botanical garden, public place in which plants are grown both for display and for scientific study. An arboretum is a botanical garden devoted chiefly to the growing of woody plants. The plants in botanical gardens are labeled, usually with both the common and the scientific names, and they are often arranged in cultural or habitat groups, such as rock gardens, aquatic gardens, desert gardens, and tropical gardens. Botanical gardens perform diversified functions, e.g., the collection and cultivation of plants from all parts of the world, experimentation in plant breeding and hybridization, the maintenance of botanical libraries and herbariums, and the administration of educational programs for adults and children.
The two most important gardens in the United States are the New York Botanical Garden, Bronx Park, New York City (est. 1891) and the Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Mo. (est. c.1860 and affiliated with Washington Univ.). The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, formerly Blaksley Botanic Garden, Santa Barbara, Calif. (est. 1926), is noted for its collection of desert and subtropical ornamental plants. Other well-known botanical gardens are the Arnold Arboretum, near Boston, Mass. (est. 1872 as part of Harvard); Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn, N.Y. (est. 1910); Highland and Durand-Eastman parks, Rochester, N.Y.; Bartram's Gardens, Philadelphia (founded 1728); the United States Botanic Gardens (est. 1820) and the National Arboretum (est. 1927), Washington, D.C.; Fairchild Tropical Garden, Coconut Grove, Fla. (est. 1938); Fort Worth Botanic Garden, Fort Worth, Tex. (est. 1933); Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden, Anaheim, Calif. (est. 1927); Huntington Botanical Garden, San Marino, Calif; the botanical gardens at Ottawa, Montreal, and Toronto, Canada; and the numerous botanical gardens of Europe, including the Royal Botanic Gardens, known as Kew Gardens, London; and the Jardin des Plantes, Paris.
See D. Wyman, The Arboretums and Botanical Gardens of North America (rev. ed. 1959); V. Heywood et al., ed., International Directory of Botanical Gardens (5th ed. 1990); S. Oldfield, Botanic Gardens: Modern-Day Arks (2010).