Springtime in Ukraine

High school graduation may be celebrated with pomp and circumstance and the tradition of tossing one’s cap into the air after the formal ceremonies come to an end in many parts of the world, but in Ukraine, students honor the occasion with a trip to one of the flourishing parks at sunrise after a night of celebration. In Kiev, young people flock to the Lilac Garden in the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences Botanical Garden.

The garden, founded in 1936 and often called the Central Botanical Garden, boasts over 1.3 km of land and contains over 13,000 species of trees, shrubs, and flowers. Chestnut trees, lilacs, peonies, roses, and magnolia blossoms are a delight for any local or traveler. Blooming chestnut tree, an integral part of the capital city, is considered its emblem. A number of hothouses, conservatories, greenhouses and rosaries sprinkle the garden boundaries. Residents of Kiev love this garden flocking to flower exhibitions and strolling through the lilac and rose alleys. Kiev boasts the largest number of hectres of parkland per person in Europe with great green paths meandering along the Dnipro River.

Close to the Central Botanical Garden, an adjoining Vidubitsky monastery is worth a visit too. Founded between 1070 and 1077, the monastery is said to be based on an old Slavic legend about the battle between the pagan god, Perun, defeated by Prince Vladomir, the father of Byzantine Christianity in the region.

Villages and towns in Ukraine hold the blooming rites of spring dear as well. The national flower, the hollyhock, is a common sight in cottage gardens. Sunflowers grow by almost every home and face the sunniest corner of the house so the occupants can see their own “little sunshine” each morning. Springtime in Ukraine is like the country itself, bursting with optimism and anticipation.