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Leonid Alekseevich Kolesnikov - Breeder Of Lilacs
Leonid Alekseevich Kolesnikov - Breeder Of Lilacs

Video: Leonid Alekseevich Kolesnikov - Breeder Of Lilacs

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Video: Сиреневый сад, Москва//Lilac Garden, Moscow 2023, January

King of the Lilac Kingdom

Leonid Alekseevich Kolesnikov
Leonid Alekseevich Kolesnikov

Among the lilac breeders, his name is known far beyond the borders of our country.

Not a single Russian or foreign breeder has created such a number of the most diverse varieties of lilacs (with the exception of representatives of the famous French dynasty of breeders Lemoine). In May of this year, the hero of the article would have turned 120 years old.

In total, in his life, Leonid Alekseevich created over 300 varieties of lilac unsurpassed in beauty, but only about 50-60 of them have survived to this day. The reason for this is the eternal indifference and mismanagement of our officials.

Its lilac varieties differ in the size and habit of the bushes, the timing of flowering (from very early to the latest), size, shape, degree of doubleness (from simple four-petal to densely double), aroma and color of flowers (white, various shades of pink, blue, lilac, purple, magenta, purple, often with a variety of color transitions and combinations, a gradual color change), size, shape and structure of inflorescences.

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Perhaps the most unusual in color among them is the chameleon variety "The Sky of Moscow", which belongs to three color groups at once, since in the half-release its double flowers are dense lilac with a purple tint, in the blossoming state they are bluish-purple, when blooming - whitish -blue.


Leonid Alekseevich was born at the time of lilac blooming - on May 18, 1893 in the family of an honorary citizen of the city of Moscow, businessman Alexei Semenovich Kolesnikov and became the fifth child in the family. The youngest child, like his brothers and sisters, received a good education: he graduated from the cadet corps and the Faculty of Economics of the Moscow Commercial Institute.

But in 1914 the First World War began, and Leonid went to the front as a driver. All his further professional activities were associated with cars: after the war he worked as a mechanic, driver, head of a motor depot. Some authors write that at one time he was the personal driver of Marshal G.K. Zhukov, however, no documentary evidence of this has yet been found.

The Soviet government took away practically all property from the Kolesnikovs. True, Leonid Alekseevich was lucky: he was left with a house donated by his mother in Vsekhsvyatskoye, which already in 1917 became part of Moscow (now it is the Sokol district). However, at the same time, the plot of land surrounding the house was reduced several times.

In 1919, a lilac period began in the life of 25-year-old Leonid Alekseevich: this year he planted his first lilac bush. And already four years later, in his collection there were more than a hundred varieties and species of this shrub. Mostly it was a lilac selection of the famous French family nursery Lemoine.

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At that time, it was the former best collection of lilacs in the entire Soviet Union. Now this varietal lilac can be purchased without any problems in a garden center, at an exhibition, market, in an online store, or ordered by mail. And Leonid Alekseevich had to explore the territory of abandoned noble estates.

Rescuing from oblivion, he dug up varietal lilac bushes and planted them on his site, establishing the names of varieties according to descriptions in pre-revolutionary catalogs. Soon L.A. Kolesnikov started breeding lilacs. The first seedlings bloomed already in 1923. Among them, he singled out two of the best, which later became the varieties "Pioneer" and "Dzhambul". The latter is interesting in that it is the world's first variety of lilacs with white-bordered petals.

At the end of 1939, Leonid Alekseevich was drafted to war with Finland, and then the Great Patriotic War began … In 1941, when the Nazis bombed Moscow, one of the shells exploded in L.A.'s garden. Kolesnikov, destroying a number of valuable seedlings and destroying some bushes of varietal lilacs, including those bred by Leonid Alekseevich in the period between the two wars.

