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Video: Yew. Care, Cultivation, Reproduction. Decorative Deciduous. Coniferous Trees. Garden Plants. History. Beneficial Features. A Photo
For a long time and far beyond the borders of the Caucasus, the decorative park of the Tsinandal viticultural state farm in Georgia has been famous. A lot of interesting things can be seen in this unique corner, created at the end of the last century by the outstanding master of gardening art AE Regel. But all the exotic plants collected here from more than 25 countries of the world, the exquisite architecture of the park and even the vivarium with deer and roe deer, peacocks and countless other animals and birds fade into the background when you find yourself in the green laboratory of I. G. Khmaladze.
© Frank Vincentz
About a quarter of a century ago, a student of the Academy of Arts Irakli Khmaladze came here. He had a lot of worries to restore and improve the composition of the park, to enrich the plantings with overseas settlers. But in his spare time, the tireless enthusiast still cultivated his "botanical menagerie". Here is a giant crocodile lazily stretched out on the lawn, wide open its toothy mouth, a wary tiger froze a little further, a mongrel dog and a bear cub are frolicking nearby, in a word, a real zoological garden. But the point is that these animals are formed from various plants by the hands of a talented master. Truly inhuman patience is necessary to care for all these exquisite works of garden art: in some plants you need to slow down growth, in others to cause increased tillering,still others require a curly haircut or special shaping using a variety of tweaks. Every year the number of works in Khmaladze's green laboratory is increasing, and the fame of their creator is growing.
Everyone, of course, will be interested in what material the master creates these wonderful living sculptures from. The author does not make a secret of this, but always generously shares both the knowledge acquired in the process of educating his pets and rich experience.
“I use several types of plants in my work: hornbeam and privet, viburnum and cypress. However, boxwood and yew proved to be the best in this peculiar sculpting, - says I. G. Khmaladze. - True, this is not my discovery, yew and boxwood were widely used to form animal figures in one of the seven wonders of the world - in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Nowadays, these trees are used in their work by both Soviet gardeners-decorators and masters from India, Egypt and other countries. Abroad, the Hanging Garden of Bombay on the Malabar Hills Peninsula is especially famous for its green sculptures. Masterfully built on the roof of a huge water reservoir from which water is supplied to the entire peninsula, it contains a huge number of green sculptures: elephants, giraffes, camels, dogs, horses."
You can also meet these suppliers of plant material for green sculptures in natural forests, and, of course, they are valuable not only for green architecture. In the wild, yew is found in the Far East, in the Caucasus, occasionally in the Crimea, in the Carpathians and even in the Baltic States. Much wider yew and boxwood are grown artificially: almost everywhere in Ukraine, Kuban, North Caucasus.
In Lvov, Rostov, Uzhgorod, Odessa, Volgograd, Kiev, you can always, even in winter, see green borders and various geometric shapes created from yew and boxwood. Kamenets-Podolsk craftsmen make from them even a kind of living furniture. I just want to sit on an evergreen boxwood sofa in the Kamenets-Podolsk Botanical Garden. Next to the sofa, there are other details of the green set: children's tables, highchairs, rocking chairs, large and small balls and cubes.
Botanists know eight species of yew, of which only one is found wild in Europe, three grow in East Asia and four in North America, although they all do not differ so much among themselves. In the Soviet Union, two species grow wildly - berry yew, or European, and pointed yew, or Far Eastern. You can get a sufficient idea of this woody plant by visiting the Caucasus. It is best to visit the Khostinskaya reserved grove near Sochi, here, by the way, you can also see boxwood.
Just cross the openwork bridge over the turbulent mountain river Khosta and pass the arch with the inscription “Caucasian State Reserve; yew-and-boxwood grove”, as it will blow the coolness unusual for these warm places. We owe the mighty dark coniferous more often this coolness in the middle of a sultry summer. The grove will surprise us not only with this. At the entrance to it stands a huge 350-year-old beech, suitable in age for the great-great-grandchildren of a small yew tree, modestly standing to the side and dating back 2,000 years. True, it cannot yet be considered very old: after all, the maximum age of the yew under natural conditions usually exceeds 4000 years. By the way, yew is considered the most ancient representative of the tertiary flora that existed millions of years ago.
