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Eden Project, Cornwall, UK, 2001

























































The Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) defines a modern botanic garden as “institutions holding documented collections of living plants for the purposes of scientific research, conservation, display and education.”

The BGCI also indicates that there are over 2,500 botanic gardens in the world, highlighting the popularity in the global community for the preservation and study of plant life, both endangered and flourishing. There are few botanic gardens in the Middle East, mainly due to the inhospitable climate. Temperatures are both fiercely hot and extremely cold and in this environment only plant and animal life that has adapted over thousands of years can survive. However, this is not to say that it Is impossible for botanic gardens to be created in this environment.

In looking at examples of today’s botanic gardens from around the world, the research has been broken into four separate areas:

Empirical botanic gardens of Europe
• Jardin des Plantes – Paris, France
• Kew Gardens – London, UK

Botanic gardens in humid environments
• Singapore Botanic Gardens – Singapore
• Huntington Botanic Gardens – San Marino, California, US

Botanic gardens in dry and arid environments
• The Living Desert – Palm Desert, California, US
• Alice Springs Desert Park – Alice Springs, Australia
• Karoo Botanic Garden – South Africa
• Kirstenbosch Botanic Garden – South Africa

The innovative botanic garden
• The Eden Project - Cornwall, UK

The empirical botanic gardens were selected as they are considered to have had the most influence on the design and basic format of many of the existing botanic gardens today.

The botanic gardens in humid environments show good examples of how 19th century design was influenced by the empirical botanic gardens of Europe. The botanic gardens in dry and arid environments
highlight what has already been done in this harsh environment and provides a good idea for the possibilities of developing these harsh environments further, using innovation and modern technologies.

The innovative botanic garden was included to demonstrate what can be achieved with modern technologies to create a new generation of botanic gardens.

Jardins des Plantes, Paris, France

Covering 22 Hectares the Jardin des Plantes sits on the North bank of the river Seine. The Garden began life in 1626 when Guy de la Brosse received permission to create a royal garden. It is suggested that Richilieu, who had a particular interest in the developing medical theories, helped to provide the impetus for the development of the garden, when he came to power in 1626.

Even before 1626, when the royal decree came out that a botanical garden should be created. The purpose was always for a scientific garden, specifically for the study of medicine. Today the botanical garden is still freely accessible to anyone, with no admission charges at all. Due to this it is impossible to provide an exact count of visitors coming through the gardens each year.

However, it has been estimated that between 6 and 9 million people visit the gardens every year, making it the most visited botanical garden in the world. Many of these are visitors are likely to be the commuters who use the
gardens as a pleasant short cut to their places of work.


Average summertime temperature is 19°C
Max summertime temperature is up to 40°C
Average winter temperature is 3°C
Minimum winter temperature as low as -20°C.


The garden does not have zones in the same way as many of the other botanical gardens such as Kew. Instead it has specific sections that are related only to the types of plants that are in that section.

• La Roseraie = The Rose Garden
• Le Jardin d’Iris et de Plantes vivaces = The Iris Garden and hardy perennials
• Les carres de la perspective = The parterres garden
• La serre Mexicaine = Mexican Greenhouse (tropical)
• Le Jardin d’hiver = The Winter Garden
• Le Jardin Alpin = The Alpine Garden
• L’ecole de Botanique = The Botanic School
• Les Arbres Historique = Ancient Trees (over 100 years old).

A large section of the garden was the arboretum area. However, the arboretum was actually moved to a 200 hectare site in Versailles. The original trees do remain at Jardins des Plantes.

Kew Gardens, London, UK

Background Info

The first gardens at Kew were developed over a period of nearly two centuries as pleasure gardens for wealthy landowners or summering members of the royal family. However, it was 1759 when the botanic gardens were officially founded.

Kew’s plant collections involve both living and preserved plants as well as plant products. The living collection is the most comprehensive in the world, containing representatives of more than 1 in 8 of all flowering plant species. Kew’s preserved plant collection consists of over 6 million specimens of dried plants and fungi, also the most comprehensive collection in the world.

Today, the gardens cover an area of 132 hectares, people pay a £5 daily admission charge to see the gardens, which attracts 850,000 visitors per year.


