The largest arboretum in the country offers a variety of attractions. Besides special remarkable trees and shrubs, the miniature buildings of Mini Hungary model park also await visitors.
History of the garden
The arboretum and Pepi Garden were established by the Bolzas, a family of Italian origin. General Péter Bolza Péter gained lands in Szarvas by marriage in 1798. His son, József Bolza and his wife, Countess Anna Batthyány began planting trees of Anna-liget (Anna’s Grove). The park and the castle built later currently hosts the Directorate of Körös-Maros National Park.
Young József Bolza, nicknamed as “Pepi”, planted a few trees on the higher ground of today’s garden, safe from floods. Later the castle and the estate were inherited by Pál Bolza (1861-1947). The grazing land that later became the site of the arboretum was passed on to him by his uncle. After works to manage Körös river finished, large-scale tree planting began in the 1890s. The oldest part of the garden was named “Pepi Garden” to commemorate the founder.
The first trees of the garden were replanted from the park in Anna-liget nearby established by the Count’s grandparents (József Bolza, Anna Batthyány). One of them, the giant sequoia is the best-known tree in the arboretum. It was planted in 1873, being one of the oldest in Europe. It boasts a height over 30 metres, a diameter of 176 cm and a circumference of 550 cm.
Magic World (Varázstanya)
The former gardener’s lodge of the park today hosts Count Pepi’s Magic World. The interactive exhibition presents the history of the Bolzas and the arboretum as well as the flora and fauna of Pepi Garden. The greenhouse is home to exceptional cacti, turtles and an exhibition of minerals.
The pine grove near the port hides an open-air pottery exhibition. The newest attraction may appeal to families and groups. It is a kind of escape game called “The garden of secrets” with challenging puzzles to solve.
Of course, the attraction that kids still favour the most is Mini Hungary. The only interactive park of miniature buildings in the country contains more than a hundred of downsized replicas. The exquisitely detailed models resemble not only signature buildings in Hungary but all over the Carpathian Basin. Additionally, the park features a railroad and canal network for model trains and boats.
The dendrological collection with 5 sections has up to 1,600 species and cultivars of trees and shrubs accompanied by a myriad of herbaceous plants. However, the garden’s true spectacle derives from the combination of various features shaping the landscape. It was renowned Austrian gardener Joseph Grines who Count Pál Bolza assigned to do the first large-scale planting works. He was the one to plant the oldest giant sequoia and gingko, which, anyway, were replanted from Vienna in the 1880s.
The 150-yeara-old giant sequoia living near the Kilátó (lookout tower) is relatively young compared to specimens in California, but it is one of the oldest tree giants here. Trees planted in clusters form spectacular parts of the garden. There are, for example, several specimens of bald cypresses with their knees around in the garden (and along the river).
Another speciality is the high-growing Kentucky coffeetree from North America, which appeared in Europe around 1750. Its wood is very dense and hard so sinks in water. The collection of Japanese pagoda trees and magnolias of a wide spectrum of colours perfectly complement each other.
The garden and surroundings provide habitat for a thousand species of animals too.
The garden is home to 19 protected species. Woody plants of these include the Oriental hornbeam, the Hungarian oak, the dwarf Russian almond, the Hungarian hawthorn and the European mountain ash, for example. Herbaceous plants are represented by species such as the yellow oxeye, the Ruthenian globe thistle and the Caucasian leopard's ban.
Hundreds of students serve their internship or dot their thesis here. Education programme for primary school students as well as adults help learning and raising environment consciousness in the natural environment of the arboretum.
Cultural programmes and developing environment consciousness
The arboretum hosts concerts, art exhibitions, programmes for children, night tours, ornithological sessions, horticultural presentations and nature camps on a regular basis.
To complement the tour in the garden visitors may request guidance, horticultural consultancy, educational programmes in natural history or other playful programmes. The guesthouse is an ideal venue for meetings and conferences as well as accommodate participants. It is also home to Marietta Bolza’s gallery (open on Sundays).