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.
The New York Botanical Garden (U.S.)
New York City's botanical garden, located in the Bronx, features blooming cherry trees and daffodils in spring and waterlilies and daylilies in the summer. Year-round, the Victorian-style glasshouse conservatory provides an opportunity to stroll through 11 distinct habitats from around the world, like the Caribbean garden with its bounty of red hibiscus. An arboretum of planted firs and pine surrounds the conservatory, but the garden's oldest inhabitants are the old-growth forest at its center. Current research institutions at the garden are collecting and studying the DNA of plants and the world's 100,000 trees.
Credit: Joseph DeSciose