki", “Prairie Fantasy”, etc., delight the eye with their luxuriant flower color, ranging from white, purple and rosy to crimson and violet, and by elegance of form. Their very fine moire pattern of stripes or strokes imparts many varieties a special charm. In Japan, the native country of Japanese irises, they lovingly call them “hana-shobu” and organize  “hanami” festivals when these lovely flowers blossom.
    The Botanical Garden-Institute  boasts a unique collection of Japanese irises, including varieties of Japanese and American selection, and those selected by Russian breeders as well.
    In July, yet another Garden corner attracts general attention with its unusual racemes-panicles, ranging in color from white and rosy to red and violet. These are Astilbe (var. “Glut”, “Catlea”, etc.), ranging from small pompon-size to luxuriously large decorative varieties. Their racemes are so buoyant and full of air as to remind you of multicolored haze. Astilbes love humid habitats; for that reason Primorye’s monsoon climate is most favorable for this little known, but nonetheless still attractive culture.
Dahlias are normally regarded as the autumn flowers of our childhood. Many people will recall their childhood when on September 1st they first became first-graders of their primary school with a bouquet of luxurious dahlias or elegant astras in their hands.
   There is vogue for flowers, too, and one time dahlias were in favor with flower-lovers. But recently, the interest for dahlias has significantly grown.
   The collection of flowers at the Botanical Garden-Institute, F.E. Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, boasts over 100 varieties from eight decorative dahlia groups, e.g. Indira Ghandi, Triomphe de Paris, Severin Triumph, etc., ranging from little pompon flowers to luxurious, huge decorative ones. Again, the flower shape varies greatly, indeed!
   The flowers are highly diverse in form, the petals occasionally clustered like honeycombs, at times reminiscent of the lotus, and sometimes with either even- or cut fringe-like edges.
   In fall, dahlias serve as a thermometer, as it were; once the temperature drops below zero Celsius, the above ground portion instantly dies to indicate that the time to dig out the root crop had come.
   In September, when nature has apparently nothing more to offer, rosy and white vernal flowers appear. These are Colchums. There is something fascinatingly sad in them, and they look incredibly beautiful, like phantoms. Indeed, their very name reflects their uniqueness, everything in them being poorly timed, the leaves appearing
 in early summer, and the flowers in fall.
    Fall usually dawns with blooming of chrysanthemums. Children of fall, chrysanthemums, look essentially dispassionate, like all things do in autumn. And yet, nature has not hurt their feelings. Their petals are so gentle, now looking downwards, now skywards. The white makes them look solemn, the rosy pensively smiling, and the yellow sunnily joyful. Indeed, every individual flower is a novel expression, a new intonation.
    The Garden boasts a very rich collection of small-flower chrysanthemums, including also varieties and promising seedlings selected by our researchers, e.g. the varicolored “Sorceress”, “Typhoon”, etc., more adapted to monsoon conditions to find the time to gladden visitors with their luxurious blossoming before arrival of early frosts. Chrysanthemums are the most cold-resistant culture, the flowers withstanding frosts of up to minus 7oC.
    The inhabitants of the enclosure and pool evoke no small public interest, especially in children. In the enclosure, you can see little decorative hens and cocks, an important-looking turkey-poult and proud silver pheasant. And in the pool, hybrid water lilies bloom and golden fishes swim throughout summer; this year, we introduced  multicolored Japanese carp larvae.

     The author thanks Yu. Vaskovsky, M. Abanjkina, L. Makogin and l. Pshennikova for the slides and photographs.

L. MIRONOVA, Cand. Sci. (Biology), Head of Laboratory for Introduction and Selection of Decorative Flower Plants, Botanical Garden –Institute, Far East Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences.