Escape to Krakow Botanical Gardens!

I don’t know about you, but I need a nature break!

-Henry…wacky humanoid with a bad case of cabin fever

Yes, I’m afraid I’ve resorted to finger puppetry due to being quarantined alone for too long. Photo: Henry Lewis

Being alone and under quarantine in a small apartment for an indefinite period of time is beginning to take its toll on my mental health. The chain-smoking downstairs neighbor who’s using his confinement time to build furniture (think lots of electric saw noise) and the weight lifters who set up their own gym just outside my balcony, complete with blasting sound system playing Colombian reggaetón music, are just two of the distractions that have been making the hair on my back stand on end.

A neighbor working out just in front of my balcony. The music system stays on low volume these days after a polite request. If you coat your words with sugar, you’re more likely to get what you want. Photo: Henry Lewis

The most important thing to remember at a time like this is to do our utmost to be kind to others. Besides worrying about the possibility of loved ones getting sick, millions of people have also found themselves suddenly unemployed and are wondering how they’re going to pay for rent, food and the other basic necessities to survive.

Trying to be empathetic and put ourselves in our neighbor’s shoes will go a long way toward soothing the frustrations of being cooped-up inside. A little empathy along with FREQUENT MENTAL ESCAPES will be necessary for maintaining a positive perspective over the next few months.

So, let’s give our minds a break from all the current uncertainties for just a few minutes, breathe deeply (then exhale) and take an easy trip to one of my favorite botanical gardens – the Botanic Garden of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland.

Looking across the Botanic Garden of the Jagiellonian University to the university buildings and towers of Kraków’s Old Town beyond. Photo: Henry Lewis

Early Botanical Gardens

The earliest botanical gardens were established in Italy during the Renaissance era by universities as a tool for the study of botany, with a special emphasis on research into the uses of medicinal plants. The oldest are located in Pisa and Padua, Italy and were established in 1544 and 1545, respectively. From Italy, this movement spread to other major European cities over the next three centuries. Eventually, these gardens became popular places for urban plant lovers to escape the noise and bustle of city life.

Escape to Kraków Botanical Gardens!

The Botanic Garden of the Jagiellonian University is located near Kraków’s magnificent Old Town, known as Stare Miastro. The garden was established in 1783 on the grounds of the Jagiellonian University and covers an area of 9.6 hectares. Since botany was deemed to be important to the study of medicine, the university found it necessary to establish a test garden where students could receive first hand knowledge of plants and their unique properties for health and healing.

One of the central sections of the Krakow Botanical Gardens filled with ornamental and medicinal plants. Photo: Henry Lewis

A visitor walks through the ornamental section of the Krakow Botanical Gardens. Photo: Henry Lewis

The original garden has been expanded over the years and is now recognized as a historical monument to the history of science, art, gardening and culture. Its location near Kraków’s UNESCO World Heritage listed Old Town makes it an easy stop for travelers.

A view of the aquatic section of the Krakow Botanical Gardens. Always one of my favorite areas! Photo: Henry Lewis

A variety of water lily in the aquatic section of the Krakow Botanical Gardens. Photo: Henry Lewis

The aquatic plants section is a very special part of the Krakow Botanical Garden. Photo: Henry Lewis

Ducks swimming in the aquatic section of the Krakow Botanical Gardens. Photo: Henry Lewis

The Botanic Garden of Kraków’s Jagiellonian University contains approximately 5,000 plant species and varieties from all over the world, including 1,000 species of trees and shrubs and more than 2,000 plants in greenhouses. Special themed areas of the garden include: plants of the Bible, the arboretum, protected plants, a rock garden, medicinal plants, ornamentals and aquatic plants.

Pitcher plants, native to tropical areas of the world, are featured in the Arboretum section of the Krakow Botanical Gardens. Photo: Henry Lewis

Gorgeous blooms are also a treat as they’re tucked amid the trees of the Arboretum section of the Krakow Botanical Gardens. If you recognize this plant, please feel free to leave its name in the comments. Thanks! Photo: Henry Lewis

One of the beautiful old trees in the central portion of the Krakow Botanical Gardens. Photo: Henry Lewis

On my visit in July 2016, I was desperate to escape the tourist hoards that descend on Kraków’s historic sites. The garden was a welcome relief from the summer heat as well as the noise of Old Town’s Market Square. My favorite section was  the Arboretum, a lovely park area composed of trees and shrubs, including the “Jagiellonian Oak,” a giant 230 year old oak tree.

The 230 year-old “Jagiellonian Oak” is a highlight of the Arboretum section of the Krakow Botanical Gardens. Photo: Henry Lewis

I loved the symmetry of this display in the central section of the Krakow Botanical Garden. Photo: Henry Lewis

Now, don’t you feel better? I certainly do!





Categories: Nature, TravelTags: , , , , , , ,


  1. Wonderful gardens! Thank for the armchair travel! When were you in Poland?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you for the splendid virtual tour of the gardens, Henry. You have indeed buoyed my spirit, precisely what my doctor would have ordered were the clinic open on this Saturday evening. Wishing you a sunny Sunday, kind Sir!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Look at nature, especially plants, always helps me calm down and relieve my stress. That’s why since last year I began collecting houseplants. There’s something satisfying when I see those plants grow new leaves and bloom. They’re even more important today during this pandemic as I’ve been working from home for three weeks. Whenever I feel tired, I can take a short break to look at my plants, and I feel better immediately. I hope you stay safe and healthy, Henry!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Bama,

      I love plants too – both indoors and outside. Nature is a soothing salve that can go a long way toward healing our human suffering. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Please take good care of yourself!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Henry. What a delightful idea, to take our minds off the tedium of being in solitary confinement and the anxiety caused by the global disaster that is unfolding. Your photos are lovely and are reminders of the botanical gardens throughout the world that give their guests a few hours of natural beauty.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Holly,

      Thank you for those kind words. Being surrounded by nature always serves as a refreshing tonic for my meager worries. I hope you are well and enjoying each day. Take good care.


  5. What a beautiful escape, Henry! I take a daily walk around the humble garden in our apartment complex. Stay sane!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Rosaliene,

      Happy to hear you have a place to escape from your apartment. I do tai chi with a friend…physical distancing, of course 😉 every afternoon in the parking area of the complex where I live. Just walking outside is enough to make me jump with joy these days. Take good care!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Henry, thanks for the “nature break”!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. These are lovely gardens Henry. Thank you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Amazing how a few words and pictures can transport oneself to a place that one would have never heard or seen before. Thanks for the virtual tour.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks for posting. I really, really needed that. Gorgeous!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you. This is beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Yeah, I feel better now. Thank you for that lovely tour!

    Liked by 1 person

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