Botanical gardens, sometimes referred to as botanic gardens, are special and stunning gardens that are dedicated to displaying, cultivating, protecting and collecting large assortments of plants. These different plants and flowers are normally labelled with their scientific, or botanical, names.
Whilst some botanical gardens display plants, trees and flowers from over the world, some botanical gardens specialise in one type of botanic specialities, such as displaying and cultivating only succulents or tropical plants.
Many of these botanical gardens are open to the public and tend to focus on educating the public on the importance of nature in our lives. Most are also used for entertainment purposes, such as musical and artistic events.
Botanical gardens are generally managed by educational or scientific institutions that study plant science and botany. The Orto Botanico di Pisa is, for example, operated by the University of Pisa.
This particular botanical garden is special as it is the first academic botanic garden in Europe, founded in 1544. Botanists and gardeners can help protect and conserve plants that might otherwise go extinct in the natural environment.
To understand better what botanical gardens are, we will discuss the following:
- What’s botany?
- Gardening – Art of ‘seeding’
- What is in a botanic garden?
- What is the main purpose of a botanic garden?
- Why should we visit botanic gardens?
- What makes a garden a botanic garden?
- What is the difference between a botanic garden and a regular garden?
- How do you create a botanic garden?
- How do you start a botanic garden?
- what are botanic gardens and why do we need them?
- How can the community benefit from these gardens?
Have you botany plants lately?
It indeed takes some skills and knowledge to make a garden flourish and thrive. And whether you’re a beginner or an experienced gardener, there’s always a new gardening technique to acquire.
This is why gardeners are constantly taking time to learn about botany while gardening. In this article, we will explain how gardeners and their gardens can benefit from the fascinating world of botanical science.
What’s botany? Let’s dig in!
Botany is one of the most prominent branches of biology that studies plants in their natural habitats. Botanists are plant experts dedicated to many plant theories and concepts, such as their structure, properties, and biochemical processes. They are also scientists who concentrate on agricultural science to enhance field yields while controlling pests, blights, and diseases.
Understanding many aspects of plant theories can come in handy when growing plants and help make gardening a lot easier. However, you don’t have to be a plant scientist or botanist to make your garden happier and healthier.
Gardening – Art of ‘seeding’ between the lines
Gardening may be seen as both art and science intertwined. As our garden’s personal artists, we have applied botanical theories to our gardening without even realizing it. The underlying principles of plant cultivation are the same in all regions of the world, but the practice requires significant modification to local conditions. This is because some plants and crops are not consistently grown in their native habitats yet still thrive in different climates.
For this reason, gardeners need to arrange plants harmoniously with their growing environment. They accomplish this by embracing botanical sciences and practices while also incorporating some of their personal experience into the recipe. Thus, gardeners are best described as botanical artists. Their garden is a work of art, with landscapes as their canvas and plants as colouring paints.
Grow a deep love of plants and share it with others!
“When gardeners garden, it is not just plants that grow, but the gardeners themselves.” – Ken Druse.
When trying to grow plants, having a basic understanding of botany is advantageous. However, it is perfectly fine if you lack botanical knowledge as a fresh plant enthusiast because you can learn it along the road.
Gardening is more like a journey than it is a chore. And as you embark on this green thumb journey, give yourself time to learn your plants’ language and help your garden thrive. Growing your first plants and learning your garden can be exhausting for beginners, but the results are rewarding and well worth it!
Another piece of advice is to get involved with your local community garden and share your enlightenment of gardening with new friends! It’s always wonderful to have someone who shares your enthusiasm for growing plants. The best part of having a gardening friend is exchanging gardening advice and learning to care for plants together.
On that note, we would be delighted to accompany you on your gardening adventure!
Walk through the botanic garden – a slice of forest amid hectic urban streets
We have all learned that plants convert solar energy into chemical energy and release oxygen. They also produce essential nutrition, medicine, and fuel for all organisms. In other words, plants are critical in enabling all life forms! Plants are crucial to humans as they address many of humanity’s most important concerns, including food instability, water shortage, energy, health, and climate change.
Yet many of the world’s plant species are currently under threat of extinction. Plant diversity is declining at an unprecedented rate due to over-exploitation, destructive agricultural and forestry practices, urbanization, environmental pollution, global climate change, and other factors. This decreases environmental services and limits human possibilities for innovation, adaptation, and resilience opportunities. For this reason, we must step up our efforts to establish integrative conservation strategies for plant species conservation. That’s when we need help from the botanical gardens!
