|Gardeners of Omsk Irtysh region offer to institute table commemorative medal named after Pavel Savvich Komissarov with|
the purpose of medaling all devotees, who fight for improvement of Omsk territory. We have been doing a lot for the
development of gardening, floriculture, beautification since the 19th century. It is quite the thing the outstanding
Russian nature-lover was interested about. At the beginning of the 20th century he had grown a unique garden at the Irtysh
river among the steppe and became far-famed. The civil feat of this self-taught gardener still astonishes us.
P.S. Komissarov was born on the 4th of April in 1858 in Kazan’. His father worked in the yeast factory and had his own
garden. At that time children were not obliged to go to school. They had to work at home and help their parents. Pavel
helped his father even in the yeast factory. That is why he didn’t go to school. However neighbor’s children went to
school and they helped Pavel to become educated.
Having matured, Pavel read a lot of books, magazines, newspapers on agriculture: the books written by A.T. Bolotov, who
was the first agronomist of Russia, the Moscow magazine “Sadovodstvo”, “Zemledel’cheskiy zhurnal”, “Zemledel’cheskaya
Gazeta”. Those magazines and newspaper were more books in size. The magazine “Russkiy vestnik” were printing the matter
on the development of gardening in Irkutsk, Krasnoyarsk, Tomsk and Omsk. In the “Niva” magazine there were both articles
and unique black and white pictures. You will not find such graphic nowadays. Those publications in old-fashioned gilded
cover were rather informative for self education.
From these publications Pavel had learned that farming had been quickly developing in Omsk suburbs and Omsk region
since the 19th century. First agronomists, Osip Obuhov and Petr Sherbakov, had there experimental ground near the
Cheredovoe lake since 1828 and practical garden near the Cossack school since 1830 were they worked as the teachers. All
these had interested the young man.
Moreover Pavel read many other books of that time. He liked Lomonosov’s oracular utterances: “Power of Russia will
increase with Siberia”. This is the time, when Pavel’s sacred dream was born. He dreamed to live in Siberia and raise his
gardens in inclement climate. Nowadays we are astonished at this patriotic impulse of young people of old Russia and
we are puzzled why present-day young people don’t care about this and think only about themselves.
Pavel’s father looked after his garden in Kazan’ carefully and taught his children to do the same from early childhood.
Pavel was the best student. He gained knowledge, skills, and experiences on gardening from his parents. Being alone, he
was drawing the plan of his big garden , which he was planning to grow in Siberia. So huge was his desire.
Young Pavel built up the reputation of experienced gardener. Neighbors told his parents, that Pavel was born to be a
gardener and asked them to let him come to their gardens to plant and to prune their plants.
After all these procedures trees and bushes in gardens grew very fast. Pavel became known for his talent. People
respected him. Not everybody has such a talent.
The older Pavel became, the more often he told everybody that he surely would go to Siberia and plant gardens there.
Father dissuaded his son: “There is nothing to do in Siberia with your knowledge and without specialty”. However Pavel
was firm and held his own. Then his father urged him to fix officially in the factory as a student, with the purpose of
getting the specialty of yeasting master.
In 1875 Pavel got that job, as his father told him. However he was constantly thinking about his garden. During the day he
was working in the factory and in the evening he was working in the garden of his father in order to learn how to grow
plants and flowers.
So, in 5 years Pavel Komissarov got a diploma of the master of the eldest hand. Recently he was even running the
workshop in the yeast factory, where his father was subordinate to him.
Komissarov’s family, colleges, and neighbors were proud about all that.
In 1880, having saved up some money, Pavel left the factory and Kazan’. At that time he was 22 years old. For two years
he had been familiarizing himself to the people and nature.
From 1882 till 1885 Pavel lived in Ekaterinburg and worked in the yeast factory there. The owner found him rather savvy
and procure job for him at one of the workers apartment, who had a house, a garden, and young single daughter. The owner
of the factory himself agreed to pay for Pavel’s living as he really liked that boy with red cheeks and shaggy hair, who
was kind to people and devoted to work. He could live here well any longer; however, he went for his dream.
Pavel liked the house, the garden and the family he lived with. The owner’s room was full of different types of
literature. There were especially many books about tropical plants. Piles of books were everywhere: near the windows, at
the table in the summerhouse in the garden. Meanwhile he got to know the owner of these books. They felt in love with each
other. The parents of bride and groom blessed their marriage.
By this time Pavel had made a good showing of himself at work and drew good salary. The parents doted upon the young
married couple, helped them and prepared a big legacy for their daughter. However Pavel was thinking about the Western
Siberia and its expanses. He wasn’t attracted by Gorrniy Ural. There was too little ground for gardens, which was occupied
by “Demidovih and C” enterprises.
