Flowers of the Park at the birthplace of Chopin

The birthplace of famous Polish composer and virtuoso pianist Fryderyk Chopin in Żelazowa Wola, Poland, together with the modernist commemorative park which surrounds it, is one of the most important treasures of Polish national culture. Published by The Fryderyk Chopin Institute, the book ‘Kwiaty Parku w Żelazowej Woli’ (Flowers of the Park in Żelazowa Wola), written by authors Anna Tarnawska and Natalia Marcinkowska-Chojnacka explores more than hundreds of species of flowers and shrubs that grow over more than six hectares. The idea to write the book was born a few years ago. At that time, its author, Anna Tarnawska, asked Dr. Jacek Marcinkowski (1946–2015), one of the first promoters and aficionados of perennials in post-war Poland, to cooperate. The work on the botanical descriptions of the plants was interrupted by the sudden death of the co-author, and the task was continued by his daughter, Natalia Marcinkowska-Chojnacka.

The publication focuses on selected elements of greenery in the Żelazowa Wola Park: perennial and annual plants, climbers, and roses. Describing the selected species, the authors describe in detail the conformation of the plant together with what it needs to live and its practical purpose in gardens. The descriptions contain Latin and Polish names, and the family to which the described plant belongs. The versatility of the book that draws attention is that the book combines three distinctive elements: it is a particular guide to the park with precisely located plants discussed for their place in the designed vegetation of the Żelazowa Wola Park. Yet it is also a pictorial collection of plants. The species and cultivars shown in photographs are accompanied by botanical descriptions and practical ideas also applicable for every garden. Being so multi-functional, the book is a great guide for gardening practitioners and green thumbs alike, useful both for those who have visited Żelazowa Wola and those who still have not visited the Birthplace of Chopin.

The park in Żelazowa Wola was developed in under a century, and the garden was created in the 1930s. The outbreak of the Second World War stalled the works, and only after 1945, at a difficult time when the country was being raised from the wartime destruction, could the works continue. The flora originally planted at the time of establishment of the park has matured, some specimens having reached a senior age, while many plants were destroyed in natural competition with stronger species and culling necessary for aesthetic and nursing reasons. The site has been undergoing modernisation recently. The full picture of the garden composition results from the successive historical layers, hence the park shows later reinforcements besides the oldest elements. The space around the Birthplace of Fryderyk Chopin, also known as the Chopin Wing, is modified gradually and harmoniously by moving from bygone to contemporary forms. This follows the fundamental assumptions for developing the vicinity of the Birthplace of Fryderyk Chopin made by its designer, Professor Franciszek Krzywda-Polkowski. His concept envisaged surrounding the 19-century wing of the manor house with a modern park in a single coherent composition. The concept was innovative, and the effect of its implementation melds perfectly well the modernist composition of space with the spirit of Chopin’s romantic music.


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