Mykolayiv region is like a modest wooden box of a provincial lovely lady. It’s not crammed with posh jewels of big cities, emeralds of forests, the grandeur of ancient fortresses or amazing mountain landscapes.
Blue ribbon of Southern Bug, which is in the middle of the yellow steppes, wheat fields, and corn fields; the turquoise necklace of the Black Sea beaches; a pile of small villages with a gleam of ponds; unpretentious but tidy provincial towns with wide streets – that’s its simple and modest content. As a family treasure – the archaeological reserve of Olbia, a whole range of mounds, the Huns’ hill-fort, settlements of bronze, archaic, Hellenistic, and Chernyakhiv cultures…
The true jewel in this modest box of Mykolayiv region is the national park “Buzkyi Gard” with the majestic granite canyons of the Southern Bug and its tributaries.
The attentive researcher will find here a green net shawl of the Trykraty forest, and the old manor house of the Skarzhynsky family. This time, we will visit this place.
It’s about 30 minutes drive from Voznesensk to Trykraty, the distance is short, however, the broken road doesn’t allow you to speed up. The endless landscapes are the same as in the 1770s, when Petro Skarzhynsky, the first commanding ataman of the Bug Cossack Army, settled down on these lands. In the Trykraty settlement, he founded a family estate.
The horse is depicted to the left of the center; on the right is the wild boar, as symbols of bravery and courage. They are surrounded by laurel branches as a sign of nobility and glory of the family.
The house now hosts a children’s art school and a library.
Let’s go inside. The authentic interior is not preserved, except for the ancient wooden stairs railing.
Very nice librarian lady happily shows us around all the halls and let us look at a local relic – a small old icon that was found under the rubble of the St. Michael’s Church, destroyed in 1986.
The walls of the library are decorated with works of local artists – paintings, embroidery, collages… Tremendous, careful and grateful attitude to the cultural heritage attracts your attention.
For those who are interested in history, a small village library can provide a lot of materials, rare editions, and scientific monographs. Flipping through one of the books, in particular, we found out that near the village of Trykraty archaeologists had found a settlement of the Bronze Age (III – the end of II millennium BC). A unique book (only 5 copies were issued!) on the history of the Trykraty by local historian Volodymyr Yaroshenko got to our hands. He devoted all his life to studying of his native land.
However, Trykraty’s true pearl is the enormous “Labyrinth” park.
The green paradise in the dry steppe zone, filled with whispering of waterfalls, coolness of the forest, healing air – all this is a work of Viktor Scarzhynskyi (1787-1861), a descendant of the Cossack family, an intellectual, a count, a philanthropist, an experimenter and innovator in the field of forestry and agriculture.
Mr.Viktor was engaged in the planting of protective tree lines on the lands of modern Mykolaiv region, which became an obstacle to dust storms and weathering of the soil. He created a whole system of ponds and channels to improve the microclimate, and in fact turned the land unfit for farming into an oasis. He introduced the mechanization of agriculture and the system of improved crop rotation. Having improved the old Ukrainian plow, Victor Skarzynsky actually had developed an ideal, for the beginning of the nineteenth-century, tool for the processing of specific local soils. He adapted the breeds of trees from North and South America and Western Europe (cedar, juniper, tamarix, thuja, and many others) for the steppe landscapes. The seedlings for the Odesa Botanical Garden and the Uman Park, as well as for many others, came from his collection.
In 1819, Skarzhynsky laid a landscape park on his own project, which included alleys, gazebos, and canals dug from the Arbuzynka River, romantic islands and bridges. Wooden structures haven’t preserved in its original form. What you can see now in the park are modern constructions, however, granite strengthening of the banks, dendritic trails and a plethora of trees is the heritage of the great forestry enthusiast from the southern Ukraine who lived in the times of Taras Shevchenko.
As a sign of respect, in the city center of Odesa, in the city garden, in 1872, a monument (not preserved till now) was erected. On its pedestal there was a family coat of arms and the inscription: “To Viktor Skarzhynsky, the one who spread through the hot steppes of the Kherson province one thousand acres of coniferous and broad-leaved forests, from amateur gardeners.” (more details)
In Gardens of Skarzhinsky there were about 200 species of fruit trees – various varieties of plums, apricots, cherries, pears. The motto of Viktor Skarzhynsky’s life was “Make the main thing of your life – plant a tree.” He educated the local peasants (which, by the way, were initially rather skeptical of his attempts to grow the forest), explaining to them how important it is to plant trees.
Gardens of modern Trykraty convince us that the efforts of Skarzhynsky were not in vain. You can walk around the village and taste fragrant sweet fruits, under the weight of which the branches lean almost to the ground.
The 150-year-old oaks are the “elders” of the Trykraty forest. They are 154 of them, and each one is protected as a natural heritage. Excursions are made here – guides will necessarily lead you to a huge “Oak of love” and will tell some romantic story, also they will offer you to make a wish. However, the whole park is a symbol of pure, all-embracing love of man to his land, to nature and to other people. We’ve taken the opportunity and also made a wish that in Ukraine there would be as many as possible enthusiasts who take care of their native land the same way!
By Darya Garmyder
Photo by Yulia Kryzhevska