A botanical garden is primarily a collection of plants open to the public, which makes it the equivalent of a museum. This collection can be themed as a medieval garden, medicinal, ornamental or scientific. In general botanical gardens include many of these themes.
The first botanical gardens were medicinal gardens designed to show medical and pharmacy students the plants they needed for their art. They were also used to make these plants available to researchers.
Later, the botanical gardens broke away from their curative function and went to the study of plants for themselves, Botany. Their function was to enable students to learn about plants and researchers to study them.
Currently, the trend towards the democratization of culture tends more and more to make these gardens available to the public who can get started in the plant world.
A botanical garden actually has several uses and that at the same time.
Because of its structure, it is a planted area with access and walkways and is therefore a park in which it is possible to walk, relax and breathe a little cleaner than elsewhere. It can therefore have a simple recreational function. It should be noted, however, that unlike a city park, the botanical garden contains plants, some of which may be toxic or aggressive. A public warning and surveillance of children and animals is therefore required.
The main function of the Botanical Garden is to allow an audience to see plants and to have information about them. It is a cultural function. So we can see the names of plants, both the scientific name and the vernacular name in local languages. You can also learn about their interest, which can be ornamental, medicinal, nutritional, technical or scientific. While the ornamental nature of the plants is immediately visible, other interests must be indicated to the public. A botanical garden must therefore provide information. In general it does so by means of the labels provided by the plants, but it can also publish a descriptive brochure or even have a room for films or slideshows.
A character which must imperatively be indicated on the spot is the possible toxicity. This information concerns the exotic plants, which the public sees only here, but also the native plants, which one usually rubs shoulders but without knowing anything about them.
Before addressing the public, the botanical garden has historically addressed university students as part of its educational function. This function is currently extended to schoolchildren who come to follow guided tours as part of the teaching of biology. The garden is thus a privileged place for the initiation to the nature. Although artificial, this “nature” has the advantage of being close and documented which simplifies the work of the master.
The botanical garden by the simple presence of plants gives the public an idea of ??the immense diversity of the plant world and also the large amount of plants that can be grown in the region. It is therefore a sort of showcase or even advertising for nursery and horticulturists.
It also allows researchers and scientists to find reference plants and materials for their research. This scientific role is constant since the creation of the first botanical garden
With regard to rare or threatened plants, their presence in the botanical garden allows the public to know and respect them. The temptation is great to use the botanical garden as a conservatory where endangered plants would be cultivated to save them. However, it must be known that a plant is an organism in equilibrium with a medium. She remains only in this environment. In culture it is modified, slowly by mutation and adaptation to the artificial environment or very quickly by hybridization with neighboring species. The conservation of plants in a botanical garden can therefore only be a one-off action and of short duration.
In conclusion, a botanical garden is a living museum whose function is to visualize for the public the beauty, the richness and the diversity of the plant world. It must also, through the message it delivers, educate the public respect for our environment whose plants are the most important element by their photosynthesis, but also the most ornamental.