Translated by Nick R
As you may already know, plants provide numerous medicinal, nutritional, ornamental, industrial, and environmental benefits. If you didn’t know it, you should check out our blog to learn about this and much more. However, a current problem has become evident: namely, the destruction of natural vegetation.
The reasons go from deforestation to fires that wipe out all kinds of life in their path. Botanical gardens have been created to reduce this damage, thus preserving the flora, which is a valuable natural resource.
For this reason, in this blog, I want to explain the importance of botanical gardens, their functions, the benefits they offer, and finally: 5 amazing gardens that can be found in around the globe.
Table of Contents
What are botanical gardens?
A botanical garden is where a great variety of living plant species are found. Unlike other plant environments, in these centers, is held an order, control, identification, and documentation of plants. This facilitates their study and preservation.
In many of these gardens, threatened or endangered plants are protected, and species of high endemic value are reproduced. That is to say, species that only exist in the region where the garden is located and, therefore, are invaluable.
You should know that there are 2 methods used to preserve plant biodiversity.
The first method is in situ, or on-site and consists of looking after and protecting plants in their place of origin or natural habitat. These protected areas are developed, maintained, and researched.
The second one is called ex-situ, or off-site. And it consists of taking care of plants outside their natural habitat, known as captivity. This is where botanical gardens and even seed banks operate.
Importance of botanical gardens
It’s also sought that all botanical gardens worldwide cooperate in order to exchange relevant information about the plants they house in their facilities. As I mentioned before, such places, besides preserving the plant resource, investigate every aspect of it in depth.
This is crucial since one of the gardens’ functions is to educate the population about plants. Specifically, about the importance of plants in the world, their characteristics, varieties, functions, uses, and others.
Thus, it promotes vegetative conservation by people and encourages crop cultivation, particularly in cities. Without plants, the air quality could be affected, the temperature could increase, and people’s quality of life could deteriorate, among many other negative aspects.
Although the objective is to preserve the plant heritage, not all botanical gardens have the same approach. For example, some botanical gardens focus on research, teaching, field expeditions, and conservation.
Others dedicate to study local flora only, such as the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in South Africa. Also, some carry out relevant studies in various areas for reforestation and conservation.
Then there are those that offer courses in environmental education, gardening, and horticulture, such as the Tuluá Botanical Garden in Colombia. And finally, we find those responsible for caring for biological reserves and those dedicated to the preservation of species with potential economic significance.
Benefits of botanic gardens
In addition to the importance that botanical gardens have on the planet, they also have a series of benefits that I’ll mention below.
- Vegetation, particularly in cities, provides people with physical and psychological wellness.
- Botanical gardens and green areas in the city maintain ecological balance.
- They serve as an oasis or refuge for those pollinating animals such as bees, which are in danger of extinction.
- They help raise people’s awareness of the importance of vegetation and its role in the ecosystem.
- They contribute to tourism in cities with botanical gardens.
- They house a large number of plant species from all over the world, which contributes to the preservation of these species.
Functions of botanic gardens
The functions of botanic gardens should have the following approaches:
- Biodiversity, conservation and sustainability
- Knowledge and innovation
- Culture and heritage
- Education, coexistence and life quality
- Economic and social development
- Integration, openness and connectivity
As there are several approaches to be covered by these centers, the work was synthesized into 3 main lines. These are conservation, environmental education and research.
Conservation is focused on maintaining living species collected in the gardens, either in the form of mature plants or seed banks. This last form has acquired great importance as it guarantees the preservation of the genetic diversity of the plants.
Seeds are stored in locations with ideal conditions, which works to prevent the total extinction of plant species. Unfortunately, however, not all seeds of all plants can be protected by this mechanism. Therefore, saving the grown plant is preferred.
Obviously, gardens must provide the right conditions for these plants to grow properly. If necessary, they would build shelters or greenhouses suited to each species.
As for environmental education, the aim is to create spaces in which garden visitors can acquire knowledge about plants, their natural habitat and their care.
Environmental education is addressed to the general population; however, it focuses on schools. It should be seen as a contribution to facing future environmental challenges.
In addition, this approach encourages people to love nature and take interest in its care. Each garden offers various recreational programs; such as tours of the facilities or courses to achieve this goal.
Finally, research is responsible for increasing scientific knowledge about the various plant species, mostly local. This way, there will be an abundant exchange of information with other gardens. Thus, there is the certainty of providing truthful information to the public.
It’s necessary to know in detail every biological, systematic, evolutionary, and origin aspect of the plants. This way, you can guarantee their preservation and the increment of more botanical research.
5 Phenomenal botanic gardens worldwide
Now that you’re aware of the benefits and importance of botanical gardens for nature and people, I’d like to share 5 of these gardens around the world. Within them, you’ll find a great variety of species and extensive facilities that will amaze you.
Culiacan Botanical Garden
It’s located in the center of the city of Culiacán in Sinaloa, Mexico, and is one of the most important botanical gardens in the country. The entrance fee to this garden is USD 1.74.
The engineer Carlos Murillo Depraect took the initiative to create a green space in the city where the botanical garden could be housed. It was inaugurated in 1986 for the donation of Murillo’s plant collection.
This garden covers 10 hectares that house more than 1,000 botanical species, related to the contemporary art and architecture based on the garden’s balance. You can find bonsais, agaves, colorful orchids, and many more species of plants.
It has 17 botanical collections, more than 200 species of wildlife, 146 bird species, more than 300 plant species in conservation for the risk of their disappearance, as well as a germplasm bank (which consists of the plants’ genes), and a herbarium.
