Yasen Ivanov opens the gate to his garden on a Saturday in early September, shortly before 10:00 a.m.. He seems to be surprised that there are visitors from Sofia this early. But he has been up for hours, working on his creation, his own botanical garden. It is a garden of love, for several reasons.
The young master student built this impressive garden on his own. He transported tons of tiny stones, for the nice paths leading through this paradise of flowers and other plants. He brought in all the earth needed, walking back and forth hundreds of times with his wheel barrow. He ordered seeds and planted them. It took several years to build Borika Botanical Garden. Yasen Ivanov is the only one in Bulgaria, and probably on the entire Balkan peninsula, who can say he built a botanical garden on his own. And it is the nicest one, on top of that. A garden of love. Love for plants, which he developed at age 5.
He told Foreigners & Friends, he wanted to purchase another piece of land, adjacent to his vicinity, for even more plants. But that would cost money, and he already invested a lot. His father, who works in Ghana, already supported the project. Yasen Ivanov is hoping to make a living with this garden soon, through admissions and by selling honey. The approximately one million bees he harbors, in 13 beehives on the premises, are doing a good job. But, in order to obtain permissions, he will have to go through an exhausting bureaucratic process. Getting through the latter is his next goal.
A total of 250 kinds of plants are here, one more beautiful than the other. Those are mostly flowers, but also bushes and trees. These plants come from all corners of the world. Some flowers, from South America, Africa and Asia, are so sensitive, they will have to be accommodated in the basement of his house during the cold Bulgarian winter. There are many Mexican plants, including cacti. These Agave are one kind in 20 existing ones. It is not the kind they make tequila from.
Countless kinds of exotic flowers seems to be looking at the visitors walking the garden’s paths this morning. If they could only talk, they would be able to tell stories of long journeys and the beauty of their countries of origin. Apple and pear trees are standing there. Those tiny apples are delicious indeed. And they do not need to be washed, since Yasen Ivanov does not use any pesticides or comparable chemicals.
There it is, a paradise in the middle of nowhere. Borika village has 100 inhabitans in summer, and far less in winter. Yasen Ivanov lives in one of the two houses belonging to his family on his own. Borika is located some 15 kilometers from Ihtiman. The road to this village is narrow, old and full of pot holes. Visitors will learn about plants, because Yasen Ivanov likes explaining everything to them, to both children and adults. They will see and experience the beauty, to quietude, the excellent air and the pond he built. It already houses some frogs, who came here, when the near-by river dried out.
By Imanuel Marcus