What is a Botanical Garden?

Gardens are places of practicality, beauty and even used as status symbols. Botanical gardens are distinctly special in that they are meant to be places of education and study as well as a place to for preservation, all within a natural and beautiful setting.

In botanical gardens, different ecosystems and plant species are showcased from around the world as well as native plants from the local area. Each botanical garden will be uniquely curated and have its own theme in purpose. Small, large, public or private- the common thread between all botanical gardens is that they are full of a diversity of plants, flowers and botanists.

Botany is the science of understanding plants. The development of this science dates back several centuries and was extremely important in helping people understand the plant world around them and specifically the plants that were relied on for food and medicine.

The botanical gardens at the University of Birmimgham. Botanical Gardens

The first botanical garden known was cultivated with medicinal plants during the 16th century at an Italian university in Pisa. These types of gardens were called “physic gardens”, and basically were a large and beautiful herb gardens that hosted all the medicinal plants that were commonly used to benefit the human body. More botanical gardens flourished all around Italy during the Renaissance. Other European countries followed the concept to create their own beautiful botanical gardens. Since then botanical gardens have shifted drastically to reflect the interests of modern botanists and horticulturists and no longer have a role in medicine.

Today, botanical gardens are found throughout the world and have a growing role in plant preservation which is reflective of current environmental challenges of species loss. Environments often need to be created in order to showcase a wide range of plants from different climates. Greenhouses, ponds, waterfalls, rock gardens, desert climates and select microclimates are often necessary.

Going to a botanical garden can inspire people to plant their own garden in their front or backyard, introduce a new species into their existing one, learn more about the natural world, or simply enjoy a day surrounded by natural beauty. -BEN TERRINGTON

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