583.6mm average annual rainfall
Average summertime temperature, 26°C
Average wintertime temperature, 3°C


• The Entrance Zone
• The Riverside Zone
• North Eastern Zone
• Palm House Zone
• Western Zone
• Syon Vista Zone
• South Western Zone
• Pagoda Vista Zone

The Entrance Zone, includes:

The Colour Spectrum, dedicated to annuals and perennials, represents all the colours of the rainbow. Climbers and Creepers, Britain’s first interactive botanical play zone. As ‘insects’, children climb inside a plant to learn about pollination.

Riverside Zone, includes:
The Queen’s Garden, a garden that’s style is in keeping to that of the architecture of Kew Palace, formal gardens and the plants are those exclusively grown before the seventeenth century.

The Herbarium, containing over 7m specimens, representing nearly 98% of all of the genera in the world.

North Eastern Zone, includes: The Rock Garden, originally designed to resemble a Pyrenean mountain valley.

The Grass Garden, currently growing 550 species of grasses.

The Aquatic Garden, host to more than 110 different species of water plant.

The Palm House Zone, includes:

The Palm House contains examples of Palms, these are second only to grasses in their importance to people. Around a quarter of the palms planted here are threatened in the wild.

The Waterlily House is the hottest and most humid environment at Kew, housing tropical ornamental aquatic plants and climbers.

The Western Zone, includes:
The Rhododendron Dell, where there are over 700 specimens planted.

The Azalea Garden, demonstrating the subtle beauty of these native plants. The purpose of this garden is to promote awareness of the importance of biodiversity to a healthy environment.

The Idea Gardens, highlighting six small gardens designed by Kew’s final year Diploma
students based on UK Biodiversity themes.

The South Western Zone, includes:
Stag Beetle Loggery, part of the London Biodiversity Action Plan for Stag Beetles.

The Badger Sett, a large recreation of a badger’s sett, allowing people to walk through
the food stores, sleeping chambers and nests that are all connected by tunnels.

Pagoda Vista Zone, includes:
The Crocus Carpet, which is over 2 million crocuses strong.

The Evolution House, a walk through over 3,500 million years of plant evolution.
Three major ‘milestones’ were selected to illustrate the incredibly long history of plant evolution in the space available: the Silurian, Carboniferous and Cretaceous periods.

The Temperate House, an extensive collection of temperate American plants, including fuchsias, salvias and brugmansias. Also in the central section of the Temperate House is the Australian collection.

The Japanese Landscape, covering an area of approximately 5,000 square metres, it consists of three gardens designed to give an impression of some of the many different aspects of Japanese gardens.

Singapore Botanic Gardens, Singapore

The Singapore Botanical Gardens began life in 1859, run by a horticultural society, however by 1874 the
Gardens had changed hands and were being run by the government. They cover an area of 52 hectares.
In 1988, renewed focus was given to being a leading international institution for tropical botany. Excellence in botanical research, education programmes and preservation of the cultural heritage of the Gardens were emphasised. A 3-hectare National Orchid Garden was also introduced.


Singapore lies just North of the equator, because of its geographical location and maritime exposure, its climate is characterised by uniform temperature and pressure, high humidity and abundant rainfall.

Temperatures range from no lower than 20°C at anytime during the year, up to 35°C. The humidity is high,
reaching to 75%. The average annual rainfall is around 2,370mm.

• The Tanglin Core
• The Central Core
• Bukit Timah Core

The Tanglin Core

This section of the garden contains several heritage trees, the Bonzai area, the Sun Rockery and the Vanda Miss Joaquim (named after the orchid that is a hybrid between Vanda hookeriana and Vandateres).

The Central Core
Within this section are further heritage trees, a Ginger Garden, a National Orchid Garden, Palm Valley, Rainforest and Evolution Garden.

The National Orchid Garden contains over 1000 species and 2,000 hybrids. It has the largest display of tropical orchids in the world. Palm Valley is home to more than 115 genera and over 220 species of Palm.

The Rainforest is the only piece of original jungle left on the island. 314 species in a 6-hectare fragment of primeval forest forming a multilayered complexity of herbs and ferns, shrubs, climbers and small, medium and large trees.

