Part of the modernised Victoria greenhouse complex located in the Jagiellonian University Botanical Garden will once again be open for visitors. The structure, which houses a unique 150-year-old date palm that has been declared a natural monument, was to be officially opened in spring after the completion of renovations; however, the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak forced a change of plans.
One of the oldest botanical gardens in Europe and the oldest one in Poland remained closed even after the end of the winter season on 26 May. Only after the epidemiological restrictions were partially lifted was the JU Botanical Garden allowed to open, but under a strict regime. Since last Monday, visitors are able to the modernised interiors of the greenhouse complex. It is a unique opportunity, since for many years, the structure was inaccessible due to poor condition.
The new structure was modelled after its predecessors found on mid-19th century illustrations. At its highest point, the new pavilion is 21 metres high, about 7 metres higher than the one that stood there since the 1970s. A special greenhouse for displaying tropical plants has also been expanded from 8.4 to 14.3 metres high. The greenhouse is fully automated, constructed from highest quality insulating materials and fitted with automatic climate control, which will help to efficiently maintain proper temperature and humidity.
The greenhouse complex features a unique date palm brought from the Canary Islands. It is the most precious specimen in the JU Botanical Garden and the oldest one in Europe. The 14-metre tree is still growing, so an expansion of the greenhouse was needed in order to give it enough space. The palm is in a very good condition and bears fruit. On hot days, the caretakers use up to several dozen litres of water to sustain it. A system of roller blinds keeps the tree from being excessively exposed to sunlight.
The JU botanical Garden is open every day from 10.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m., though tickets may only be purchased until 5.00 p.m. Due to SARS-CoV-2 outbreak, up to 500 people are allowed on the premises at the same time. Visitors are required to adhere to basic epidemiological regulations, including social distancing and wearing face masks.