The iconic Chicago Botanic Garden: one of the most popular botanical gardens in the USA.
#1. Curious about what a botanic garden holds?
When you hear the word “botanic”, you probably associate it with a plant experimental laboratory or a greenhouse where a wide variety of ornamental plants are displayed. In reality, a botanical garden pretty much constitutes the facilities and cultural activities covering all of botany’s theoretical and practical aspects. You can find almost any plant species here. These gardens designate favourable environments that support the growth of many species, thus creating the richness and diversity of the place.
If asked, we would define a botanic garden as an impressive plant collection that contains a few hundred to several thousand distinct plant species from various geographical places throughout the world. Walking through the botanic garden landscape is like immersing in a plant laboratory, with every single plant as a unique living specimen labelled with its common and scientific titles as well as its country of origin.
So, while strolling through this massive plant library, you may find:
- Specialist plant collections native to specific regions. These plants are thoughtfully arranged according to scientific principles (such as phylogeny, the geography of origin, functional use, or biome), and the provenance of the plants is well-labelled!
- Display greenhouses that propagate unique tropical, alpine plants or other exotic plants that might not endure seasonal changes. A perfect example of this is the Fuqua Orchid Center, a must-visit site at the Atlanta Botanical Garden in Georgia. In this orchid greenhouse, you’ll be able to admire the rare, high-elevation orchids that have never before been seen in the Southeast.
- You may also find herbarium, libraries filled with photographic studies, dried specimens and lectures that inform visitors of the scientific relationships of their plant collections.
- There might be seasonal exhibitions meant to inspire the general audience by showcasing plant life in art pieces. The Imaginary Worlds exhibition at the Atlanta Botanical Garden is an example. The sculpture of the Earth Goddess, with her flowing locks and outstretched hand pouring water, is the focal point of this show. It was so adored that it was maintained as the Garden’s permanent collection even after the exhibit had ended.
Atlanta Botanical Garden’s new permanent resident – The substantial, famous Earth Goddess sculpture from the exhibition Imaginary Worlds: Plants Larger Than Life
#2. Why Are Botanical Gardens Necessary?
Botanical gardens play an important role in society as they serve various purposes, including research, recreation, education, and conservation.
In the past, botanical garden collections were established solely for the benefit of research and instruction at universities and other educational institutions. Botanical gardens were mainly associated with medical schools of universities in the 16th century and were used to instruct students as well as grow plants for making medications. Up till now, these gardens still provide educational resources that benefit botanists and environmentalists for their research. For instance, researchers can acquire species’ pollen for breeding experiments or extract plant DNA to research plants’ evolution. Also, teachers often send their pupils to these “plant libraries” to learn about the variety of plants, identify them, or understand more about how plants are used to create green spaces.
The Seoul Botanical Garden is a stunning urban green haven in the midst of the city’s hectic lifestyle.
Every living plant in the landscape of a botanic garden serves as a living laboratory. Understanding plants’ climatic envelopes or edaphic needs is essential to determining where we may grow them and how climate-resilient they may be. Bioclimatic modelling is widely used to forecast how climate change would affect different plant species in their natural habitats. Living collections in botanic gardens can offer important information on ideal and suboptimal growth conditions, especially for long-lived, iconic plant species like the baobab, the saguaro cactus, dragon’s blood tree… Sounds pretty amazing, right?
Additionally, botanic gardens also focus on horticulture rather than solely scientific research and leisure purposes. The gardens gather, care for various plant types, and exchange seeds with other botanical gardens worldwide. This makes botanical garden collections hold a significant representation of specific genera or families. By that means, they contain a highly diverse taxonomic and ecological flora. This richness and depth of taxonomic expression provide insights into further comparative evolutionary, ecological, and phylogenetic studies. Especially, collections of rare and endangered species living specimens and seed banks are precious in and of themselves. The samples can be provided to assist the study of disease susceptibility, biological control, pollination, breeding, and many related environmental concerns. Plant collections can also be exploited for conservation efforts, particularly habitat restoration, reintroduction, and regeneration programs.
Botanical gardens are also a fantastic resource for individual study. The plants in these gardens have unique ways of interacting with visitors through the information labels attached to them. The plants’ label tells their story – their scientific family names, places of origin, geographic distribution, ideal living conditions, and phenological events like flowering seasons. And through these meticulous records of the plant species, visitors can learn the plants’ language, their stories and how to care for them in their best environment. Botanical gardens also use signage, tour guides, interactive exhibits, and other methods to enhance visitor experiences and convey community connections, global issues, and contemporary gardening practices. Additionally, the aesthetically pleasing display of the garden allows people to admire nature up close, pursue horticultural interests, and inspire new concepts for home gardening.
