Spring lilac mist

Maryam Sagitova and Tadeusz Dzevitsky are breeders - enthusiasts, and it can be said that they have dedicated their lives to give such beautiful "lilac" story to our beloved city.

Almaty guests, who come here in the spring, have a strong impression from the abundance of varied fragrant lilac bushes that grow along the streets and in the parks. Since mid-April, the city is literally drowning in balmy lilac mist.

Lilac, blue, purple, pink, white foam blooms on the bushes, beginning with the classical early sorts and ending with luxury double, densely dark - vinous or pale pink in May. Only three such lilac garden exist in the world: in America, in Canada and here in Kazakhstan.

Only two people are standing behind this fragrant history of Almaty. Maryam Sagitova and Tadeusz Dzevitsky, breeders - enthusiasts, husband and wife, dedicated their lives to give such beautiful "lilac" story to our beloved city. They created a unique lilac garden in the small park in agro biological station at the Kazakh Institute of Education, where about 300 new amazing varieties of lilacs were bred, they named all sorts, and, of course, used names of their children - Oleg and Milada.

Maryam and Tadeusz are in love with their lilac work, they gave more than 6,000 shrubs and 2,500 cuttings of different sorts of lilacs to the city. Couple created a memorial glade of 45 lilac shrubs for the 45th anniversary of the Victory in World War II in the Park of 28 – Panfilov’s Guardsmen. Lilac is the symbol of the Victory Day for Maryam, because people met returning soldiers with armfuls of lilac flowers in May 1945. New lilac bush is planted on the glade in the park each year.

The unique collection of Dzevitski’s lilacs is known today in Germany, Canada, UK, USA, Japan, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Israel, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Russia, Poland and other countries. Twelve sorts received state certificates. Six kilograms of seed of Maryam and Tadeusz’s hybrid collection was sent to lilac lovers from different parts of the former Soviet Union and other countries. Unique sorts of Almaty lilacs have a special place in the garden of Colin Chapman, the President of the European branch of the World Association of Lilac (EAC) in London.

City community and representatives of foreign organizations supported the breeders; Embassies of Vatican, Canada, the Netherlands, USA, UNDP and other organizations helped with the traditional annual "Lilac evening" and lilac festivals in Almaty. So, thanks to these passionate people, Almaty became the progenitor of the "Lilac evening" and then international lilac festivals. Many people attended these festivals, there sounded musical and poetic compositions, presented an exhibition of children's drawings and paintings and famous masters of art and everywhere was a luxury fragrance of lilac!

This story has sad pages as well. When Tadeusz and Maryam passed away in the early 2000s, the difficult times for the Almaty lilac began. But thanks to the efforts of their daughter Milada and indifferent citizens of the city a lot was saved. Even the UN has allocated a grant to rescue lilac in Almaty! These funds were spent for two International Festival of lilac. And in 2001, Milada Dzevitskaya was invited for an audience with the Pope in Vatican where she got a medal and a letter of appreciation: “Many years you have led a courageous struggle for the salvation of lilac garden...”.

Now Milada Dzevitskaya, Cand.Biol.Sci., lives in Canada. She is a member of the International Society of Lilac, maintains contacts with lilac lovers from different parts of the world trying to preserve the unique heritage of her parents. Tatyana Polyakova, the President of Russian- Asian branch of the World Association of Lilac (EAC) released colorful book "Lilac Time" in 2007. She devoted an entire chapter to Mariam Sagitova and Tadeusz Dzevitskiy. But the best memory of these two unique people is Almaty, drowning in fragrance of lilac gardens.

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