Czech Republic celebrates Day of the Trees for the 20th time

The seed of an idea to join in on international Arbor Day celebrations spread its roots across the country

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 17.10.2020 09:00 (updated on 18.10.2020)

 Arbor Day will be celebrated in the Czech Republic for the 20th time on October 20. The holiday dedicated to planting trees has been marked around the world since the middle of the 19th century and was introduced to the Czech Republic in 2000 with the help of botanist Václav Větvička, the former director of the Charles University Botanical Garden, and wood artist Martin Patřičný. The holiday locally is called Den stromů, or Day of the Trees.

The winner of the Czech Tree of the Year contest will be announced October 20, and as soon as conditions allow, an exhibition of wood art by Patřičný will open at the National Agricultural Museum.

"When dendrologist Václav Větvička and I introduced the holiday, [singer] Hana Hegerová, who even has a birthday that day, was among the first to welcome the idea. The management of the National Museum supported the project. Photographer Jan Michálek and I had a big exhibition on the ground floor about what trees and their bodies, wood, looks like” Patřičný said.

The Brno-based environmental foundation Partnerství (Partnership) was one of the first to embrace the new holiday. In 2000 they started a local competition for best tree, and since 2002 the Tree of the Year (Strom roku) contest has been held with candidates from across the Czech Republic. They will announce this year’s winner on October 20.

The winner will compete in the European Tree of the Year contest, which has been held since 2011. Last year's winner, the Czech tree known as the Guardian of the Flooded Village won the European title in March 2020.

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Another early supported was the Vyšehrad National Cultural Monument, which initiated the custom of planting a tree on October 20. “I think the first tree planted was a pear tree. The tradition of celebrations has spread further and further, and other cities have come forward. Trees have been planted by celebrities. It's been 20 years! During that time, the next generation has grown up,” Patřičný added.

Patřičný is also the author of the Den stromů logo. "It was supposed to be a friendly sign, where coniferous and deciduous trees would be represented,” he added.

Once the current pandemic situation allows, an exhibition of work by Martin Patřičný called Secrets of Wood will take place in the main building of the National Agricultural Museum in Prague's Letná district. Now it is scheduled for November 3, 2020, to January 3, 2021, but that may change as the situation with re-opening museums and galleries develops.

Art objects from his workshop will be complemented by samples of various species of woody plants growing in the Czech Republic. Visitors will be able to see a dendrological herbarium called a “xylotheque” from the forestry school in Zlatá Koruna.

Martin Patřičný, courtesy photo
Martin Patřičný, courtesy photo

One of the branches of the National Agricultural Museum, the Kačina chateau in the Kutná Hora district, will also see a new permanent exhibition called the Story of Wood, made under the Patřičný’s patronage.

Patřičný, born in 1955, is an artist, author and narrator. He learned the woodcraft from his uncle, a woodcarver, and has been fully engaged in wood art since 1988. He co-wrote the screenplay and narrated the 2008–11 television documentary series Piece of Wood from a Tree (Kus dřeva ze stromu). He has also written several books on the topic of trees and wood. He has had over 100 exhibitions at home and abroad.