The gardens were maintained in all parts of the world since the early times also as it is evident from the old Indian epics such as Mahabharata and Ramayana. Gardens also existed in ancient China, India, Egypt, and Mesopotamia. For food, drugs and beautiful flowers, a man had to cultivate plants in gardens long before the dawn of history. Romans maintained small gardens as sources of medicine and as aids to medical studies. These gardens were not botanical gardens in the true sense.
Modern botanical gardens serve as centers for documentation, research, reference, data storage conservation and several other biological facilities to mankind. A well-structured botanical garden contains plant species from various corners of the globe. It also includes greenhouses, herbarium, research laboratories, library etc.
The first garden for purpose of science and education was maintained by Theophrastus in his Lyceum at Athens.
10. Orto Botanico di Pisa, Italy
The Orto Botanico di Pisa or Pisa Botanical Garden was developed by a famous botanist Luca Ghini in 1944 is credited as the first modern botanical garden. The astonishing garden is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It is expanded across an area of 22,000 square meters. Today the garden is not in its previous shape rather it is divided into sections containing the botanical school, greenhouses, gardens, and various buildings. Orto Botanico is particularly famous for over 6000 types of plant collections and its historical architecture, sculptures, fountains, etc. The garden is known for the finest specimens of Aesculus, Magnolia, and several other species.
9. Berlin Botanic Garden and Museum, Berlin-Dahlem
The Berlin Botanic Garden was set up in 1679 near Berlin but due to lack of space, it was later relocated to Dahlem. Much of the garden was destroyed during World War II and later it was rebuilt largely.
Today the botanical garden comprises an area of 126 acres. About 20000 different species of plants are cultivated here. It includes a large tropical greenhouse of 60 meters long and 23 meters high and it is one of the largest in the world. A vast collection of orchids, carnivorous plants, and giant white water lily attracts people and botanists. It hosts different species of Giant Bamboo.
8. Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden, Kolkata, India
Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden is India’s largest and oldest botanical garden. It was established in 1787 in Shibpur, near Kolkata.
There are over 15000 species of plants in this garden from several countries. It comprises of 2,500,000 herbarium collections. Indian Botanic Garden is also famous for its enormous collections of orchids, water lily, bamboos, palms etc.
The garden covers an area of about 273 acres of land. The main attraction of this garden is the great Banyan tree, which is one of the largest trees in size in the world. It appears like a miniature forest in itself with more than 330 meters in circumference. It is considered to be over 250 years of as age.
7. Brooklyn Botanic Garden, New York, United States
Brooklyn Botanic Garden is one of the most beautiful gardens in the world situated in New York, United States. It was established in 1910.
The 52-acre garden houses Bonsai Museum, plant pavilions, glass aquatic plant house and an art gallery. Over 14,000 plant species are being nourished here. More than 200 cherry trees, Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, Cranford Rose Garden, Native Flora Garden and Alice Recknagel Ireys Fragrance Garden are the main attractions for botanists and common public.
6. Jardin Botanique de Montreal
The Jardin Botanique de Montreal situated in Canada was established in 1931. It is honored as National Historic Site of Canada. It is one of the most beautiful botanic gardens in the world.
The garden covers 75 hectares of thematic gardens and greenhouses. It includes a Chinese Garden, a Japanese Garden, and an Alpine Garden. Over 22,000 species are collected from various parts of the globe.
One of the attractions of the garden is the Lion de la Feuillée, a huge lion statue at the entrance to the rose garden.
5. Singapore Botanic Garden, Singapore
The Singapore Botanic Garden is a 158-year-old garden and it was established in 1859. The tropical garden is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The garden contains National Orchid Garden, a small tropical rainforest, and a Ginger Garden. The garden spreads over 82-hectares area. It contains more than 10,000 species of flora. Singapore Botanic Garden pioneer in the cultivation of orchids and hybrids. It’s National Orchid Garden houses 1,200 species.
4. Jardim Botânico, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Jardim Botânico is located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil shows the diversity of Brazilian and foreign flora. It was established in 1808 at the foot of the Corcovado Mountain. This park was designated as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO.
Jardim Botanico hosts 6,000 different species of subtropical and tropical plants and trees which are distributed throughout an area of 54 hectares. The garden also includes numerous greenhouses, monuments, and archaeological significance. A diverse species of orchids, bromeliads, palms are attractions of the garden.
3. New York Botanical Garden, USA
New York Botanical Garden was established in 1891. It is one of the greatest botanical gardens in the world. The garden covers 250 acres in the heart of New York City along the Bronx River.
The garden plays a major role in the conservation of rare and endangered species. There are 15000 species distributed in the demonstration gardens. This garden includes a rock garden, herb garden, rose garden, and conservatory complex. It has a massive collection of Rhododendron and Azalea.
The garden has a systematic arrangement of trees and shrubs that make it a place of interest for the general public as well as botanists and horticulturists. The garden has a well-maintained herbarium of over 5 million specimens from all over the globe.
2. Missouri Botanical Garden, USA
Missouri Botanical Garden is considered as one of the top three botanical gardens in the world. The garden is a National Historical Landmark and a center for Botanical Research. It was opened to the public in 1859. Today the garden covers 79 acres and operates the world’s most active tropical botany research program.
The garden is known for its Climatron conservatory, a geodesic greenhouse dome with climatic control, supporting a vibrant tropical rainforest. Over 4000 trees thrive on the grounds, including some rare and unusual varieties. With 5.3 million specimens, the Herbarium ranks second in the USA.
Missouri Garden also operates an 8,000-square-foot indoor butterfly conservatory and a Shaw Nature Reserve to store plants away from the pollution of the city.
1. Royal Botanic Garden, Kew, United Kingdom
Royal Botanic Garden is popularly known as ‘Kew Gardens’ located in Richmond upon the Thames in southwest London. It is undoubtedly the finest botanical garden in the world. Kew Garden was developed in the 1600sby Kew house owned by Richard Bennet.
The garden is spread over 326 acres and the site includes 40 historically important buildings. The living collections at Kew are most diverse with over 30000 plant species growing successfully. The garden includes a Palm House, a Water Lily House, a Temperate House, and the Princess of Wales Conservatory. Several interesting plants such as Victoria amazonica, Welwitschia mirabilis grows here. It maintains over 6 million herbariums and 275000 type specimens as well.
From 3rd July 2003, Kew Gardens became a United Nations World Heritage Site.
At present, there are over 600 botanical gardens in the world. They are valued not only to the botanists, horticulturists, and foresters but also to the millions of tourists. Botanical gardens provide information of local flora and are used in the preparation of monographs. They provide information on food plants, ornamental plants, medicinal plants etc. It also provides an aesthetically pleasing environment and thus plays a major role in providing sound mental health.