Old apple orchard

Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. - Martin Luther

The apple gardens characterise the landscape of the Hotel “Kārļamuiža”. Every traveller will notice scattered and groomed, yet sometimes overgrown "apple orchard islands" and blooming dendrological plantations, such as acacia, lilac, Hungarian and Amur lilac, barberries, ivy, jasmine or filadelfu, peonies, spiraea, roses and hazel. Old apple orchards and dendrological plantations show the traces of one of the largest nature nurseries of the 19th century, and the first gardening school in the Baltics. The horizon of the garden is astounding, and even more so if you plan your visit during the blossoming or apple harvest period.

In the spring, the old orchard and the surrounding scenery is beautifully ornamented by enchanting apple blossoms. The flowering time of the apple trees is around the last two weeks of May, and this period is seen as especially magical and uplifting. Just imagine, apple trees in white, cream-coloured and pink flower clouds! In this special atmosphere, we organize events in the apple garden- hammocks are hung up, garden tables and chairs are laid out, and barbecue utensils are waiting to be used!

In the autumn, when the branches bend from the weight of the juicy apples, on the last weekend of September, we organize an annual apple harvest festival in which anyone can participate. On the first half of the day, the participants harvest the apples, and later on, we freshly juice the gathered fruit. In the evening, we invite you to enjoy a fabulous meal.

The gardens were created by Count Emanuel von Ziverss and his son Count Alexander von Ziverss in the 1870s. We have been inspired by the achievements of the past and continue to preserve and care for these mature apple trees, as well as restoring the historic manor landscape park plantations. Over 100 different kinds of apple trees grow in the apple orchards of the hotel. You will able to see and taste old apple varieties such as “Antonovka”, “White Transparent” (Baltais Dzidrais), “Korobovka” (Cukuriņš), “Kovaļevskaja”, “Livonian Gravenstein” (Vidzemes Grāvenšteins), “Revel Pearapple” (Rēveles bumbierābols), “Ribston pepin”, “Riga Milk”, “Riga Roseapple” (Rīgas rožābols), “Red Gravenstein”, “Trebu”, “Susleipa Rose”, “Vidzemes large onion” (Vidzemes lielais sīpoliņš), “Vidzemes golden renete” (Vidzemes zelta renete) etc. These particular varieties, amongst others, were grown in the 19th century Kārļi manor's pomological garden.

You are welcome to visit our Old apple orchard.
The Old apple orchard open from May 1st – October 31st for all visitors every day, including on Saturdays and Sundays.
Admission is free in 2019.

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The history of the apple garden

Count Alexander von Ziverss spent his youth with his parents in St. Petersburg, where he received primary education and studied gardening. His skills could be successfully used in practice at Kārļi Manor, where the previous generations had already developed a beautiful landscape park. The manor's pomological garden was established in 1870. At the end of the 19th century, he had already created a large nursery, with park plantations, fruit trees, berries and so on, the plants were not only delegated to farms in the Baltics, but they were also grown for export abroad. In an area slightly larger than 22 hectares, about 30,000 plants were grown for sale each year. The nursery was one of the largest in the Baltic States and offered a very wide assortment of fruit trees, decorative trees and shrubs, as well as flowering plants.

Assortment of fruit trees

In the annual 1911/1912 catalogue, more than 1450 varieties are mentioned. The main speciality of Kārļi Manor was fruit trees and shrubs. It was possible to buy 243 apple varieties and sub-varieties, 23 of which were marked as available in large quantities and as especially recommended. In 1940, after three years of work and observations in Kārļi, agronomist Paulis Gailitis highlighted and described several varieties as the most valuable. ‘Kārļu white renete’- one of the oldest varieties of winter apples in the Kārļi pomological garden, which had already been acquired in 1878. The name 'White Winter Renete' was given by Count Alexander von Ziverss. “It is a real sugar apple, without the slightest hint of acidity or bitterness. The taste is pleasant and juicy, with a great resemblance to ‘’Korobovka’’, but this is a winter variety. The tree is safe against the cold and survived the harsh winters of 1928 and 1929 in all regions of Latvia. '' American Red Sugar apple’’ - a variety of a pomological tree that has lost its name but is very durable. It was received in 1909 from a Kiev school through a partnership with an American school. The name of the variety had not been identified by the Count, as many garden plans and notes perished during the war. ‘Vidzeme large onion’- a first-class table fruit, ready-to-use apples stained in yellow, with a light, flowing rosiness.

In 1928, Count Alexander von Ziverss sampled the grafts from an old apple tree in the garden of Cesis Castle; this variety was identified by the count as local and he proceeded to name it. The Kārļi Plant Nursery distributed it in large quantities throughout Latvia. 'Russian Rosemary' - a variety with a pronounced aromatic flavour, resembling a taste of banana or herbs. The 'Kursk Gold Renete' or 'Gold Renete', the grafts of which were received by Kārļi in 1898, the ready fruit was an orange-yellow tone, with bright red-coloured accents. During Christmas, the colour is especially beautiful, resembling red oranges. The taste is sweet, with mild acidity and a lovely aroma. Special attention was also paid to the apple varieties of the Siberian and Chinese hybrids- "Paradise Apples"; these are especially suitable for making jams and preserves, as well as apple wine.

