Garden History

The history of the ISU Botanical Garden began on October 8, 1940, when the municipal administration of Irkutsk resolved to allocate 18 hectares (44.5 acres) of land for a Botanical Garden, and awarded Irkutsk State University the authority to develop it.  The first director of the Botanical Garden was Pavel Malinovsky from the Irkutsk Regional Museum.

During World War II the Botanical Garden served as a food-supply base for the faculty of Irkutsk State University.  An area of at least two hectares (five acres) was dedicated to growing vegetable crops for the University’s cafeteria.  Notwithstanding the burdens of war, work continued in the introduction of new plants and the planting of cottonwood, larch, ash, hawthorn, honeysuckle, sea buckthorn, serviceberry, roses, and other trees and shrubs.

Pavel Malinovsky, the first director of the Botanical Garden

Employees of the Botanical garden

An arboretum of 7.2 hectares (18 acres) was established in 1954. Also created were a fruit-and-berry garden of 3 hectares (7.4 acres), an experimental research station of 1.7 hectares (4.2 acres) for the ISU Botany Department, nurseries of 1.1 hectares (2.7 acres), and a protected forest zone of 1.2 hectares (3 acres) along the perimeter of the Botanical Garden.  Over 12 hectares (29.7 acres) of relict pine groves were preserved with no alterations.

In the early 1970s the Garden was transferred to management by the economic section of Irkutsk State University, and the number of scientific personnel was reduced.  But thanks to Garden Director Mikhail Alekseevich Kurochkin’ senergetic work and support of the staff, the main collections were preserved and the Garden was kept from destruction.

In the 1980s the collections again began to expand, owing to the enthusiasm of the Garden’s staff.  Galina Belovezhets was appointed Director, and she improved collection record-keeping and scientific efforts involving woody plants.  Altogether in the Botanical Garden 1,324 species, varieties, and forms of plants were identified.  In these years the Botanical Garden was recognized as one of the best in the Soviet Union.

Raisa Ivanova, employee of the Botanical garden of ISU in the 1960s

Viktor Kuzevanov

Svetlana Sizykh

During the 1990s the Garden once again was subject to desolation.  Inthewinterof 1991-1992 the heating pipes failed, which caused freezing of the majority of plants in the greenhouses (more than 60%).  The buildings and infrastructure were in a state of ruin.

A new era of recovery of the Botanical Garden began in 1992, when Viktor Kuzevanov was appointed Director. In 2015 a re-organization took place, and the Botanical Garden was absorbed into the Biology and Soils Department of Irkutsk State University as a structural sub-unit.  Svetlana Sizykh was named as Manager.  At the current time a close-knit, creative staff is engaged in resolving challenges connected with the ecological, social, and environmental problems of today’s world.