My Moment in Thyme at Saint Petersburg Botanical Garden

Planning a Stroll in the Saint Petersburg Botanical Garden…


After nearly 6 months of ongoing discussion, 3 months of focused planning, a lot of effort to obtain required visas. it seemed hard to believe when the time of our trip to Russia arrived.  One of the stops on the top of my list was the Saint Petersburg Botanical Garden.


Reading about this amazing garden, I understood what a gem it is. Established initially as an herb garden by Peter l in 1714, primarily for for medicinal purposes, the garden has continued to grow and develop. It is the oldest botanical garden in Russia, easily be the oldest garden I’ve strolled. As a true garden geek, I’m a huge fan of horticultural history, and could hardly wait to visit!


The day we decided to go, we arrived in the afternoon, only to be greeted by the unapologetic news that all the “tickets” to see the herb garden had already “sold out,” so therefore we would not be able to visit that section of the garden. It was such a great disappointment, I could not help but express that, especially coming the distance I did to visit.


We visited late afternoon on Sunday, July 2. The weather had begun transitioning from the coldest summer in years, to quite warm. Unsurprisingly, clamoring crowds weren’t exactly busting the gates down to get in and swelter with us. Apparently they all must’ve come earlier in the day, since all the tickets were sold out.


This being my moment in thyme to visit the garden, I was determined to make the most of it!


It appeared the greenhouses were all also closed, so the only view was from the outside. We hadn’t inquired about that, but it seemed apparent. My family good-naturedly tolerated my numerous photographs and attempt to maximize my experience as much as possible, pointing out every herb I still saw, every great plant specimen we enjoyed. A lovely collection of peonies were blooming and a specially-featured exhibit.


From time to time, I can understand that sections of a garden might be closed for renovation, redesign, or other reasons. Never have I arrived and found “tickets” unavailable or an area closed for a general admission day (not a special event, in other words), nor the fact that an integral part of the garden is entirely closed to visitors, so noted on the entity’s website, or sign at the ticket gate.


With no such notification, visitors are under the assumption all part of the attraction are available to be seen. To handle entry otherwise, constitutes false advertising. An expectation exists, and paying an entry fee creates a contract for promoted expectations to be met.


That aside, I cannot understand why any botanic garden would attempt to limit visitors. There is no benefit to visitors, and more liabilities for the entity.



Gardening on Purpose: Gardens are for People [to visit]


I believe an integral concept  for entities such as herb gardens is they exist not only for the housed inhabitants, specialties featured [art, plants, animals], but a key companion purpose permitting as many visitors as possible to enjoy the exhibit, or display.


Please don’t tell anyone I found herbs!

In this way, bridges are built, good will is created and positive public relations result. Success in accomplishing this — just swinging open the gates, not hiding treasures from the masses, usually greatly assists organizational efforts in contributions and growing support to meet existing needs and expand offerings.


Even visitors can spread the word about a wonderful experience, and compliment promotional efforts in priceless ways. Inevitably an attraction, exhibit or section of an attraction may be temporarily unavailable due to renovation. Although disappointing, if handled correctly, nothing delights visitors more than to learn about improvements underway. Creating a small exhibit depicting behind the scenes efforts draws them into the process.


Otherwise, why continue to remain open, maintain a collection, exhibit, display, limiting visitors, hampering their experience? No matter how established an attraction, museum, garden, exhibit this should always be a concern and focus of a hosting entities. To take an unwelcoming approach is to sabotage ongoing and future efforts to grow, expand, promote the garden itself.




I highly recommend visiting gardens wherever you travel. It’s a great way to learn more about an area, to understand how plants (like herbs) are traditionally used, and learn new ways to enjoy your own garden. If your encounter is as ours was at the Russian Botanical Garden, I encourage you to make the most of it. We enjoyed the plants we got to see!



Saint Petersburg Botanical Garden [website]


Saint Petersburg Botanical Garden


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