This garden is also home to the National Collection of Palms with more than 60% of Mexican species. It’s one of the top 10 gardens to visit in North America and has 4 specific functions:
- The conservation of endangered native species.
- The research focused on the management of the germplasm bank and herbarium.
- Education, which fosters programs and facilities for artistic and cultural expression together with botanical education and a library.
- The exhibition of more than 1,000 species and 39 contemporary artworks displayed in the garden.
In this public space, actions that promote a culture of respect and the measured use of natural resources take place. This garden is a central community center and meeting point thanks to its location in the heart of Culiacan city.
Koishikawa Botanical Garden
This is one of the oldest gardens in the world, it was created in 1684 with the primary function of providing medicinal plants. It’s located in the city of Tokyo, Japan, and has more than 4000 plant species. It also includes a Japanese landscape garden.
It’s not one of the most known gardens in the city, but it’s perfect for cherry blossom viewing in spring. It also has a wide variety of tree and plant species from other parts of Asia and the planet.
It’s run by the University of Tokyo, and its main function is scientific research. For this function, a system to ensure the conservation of endangered species is being designed.
Although it no longer functions for providing medicinal plants, it offers a peaceful and quiet space for all visitors. The entrance fee to this beautiful garden is USD 3.65, and the best route to get there is the Marunouchi Line.
Its structure has Chinese and Japanese influence. For this reason, you’ll find small hills, ponds, stones, and a wide variety of trees.
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Also known as Kew Gardens, they’re located in the southeast of London, next to Richmond Park. They’re considered a World Heritage Site with 120 hectares that house several species.
In addition, it’s one of the most important seed banks in the world, with about 40,000 species. These gardens have Victorian greenhouses, a library, and museums that contain all the information about the plants and the experience of living with each of them.
The gardens are a leading organization in the science of plants and fungi worldwide. They have the largest collection of botanical information, also called herbarium and ¼ million fungi specimens.
They have a great diversity of rare and endangered plants that are a huge resource for the understanding, protection, and sustainability of the world’s biodiversity.
These gardens are important research and conservation centers of plants around the world. A large team of qualified people is employed to fulfill these functions to perfection, both in the gardens and in various world regions.
They also promote botanical education about plants, fungi and horticulture. In this way, they seek to raise people’s awareness about the importance of nature in the world.
Entry to these gardens costs USD 21.95 for adults, USD 5.49 for children between 4 and 16 years old, and is free for children under 4 years old. You can find various structures such as animal statues, galleries, and even a tower called the pagoda; inspired by Chinese architecture.
Medellín Botanical Garden
It’s located in Medellin city, Colombia, near the University of Antioquia and its university museum, the San Pedro Cemetery Museum, the Municipal Planetarium, and the Park of Wishes, among other places.
It has 13.2 hectares that house an enormous collection of living plants. It was inaugurated on April 19, 1972, and is one of the most important gardens in the country.
It offers a space for relaxation and the opportunity to appreciate the great floral richness. This garden has the largest collection of orchids in the city, more than 1000 plant species, and some animal species. It also has a library, an auditorium and food courts for visitors.
The functions of this botanical garden concentrate on botanical research, which has made it renowned for its expertise in the exploration, research and conservation of the national flora.
In addition, the garden works in environmental education and the exhibition of Colombian vegetation through diverse programs and activities aimed to achieve this goal. It’s an attractive space for tourism and ecology in the city. Cultural and educational events may also be hosted in the garden.
Montreal Botanical Garden
Located in Montreal, the province of Quebec in Canada is one of the top botanical gardens. Near the garden, you can find the Montreal Insectarium, the Biodome, the Olympic Park, the Montreal Tower, and the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium.
It opened in 1931 and began as an administrative building with several gardens and hundreds of ideas to develop. The garden entrance fee is USD 16.36 for adults, $8.18 for children from 5 to 17 years old, and USD 45.29 for families of 2 children and 3 adults.
It has 73 hectares that house a great variety of animals and plants distributed in its 10 greenhouses and outside them. There are about 190,000 plants in 5 main green spaces and 6 other smaller areas. There are 30 thematic gardens and a total of at least 22,000 species.
Throughout the year, there are several ecological activities to observe the butterflies’ flight and the exhibition of pumpkins for Halloween, among other activities.
It’s the world’s second most important botanical garden and was included in 2008 as a Canadian National Historic Site.
The functions of this garden are the conservation, development, and enhancement of plant collections, as well as scientific research and botanical and horticultural education. However, to fulfill these functions, they employ a variety of methods and activities.
They offer a tour of their gardens and greenhouses in which they have various exhibits inspired by different cultures around the world, especially in China and Japan. They have educational activities for schools and the general public. Also, they have a library with a large collection of publications on botany and horticulture, and photographic material.
It sensitizes the population about the importance of nature and the care that should be given to it. Finally, the species that inhabit the garden must be cared for by experienced and qualified personnel.
Several exhibitions are held in this garden, one of them is Mosaiculture, held every 3 years. It’s one of the most exciting ones, and artists from all over the world participate because there, they have the opportunity to present their large flower and vegetable sculptures, such as the ones we can see in the pictures.
We’ve reached the end of this tour of wonderful botanical gardens around the world. However, many more carry out the conservation, research, and educational functions necessary to maintain a balance in the ecosystem.
If there is a botanical garden near your place or a special one that you’d like to visit, don’t wait any longer and go for a tour. I am sure you’ll love it, and you’ll learn a lot about this natural resource that has been affected in recent years.