Pavel’s wife persuaded him to live in a place, where oranges, lemons and mandarins grew. However he proved her that
they had to go to Siberia and raise their fruits and berries, which are lacking in Siberian gardens. He wanted to teach
Siberians how to garden. Youth and romance has won.
In 1885 the young couple went to Tobolsk. They had lived in Tobol’sk for 5 years, however living near the widest Irtysh
river and taiga he didn’t achieve much success in gardening. Planting stocks of fruits froze to death in his small garden
because of cold western winds. He wasn’t permitted to cut taiga near the city, where he planned to grow the plants. There
were a lot of berries in taiga and near the river bank. Residents didn’t think about the gardens. Local officials didn’t
understand that besides the sylvan cowberry, great bilberry, blackberry, wild strawberry, viburnum, strawberry,
nagoon-berry, cranberries, raspberry, cloudberry, ash berry, currants, bearberry, bird cherry and hips, there is
chokeberry, cherry, pear, shadberry, gooseberry, plum, sea-buckthorn, apple-tree and many other fruits which can grow in
Tobol’sk. Young Komissarovs had endured much in Tobol’sk and finally left for Omsk , which was a new capital of Siberia.
They also were met frostily there.
They lived and worked in Omsk , and finally they began examining natural settings and social conditions. They became
acquainted with the gardens of Antonov, Azaynin, Batyushkov, Zhukov, Terehov, Shanina, Yazkin, Zasherov, and other
initiators of gardening in Omsk. They read publication about lives of Omsk people, went in museums and saw unique
collections, visited markets and talked with the townspeople about life in Omsk.
Having understood the situation, Pavel Savvich made a request to officials. He asked to sell 20 dessiatins of ground in
the suburbs for growing the garden. However they made a laughing-stock of him. They uttered him the things that his hope
was slipping through his fingers. However the young couple had already had small children and they had to settle somewhere
People said to them: “Siberian potato is bigger than apples. And that’s enough. We are brought apples from the South. You
have money only for 2 dessiatins. What are you troubling about? Don’t disturb us and don’t forget that there were a lot of
people who wanted to grow gardens here, but they died because of the frosts”.
Pavel Savvich knew about these gardens, where at that time there were farms and stables of merchants among the remains of
hardy plants. And he decided to dodge. He wrote petition for high Military Command of Siberian Cossacks. He asked to
allow him to rent 20 dessiatins of ground under the condition that he would return this ground in a form of a blooming
garden in 20 years. At last the deal was sewn up. In 1895, having sold the house in Omsk, Komissarov’s family moved to the
Cossack’s military Ust’-Zaostrovskaya village, which was 30 km further south than Omsk. The ground was measured 6 km
further south than Cossack’s village near the Irtysh bank, near the Pavlodar tract, where now there is a village Rosovka.
So, Komissarov’s dream came true. In 1896 he built clay peasant’s log hut from birch wood few steps away from the river.
He bought some cattle. There was step with white feather grass around. From time to time one could see birch splittings,
aspens, hawthorns, spiraeas, hips. There were a lot of strawberries, stone berries, mushrooms and birds. In winter
hares and roes ran, wolfs and foxes roamed. The ground was precious – black earth was everywhere. Only winds from the west
were so strong that haycocks scattered. This is why the roof of the house was not so high and clay. Osier was growing
along the bank of the river and somehow protected the small Komissarov’s farm. First of all they grew willows in order to
have a nook.
In the North of the lot they grew the pine tree. This pine forest made by hands is still like a monument of the great
labour of our wise migrants. When we drive along the Chukreevskiy tract and see this pine forest, we recollect the past
Komissarov laid out his last and the most favourite lot on squares in order to reclaim the ground. He planted around the
borders with the new kinds of trees and bushes for retention of snow and rescue of the fruit garden from the winds, for
study and introduction of the new kinds, species and forms of ancient plants, such as acacia, cherry-plum, velvet,
barberry, euonymus, elder-berry, wild pear, oak, fir-tree, shadberry, snowball tree, chestnut, cedar, cotoneaster, maple,
buckthorn, hazel, lime-tree, larch, almond-tree, juniper, alder-tree, nut-tree, silver fir, rose, ash berry, lilac,
poplar, thuja, bird cherry, salt tree, mock orange, mulberry, soapberry, wild apple-tree, ash-tree, and many other. These
extraordinary crank plants near the paths of allotment were thought him out many years ago. However he could realize his
plan only there, in a wide and clean place near the bank of the wide river.
Graded and wild thermophytes, such as quince, actinidia, chokeberry, vine, cherry, hydrangea, pear, blackberry,
honeysuckle, wild strawberry, strawberry, gooseberry, magnolia-wine, raspberry, rose, peony, plum, currant, yew-tree,
sweet-cherry, apple-tree and plants of nursery garden were in warmth inside every square.
