A “botanic garden” by definition is a collection of plants and flowers cultivated for principally scientific purposes. So, although humans have been growing gardens for over 3,000 years for medicinal, nutritional, and religious purposes, the first botanic garden wasn’t established until the mid 1500s.
The physic garden of the University of Pisa in Italy was created in 1543 for the sole academic goal of discovering new medicinal properties of plants. Soon to follow were Italian physic gardens in Padova, Florence, and Bologna, which sparked a flourishing of counterpoints at apothecaries and universities throughout Europe. This trend only intensified when expeditions and trade started bringing tropical and foreign plants from the Caribbean, Asia, and beyond.
It was in 1801 that the trend alighted on the United States at the Elgin Botanic garden. Though many municipal and civic gardens were enjoyed in the years prior, the establishment of this and the soon to follow Missouri Botanic Garden and the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington D.C. brought rigorous, academic plant study to the states. Today visitors can still visit the Missouri Botanic Garden in St. Louis, the U.S. Botanic Garden, and over 1,775 other gardens in over 145 countries worldwide. The proliferation of these operations has only intensified in the last 30 years due to the emergence of the conservation movement and the danger of extinction of critical specimens.
For us, botanical gardens are a haven from urban life, serving up a quiet, calm, nature-packed reprieve from the hustle. This is especially true in springtime as flowers nationwide open up wide and figuratively stretch their creaky limbs. There is hardly a lovelier place to take in the splendor and vibrancy of spring than at your local botanical garden. Below we’ve compiled a much-less-than-comprehensive look at what’s in bloom at some of the most famous botanical gardens around the country. Visit your local botanical garden’s website for more!