Botanical gardens are more than the sum of their flora. Originally cultivated with medicinal herbs in mind, classical botanical gardens soon hosted flowers and trees from around the world to study, educate, and offer an aesthetically-pleasing place for visitors. More recently, research gardens have expanded their missions to include conservation – meaning your entry fee is helping to maintain world biodiversity. "Most of these gardens are curated and displayed like museum objects in a way that paintings are displayed in an art museum," says Morris Arboretum's executive director Paul W. Meyer. "And these collections double as conservation repositories." We consulted Meyer and Katy Moss Warner, head of the American Horticultural Society, to find exemplary botanical gardens from around the world that are worth traveling to see.
Missouri Botanical Garden (U.S.)
Founded in 1859 by an English botanist, the 79-acre garden is one of St. Louis' biggest attractions, in part thanks to Seiwa-En, the the world's largest Japanese garden. Other cultural displays include Victorian, Ottoman, and Chinese gardens, and the tropical plants below the garden's famous Buckminster Fuller geodesic dome known as the Climatron. The Missouri Botanical Garden is at the forefront of plants science, including a partnership with Kew Gardens to compile a checklist of the world's flora species know as The Plant List. Their herbarium recently hit 6.5 million species.
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