Why Visit Botanical Gardens?
Did you know that botanical gardens are essential for saving endangered plants?
According to a BBC report, “the world’s botanic gardens contain about a third of all known plants and help protect 40% of endangered species.” Moreover, “scientists say that with one in five of the world’s plants on the brink of extinction, botanic collections hold the key to saving rare plant life.” With all this in mind, botanical gardens are not only beautiful to visit, but edifying and eco-friendly.
What Are Botanical Gardens?
The history of botanical, or botanic, gardens can be traced all the way back to the “physic” garden found in Europe in the 1500’s and 1600’s.
Physic gardens were a way to have medicinal plants on hand to study them and have access to their healing properties. The physic garden gradually developed into the modern day botanic garden that we see in urban areas.
Botanic gardens remain essential for scientists to study and protect plants both “in situ” and “ex situ” – meaning in, as well as outside, their natural habitat.
Perhaps the most well-known botanical garden is none other than the United States Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C. The United States Botanic Garden was created in the early 1800’s as a way to “collect, grow and distribute plants of this and other countries that might contribute to the welfare of the American people,” according to the United States Botanic Garden website. The United States Botanic Garden opened to the public in 1850, and has been located at its current location on Independence Avenue in D.C. since 1933.
Popular Botanical Gardens
Botanical gardens abound throughout the United States.
A quick search on the Botanic Gardens Conservation International website’s Garden Search page can help you find the closest one to you.
A few beloved botanic gardens include the following:
- New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, New York is a 250-acre garden that was founded in 1891 and is now listed as a National Historic Landmark. Its world class team of scientists categorizes approximately 50 new species of plants every year. The New York Botanical Garden is a hub for scientific progress and partners with international communities to explore and discover the latest in botany. There are numerous individual gardens within the entire Botanical Garden, including a children’s garden, a cherry garden, a crabapple garden, and flowers such as water lilies, daffodils, lilacs, roses, and orchids. The New York Botanical Garden is a perfect place for everyone in the family.
- The Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Virginia is a 50-acre garden that houses the only classical domed conservatory in the Mid-Atlantic states. This picturesque park has a children’s garden, an Asian Garden, and the nationally renowned Louise Cochrane Rose Garden that has over 70 species of roses spread over 9,000 square feet. Visitors can also take classes such as Floral Design, Botanical Illustration, and Nature Photography at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.
- Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Columbus, Ohio was the first conservatory in the United States to host a seasonal butterfly exhibit. Franklin Park is also home to some incredible art. The gardens host a large collection of glass pieces by the famous artist Chihuly, as well as a 7,000 count LED light display created by the famous light artist James Turrell that lights up the John F. Wolfe Palm House on the property every night. The Palm House itself is a beautiful Victorian era glass greenhouse that has 43 species of palm inside its walls.
Besides being an integral part in our world’s conservation efforts, as well as a great way for scientists to study plants up close, botanical gardens fulfill a societal need for beauty. These gardens are wonderful for relaxing in nature and appreciating the simple beauties of a flower or a butterfly. With children’s gardens, world renowned artwork, and classes for adults, botanic gardens remain not only an essential part of conservation, but an enriching experience for all.