What is a botanical garden? For me, and being very simple, it is a place where as soon as you enter you do not know where to look when you see so much beauty. Seriously, when you plan to visit one, you cannot forget your camera, or, failing that, carry your mobile well charged.
You will inevitably lose track of time. Therefore, the ideal is to be accompanied by family or friends, especially if they share the same hobby. But no, I’m not going to leave you alone with that answer. I want you to know the origin, the history, the characteristics of these wonderful green areas that we find in some towns and cities so you can enjoy it to the fullest every time you go to one. So let’s go.
What is a botanical garden?
It is a institution authorized by a public, private or associative body whose objective is the study and conservation of plantsusually indigenous and / or living in areas with a similar climate. Its main characteristic is to include scientific collections that serve to investigate and disseminate the species that form it, as well as, of course, study them to know how to conserve them.
What is its origin and history?
It is known that the first was built in the XNUMXth century by Muslims in ancient Al-Andalus. The idea of being able to have a piece of nature in the home was already beginning to become a necessity on the part of many, although as always, only the nobles could afford it. Hence, building one that everyone could visit was undoubtedly a magnificent idea.
However, the first “official” was the one built in Padua (Italy) in 1545. It was called “The Garden of Plants of Padua”, and the good news is that it is still preserved to this day. It is managed by the University of Montpellier, and its objective is the learning and knowledge of medicinal plants.
Later they were built in Valencia (1567), Leiden (Netherlands, in 1590), Heidelberg (Germany, in 1597), Copenhagen (Denmark, in 1600), Uppsala (Sweden, in 1655), Hannover (Germany, in 1666) , Madrid (Spain, in 1755), Sanlúcar de Barrameda (Spain, in 1806).
Fortunately for all of us, they are not the only ones there. In fact, we have others like the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, which is one of the most important and which was built in the southwest of London; or Sydney, which has the peculiarity of being home to some indigenous animals. Not to mention (and you will forgive me the publicity ) of the one we have in my town: Botanicactus, which has an interesting collection of plants resistant to the Mediterranean climate as well as succulents and which was built in 1987.
What types are there?
Although there are some that are generic, there are others that are exclusively dedicated to the cultivation of certain plants:
- Arboretum: dedicated to tree collections.
- Alpine: dedicated to the collections of the Alps and high mountains.
- bambusetum: dedicated to the collections of bamboos.
- bush: dedicated to the collections of shrubs and small trees.
- cacti: dedicated to the collections of cacti and plants that grow in deserts.
- palmetum: dedicated to the collections of palm trees.
- orchidarium: dedicated to orchid collections.
In addition, we also have:
- Conservative garden: it is the one that is dedicated to preserving already existing species.
- Ethnobotanical Garden: it is dedicated to growing plants that have a direct relationship with the existence of the human being.
- Ecological garden: it is the one that studies plant species and the relationship they have between them and the environment in which they grow.
What’s in a Botanical Garden?
Again, it will depend a lot on the type of botanical garden. But what is usually not lacking is:
- Home: evidently . Usually it is a single office, or an office with a shop where they sell plants and / or objects related to the garden.
- Different sections of plants: grouped depending on your needs and / or characteristics.
- Greenhouse / s: to protect exotic plants that do not resist the cold.
- Herbal: it is a collection of dried plants that are classified, and that are used for the study of botany.
- Portfolio: is the collection of classified fruits, also used for study.
- Xylotheque: it is a collection of classified woods, used to study them.
- Seed index (Index seminum): it is a catalog of seeds that each garden publishes every year.
What is the importance of a Botanical Garden in the city?
Well, we’ve been talking about it already, but it’s time to expand a little more. The objectives of the botanical garden, and therefore its importance in a city are:
Unfortunately, many plant species are in danger of extinction or threatened. Either due to the loss of habitat, deforestation or the extraction of specimens for their subsequent sale – illegal, by the way -, the reality is that if it weren’tamong other things, by botanical gardens and by those who do their best to take care of nature, surely many fewer plants would have survived today of which we can see.
The scientific works that are carried out in this type of gardens include the study of botany, and the adaptation of species that have been introduced outside their places of origin. Likewise, all these data that they collect are then used by agriculture, industry and even medicinal research.
Yes, we can learn a lot from plants if we go to a botanical garden, since they often have their scientific name, the common name and the origin indicated on a label that is usually made of wood. And that’s not to mention the educational projects that are carried out: plant presentations, growing tips given by private gardeners… Some even have their own shop where they sell flowers, herbs and other plants!
In the world we live in it is very important to be aware that nature must be cared for and respected. For this reason, botanical gardens are intended to educate the population about it.
We cannot forget about this. Green tourism or ecotourism is gaining strength, and the botanical garden is the main attraction of those who seek to visit places full of biodiversity.
That said, and to finish, say that if you really like plants, do not hesitate to visit one of them. Surely you will not regret it.