Tallinn Botanic Garden is situated on the grounds of Kloostrimetsa far, which belonged to the first president of the Republic of Estonia, Konstantin Päts (1874 – 1956). A farmer at heart, in addition to holding a statesman’s office, Konstantin Päts put his knowledge and skills to good use here on the farm that he built. This was his personal refuge and true home.
The story of Kloostrimetsa farm begins in 1917, when a marshy plot of the former Väo manor land was rented. The first dwelling was completed in 1919, when large-scale land improvement started as well. By late 1930s, the Päts family owned 57 ha of land, of which 35 ha was agricultural land. Seven farmyard buildings had been completed by the time.
According to the data of the agricultural census of 1939, the garden was entrusted to a gardener with appropriate education who supervised 11 workers.
Fruit and vegetable farming was one the farm’s significant income sources. There were more than 930 apple trees, 200 plum trees, 200 cherry trees and 30 pear trees on the farm grounds. The number of berry shrubs was close to a thousand, and half of these were gooseberry. Some apple tree and grape vine varieties had come from Ivan Michurin’s garden and were unique in Estonia. Continuous supply of young plants was provided by the farm’s own nursery garden. A total of 300 m² of greenhouses and cold frames had been constructed for growing grapes, tomatoes and cucumbers.
Politician Jaan Hünerson described what life was like on Kloostrimetsa farm: “The host treats guests to the most tender and delicious boiled vegetables such as cauliflower and artichokes, offers genuine Treboux apples or home-grown watermelon for dessert and pours charmingly aromatic home-made fruit wine.”
In 1939, Kloostrimetsa farm had 5 horses, 30 cows, 13 pigs and 95 birds, including peacocks and swans. There were 25 ha of land for autumn-planted and spring-planted rye, 3 ha for potatoes and 0.3 ha for other vegetables. There were 15 ha of artificial hay land and 4 ha of natural hay land.
As the head of the state, Konstantin Päts was the patron of the home decoration campaign held in 1936-1938. This initiative, directed by the state, resulted in the creation of exemplary demonstration properties as well as the organization of contests for choosing the best farm design and training courses. Dozens of kilometres of new roads were constructed; green hedges and alleys were laid, and thousands of fruit trees and berry shrubs were planted. Acclimatization of foreign tree species continued in the parks of Kadriorg, Keila-Joa and Oru, and experimental gardens were laid for the cultivation of domestic decorative plants found in natural habitats. People were also encouraged to take care of manor parks so that they could be used for the public good. Recommendations were given on how to plant a flower garden or an alpine garden. Plans for new school gardens and parks were devised. The surroundings of public buildings and monuments were landscaped, and thousands of buildings were painted. Week-long campaigns for home-making culture and cleanliness were organized. Within the Estonian Flag campaign, flagpoles were erected.