At the beginning of the 19th century, Irish gardener Denis McClair created more than four dozen landscape sites in Podillya. One of the best preserved parks is located in the village of Severynivka in Vinnytsia region. Now it is being restored, alongside with the greenhouse and the gardener’s house, which will become part of the horticultural cluster “Apple Way”.
In 1814, a renowned landscape architect Denis McClair created picturesque landscape parks on the Orłowski estate in Severynivka village and on the nearby Witosławski estate in Cherniatyn village in the present-day Vinnytsia Oblast.
“The Irish-born landscape architect Denis McClair (also known as Dionysius Mikler) made a substantial contribution to the development of landscape gardening art of Poland and Ukraine. After receiving education in Dublin and London (in botany, park gardening and landscape architecture), McClair moved to the-then Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and began designing unparalleled parks and gardens in Podolia and Volhynia. The total number of landscape gardens and parks created by McClair in present-day Ukraine is more than forty. Unfortunately, not all of them have survived,” Halyna Segeda, Assistant Project Manager at Apple Way Cluster, said.
In the early 19th century, Severynivka village belonged to a Polish magnate, Count Seweryn Orłowski. 220 years ago, Orłowski “demolished” two surrounding villages and resettled the serfs in a new village he planned himself, naming it Severynivka. Construction of the magnate’s mansion began there in the early 19th century. It turned out to be clumsy and ugly, but quite comfortable. In addition, the mansion was literally stuffed with various works of art: paintings, porcelains, items made from bronze, silver and ivory. Count Orłowski kept there his large collections of weapons, old coins and postage stamps, and also, had a library with almost five thousand volumes.
A park designed in English style had to become a gem of the newly-built palace. A building intended to be the gardener’s dwelling was built in Severynivka in approximately 1812. When designing and creating the park, the person who lived in that building was not an ordinary gardener but a then-fashionable Irish landscape architect, Denis McClair, who came to Severynivka on invitation from Count Seweryn Orłowski. Thanks to the Irishman, a landscape park created in front of the palace and stretching all the way to the bank of the Riv River became a good compositional supplement to the two-story palace (designed in the Late Classicism style with Baroque elements).
The palace in Severynivka has survived, and today, it houses a sanatorium. The gardener’s building has miraculously survived, too. And the three walls still standing next to the building is a former orangery. Its roof and the fourth wall were made of glass…
Podolian Agency for Regional Development CSO and Severynivka amalgamated community have long been taking interest in the figure of Denis McClair, who unites Ireland and Ukraine, and in restoration of architectural landmarks which he built. It wasn’t an accident, therefore, that two centuries after Denis McClair was working in Podolia another landscape architect came to this land: Michael Dixon, an experienced restoration architect and a Peace Corps volunteer, worked in the Vinnytsia region in 2011 on invitation from Podolian Agency for Regional Development.
In Severynivka, attention of the American architect was drawn to the remains of an old building – a local landscape architectural landmark. Michael found out that up until 1926 it was an orangery designed by McClair, where tree and other plant saplings were grown. The volunteer succeeded in convincing the local authorities that the park and the orangery designed by the Irishman have value and are worth restoring. He even prepared restoration schemes. However, the funding for restoration project could not be secured right away.
But now, thanks to the European Union’s technical financial assistance project Apple Way Cluster implemented in Severynivka community, the gardener’s building and the orangery in Severynivka Park are finally undergoing restoration. Apple Way project also envisages creation of an exhibition devoted to the work of Denis McClair. These activities help rekindle historical memory and preserve architectural and cultural heritage. Restoration of these landmarks will also become another factor promoting development of local tourism infrastructure and culturally uniting Ireland, the United Kingdom, Poland and various localities in Ukraine. For Severynivka Park is one of the best-preserved parks designed by Denis McClair (a similar park from the same author in the Ternopil Oblast is presently Kremenets Botanical Garden).
Apple Way Cluster is a European Union’s technical financial assistance project. This project is being implemented in Bar and Severynivka amalgamated communities in the partnership with Podolian Agency for Regional Development CSO.
The project’s implementation became possible thanks to the Covenant of Mayors for Economic Growth (M4EG), a new European Union initiative launched in January 2017 within the Eastern Partnership framework.
To be sure, this project is focused not just on growing and processing apples. Apple Way was conceived as a route of tourist interest combining recreational and health-improvement components. Thus, the tourist trail will run through Severynivka where apple juice will be bottled, and the local sanatorium will also offer special therapeutic procedures: apple juice baths and hot tubs, apple scrub, juice-based oxygen cocktails, and so on.
By Maksym Zotov