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Nostalgia as a Cultural Force: The Summer Garden Past and Future

Maria Ignatieva


What is nostalgia for a garden? Nostalgia is defined as a feeling of pleasure and sometimes slight sadness at the same time as you think about things that happened in the past. It is also an evocation of one's emotions and homesickness.
Since leaving St.Petersburg almost 8 years ago, I remember this particular place again and again. Being a botanist and landscape architect I used to know the story behind every sculpture, pavilion or vase. I knew every single tree and grass in this garden. For me cultural and ecological nostalgia run together in this place.


It is very painful to learn about dying trees and to know that pressure on the park is high and that one day we will have to face the dilemma ofwhat to do with these old trees. Will we cut all of them at once and restore the Garden to the image that Peter the Great used to admire? Or will we take into consideration the romantic face of the Summer Garden with its old trees and shady alleys that Puskin loved so deeply?

Many specialists today are of the opinion that we should probably retain the image of Pushkin’s romantic garden as long as we can. We can replace dying trees step by step and have a continuum of young and old trees, like a true urban forest. In the present ecological situation such a forest is the only solution! We cannot loose this ecological and cultural oasis in the center of St.Petersburg. The question of maintaining an appropriate ground cover can be solved quite easy with the help of shade-tolerant plants. Political considerations should not sway the park managers to make unsustainable planning decisions, such as installation of water- and chemical-intensive lawns in forested areas.

The prospects for protecting the Summer Garden also depend on understanding and developing an ecological culture among the people of St.Petersburg.
I dream that in 20 years I will be able to introduce my grandchildren to my favorite garden.

Further topics and interdisciplinary essays
History and Design of the Garden

Garden and River

Ecology of an Urban Greenspace

The Summer Garden in Poetry

Nostalgia as a Cultural Force

References and links

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