The garden of the dreamer Georgi Duhtev

It is 1910. In front of the eyes of the just-graduated park arrangement and gardening in Austria Georgi Duhtev spreads a naked and windy field. Here and there amid the sea waves are production buildings and farmland. The dry and barren soil under his feet does not give much hope for a good harvest. But in the thoughts of the young gardener things do not stand this way.  Recently he has left the beautiful gardens of the royal residence Evksinovgrad with the ambition to create something of his own. And here he was in his capacity of head gardener of Burgas looking around the 78 acres that are available to create a garden.

Thus, as a consequence of the decision of the municipal council of the city, the dream of Georgi Duhtev - beautiful and rich in species urban garden on the beach, is starting to become a reality.

Until 1924 with small pauses his project is basically completed. And what does this practically mean? The not very fertile soil is being enriched. The alleys are beginning to differentiate. They are encircled by deciduous and evergreen trees, colorful figures and flowering shrubs. With the support of the recent Governor of the Burgas Customs Matei Popov, a friend of the gardener - dreamer, the flowers are imported from Hungary, Istanbul, Italy, France, the trees from Syria and Lebanon. The garden is getting "alive" in order to blossom in its splendor of scents and to become the "Perfume garden" for all the citizens. And its heart is hidden under a glass cover. The Flowerpot or also known to the townspeople as the Greenhouse is the workplace of Georgi Duhtev. In the glass pavilion, resembling a castle from a fairy tale, he experimented and worked on various species mixing. Also, making his Austrian professors proud, he worked with notable success.

The fabulous areas, in which the life of this lover of beauty has developed, are not limited only to his workplace. The house in which he lived after he married Elena Kalpakchieva in 1923, also looks like it came from a children's book. And today, passing by the Umbrella, we cannot miss the neat building, where the Hydro-meteorological Service of Burgas is situated. He received the house, built for his family by the municipality, to be able to live in what he has created. As a last gesture to the city that gave him the opportunity to make his dream come true, he left(завещал) it to Burgas before his death.

The Sea Garden, born from the dreams, inspiration and skills of a "royal gardener", continues to expand. However, the splendor that the Perfume garden of Burgas has had, remains forever in the past. In the fabulous time of the dreamer Duhtev.

Each beautiful story has its end. The story of Georgi Duhtev however, does not end in 1934. He does not leave Burgas to fall into oblivion, on the contrary - to ennoble new spaces and to create. This time he left for Sofia. On June 25, 1934 Georgi Duhtev won a competition for Manager of gardens and parks, declared by the Sofia Municipality. And at that time our capital has not enjoyed great abundance of green areas. There was only the garden in front of the Military Club, the City garden and the Doctor's garden. The Borisova garden has only reached today's playground known as "The Elephant". The tireless visionary Duhtev changed drastically this cityscape. Here he works on 800 decares. He extends the Borisova garden to its current size. There he created two attractions - the public bath "Maria Louisa" and the Japanese corner. The Japanese Ambassador in Bulgaria at that time was a personal friend of Duhtev and thanks to this friendship arrived the first Japanese cherries and roses. The inimitable touch of the gardener - dreamer leaves its mark on his masterpiece in Sofia.

While occupying the position of "Manager of gardens and parks," Georgi Duhtev afforested the streets of the capital. He creates all the neighborhood gardens and the playgrounds in them. In 1937 he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the "National Order of Civil Merit - with a crown" by Tzar Boris III. He received international recognition by the Serbian King Alexander II, who also awarded him a medal. This happened in a very spontaneous way. During his visit to Bulgaria the monarch of our western neighbor was fascinated by the abilities of Georgi Duhtev. The governor of Sofia parks and gardens turned the bare field around the railway station, at which Alexander II arrived, in a picturesque area with majestic trees. And he did that only for one night.

And if we return to the theme of fairy tales, we must say that this one does not lack twists and bitterness. But we will leave them for those who decide to delve into the history of Georgi Duhtev. And his full biography narrated by his granddaughter Elena Prodeva can be found at the director of the Burgas library "P.K.Yavorov" Natalia Kotseva. We thank her sincerely for her cooperation.


Text: Gergana Kostova

Magazine "Vij! Burgas", Vol. 1