There was a place for vegetables and medical herbs, flowers and other plants. Nobody disturbed him there, as that place
was far from the village. People, driving along the tract or along the river, often stopped to see that miracle. The owner
always received the guests and showed his achievements with pleasure not only in commercial purposes. He wanted to show
everybody that it was possible to grow different kinds of fruit and decorative gardens in Siberia.
He tested velvet, Amur and Kazan nut, horse-chestnut, 6 species of barberry, 10 types and species of raspberry, 12
species of hawthorn, 15 species and types of cherry, 30 species and types of lilac, 60 species and types of currant, 80
species and types of apple-trees and other plants. He had tested 300 denominations of different biological forms
altogether. The owner bred out through sexual hybridization. He had bred a new variety of standard apple, which are known
as Pervak and Krasavka. They were absolutely frost-resisting, high-yield, with the fruits which looked like the pigeon
eggs. They were very tasty. However they did not survive as there was no collecting garden in Siberia.
P.S. Komisarov corresponded with I.V. Michurin, who supported Komissarov’s scientific ideas. His apple-trees of western
origin Pavel Savvich called as dwarfs, because they often froze up to the level of snow blanket. He cut arid branches,
whereas lower branches stayed alive because of the snow fur coat. The crown of the tree was a bit awkward. For the
winter he pressed branches of the tree with the wooden chocks in order to cover the garden with the snow.
His garden together with the afforistration occupied 24 dessiatins of ground at the even territory of the old flood-lands
of Irtysh. One could call it as a green oasis in the middle of the step. It was necessary to water the garden, that’s
why they carried water with the large dragonflies from the river. Later they bought the horse and transported water in the
Tillage took a lot of time and force. Sometimes the horse helped them, but more often they had to cultivate the land by
Komissarov’s family didn’t hire labour. They themselves managed to do all work, gradually developing square by square.
The first helpmate was Fedosia Alesandrovna, the wife of Pavel Savvich. Their children, Fedor, Sergey, Ul’yana and Maria,
also worked a lot in the garden. Parents taught their children of writing and reading in winter. From the yearly spring
till the late of autumn they worked in the yard and in the garden.
Their sons were enrolled in the army. However hard the father might try to leave one of the workers at home, he failed.
Local officials didn’t understand the meaning of that work, which Komissarov’s family was doing for Siberian property.
Farming was almost natural. Some people came in order to gather in a good harvest and take some planting stocks.
Sometimes the Komissarovs’ took the surplus of harvest to the Omsk market, sometimes changed it for the meat from Kazakhs
who lived across the river. This is the way they lived, without any facilities and luxury.
Every year Komissarov’s garden grew prettier with the shady alleys, blooming plants, and green glades. Guests from Omsk
and other places came there. One admired the beauty of the garden, one wanted to be the apprentice to the gardener, one
wanted just relax in that paradise made by hands. There were different tables and seats for guests. The owners feasted
guests with the fruits, berries, jam, stewed fruit, green tea with the odorous medical herbs. At parting all guests were
presented with the bouquets of flowers or gifts from the garden.
Omsk aristocracy often came to Komissarov’s garden on steamship. The brass band was playing; the guests were walking
along the garden, listening to the gardener’s stories. And after all everybody was drinking tea in a glade under the shady
In September 1907 the Komissarov’s received many guests of amongst the direction of Siberian lands and concessionaires
with the families. The foreigners, and people of different nationalities from Kazakhstan came there. The gardener wanted
to prove that Siberian land was fertile and climate could be adapted to farming. Everything depends from the person and
diligence. Everybody liked to spend time in the garden and eat its fruits.
Dane Randrup often came to the garden with his family to spend time and to relax there. The Komissarov’s gave him a
hearty welcome. This merchant bought different goods in Siberia, such as timber, pelts, butter, meat, honey, and fish. He
sent all these products straight in Europe. He himself returned through Saint-Petersburg. He packed boxes of apples from
Komissarov’s garden and carried them for the emperor of Russia in Winter Palace by train. However Pavel Savvich
doubted in sincerity of the foreigner. Then Randrup showed the owner of the garden big and beautiful album with the photos
of the garden. He presented the gardener with some photos. Many of them were kept in families of Komissarov’s successors.
Later some photos fell into museums. Gradually the archives were lost, having left us just a little of a big and noble
At the photos the gardener was dressed in a smock, without head-dress and barefoot. He held flowers or fruits, spade or
hook. He was barefoot on weekdays or on holidays. However when he was planning to meet with the distinguish guests of the
province, foreigners, Kazakhs, students form the agricultural institute, he put on the only boots.