The Evolution Garden is a 1.5-hectare area dedicated to telling the story of how plants gave us life. The course of this evolution starts from the fiery planet that our world was in ancient times, through the planet of dinosaurs, and into the modern world of 250,000 different flowering plants today.

The Bukit Timar Core
This section contains, Bamboos, Bougainvillea, Herbs and Spices, Medicinal Plants, Fruit Trees, and Nuts and Beverage Crops.

Huntington Botanic Gardens, San Marino, USA

Henry Huntington first started the Botanical Gardens in 1903. The gardens now encompass 60 hectares.
Approximately 15,000 kinds of plants from all over the world make up the botanical collections, many landscaped into a series of themed gardens. These gardens are free flowing, allowing for natural progression from one area to another.

The climate for San Marino is temperate. There is rarely frost or snowfall.
San Marino average annual rainfall is 482.6mm per year.
The average summer temperature is 32°C.
The average winter temperature is 4.5°C.

• Children’s Garden
• Chinese Garden
• Botanical Conservatory
• Desert Garden
• Herb Garden
• Rose Garden
• Shakespeare Garden
• Camellia Garden
• Japanese Garden
• Australian Garden
• Palm Garden
• Jungle Garden
• Lilly Ponds
• Subtropical Garden
• Art Gallery

The Living Desert, Palm Desert, California, US

The park was founded in 1970 with 145 hectares. The park now covers 485 hectares and provides 11 different North American desert environments. In the development of the gardens several programmes were put into place:

Environmental education,
native wildlife rehabilitation
Plant propagation
Captive breeding
Membership and volunteer programs
Mission Statement

To preserve a portion of the Colorado Desert in its natural state. The Living Desert has set aside 1,000 acres of natural desert habitat.

To foster, through interpretive exhibits, programs and publication, an awareness of and an appreciation for, the variety of plants and animals in worldwide desert ecosystems.

To build up, under controlled conditions, populations of various species of desert animals and plants threatened with extinction in the wild state.

To foster, through cooperative research and educational programs, biological studies, contributing to the
protection of desert species in the wild state.

Sunshine - 350 days annually. Rainfall: 86mm annually
Average temperature: January - High 25°C, Low 3°C;
July - High 42°C, Low 25°C

The gardens have been divided into 11 different desert environments, these include the following (and subdivisions of the following):

• Mojave
• Chihuahuan
• Sonoran
• Yuman
• Viscaino
• Colorado

Amongst these sections specialised gardens are interspersed, such as wildlife preserves, displays on
geology, geography, zoology, botany, history, anthropology, conservation and ecology.

Alice Springs Desert Park, Alice Springs, Australia

First opened in 1997, it covers an area of 1300 hectares, of which 50 hectares contain the core exhibit of the botanical gardens. It had a construction cost of A$20m. It has 90,000 visitors per year and the garden focuses primarily on arid Australia but particularly on Central Australia and the Arrernte culture.

Mission statement
The Alice Springs Desert Park presents and interprets the Australian desert environment and its inhabitants, and contributes to the conservation of Australia’s desert flora and fauna. The accuracy, authenticity and appropriateness of its presentation and interpretation and the quality of its scientific work are essential.

286mm of rain a year
In the summer, daytime maximums are in the late 30s occasionally reaching 45°C
In the winter, temperatures can drop dramatically and can sit at about 0°C. Although
night time temperatures can drop far below this level.

The gardens include three different habitats, highlighting the various types of environments that are available in the Australian arid lands:

• Desert Rivers
• Sand country
• Woodland

There are four further aspects, although not in themselves gardens, they provide an educational function for the botanical gardens, these include:
• Exhibition Centre
• Nature Theatre (birds of prey exhibition)
• Nocturnal House
• Waterhole

Karoo Botanic Garden, South Africa

The garden was originally established near Matjiesfontein in 192l but was transferred north of Worcester in 1945 to make it more accessible. The estate contains 11 hectares of cultivated gardens
whilst the remaining 144 hectares are kept as a flora reserve that has several kilometres of nature trails.
Within the cultivated “botanical gardens” there are 400 examples of naturally occurring species as well as 300 species that are rare and endangered plants being protected and propagated.

