The botanical garden is an outdoor natural space that collects various plant species for study and research purposes. This space is also called a botanical garden or museum since its main purpose remains to deepen the knowledge of plants and make them known to visitors. Inside the botanical garden you can also study the properties of plants and extract their active ingredients for medicinal purposes. Due to the considerable naturalistic importance covered by this structure, its management is entrusted to public institutions, such as universities. The botanical garden has very ancient origins. The first botanical gardens appeared, in fact, in ancient Egypt and in the Greco-Roman era. In the world there are about 1500 botanical gardens, while in Italy there are almost thirty.
The botanical garden looks like an immense space built and designed like a large garden. The style of many European botanical gardens is inspired by the shape and philosophy of the Italian gardens that gradually spread in the Renaissance period. These gardens are based on perfect symmetry and a well-defined geometric shape that knows how to wisely contain monumental elements and vegetation. The same applies to the botanical gardens, within which there are often Baroque buildings, chosen as seats of universities and faculties of Botany and rotundas with fountains and wide avenues marked by the presence of local or international tree and herbaceous species. A botanical garden can have an area greater than 20 thousand square meters where plants of different types and origins are grown for informational purposes. The universities that manage the botanical gardens organize, in fact, guided tours for school groups, in which the characteristics and properties of the various plants classified according to the rules adopted by botany are explained. Visiting a botanical garden therefore represents a unique, unforgettable experience with a high educational function. Expanding your botanical knowledge also allows you to learn more about the plants you want to grow in your garden.
Botanical gardens contain various plant species which are referred to as "collections". This means that not only plants are grown in the garden for ornamental purposes, but also for botanical purposes, that is, to study plants, learn about their resistance and fight the diseases that can afflict them. The interest of a botanical garden, therefore, will always be to host, catalog and collect as many plant species as possible, grouped by type or family. A botanical garden can host medicinal or poisonous plants, aquatic plants, carnivorous plants, succulents, flowering plants, wild plants typical of the geographical area in which the same garden is located, tropical, alpine or Mediterranean plants and trees. Naturally, the climatic conditions of the area where the botanical garden is located will affect the presence of some plant species for or against others. In a botanical garden in Southern Italy, for example, it will be very easy to find succulent, tropical, aquatic and spontaneous plants, while in one in the North you can find alpine species. There are also botanical gardens called arboretums that deal with cataloging and collecting only shrubs.
Among the main European botanical gardens are those of Paris and Upper Brittany, in France; that of Berlin; of Coimbra, Portugal; of Leiden, in the Netherlands; Cornwall and Kew, Great Britain. In Italy there are numerous botanical gardens, including those of: Padua, Cagliari, Catania, Rome, Salerno, Lucca, Milan, Naples, Pisa, Florence, Bologna, Pavia, Parma, Turin, Trieste, Urbino, Messina, Palermo, Lecce, Novara, Bergamo, Livorno, Ventimiglia, Modena and Ferrara. In Italy, the oldest botanical gardens are the Vatican, established in 1447 and those of Pisa, Padua, Florence and Bologna, created in the mid-1500s. The main Italian arboretums are located in Arezzo, Florence, Trento, Camerino (Macerata) and Rimini. The arboretums can also coincide with protected natural areas or reserves and with public parks set up within gardens that once belonged to local noble families. Worldwide, arboretums are found in the United States, Hungary, Poland, Great Britain and France. Very famous is the Vallombrosa Arboretum, in Reggello, a town in the province of Florence. This botanical garden gathers 5 thousand tree plants cataloged for scientific and experimental purposes and grouped into 700 shrub species.
The botanical garden can be visited by schoolchildren, tourists, researchers, university students, teachers, botanists and gardeners. During the guided tours you can attend lessons in gardening and forestry. University students, within these outdoor spaces, can also follow botany lessons. The experimental and study activities on the different species of plants present in these immense gardens are also very rich, which are defined as real open-air herbaria in which botany comes out of the books and materializes into living species that can give useful information to the development of human activities.