The architecture and design of the Japanese Garden (Washington Park Arboretum) do wonders for the tired soul as it perfectly captures the Japanese philosophy of peace and rest.
But the most notable development in botanical gardens across the world in recent years has been an increased awareness of their ability to support conservation efforts. In the following decades, biodiversity is under threat since more and more plant species face extinction daily due to globalization. Botanic gardens provide plantations and seed bank vaults that act as sanctuaries for many endangered and exotic plant breeds. Aside from investing resources in plant research and preservation, these gardens also raise public awareness campaigns to highlight the diversity of plant species around the world!
#3. Why are botanic gardens worthwhile to explore?
Did you know immersing in nature can help reduce stress, anger, and anxiety? Nature not only helps improve mood but also benefits physical health by lowering blood pressure, heart rate, muscular tension, and stress hormone production.
Children are also proven to be happier and healthier when they spend time in nature.
Mountain hiking and taking in the breathtaking skyline from the highest trails might be a great way to experience mother nature. Also, many countries even have some stunning national parks that are worth the visit. However, travelling all the way to appreciate the national gems isn’t always a simple task for most city dwellers. And mountain hiking can sometimes be a bit intensive workout for a long day after work. What about finding your way to a nearby green haven amid the hustle and bustle of urban lifestyle, spending some time to reconnect with nature after too many days spent staring at screens? Botanic garden trips are definitely a bit less of an exercise but still able to encourage interaction with the plant kingdom!
Even though they are often regarded as massive “botany laboratories”, botanical gardens serve more than just the needs of expert botanists and scientists. A botanic garden can be explored by curious visitors and plant enthusiasts who are captivated by its beauty. These gardens can nurture our well-being in many ways, helping us feel calm and giving us a sense of purpose. Moreover, the educational resources accessible at botanical gardens are the lynchpin that ties together the awareness of ecological functions. They help us have a deeper understanding of plants and ecology and the role of our community in both. In other words, trips to botanic gardens educate and impart knowledge that explains the connection between humans, plants, and other life forms.
So, whenever you need a moment of self-care, feel like taking a break from your hectic life, urge to admire nature’s lush shades of green, want to learn something new, or do your part to protect the environment, just visit a nearby botanical garden! Let the plant life grow on you, no pun intended! A few things you can do to get ready for your botany adventure are to pack food, water, a camera, a notebook, and your most comfortable shoes. Then spend some time exploring the green oasis at your own pace. Note down the information about the plant species you found intriguing: their optimal growth habitat, origins, and how long their species have existed on this earth. And capture their beauty through your camera lens. Perhaps along the journey, you’ll develop a sense of belonging and see yourself as a part of nature rather than just an individual.
#4. Why is a garden considered botanical? What makes it different from regular gardens and parks?
A park or a botanical garden can both be used for leisure activities. The botanical garden, however, spreads well beyond any parks. Botanical gardens may serve even broader purposes than regular gardens since they try to depict the whole plant kingdom, outdoors or indoors, from the tropics to the Arctic. In contrast to parks and formal gardens, botanic gardens are not only built for landscape aesthetics or other recreational reasons but also according to the scientific connections of their plant collections.
The botanic garden’s collection curation depends heavily on plant labelling (botanical label found in Cleveland Botanical Garden).
Many parks are landscaped simply by using a few types of plants that are readily accessible in the area without any plant labels. It’s true that certain parks, like the Boston Public Garden and others around the globe, have a specific number of labelled plants. Still, most don’t make a constant effort to identify and maintain labelled all the many kinds of plants cultivated. Botanical gardens are highly educational to many visitors, as shown through the information labels attached. A botanic garden maintains a database with a variety of background information, including the date and location of each plant accession’s acquisition. The plants are precisely mapped and identified using scientific terminology. All plantation health is frequently checked by plant care specialists, and any phenological changes will be consistently recorded in the database.
