History of the Garden
Foundation and creation of the basic structure of the Garden:1922-1964
When the University of Kolozsvár moved to Szeged in 1922, the town of Szeged donated a 28-acre area of agricultural land to the University for creating the Botanical Garden. It was the founding director, István Győrffy, who started to populate the Garden with plants which he collected during his collecting trips. In 1928, an artesian well was built, in 1929-30 the first greenhouse was established, and in 1931 the first lake was created. In the same year, the first seed exchange catalogue (Index Seminum) was published. In 1932, lotus plants arrived from the lake of the Návay Castle in Óföldeák-Gencshát, which are still one of the main attractions of the Garden. Unfortunately, the stand in Óföldeák has since been destroyed. In 1940, Professor Pál Greguss became the director of the Garden. He created the educational collections (the rose garden, rock garden, arboretum, and taxonomical collection) and also brought the first Metasequoia trees to the Garden. Between 1952 and 1958, he had greenhouses built to display tropical crop plants.
In 1965, Professor Imre Horváth was appointed as director of the Garden. He enlarged the area of the Garden by 14 acres. As a first in Hungary, in this new area he created plant communities on display to replace the usual taxonomy-based diplay of plants. He also realized that the Botanical Garden should have an important role in research; therefore, he built up the “fitotron” building (a research laboratory for autecological studies). In addition, he equipped the greenhouses with three side buildings, which could be covered in winter. He introduced central heating, tap water, paved roads and lighting.
After the death of Professor Horváth, Pál Simoncsics took over the Garden, followed by Sándor Gulyás. During this period, the rose garden was renovated and the collection of perennials was created. The ornamental carved gate of the Garden was established by Sándor Gulyás in 1992.
Expansion of activities and collections – from 1996 to present days
In 1996 Erzsébet Mihalik became the head of the Botanical Garden.
In compliance with new requirements, our young and professional staff started new activities.
We promote nature protection in practice by researches of flowering and reproduction of yellow pheasant's eye (Adonis vernalis), Siberian Iris (Iris siberica), and a Hungarian carnation (Dianthus diutinus). The Botanical Garden of Szeged recognized the importance of ex situ plant propagation among the first. We participated in a project of the EU’s LIFE Programme, which made a basis for the protection of Dianthus diutinus; 15,000 plants were propagated and planted to their natural habitat. Our staff in cooperation with the Körös-Maros National Park established a method for the propagation of 32 species of loess steppes, which was applied successfully.
In 2006 our Garden was the first in Hungary where environmental education was conducted. We offer thematic workshops for children and students in all seasons. In our summer camp children could become familiar with our amazing flora. Our Botanical Garden welcomes all city dwellers and families as well. Our Horticultural Exhibition promotes horticulture.
We organize programs on special days, like on Earth Day, which aims to present the diversity and the value of plants. Lotus Days have been organized since 2008, which became a great educational and cultural festival, attracting thousands of people.
We also expanded our collection; in 2007 we established a Farm presenting characteristic vegetables and ornamental plants of the farms in the region of Szeged. With tenders we renovated our Plant Propagating House and the building of the reception, where modern light chambers were established for growing plants. The channel and lake system was cleaned. In 2012 autumn the plastic tent coverage used in winter were converted to greenhouses. The fence of the Botanical Garden was renovated at the same time. In 2011 our Herb Collection was opened, which design is based on old monastery gardens. The Collection of Cultivated Plants was renovated in the same year – here exotic food, oil, fibre and dye plants could be seen.
Our Garden became more visitor-friendly due to the drinking fountains established in 2007. From 2011 new toilets and toilets with disability access serve our visitor’s comfort. With the information boards placed among the Garden as well as games, it is easier to learn about plants. In 2009 the Bird Exhibition was opened, which presents the bird species of the Garden. In 2012 we started to build our playground.
Our aim in 2013 is to renovate the Bird-friendly Garden, to establish a Butterfly-friendly Garden and an Apiculture Exhibition as well as to continue building our playground.
In 2013 Anikó Németh became the head of the botanic garden.