This post is by contributing writer Tamara Jare!
Name: Tamara Jare
Blog: My Botanical Garden
Guest Article: The Krakovo Gardens
This My Botanical Garden post is dedicated to all urban gardeners in New York City.
When My Botanical Garden was invited to contribute a post for the Urban Gardens NYC blog, I spent quiet some time trying to figure out what the best topic would be. My wish was to make a post to send greetings from Ljubljana to New York as a postcard that’s picturesque, interesting, educational, informative and green. This seemed almost impossible at the first glance, but then it turned out to be more than easy – I just had to remember a tiny place I pass every day on my way to my office, a tiny place I used to live near by, a tiny place I like to show to my friends from abroad, that they always like so much.
Krakovo really is a special place. Right in the city center, almost under the castle hill, two little streets with colored houses in rows, each house with its garden behind the fence. When one walks down Krakovo streets, one walks through history. More than 700 years ago, when Ljubljana was a medieval town with a castle up on a hill and stone wall around it, Krakovo was a small village in front of the city wall. Its dwellers were fishermen, selling fish and crabs (extinct by now) from the river to the noble people behind the wall. Their wives were growing vegetables to be sold to the townspeople. Later on there were not enough crabs and fish, but the gardens remained, providing a steady source for living. Moreover, some families became quite wealthy gardening down there. They were really good gardeners, selling their vegetables not only in Ljubljana, but even to the neighboring countries.
One of the biggest Slovene artists, impressionist Rihard Jakopič, was born in Krakovo, in a family of gardeners rich enough to send him as far as Vienna to an academy, to study painting. One of his famous motifs is just a view from the side of Krakovo gardens towards church Križanke.
But “Ljubljana crisp-leaved” lettuce, a special cultivar, didn’t just provide bread to the Jakopič family. Generations and generations were growing and selling this crisp-leaved summer salad. Women would depart from their homes as early as 4 o’clock in the morning with fresh vegetables packed in their hand trolleys that would soon occupy nice selling tables in the marketplace where Krakovo gardeners have sold their goods ever since.
It is fascinating that even today – 700 years after vegetable gardens in Krakovo were first mentioned, it is possible to buy Krakovo salad (and vegetables and some flowers from these gardens) at the Ljubljana market place.
The most beautiful part of this story lies not only in the beauty of Krakovo gardens, after 700 years still greening and flowering for all passers by, impressing artists and tourists alike. What is most fascinating is, that even today, these gardens provide the city with greenery, and even today, many families live from these gardens! The lesson? Gardening in the city is possible, profitable, wonderful, colorful and cultural!