Also, botanical gardens have unique characteristics compared to other locations where long-term ecological and physiological research is conducted. They are ideally suited for investigating climate change because of these features. To begin with, the grounds of botanical gardens are often created like experimental culture in greenhouses, where several different plant species are cultivated side by side in a similar setting. Often, individual plants are grown in areas with the environment best suited for their species. The grounds are routinely weeded, fertilized, mulched, and pest controlled. This level of care can ensure a relatively stable environment and minimize the factors that could affect long-term changes in plant features.
Admiring the flora diversity at Australia’s Royal Botanic Garden Sydney – one of the oldest botanic gardens in the Southern Hemisphere.
Because the environment at botanical gardens is so favourable for many plant species to thrive, even the species that would not naturally coexist are frequently cultivated in botanical gardens. This is not something that you would find in any parks or typical gardens. The environment at botanical gardens is almost identical to the different geographical locations from which the species have been gathered. Thus, distinct genera or families are significantly represented in botanical garden collections. Making them possess a more taxonomically and ecologically diversified flora than regular gardens and parks.
#5. So, what does it take to make a botanical garden?
A botanical garden requires not just financial investment but also time and commitment.
Do you know that the earliest botanical gardens all began from private gardens when people were interested in putting together collections of plants? “You can’t plant greenery if you haven’t botany”. For that reason, before starting a botanic garden, it is necessary to have a strong love for plants and deep knowledge of botany – the science behind plant life. Before deciding what plants you’ll have for your botanic sanctuary, knowing the environment would be the first step, you should take. It all comes down to placing the correct plant in the right location at the right time to succeed in gardening. The first step is understanding what plant species suit your region’s climate and when to cultivate them.
It all comes down to placing the right plant in the right location at the right time to succeed in gardening. Do in-depth research about where you plan to grow a botanical garden, then start with the species that suit the location’s environment. Once you get a hold of your climatic zone, you may determine the length of your growing season and when is the right time to cultivate your particular plant species. Besides the growth environment, soil biodiversity is also one thing that should be considered in the management plan of a botanical garden. Diversity encourages diversity. The richness of plant communities and the success of soil organisms are both influenced by soil quality. In exchange, botanical gardens strive to nurture plant life, which subsequently encourages soil biodiversity.
However, over time, a single area with the same plant species growing there may experience a depletion of the soil nutrients. Also, changes in environmental conditions and urban pollution can affect plants’ health throughout the seasons, making them vulnerable to diseases. Therefore, perennial and annual maintenance is needed to sustain a dynamic soil ecology and a favourable environment to maintain a beautiful and lush garden.
So, how to maintain a botanical garden properly? Plants should be carefully sprayed, pruned and checked for health annually to promote vigorous growth and avoid pests. Soils from planting beds need to be mixed up once in a while to maintain a dynamic soil ecosystem. Soil quality can also be improved by spreading fertilizer gradually twice a year, especially during the spring and autumn, to achieve the best results for plant growth. Additionally, make sure to frequently test for harmful elements like lead and arsenic in the soil. Follow the plant’s language and pay attention to what they are trying to tell you during the seasons. Yellowing and flaky leaves during summertime might suggest that your plants desperately need a drink. Fall and winter are the time of the year to cutting things back and clean up. For springtime to come, check for pests and weeds.
Regular maintenance helps a botanical garden thrive and flourish.
Besides, botanical art is an artwork that aims to portray various plant species in a manner that is both aesthetically beautiful and scientifically precise. Thus, you must first be an artist in order to create botanical art. Start by sketching out your botanical garden on a piece of paper before bringing it to life. Plan out a diagram of where you will put the plants and rocks and build drainage and pathways. Pay close attention to the plants that should be put together, their complementing colours, their intended heights, and their contrasting colours. Analyze the arrangement of a garden’s design like studying a painting. That should give you a better sight of your garden landscaping concept.
A botanical garden takes a lot of time and work to develop because it is similar to creating a grand masterpiece! Before the actual planting process begins, a thousand factors should be taken into account. Roads must be assembled, pedestrian paths must be put into place, and a certain amount of grading must be done. Specific plants must be placed where they will grow best, whereas a propagating unit must be strategically placed. Water pipes must be laid where they will be most beneficial, and drainage must be provided in certain situations. It maintains a workforce that includes scientific experts and experienced botanical garden workers to build up a garden. Altogether, they will contribute their specialized knowledge of the planning and developmental phases to improve the planning process. Working together as a team will give you a higher chance to create a strategic plan that includes your mission and vision, goals, objectives, execution strategies, and the likely dates for each phase in developing the botanical garden. For instance, horticulturists could step in to deliver illustrated lectures to demonstrate which kind of plants could be grown. Landscape architects can have endless discussions about the concept of a local botanical garden. Committees from diverse organizations could talk about reasonable costs. Experienced staff from other gardens might come over and discuss what has been accomplished in other communities while openly debating the viability of establishing a local botanical garden. Another group may offer a quantity of money to be utilized to create a concrete plan after the opinion has sufficiently crystallized. Therefore, don’t be afraid to ask other specialists for advice.