Yew is a low plant, even at the age of 2000 its height is no more than a few meters, but only 5-6 people can grasp the trunk of this ancient tree of the Caucasus.
Most of the yew's neighbors are deciduous trees, while it itself belongs to evergreen conifers. Its trunks are knotty: it seems as if they are composed of many thick shoots, tightly fused together. The reddish color of the trunk and branches of the yew tree, as it were, justifies the name that has been fixed for it among the people - mahogany. In addition to its unusual color, yew wood is distinguished by its durability and rare strength. Sometimes yew is also called a non-rotting tree, which also confirms the exceptional resistance of its wood, this time against decay. The living wood of the yew, in contrast to the felled one, is severely damaged by the microscopic fungus-parasite; it, like, however, its bark and leaves, is very poisonous.
Yew blooms in early spring, its dark green branches are covered with delicate small flowers. In the yew forest you can find male trees with golden earrings and female trees with small flowers in the form of cones. The matte red yew seed ripens only in the middle of autumn. The yew cannot scatter its seeds by itself. But he has active, but not disinterested helpers. Blackbirds and martens easily find bright yew seeds. Together with the pulp, they swallow the yew seed itself, which is then discarded undigested and germinates.
A visit to the yew-boxwood thickets leaves an unforgettable impression. First of all, their absolute silence is striking: neither bird singing nor the rustle of an animal is heard. Even the rays of the southern sun rarely break through the dense tent of tree crowns. People do not interfere with the life of plants here, so they keep their virgin, pristine appearance. Their peers - ancient mosses and lichens - hang from boxwood trunks with giant shaggy manes. They are diverse both in appearance and in taxonomy: botanists count several dozen species of them here. At any time of the year, the fantastic decoration of the yew and boxwood grove resembles the underwater world of dense algae.
Most often, there are small, 6-9-meter high, box-tree trees with twigs, completely overgrown with small shiny oval-shaped green leaves. Their trunks are 15-20 centimeters in diameter, and the circumference of the thickest trees sometimes reaches 1.5 meters. Boxwood trunks thicken only by one millimeter per year. The owner of the most powerful trunk in the reserve is about 500 years old.
Nature seems to cement boxwood, which is considered heavier and harder than any kind of our trees. The local population calls it the Caucasian palm or ivory. The specific gravity of wood is 1.06, and it sinks like a stone in water. The high mechanical properties of boxwood make it possible to manufacture bearings, fonts, weaving shuttles, and exquisite souvenirs from it.
The ancient Greeks and Romans considered boxwood to be a precious tree. Homer mentions him in Canto 24 of the Iliad, where he describes the laying of a smooth boxwood yoke on Priam's bulls, and the Roman poet Ovid, in one of his works, tells how Minerva made the first flute out of boxwood.
A peculiar sight is the flowering of boxwood. With the first breath of spring, in early March, small golden flowers appear from the sinuses of each leaf, completely covering the crown. The flowers of boxwood, unlike the flowers of other plants, do not emit nectar at all, while the greenish, already ripe fruits are full of clear sweet juice. The fruits, ripening, crack loudly with force and scatter in all directions, not very far, but, as a rule, turn out to be outside the crown.
Boxwood thickets are mainly concentrated in our country on the Black Sea coast of the Caucasus and in the Far East. But no country in the world can boast of such a unique forest as the yew and boxwood evergreen museum near Khosta, although it occupies a relatively small area - about 300 hectares. It is noteworthy in this reserve that yew and boxwood, not being closely related, grow together, not oppressing or crowding each other.
© Zanchetta Fabio