Across the world there are more than a thousand botanical gardens, which combine scientific research, conservation and beauty with public access - Kew Gardens alone attracts around one million visitors a year. Their uses have varied through history - they might focus on cultivating exotic plants and produce; be honed to commercial ends (introducing lucrative plant crops such as tea and rubber to new countries); center on preserving collections of international plants; focus on scientific classification and research - or combine of all these things. Sarah Rutherford here tells the story of these diverse gardens in Britain and around the world, from their beginnings in the sixteenth century to their long heyday in the last three hundred years. She explains the design of the gardens, the architecture employed, the personalities and institutions that established and contributed to them, their important role in research and conservation, and what makes them so appealing to the millions of visitors they attract.
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