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.
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (Scotland)
An easy commute from Edinburgh's city center, the 70-acre Royal Botanic Garden is known for its rock garden and collection of wild Chinese plants (the largest outside China). Much of their collection species are inside the ten public glasshouses, including one two-story, 400-foot-long behemoth that replicates five climactic zones. Two older glasshouses hold tropical and temperate palms. Come winter, many of the Asian species like Camellias and Daphnes bloom, while outside the trees become a focal point, especially the Vireya rhododendrons.
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