Botanical gardens are essential for saving endangered plants, according to a recent study published in Nature Plants journal: the BBC reported on this study in a recent article. According to the BBC: “The world's botanic gardens contain about a third of all known plants and help protect 40% of endangered species” and went on to say that “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.” So, what exactly are botanic gardens, and where are they found?
The history of botanical 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 for their healing properties as well as to study them. 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
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.
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
York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, New York.This 250-acre
garden was founded in 1891 and is now listed as a National Historic
Landmark. Its world class team of scientists categorizes
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
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
Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Columbus, Ohio was
the first conservatory in the United States to host a seasonal
butterfly exhibit. Franklin Park also is 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.
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, botanic gardens fulfill a societal need for
Botanical gardens are wonderful for
relaxing in nature and appreciating the simple beauties all around –
like that of a flower or a butterfly. With children’s gardens,
world class artwork, and classes for adults, botanic gardens remain
not only an essential part of conservation, but an enriching
experience for all.