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What are Botanical Gardens?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 22 August 2016
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A botanical garden can be both pleasure for the senses and good education. They make wonderful places to visit for both reasons. A botanical garden may be created for the purpose of educating the public on plant species and for simply enjoying the vast varieties of beauty the plant kingdom offers.

Botanists make a botanical garden to perhaps study and preserve native plants, or to show a range of plants that are not native. Sometimes a botanical garden can specifically rescue plants nearing extinction in their habitats, through saving and distributing seeds. A botanical garden may be a small place, only open to the public on a few occasions, or they can be lush plant paradises where one can enjoy the sights and perhaps take a picnic.

Botany is one of the oldest sciences, since understanding plant matter was essential to farming. Soon certain plants became interesting not for their practicality but for what they could teach people about the nature of how things function.

The earliest botanical gardens can be traced back to some of Italy’s universities. The botanical garden at Pisa is considered the first and was established in the mid 16th Century. Other botanical gardens started in Italy at this time include ones in Padua and Florence.

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By the end of the 16th century, other European nations had followed suit and botanical gardens flourished in Germany, Denmark, England, France and the Netherlands. One can still see many of these gardens flourishing today, including the original one at Pisa.

One can find many varieties of botanical gardens on virtually every continent, and each offers a slightly different appeal. For example South Africa boasts eight botanical gardens that attempt to reproduce all the different plant habitats of the country’s diverse geography. Kirstenbosch is a very famous botanical garden. It is located at the bottom of Table Mountain in a suburb of Cape Town and grows only native plants.

Sometimes a botanical garden may charge a small price for entry. Others are free. It is helpful to know in advance if a charge is required and the hours the garden is open. Guests often enjoy docent led tours that can leave one amazed at the amount of botanical research involved in planning, maintaining and updating a botanical garden.

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KoiwiGal
Post 2

It's become common for botanic gardens to provide a light show over the summer, so people can enjoy concerts or dining in the dark.

Some gardens have a light show in winter to coincide with Christmas instead. I think the New York botanical garden has one.

If you get a chance, definitely go and see a light show. They can be breathtaking, particularly when they include black light displays, like the botanic gardens in New Plymouth do.

irontoenail
Post 1

Botanic gardens can be absolutely amazing and are worth visiting in almost every city.

The botanic gardens in Sydney are particularly worthwhile. You'll see cockatoos and other large birds just wandering around, and in some places huge bats hang from the trees.

Plus you can find really spectacular views of the ocean and the harbor bridge.

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