According to Wikipedia's definition, botanical gardens are "well-tended parks displaying a wide range of plants labelled with their botanical names. They may contain specialist plant collections such as cacti and succulent plants, herb gardens, plants from particular parts of the world, and so on." Although the above definition is true, it hardly begins to describe the wonder and awe you'll experience when visiting a botanical garden. If you have never had the chance to pay one a visit, here are 5 great reasons to go.
Gardens designed for the study of plants date back to as early as 340 B.C. Early gardens designed for the public, however, can be traced to European medieval medicinal gardens known as physic gardens, the first appearing in the 16th century during the Italian Renaissance. In these early forms of botanical gardens, plants were collected and cataloged mainly for their medicinal value. Over the centuries, the collection and study of plants shifted from the medicinal role they play, to the importance of plants economically.
Today, botanical gardens have a strong connection with science, conservation, and sustainability. They provide visitors with a place to unwind and relax, while conveying information relating to the important scientific and environmental issues we face in the 21st century.
Many of the classes also have a family focus. At the Chicago Botanic Garden families can take weekend classes that investigate insects, make art out of plants, or learn how our favorite kinds of ice cream are flavored by plants. The Missouri Botanical Garden even offers an 8 week fitness class called "strollerobics." For botanical gardens that house libraries, visitors also gain access to thousands of plant-related books, periodicals, videos, DVDs, slides, and nursery catalogs.
Nearly every major city has a botanical garden, which is wonderful for urban populations that don't ordinarily have access to a lot of green space. A trip to a botanical garden can be relaxing, inspiring, educational, and a good way to get a quick gardening fix while you're waiting for spring. And who knows, you may even walk away with new interests, ideas, or hobbies having to do with the natural environment.
About The Author: Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at http://www.sustainable-media.com
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