Dendrological Society

“For forty years, I have collected live plants from as many places as possible and diligently gathered them in Průhonice…from large domestic and international nurseries, from the richest botanical gardens of three continents, and from explorers, plant lovers and experts…”

Count Arnošt Emanuel Silva-Tarouca

In 1908 the Dendrological Society was established in Vienna to support teaching about woody species and landscape architecture in Austro-Hungary. Count A. E. Silva-Tarouca and Louis von Boschan of Achtleiten played the largest roles in the founding of the society. Only two years later, in 1909 on the initiative of Count Silva-Tarouca and Camillo Schneider (1876-1951), an internationally recognized dendrologist, the Society’s gardens in Průhonice were formed. Woody species and perennials from the Far East, Siberia, North America and Europe (Balkan Peninsula) that previously were not found in the Czech lands were experimentally planted here. Camillo Schneider helped to obtain new plant species for the Society from his trips to, e.g., the Caucuses (1908) and China (1913-15).
Establishing the Society’s Gardens was a pioneering enterprise. The first head of the Gardens was František Zeman followed by a colleague and the person who continued with Arnošt Emanuel’s life work, Bohumil Kavka. Members of the Society were sent seedlings as a bonus according to the amount of contributions, e.g., in 1916 sixty thousand seedlings were distributed as member bonuses.
The Dendrological Society also had extensive publication activities, publishing three guides “Kulturhandbücher für Gartenfreunde” on alpine rock gardens, deciduous and evergreen trees. The authors of these guides were Camillo Schneider, Count A. E. Silva-Tarouca and F. Zeman. The annual papers “Die Gartenanlagen Österreich-Ungarns in Wort und Bild” that gradually introduced its readers to the significant parks of the empire were also important publications. Count Silva-Tarouca along with Camillo Schneider also published expert advice just as the German dendrological society did.
Arnošt Emanuel Silva-Tarouca’s modern approach to dendrology was ahead of his times; his thoughts and the steps he took later became the program of a research institute.
In 1922 the newly established Czechoslovak Dendrological Society followed in the tradition of the Austro-Hungarian Dendrological Society. Similar to its predecessor, the newly found Czechoslovak Dendrological Society organized collecting and breeding activities, and introduced and acclimatized exotic species. From its beginnings to its end in 1951 the Society published Index seminum, a list of seeds that could be exchanged with other botanical gardens. Currently, this list is published by the Institute of Botany.
In 1927 the family of Arnošt Emanuel sold the entire estate to the Czechoslovak government for financial reasons. In connection with the Society’s activities, the Ministry of Agriculture established a Research Station for Ornamental Gardening, a Research station or fruit growers and in 1928 a Research Station for Vegetable growers. Each of these stations later became research institutes. The Silva-Tarouca Institute for Landscape and Ornamental Gardening, Pub. Res. Inst. continues with the Dendrological Society’s gardening tradition today. In the 1930s the business side of the institute was stronger than the research side, mainly because of the difficult economic situation at the time. In 1935 a Buyers, Growers and Sellers Cooperative, ltd. was established.
The war paralyzed the Dendrological Society and the Research Stations. In the 1950s the Dendrological Society was closed. In 1959 the Dendrological Section of the Czechoslovak Botanical Society renewed the activities the Society’s activities. Some of the Society’s original activities are now covered by the Institute of Botany.