The History of Botanic GardensGardens and the cultivation of plants have been around for thousands of years with the first examples dating to around 3000 years ago in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. The Romans were also keen gardeners and they were also aware of the medicinal properties of plants. Following on from the Romans in identifying the medicinal properties of plants were the monks. They also used the beauty of plants and flowers as a celebration of god. The first of these monastic gardens was created in the 8th century. These gardens were the pre-cursor to the physic gardens that appeared in the 16 century.
None of the gardens mentioned so far can be regarded as “botanic gardens” though. A botanic garden is not an easy thing to classify (see the definition page for a detailed definition) though an underlying scientific basis is a necessity. Therefore the world’s first botanic gardens were the physic gardens of Italy in the 16th and 17th centuries. The first of these physic gardens was the garden of the University of Pisa which was created by Luca Ghini in 1543. Following this other Italian universities followed suit and gardens were created in Padova (1545), Firenze (1545) and Bologna (1547). These gardens were purely for the academic study of medicinal plants. By the 16th Century these medicinal gardens had spread to universities and apothecaries throughout central Europe such as Cologne and Prague. The University of Oxford botanic garden was the first garden established in the United Kingdom in 1621 with a mission to promote learning and the glory of god.
There are now currently 1775 botanic gardens and arboreta in 148 countries around the world with many more under construction or being planned such as the first botanic garden in Oman which will be one of the largest gardens in the world once it is completed and will house the first large scale internal fog-forest in a huge glasshouse.
Research over 2500 botanic gardens around the world on our unique Garden Search. Whether you are looking for collaboration, want to find out about plant collections or just want to visit a garden on holiday, the search will help you. Garden staff can login and update your own garden's pages.
Botanic Gardens: Using Biodiversity to Improve Human Well-being
BGCI believes that biodiversity conservation and poverty reduction must be linked if we are to succeed in either aim. This report highlights how botanic gardens across the world are involved in a variety of projects that use biodiversity to improve human well-being.
Great Botanic Gardens of the World
Join Sara Oldfield on this panoramic perspective on the history and current contributions of the world's major botanic gardens. Lavishly illustrated, sales of this book support BGCI's work.
BigGive - Donate to BGCI
The BGCI BigGive Christmas Challenge will double your donation to our Tree Conservation and Forest Restoration project in Africa