#6. What about creating your own botanic spaces?
Your personal botanical garden doesn’t need to be just a plain flowerbed like other home gardens.
Enjoy visiting botanical gardens, but feeling a bit worn out and discouraged after learning all the requirements to create a botanic garden? Don’t let your mood down too soon. If you don’t have the funds and resources to create a lush green haven with diverse plant species, you can just build a simple one right in your backyard. We get a glimpse of the best mental serenity and relaxation that nature has to offer when gardening. Your small garden will be your absolute private go-to shelter when you just need a place of peace. Creating your own botanical garden might be extremely fun, and the final result is fulfilling! Though planning a garden is a journey that takes a lot of effort and time, the fruit of that journey is worthwhile.
Gardening helps seed a special love for nature in everyone.
You don’t have to go big when building your own botanical space. Start small from your backyard, rooftop balcony or even your living room! Your home space is ideal for making a botanical garden as long as the area gets adequate light and humidity throughout the day. A small urban jungle works just fine as long as it still serves the role of a botanical garden.
Start off let’s decide what plants you want to cultivate. The plants you pick must, above all else, be suitable for the soil, sunlight, and climate of your garden. Also, keep in mind that the plants will fit nicely in the accessible home gardening space. Huge and fast-growing plants sure do make a great impression on guests. However, being placed in a too constraint garden spot can make these big boys feel highly uncomfortable and unhappy. Sketch the layout of your future garden and arrange the plants that make the best use of available gardening space and light. Then purchase your preferable plants or seeds from a nearby nursery, dig in, get your hands dirty and introduce your first “species” to your personal forest!
Plant labels bear an essential and unique part of the experience when visiting botanic gardens. Thus, to add a nice touch to your private green space, you should try creating plant labels similar to those seen in arboretums and botanical gardens. Search for details on the plant species you brought home, then record them on the labels. It would be enjoyable to do these activities with friends and family, and it would also wow your house visitors when they come to see your private garden. It may also be a fantastic way to let children approach plant science. Your children will not only know more about what plants are in their backyard but also learn more about these plants’ care and needs. And maybe the ones who come to your garden will feel inspired and share your love for botanic gardens too!
Last but not leaf, shower your garden with love. Your private garden requires maintenance to keep it healthy and lush, much as botanical gardens receive specialized care from experienced staff. Maintaining your garden regularly as it grows to help it flourish to its highest potential. Water the plants before they wilt, improve your soil with mulch and keep pests away. Support tall or trailing plants with trellis or stakes to give the garden a neat and aesthetic look. Don’t forget to stop for a moment, take a deep breath, and enjoy the smell of newly bloomed flowers and freshly cut grass. And most importantly, always remember to take a moment to appreciate how far your garden has come.
Botanical Gardens in the United States
The United States of America (USA) is home to many botanical gardens that are renowned worldwide for their attractiveness and detailed botanical understanding.
These botanical gardens are also used regularly for events, making them accessible to the public and helping in the education of people about the importance of nature. Hopefully, this can also increase the public’s love for gardens.
Botanical gardens will also conduct a Pollinator Census regularly to determine the number of pollinators on plants in the garden.
Pollinators such as bees are incredibly important to the survival of these botanical gardens. An example of this pollinator census happened on August 20, 2022, at Georgia State’s Perimeter College Native Plant Botanical Garden (Georgia State University, United States).
New York Botanical Garden
Address: 2900 Southern Blvd, The Bronx, NY 10458, United States
Mission Statement: “The New York Botanical Garden is an advocate for the plant world. The Garden pursues its mission through its role as a museum of living plant collections arranged in gardens and landscapes across its National Historic Landmark site; through its comprehensive education programs in horticulture and plant science; and through the wide-ranging research programs of the International Plant Science Center.”
When the New York Botanic garden was founded in 1891, its main objectives were to educate the public, protect rare and exceptional varieties of plants and conduct authentic studies in the field of plant science and botany.
Over the years, the New York Botanical garden has developed into a large collection of plants.
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