The Hrádocké arboretum


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Hrádocké arboretum,despite its small area is a unique place of its kind in Europe. It is the highest situated arboretum in the middle Europe, it contains the fourth largest dendrologic collections in Slovakia. There are specimens of our and foreign flora, which are included in red books of some countries and which are, within Europe, at the northernmost border of its natural habitat

History

Original botanical park was established in a type of natural landscape. Smaller, homogeneous mixed coppice of woods scattered in meadows, lined with paths. About 30 different kinds of plants in total of about 250, were brought from the Botanical garden in Banská Štiavnica (taken from a to-be building site for Academy of Forestry). Later on, at the beginning of the 20th century, a pond was built in the park, which was fed from the waters of the river Belá.
After 1928, when Bohuslav Procházka was in charge, the arboretum had its best development. From 1920 to 1933 he organized many plantings of new and foreign trees and thus continued the work Rudolf Benke started. It was in this period when an alley of spruce trees was planted next to the pond, which died out eventually after a strike of lightning. At around 1922 was established a coppice of Red oak in the south-east corner of the park; and in the northern part there was some Serbian Spruce planted about the year 1936. There are other exotic trees to be found in the arboretum today: for example Balsam Fir, Canadian Hemlock, Balkan Pine, Japanese Larch, Acacia, and Red Maple. In 1960 the arboretum was permanently fenced in (this fence is preserved till this day).
December 1st, 1982 was the arboretum proclaimed protected research zone.

The efforts for the establishment of the arboretum are connected with the founding of an Iinstitution of Forestry Education in Liptovský Hrádok. Already in 1796 there was a decorative English-style park being built in the vicinity of the forestry school, probably 20 ha large. Its basis consisted of about 200 lime trees planted already in 1777 to commemorate the 1st anniversary of establishing the USA.

After the first School of Forestry was closed, the park lost its value and deteriorated gradually. After refreshing the tradition of forestry education in 1886, Rudolf Benke, the principal of the newly established forestry school, started to organize the natural botanic park and school woods of Hradská hora. This botanical park was situated between now-a-day´s Hradná street, the railroad and the river Belá, close to the new school residence. From this school complex, only the second building of forestry–hunting school has been preserved. The original area of the park was 27,17 ha. At the same time a protecting belt of trees was planted at the bank of the river of 10,94 ha, which is until these days able to protect the town and the arboretum against the results of severe northerly winds.
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