I don’t know about you, but I need a nature break!
-Henry…wacky humanoid with a bad case of cabin fever
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Now, don’t you feel better? I certainly do!