A botanical garden, also called a botanic garden, is a garden dedicated to botany, the scientific study of plants. It puts plants on display, and so plays approximately the same role with regard to plants that zoos play to animals and museums play to art works. They usually combine open air sections and greenhouses, such that a variety of plant species can be displayed and studied under conditions near their optimum for temperature, sunlight, humidity and nutrients. Botanical gardens are used for public recreation, as many public parks or museums are, as well as teaching and research. They may be run by non-profit organizations, universities, and cities and other government entities. Conservation is an increasingly important function of botanic gardens, as they may have the facilities and expertise to grow and preserve rare or unusual species.
Some botanical gardens are huge, comprising many gardens and facilities, and some are quite famous. Some of the types of garden and features that may be found in the largest botanical gardens are:
- A conservatory - typically a large steel-and-glass greenhouse; also a hothouse, a type of greenhouse specifically used to guard non frost-hardy flora from harsh elements.
- An arboretum a section of acreage devoted to trees and shrubs in particular.
- A herbarium - place in which preserved plants are stored, as opposed to a herb garden, which houses living plants.
- A fernery- As its name implies, an enclosure in which ferns are grown.
See also Garden/Related Articles.