• September 26, 2014
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Walking through the Vilnius streets: Where are Strumillo’s orchards?

Juozapo Strumilos’ or Joseph Strumillo’s street – this is the real name of the deserved to Vilnius botanist, fruit farmer, gardener, lawyer, social activist. The street is located on the outskirts of the city, in the district Naujininkai. There is nothing special about it.

The only fact that is worth to mention is the length of the street- more than eight kilometres. Next to this street are hidden in orchards villas and modest cottages of Salininki which until recently were relatively non-urban area of allotments.

It’s hard to imagine that just behind Rudnicka Gate ( it was located at the exit of Rudninkų’s (Rudnicka’s)  Street on Pylimo (Zawalna) in the first half of the nineteenth century were extensive orchards and gardens founded by Joseph Strumillo.

Vladas Drema writes that Strumillo’s orchards and gardens were also located at present areas of streets Sodų (Sadowa) and Geliu (Kwiatowa) and were extending up to the present day railway and bus stations. The suburb smelled of honey.

Czeslaw Milosz in his poem “The Goddess” mentions the Strumillo’s gardens:

“How many varieties of pear and apple trees in our gardens! / Being led as Strumillo’s northern Gardens recommend, / And currants, and gooseberry, dogwood and barberry, / For the big frying of preserves, / When the faces of housewives are red-hot from standing at the plate.”

Today, there are no gardens or orchards of Joseph Strumillo. In this place arose various streets densely built with tenements. It is a pity that there is no Strumillo’s street…

Joseph Strumillo was born in 1774 in the village Kurkliszki (Kurkliškes) in the Ukmerge district (Ukmergės rajonas). According to some sources he was born in Vilnius. He studied law at the University of Vilnius. In the years 1795-1798 he had been working as a lawyer in Ukmergė.

Then, he became a lawyer in the House of Judiciary Government of Lithuania – Vilnius Supreme Court. In 1812 he took part in the works of the Provisional Government of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. For the cooperation with the Patriotic Society in 1826 he was settled in the Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg. In 1829 he returned to Vilnius and devoted himself to gardening. Before that, in 1811 at  suburb of Vilnius of that time, behind the Rudnicka Gate, he founded a large fruit orchard. Anthony Lazarowicz (1817-1905) the writer and the researcher of the Vilnius’s past noted the content of the rhymed announcement, which was put at the entrance:

“The garden is opened till 8 p.m., the dogs are not allowed, the same about plucking flowers. / Whoever of the visitors who enter the garden and do something which is prohibited, then no matter who he/she is / whether Single, whether child or lady, / he/she will meet the fate of Adam from the paradise. “

Joseph Strumillo promoted gardening and fruit farming in the ” Vilnius Official “. In separate editions he published catalogues of selling plants, advertised the species of flowers and seeds from the garden or from the greenhouse. He is the author of the books “Gardens of the northern”, “Garden’s beekeeping, that is Home beekeeping”, “Treaty, that is the science of dahlias” and others. He described more than a hundred varieties of fruit trees, berry bushes and medicinal plants. As the first in Lithuania he popularized the basic knowledge of gardening.

Andrew Strumillo, known Polish visual artist and cultural activist, following the footsteps of his Vilnius ancestors, in his book “FACTUM EST diaries 1978-2006” mentions:

“We were at Ross. Among many graves and grave-known names I found the grave of Strumillow’s family. Black granite cross. Recently ​​the ashes of the uhlan Joseph killed in 1919 were placed there. Rimtautas showed us the old city’s map with Strumillow’s street, running south from the station. “

This entry of Andrew Strumillo comes from 1987. Then after the war, Strumillow’s street had been given the name of Šeina Madeiskerytė (1914-1944), the activist of the Communist, the partisan. After Lithuania regained its independence, the street was renamed Sodų (Sadowa), giving in this way the tribute to the memory that once in this place and its surroundings stretched the orchards and gardens of Joseph Strumillo.

Joseph Strumiłło died in Vilnius. The inscription on his grave: “HERE RESTS / JOSEPH STRUMILLO / Counsellor of Honour and Knight /  The memory of his works devoted to the public welfare / and promoting the horticulture / in the country will last a long time, / born 1774, died 1847 “.

It is worth to mention that under the restoration of the Bernardine Cemetery in 2005-2010 the gravestone of Joseph Strumillo had been carefully renovated.

Translated by Kasia Ratajek within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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