His daughters told that his father put on the boots when he went to the Kazakh settlements. At the photo, where he is
standing near the Kazakhs against yurta, he is booted. This is the summit of his diplomacy and respect for people.
Three trains with those goods from Omsk were conducted by the governor-general Nazarov himself. There were fruits from
Komissarov’s garden intended for regnant people. At that time there had already been refrigerators-cars, where products
did not deteriorate. Refrigerator-steamers for export of the goods existed even earlier. Those ways were very long, speed
of the transport was not so fast, but, nevertheless, people from all over the world ate foods from Siberia.
On the 28th of September in 1907 Russian emperor awarded P.S. Komissarov with a golden watch with a small chain. The
certificate on that that watches were intended for the gardener was enclosed to the present. At the same time it was
assigned to organize the exhibition of the gardening results of the exhibits from Komissarov’s garden in 1908. Two
diplomas from that exhibition were saved in Omsk and Tomsk.
Having returned in Omsk, the governor-general issued an order, where he congratulated P.S. Komissarov with the reward
and thanked him for the victory over the Siberian climate.
Then Pavel Savvich took prize at the rate of 3 thousand rubles in gold at an All-Russian agricultural, industrial and
trade exhibition. In 1911 he was also presented with the document and silver watch at the same All Siberian exhibition in
Omsk. At this exhibition he himself was telling his visitors about his garden.
After that P.S.Komissarov began publishing his own articles in the magazines, such as “Sibirskie voprosi”, (¹9 for
1908), “Plodovodstvo” (¹1 and ¹3 for 1909), “Progressivnoe sadovodstvo i ogorodnechestvo” (for 1909 - 1913). His
statements were in other periodical press. Many foreign authors wrote about him, but, unfortunately, almost nothing was
This famous patriot lived and created garden miracles in difficult times. However, nothing could brake his generous
deeds: neither frequent droughts, nor wars and forays.
The growing Rosovka village, which was situated near Komissarov’s garden didn’t work as hard as Komissarov did. People
from that village were breaking the garden and stealing the harvest. They even picked the bark of young oaks with the axes
in order to make up a prescription. They dug the planting stocks without permission, though the gardener always presented
them free of charge.
At the end of 1919 Kolchak’s people left Omsk because of the attack of the red army. They drove cows and horses in
China, and always cattle walked through Komissarov’s garden. It is clear what was there after all. Pavel Savvich tried to
explain to them that Kolchak himself was in his garden and relaxed there. However they had beaten the owner with the
butts. He fell down and lied unconscious on a damp and cold ground. The family found him on the second day. He was more
dead than alive. They treated him from pneumonia, but nothing helped him. Komissarov died at 3 am on the 14th of January
in 1920. He was buried in the garden near the oaks. For 30 years there wasn’t any monument and his grave was lost. However
Omsk State Museum of History and region ordered a marmoreal monument and placed it in the center of the park’s remains.
A few years after the death of the owner his children continued to look after the garden, hoping that it would survive.
However the successors of the garden together with the billions of other workers of the country were dispossessed.
Komissarov’s sons left the place, and his daughters married. This is the way they protected themselves from the newest
The talented gardener had been dreaming for all his life, that his long-lived business would not die, that his
descendants would continue this business. He wrote: “But for that dream, my heart would have broken”. Unfortunately, the
garden was desolating after his death. However in 1948 scientists sounded the alarm and the garden was declared as a
botanical reserve. Unfortunately, even after that nobody looked after the garden. It was drying up in bushes and weeds,
its remains were being trampled down by cattle from the neighboring village.
In 50th of the previous century people began reanimating the name of P.S. Komissarov in press. After the visit of N.S.
Hrushev and L.I. Brezhnev the life of the garden began changing a little bit. In 1970 the newspaper “Pravda” printed a
critical article, which was called “Life of Komissarov’s garden”. Collective farm named after Chapaev tried to renew
something in the garden. And in 9 years a museum was built there. Landowner scientists and other worshippers of Komissarov
helped to build that museum. The garden was visited by the delegations of pilgrims and teachers from Omsk in order to
learn here on lectures and seminars. However still nothing is done to reanimate `the garden. Years have no mercy for the
garden and museum, which was closed and opened as an unimportant centre of culture and science of fruit growing. This is
the way we forget famous names of native Siberia.
On the 28th of May in 1999 a new opening of the museum took place. We are reading in the welcome book: “All of us are
looking for the miracle. However it is very close – here, in the garden of P.V. Komissarov. We want to save it for the
descendants. It’s a pity that many contemporaries are indifferent to the life of this unique place of nature and hands of
Translated by Omsk interpreter Nataly