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Botanical Garden

Botanical Garden



A botanical garden is an area in which plants are grown primarily for scientific study or for viewing by the public. A garden solely for tress,  shrubs, and vines is more exactly termed an arboretum. Some gardens are chiefly for scientific study; others emphasize ornamental displays and public education, and some are solely recreational areas. Many gardens maintain large herbaria, collections of dried plant specimens used as references for classifying unknown plants.

History. Some of the first botanical gardens were formal parks built as early as 2000 BC by the Assyrians. Most of the earliest gardens, however, were ancient Chinese and Egyptian temple gardens for raising fruit, vegetables, and medicinal herbs. The first record of such facilities is a description of the temple garden at Karnak, built in 1500 BC. Better documented is Aristotle's herbal garden, built about 350 BC and directed by the noted botanist Theophrastus. 
Stimulated by the reliance on herbal medicine in the 16th and 17th centuries, European medical schools founded botanical gardens devoted mainly to medicinal species. The garden were used for training medical students. The first such gardens were in Italy - in Pisa around 1543 and Padua in 1545 -  and similar gardens were later founded in other major cities. The garden in Leiden, Holland (1587), is credited with starting the Dutch bulb industry.

Later development. As the science of botany grew during the 18th and 19th centuries, the traditional herbal gardens gave way to gardens for the scientific study, commercial development, and display of wider varieties of plants. Botanical gardens as those in Kew (near London. 1759; Uppsala (1787), Madrid (1788), Rio de Janeiro (1808), Leningrad (1843), Washington D.C. (1850), St. Louis (1859), the Arnold Arboretum in Cambridge, Mass (1872) and New York City (1895). The Royal Botanic Garden at Kew sent expeditions all over the world to find commercial species, and reputedly those efforts spread the cultivation of such plants as rubber, banana, tea, pineapple, coffee, cacao, and the quinine-yielding cinchona.
The United states today has over 300 botanical gardens, the most important are the Brooklyn Botanical Garden and Arboretum, The Longwood Gardens (near Kenneth Square, Pa), the United State National Arboretum (Washington D.C.) , the Arnold Arboretum, the Missouri Botanical Garden (St. Louis), The New York Botanical Garden (New York City), The University California Botanical Garden (Berkeley), The Holden Arboretum (Mentor, Ohio), and The Fairchild Tropical Garden (Miami). The Longwood Gardens, in cooperation with the U.S National Gardens, in recent years has sent out botanical expeditions worldwide.
The foremost Canadian gardens include the Montreal Botanical Garden, with its collection, and The Dominion Arboretum and Botanical Garden, Ottawa (1889), Canada's oldest botanical garden. Australia's well-designed Royal Botanical Garden and National Herbarium emphasize plant species native to Australis.

Bibliography : Hyams, E.S., and McQuitty, W., Great Botanical Garden of the World (1969) ; Prest, John, The Garden of Eden; The Botanical Garden and The Re-Creation of Paradise (1982); Wright, Tom, Large Garden and Parks; Maintenance, Management and Design (1982); Wyman, Donald, The Arboretum and Botanical Garden of North America (1969).