Before World War I, the nursery offered 91 pear varieties, seven of which could be purchased in large quantities, such as '’Bauska Butter’'. Here you could order 34 sour cherry, 30 sweet cherry, 57 plum, 20 apricot and peach varieties, 20 hazel, 1 barberry, 21 red currant, 18 white currant, 9 black currant varieties, as well as 86 gooseberry, 43 garden raspberry, 18 garden blackberry, 79 strawberries and 4 asparagus varieties.

Assortment of ornamental deciduous trees and shrubs

The assortment of ornamental deciduous trees and bushes was abundant. A total of 85 different varieties of ornamental plants were offered in the catalogue of bush and tree groups. 60 different varieties and hybrids of lilac, 32 varieties and hybrids of jasmine or Mock oranges, 32 varieties bird cherry, 30 varieties of spiraea, 28 varieties of paradise apple trees, 22 varieties of maple trees, 20 varieties of Lonicera, 17 varieties of Roses, as well as a variety of aspen and poplar, ash, birch, acacia, stalk (Evonymus), hawthorn, ornamental plum, grim (Cornus), oak, rowan , ornamental gooseberry and other varieties. The supply of coniferous conifers was comparatively smaller - a total of 37 varieties in 10 groups of coniferous trees. Most of them were fir, Norway spruce, Thuja and various pine, aspen and larch varieties.

A separate group of trees for alleyways and boulevards was created. This included maples, oaks, ash, chestnuts, Dutch linden, larch, poplar, elk, black alder and birch, as well as hedges - acacia, barberry, hawthorn, spire, fir, spruce and Scotland roses. The rose collection was surprisingly rich - 259 varieties in 13 groups. Perennial flowers - 384 different varieties in 95 groups. The most popular flowers were Phlox in 57 varieties, 40 Chinese peonies, and the iris in 34 varieties. Many of the flowers grown at that time are also known today, such as houseleeks, low phlox, lilac, Rockfoils, Bellflowers, violets, hostas, garden delphiniums, anemones, carnations, Daylilies, etc.

The correspondence address was located in Cēsis - they used mail, the telegraph, and telephone to communicate with customers. For long-term customers, as well as on request, the catalogue was sent by mail free of charge. If the client had not received the print by the end of August and informed the office about it, the catalogue was sent again. Buyers paid with a money transfer by post, and after the office had received a confirmation, the sprouts were sent out. The exception was orders from Siberia, Turkestan and Caucasus - sprouts were only sent out after money was received. The seedlings were delivered to all the railway stations in the Russian Empire, and the customer had to pay shipping based on the freight rate and the quantity. If the customer lived far from the railway station, he used the services of transport companies. Plant orders were processed on a first come, first serve basis, and all orders had to be insured. If the order did not reach the customer, the damage was compensated by the railway or the transport company that delivered the shipment. If the orders were mixed up, and the customer reported it within two weeks, the pomological garden compensated the customer for the loss. Educational institutions and farmers associations had a 10% discount on the purchase of plants.
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First gardeners' school

A gardening school was also established in the nursery. In 1890, the Russian Ministry of Agriculture approved the Kārļi Manor's two-year horticultural school program and accepted the right for graduates to be issued a degree in horticulture. Annual grants were allocated to promote the operation of the school. The students had to earn the money for their studies, by working in the manor garden; they were also expected to ensure their own food and clothing. Job skills were mainly acquired through practical work. During the winter months, herbal biology and theoretical skills in land treatment and fertilization were taught in classes. Each year, 15 new pupils were admitted to the school, while 30-40 pupils attended school simultaneously. Gardening required a great deal of physical effort, which not everyone was capable of, thus many pupils dropped out of the course. However, there was enough of those willing to learn, as a recommendation and a degree from this institution ensured a well-paid job, working in manors. In 1940, agronomist Paulis Gailitis wrote: “Our young generation of gardeners has heard little about the old Kārļi pomological garden and the tree nursery. The old gardeners, on the other hand, remember it well, because almost everybody has done some dealings with Kārļi, and with the then well-known gardener Ziverss - a democratic and Latvian-friendly Russian Count (..). Early gardeners call Kārļi the first Latvian gardening school.” Count Alexander von Ziverss, prior to World War I promoted his horticultural experience in Russian Caesarean Gardening Society editions, in various magazines, and reported to farmer meetings both in Russia and abroad.

In 1892, after finishing church school, the well-known artist Rūdolfs Pērle, the most prominent representative of symbolism in Latvian art, decided to get a position of a gardener at Kārļi Manor. Here the artist's first flower paintings in watercolour technique came to life. He was also able to get acquainted with the paintings in Count Emanuel von Ziverss’ collection. As noted by the Doctor of Arts Dace Lamberga: “During his years of gardening, the artist's love for flowers blossomed. In this time, he created a series of still life paintings, and it appears that in the early 20th century Latvian art, we will not find any other painter with his unimaginably fantastic forms of flowers, gentle colours and changing transformations.”
Read more about the history of the Kārļi Manor Gardening and Gardeners' School in the book “KĀRĻU MUIŽA. Eras and Fates”.
The text uses information from the book:
‘’KĀRĻU MUIŽA. Laiki un likteņi’’

Publisher: SIA Kārļa muiža
© SIA Kārļa muiža, 2019
© Pārsla Pētersone, Jānis Stepiņš, text, 2019
© Inese Hofmane, design, 2019
Printed in Jelgavas Tipogrāfija
ISBN 978-9934-19-762-8