The word Karoo is a Khoi word meaning “dry place”.
Annual rainfall - 175mm.
Summer average temperatures at 30°C with maximum
temperatures hitting mid 40°C.
Winter temperatures go as low as 0°C.
The area is hit by very strong winds on a regular basis, particularly in winter.

The garden itself contains 8 sections:
• Entrance and parking area
• Annuals
• Mesembs and braille trails
• Karoo adventure trail
• Geographic beds
• Plant sales area
• Richtsveld area
• Trails

This section has a large bed of annual plants, as well as the start of the Braille trail, a trail designed for the special needs of blind and partially sighted persons.

Karoo Adventure Trail
The trails that are available to visitors provide access to examples of all the “karoo” landscapes in South
Africa. Also within this are two hectares of quiver trees (kokerboom).

Geographic Beds
The miniature rockery just in front of the main administrative office represents plants of the various phytogeographic areas (plant geographic areas) of the Karoo. There are over 1,000 plant species concentrated in a small area of 1,225 sq. metres.

Richtersveld area
This area contains plants from the dry Northern Cape. The Richtersveld can be described as South Africa’s mountain desert on the border with Namibia.

Desert Garden
The Shale Trail is named after the eroded Malmesbury shale which litters the paths. This trail has interpretative signage at various points of interest. The trail is 1000
metres in length. There are several other natural trails in the low lying hills. The full length of these trails is approximately 7 kilometres. The height is approximately 350metres above sea-level.

Kirstenbosch Botanic Garden, South Africa

Kirstenbosch dates back to the 17th Century, but it didn’t officially become a botanic garden until 1913. Professor Pearson, then a professor at Cape Town University, accepted the task as honorary director of the gardens and was assigned a £1,000 pa budget for development and upkeep, because the budget was so tight this grant was supplemented by the sale of firewood and acorns from the estate.

515mm of rain per annum
7°C in winter (avg.)
26°C in summer (avg.)
Frequent strong winds from the South East
Average climate for the region is warm and dry

The garden is broken up into 6 sections as highlighted on the map below:
Of interest are:

People and Plants
This is the first area that is entered. It contains a restaurant garden area, beds of Annuals and Vygies (a South African Mesambryanthemum), the Main Pond, the Medicinal garden, the useful plants section, the Pelargonium Koppje (dell) and the Fragrance garden.

Forest and Veld
This section of the garden includes the Camptor Avenue, the Busveld Garden, the concert area, Mathew’s Rockery, van Riebeeck’s Hedge and the fledgling and enchanted forests.

The Dell

Is the oldest part of the garden, and arguably the most beautiful. It provides suitable habitats for shade-loving plants like ferns, tree ferns, plectranthus, impatiens and Mackaya Bella.

General Garden
This contains a Waterwise garden (a small demonstration garden that shows how to create a garden that is lush and colourful throughout the year, but which requires less water and maintenance than an ordinary garden).

Eden Project, Cornwall, UK

The Eden Project has been formed within a 90m deep crater, originally created by an old quarry, it now houses two biomes. The smaller of the two biomes at 0.65 hectares, is 35m high, 65m wide and 135 long. It presents a Mediterranean climate, which is of particular interest due to the increasing number of global locations whose climates are adopting this ecotope because of global warming.

The larger biome, showcasing the humid tropics, is generally accepted to be the more spectacular. It contains a complete rainforest environment including a waterfall over the cliff, providing a great addition to the atmosphere.

This biome covers 1.55 hectares, is 55m high, 100m wide and 200m long. The project attracts 1.25 million visitors per year and contains 1 million plants representing some 5,000
species from the climatic zones around the world. The project was built with sustainability in mind, using an inflatable outer shell called “Ethylene Tetrafluoro Ethylene” (ETFE) which is an inflated triple layer ‘pillow’ allowing the environment within to be completely controlled, without requiring too much extra assistance from a heating and cooling point of view.

The wall of the visitor centre was created using the age old sustainable construction method of ‘rammed earth’. The rear wall in the biomes is used as a heat sink, absorbing heat in the day and releasing it as the temperature drops at night. The plants themselves are grown from seed and cuttings, and are brought in from nurseries, research stations and botanic gardens from around the world.

The Eden Project is not presented as a botanical garden, but rather as an educational resource for all ages and areas of interest, exploring and explaining ecosystems that are not native to the local region.