After the end of the war, he continued his work in the automotive field, and all his free time worked in the garden, taking care of, breeding lilac bushes and breeding this plant. He dedicated many varieties to the memory of the Great Patriotic War: "Marshal Zhukov", "Marshal Vasilevsky", "General Vatutin", "Alexander Matrosov", "Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya", "Liza Chaikina", "Polina Osipenko", "Spring 1942", "Defenders of Brest", "Partizan", "Molodogvardeytsy", "Victory Day" and others.


Lilac "Beauty Moscow"

Of particular interest among them are three varieties of lilacs dedicated to military pilots: "Aleksey Maresyev" with purple double flowers with a bluish tint, "Captain Gastello", which also has purple double flowers, but with a purple tint, and "Valentina Grizodubova" with pink double flowers …

The petals of all three of these profusely flowering varieties are curved like the blades of an airplane propeller, making them particularly attractive and unique in their own way.

To the 800th anniversary of the Russian capital in 1947, Leonid Alekseevich dedicated his best variety - the famous and legendary "Beauty of Moscow" (international name "Beauty of Moscow"). Many domestic and foreign lilac lovers and experts consider this long-blooming variety as an international selection masterpiece, the number one lilac in the world.

L.A. garden Kolesnikov on Sokol was always (even during the war) open to visitors. Here is one of many responses. Its author is the writer A.N. Tolstoy: “You create beauty, Leonid Alekseevich, what an occupation is higher and nobler than that! I am sure that the gardens near Moscow will owe you a new flourishing. Until today, I thought that lilacs are lilacs, today I saw a magical lilac garden. Thank you".


Cover of L.A. Kolesnikov's book "Lilac"

Interestingly, in addition to about 5,000 lilac bushes, over 100 varieties of roses, daffodils, tulips, peonies, irises, lilies, chubushniki, gladioli (including the selection of Leonid Alekseevich himself), apple trees, cherries, plums and other plants grew in this garden - only about 15,000 copies.

In 1952, Leonid Alekseevich received the Stalin Prize "for breeding a large number of new varieties of lilac" - this was the official wording. In the same year his small 52-page book with the laconic title "Lilac" was published in the publishing house "Moskovsky Rabochiy".

It tells in detail about the agricultural technology of lilacs and their reproduction, provides recommendations for breeding work with this beautiful ornamental crop. In the same year, it was decided to establish an experimental breeding nursery for lilacs. In 1954 L.A. Kolesnikov was appointed the technical manager of this nursery, and two years later - its director. A place for the nursery was allocated in the near Moscow region - the village of Kaloshino (now it is the Northern Izmailovo district of Moscow).

Every spring, vandals visited the Kaloshin nursery, just like the garden on Sokol earlier, who broke off the flowering lilacs and stole the bushes entirely. The construction of a growing metropolis has also begun to approach the nursery. It got to the point that one day tractors drove through the garden, crushing a number of bushes.


Painting by T.L. Kolesnikova "Lilac"

A threat of extinction hung over the nursery … Trying to save the main business of his life, Leonid Alekseevich wrote letters to officials, went to the authorities, but in the end was sent to retire. However, he nevertheless defended the nursery, however, at the cost of his life: on January 28, 1968 L.A. Kolesnikov died of a heart attack and was buried at the Vagankovsky cemetery.

In 1973, the International Lilac Society for merits in the field of selection and promotion of this garden culture posthumously awarded L.A. Kolesnikov "The Golden Branch of Lilac". And in 1975, the Kaloshinsky nursery was reorganized into the Lilac Garden, which still exists today (you will learn more about it in one of the following issues of the magazine).

Already after the death of Leonid Alekseevich in the Kaloshin nursery, from the seedlings he received, the most beautiful, long-lasting and profusely blooming, having large (3 cm in diameter), pure white, double flowers resembling miniature roses in shape and having a delicate aroma, was isolated. In 1974 this seedling became a variety "In Memory of Kolesnikov".

Alexey Antsiferov, candidate of agricultural sciences

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